Following on from a stellar streak of productions, Ninajirachi presents her new EP 4x4, a club-ready release layered with ethereal bass and nods to the early days of EDM. Welcoming a new production style into her repertoire, 4x4 encapsulates a sound and a feeling that is taking the underground electronic music scene by storm.
Moving from a more deconstructed energy in her 2022 mixtape Second Nature to a sound that packs a punch, Nina proves her versatility as an artist, and shows us that club music can take any form. Here, she lovingly recalls childhood inspirations, studies her growth as an artist, and considers what the future may hold for electronic music. With an inimitable sound and ability to captivate, Ninajirachi is certainly one to watch this year.
Hi Nina, it’s a pleasure to speak with you. Ahead of your upcoming release, how are you feeling about it?
Thanks and you too! I am feeling very relaxed about it and I'm excited to produce and release more. Sometimes a project will take a lot of time and energy to complete but these new songs were all really quick, easy and enjoyable. It's the best feeling ever.
Your artistic moniker is Ninajirachi, which I guess has some relation to your real name, Nina Wilson. Where does it come from? What are the similarities and differences between Nina and Ninajirachi?
The second part of the name is a Pokemon. I have played every Pokemon game since I was seven but it's funny because Jirachi was never even a favourite, I was more of a gen 4 or 5 girl but I just thought it sounded interesting and ambiguous. It was my IG username when I was 15 and I had been uploading music to the internet under a few different names up until then as well. When I was 17 I had a song blow up under the name Ninajirachi so I just rolled with it from then.
Ninajirachi the artist and Nina the person are pretty similar, I don't feel like my artist project is highly curated or performative and I'm very happy to release all kinds of music under it. I think it's just stayed cohesive because my core values and tastes have stayed cohesive.
Maybe the only point of difference, and also the only tailoring, is that Ninajirachi music is mostly dance and electronic, but indie and alternative rock music have been very important to me over my life too - rock (as an umbrella term) is definitely the biggest genre in Australian music, especially regional Australia, where I am from. My favourite band ever is Alt-J and I've worked on a bit of music like that for other artists, but never before for Ninajirachi.
I read that you’ve spent a lot of time in the United States recently, and it’s where your single Undo U was written (and finished in basically a day!). In what other ways has this trip been influential to the music you’ve produced this year?
Yeah my friend Jack Laboz and I made that in just a few hours, and it was the first time we had ever met! There is another song called Wayside from the EP that we made together too. We are very much on the same page creatively and he is very talented.
Travelling this year has made me much more open to collaborating with other producers like Jack and releasing music that I didn't produce all by myself, like Undo U and Wayside. I used to pride myself on the fact that I wrote, recorded, produced, mixed, etc. songs all by myself and I thought these kind of collaborations would take away from that, or make me look lazy or less proficient than I am. I have been a solo producer since I was a teenager and letting others in on the process initially felt like a big deal. But it was just my ego talking, and I won't let it get in the way of an awesome song that I never would have written on my own, or an amazing learning and upskilling experience, or my growth as an artist. Plus, it's still me finishing the songs and delivering the final versions.
Comparing your 2022 mixtape, Second Nature, to your upcoming EP 4x4, there is a definitive shift from a deconstructed and breathier sound to something a lot punchier. Though both speak to me as club music, would you listen to them in different contexts?
For sure. Club music totally constitutes both releases, but most of the Second Nature songs are not very functional for DJing. I think this is because Australia was in lockdown for a lot longer than other places on Earth and when I wasn't touring, making functional dance music wasn't a priority. But, dance floor functionality aside, I don't think they sound crazy different. For example when I made Undo U (before I had made the rest of the EP), my first thought was omg this would have been an amazing Second Nature song, because it's a little more syncopated than the rest of 4x4 (which is also why I made the 4x4 version of it (laughs)).
In this new EP, 4x4, I felt the beats to be very much that – 4 by 4. Does the name have anything to do with this thumpier time signature?
