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Interview: Ukrainian Techno Titan Xenia Talks Production, Playing Vinyl for the First Time & More


Ukrainian DJ/Producer Xenia is fast becoming an undeniable tour de force in the techno world. The Numen label boss carries an exceptionally strong online presence, with videos of her live performances reaching millions of streams across several platforms.


Building a tangibly-increasing presence in clubland, Xenia continues to lightfoot her way across the globe, introducing the masses to her vivacious and gripping techno blueprint.


With such a continuously busy schedule, we were delighted to catch up with Xenia. In doing so, we got some insight into what has made her such a fast-rising talent whilst getting to know her on a more personal level in the process:


Hey Xenia, thanks for joining us here at UNDRTONE; it's great to have you with us. Let's start with an introduction to you and your background.


Hey guys! It was a pleasure to talk with you today. Thanks for your invitation!


I am a techno DJ and music producer from Ukraine who started her DJ career seven years ago by playing at small underground events in Kyiv. I literary didn't know anything about world techno seen at that moment, but I really was crazy about the music, raves and I wanted to play abroad to explore much more of what I loved so much.


After 2-3 years of just DJing, I realized that making music could have been the key to becoming an internationally known artist and being invited to perform all over the world, so I decided to take some courses in production, which turned out to be completely enthralling.


It took me more than a year of learning and practising before I released my first EP on Codex at the end of 2019. Right after that, I released my music on a few more great techno labels, and it was really helpful to become noticed in the industry.



You dwell on the harder side of Techno music. What draws you to that sound, and how does it compare to other genres - in your opinion?


My musical preferences have been always evolving, and I think it's great. I am the kind of person who never stands still. I constantly move in a direction where I enjoy what is being done by me.


Hard Techno tracks filled up my playlist when I was training during Covid, and after some time of listening to that high-energy fast music, I forgot how to enjoy the sound of techno that was familiar to me.


Also, as we all can see, a lot of DJs are now playing way harder and faster. I really like that, and I have no idea what will be my opinion any later, but at the moment, I think Hard Techno is the music of these hard times that we had got to face, and the music is to make us stronger.


You started your Numen label in 2021, and it's already cementing itself as a largely credible electronic imprint. What's the ethos behind it, and do you have any big plans for its future?


Numen label was a great experience for me as an artist. We launched it with the guys from IAMT Music, and there I got the opportunity to form my musical vision, work with lots of great artists, look for new tracks, and learn the details of the music business. It also gave me the opportunity to make friends with many producers. Since then, my taste in music has changed and continues to evolve.


Numel label is a big chapter in my career, a chapter that has come to an end, and I plan to move on. Now I have retired from label management, and I'm gathering ideas for a new project that will more accurately reflect my current musical tastes, and I am sure you will hear about this project soon!


You currently live in Barcelona, but your native country is Ukraine. How have you coped with the events back home, and what have you been doing to help support those in need?


What happened and still happening in Ukraine is difficult to describe in words. When the war started, I had less than an hour to collect my things and leave the house - to which I still haven't returned.


We spent four days at the border, and the road to Barcelona, which used to take three hours by plane, took seven tiring, cold and desperate days. My family is still in Ukraine, and many of my acquaintances have lost their relatives, homes and businesses. My music teacher died in the war. All this is too sad and frightening.


I took part in a lot of activities. We raised money together with Beatport and Pioneer for refugees, Ukrainians who found themselves in a difficult situation. Together with the Radio Intense project, we raised money for the Ukrainian army and volunteer centres in Barcelona, and part of this money went to buy cars for the guys who are on the front lines.


In 2023, I plan to take part in several charity events, the nearest of which will be held in Aberdeen in the UK this January.



You recently performed your first-ever vinyl-only set. What was that like for you? Do you find you can still be as expressive and technical with your mixing and creativity?


It was super exciting. Of course, technically, I can't do that much as if I was playing with CDJs because mixing vinyl requires being really busy throughout the whole set. You need to pay your attention intently to put tracks together all the time as there is no bpm writer. You have to listen to and feel the rhythm of the tracks and act only relying on your perception.


Also, you are left without all those newly introduced benefits, such as hot cues and loops, and it takes much more time to change the records physically than just switch them on the screen. But I love playing vinyl as I am totally in the mix and disconnect with the world while doing it. It's a different feeling, a feeling of a real DJ :)


Talk us through your production process. Are there any equipment or techniques you love to use in your work?


Producing music is a very exciting process, and I very often work with hardware because I have a fancy for influencing tactilely the sound in a track.


We have Matrix Brute, and Moog Subsequent in our studio, and the last one is Roland TR 8S. I really like that it combines wide possibilities for analogue modulation of classic 808 and 909 presets. It can also be used as a sampler, which significantly expands the functionality and possibilities.


Sometimes I can spend three or four hours just on this drum machine, immersing myself in the process of creating loops. I feel like this just never gets boring.


You've played in some pretty amazing places around the world. Where is your favourite place to play, and why?


Lots of places where I played were incredibly cool, so it's very hard to pick one. I like to perform in Germany a lot because the crowd there does know what is Techno and how to party. Italy is loved by me for its power and craziness on the dance floor. And of course, Spain because the people are so warm and cheerful.


My Australia debut was absolutely awesome, so I can't miss mentioning that one and if I remember all of my gigs in South America: Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, I would name them my favourites, too. And I hope this list is going to be even bigger very soon.



You joined the roster at Analog agency last year. How important is it for artists to have their sights set on a good agency when looking to help grow their profile globally?


I am very happy that I could join Analog because it greatly influenced my significance as an artist in the market. Since the moment I started working with this great agency, I have travelled to many countries with my performances, thanks to which a huge number of ravers around the world learned about me and were able to see me in the action.


I think being in a good agency is highly beneficial for the artists as they get noticed by many cool promoters looking for artists for their events and work only with the best agencies.


Did any artists really stand out for you over others in 2022?


Lots of artists that I follow and adore their work had immense success in 2022. It's very nice to see. I would single out Kobosil, a great artist whose music, alongside how brilliantly he manages his label, I admire.


All the vinyl records of R-Label Group just have time to appear on pre-sale as they are immediately sold out. And this is very well deserved since the tracks of the label boss as well as all the tracks without exception that