I am so glad you asked this because it was very intentional! Second Nature is 100% an electronic dance release, but there are literally no four to the floor songs on it. This wasn't a conscious decision and I didn't realise it until months after it came out. Most of my bigger releases have been four to the floor, like Blumiere EP, Water Gun / Stingray, Secretive! with Kota Banks, even Dracodraco kind of. So it's weird that I unconsciously moved away from it completely. After I had that realisation and made 1x1 with Ravenna, I thought it would be funny if 1x1 was track 1 on an EP called 4x4, made up of 4x 4x4 songs.
There’s a sound reminiscent of early 2010s, glitchy, online-era of music to this EP that really strikes a nostalgic chord with me. How did the concept for 4x4 emerge and what kind of sound were you trying to emulate with it?
Omg it's so cool that you think that because that's totally where my head has been. Some of my favourite albums as a child were Born This Way by Gaga and Animal by Kesha, I also loved Black Eyed Peas, and the pipeline from there was discovering EDM as a 12 year old. So I've been pulling more and more inspiration from that era of music because I'm much closer to becoming the producer I wanted to be when I first heard it. Even though my taste changed throughout high school and I grew more into left-field electronic music, I was an EDM kid in those formative years and that will never change I fear. Like nothing else makes me feel like a supersaw from 2012.
My personal favourite from the album is Kota On The Plane, and left me wondering - is this in reference to one of your long-time collaborators, Kota Banks?
Thank you, yeah those are Kota's vocals! The song has that title because we started it on a flight together in early 2021. We were flying to Tasmania where she was performing at a festival. Our joke is that we are both so versatile and adaptable that we could collaborate anywhere, so we got a headphone splitter and made Kota On The Plane on a plane. The original version is very short and rough and much slower. I had forgotten about it until a few months ago when I found it again and decided to completely flip it.
Speaking of collabs, how was the song 1x1 with Ravenna Golden from the EP born? I’d imagine the creative process behind a track to be even more enjoyable with someone to bounce ideas off.
We made 1x1 in November 2022, the same week Second Nature came out. It was only our second time meeting in person after being online mutuals for years and we made the song in just a few hours! I know I've said that about a number of songs, but I meant what I said in my first answer. Ravenna is a really funny and open-minded person so we became friends very quickly. We got to play the song live together at Dark Crystal II in Sydney and Melbourne earlier this year too.
Regarding your distinctive sound, I feel like this kind of pitched, dreamy, and ecstasy-laced music is taking the underground electronic music world by storm, and fuels the majority of club nights I go to now. Do you think the 4x4 EP a club-orientated one?
That is very cool to hear! Before the pandemic, the style of music I make was much less popular and more if-you-know-you-know, especially in Australia. It was rare for me to play a show with a crowd who knew or at least understood the music I was playing. Now that it's trendier I feel like more people get it. That said, shoutout to the people who already got it 7+ years ago!
4x4 EP is totally club-orientated and I've been playing the whole thing and heaps more unreleased at my US shows over the last few months.
After the release of the EP, can we expect a tour? Are you bringing the Ninajirachi experience to life for your audience?
I'm touring the US in January and February and playing a few festivals later in the year. I'll have new AU dates in a few months too.
Tell me a little bit about the electronic music scene in Australia, and where you see yourself in it?
Australia has an amazing and diverse local underground scene but the mainstream is always a bit behind in my opinion. To be fair, there aren't that many people in Australia, so there's not much room for huge niche scenes like I've seen in the US and EU. I think I'm pretty lucky to make relatively left-field music and still pretty consistently be played on triple j and get mainstream festival bookings and stuff like that, I am really grateful for it.
And finally, what do you see for the future of club music? I for one hope to see more of you within it.
Thank you! I hope for that too. Club music is black and queer music so in the future I hope that black and queer artists are only more and more rewarded. I also hope it becomes more and more rewarding to be a producer who takes risks and has fun.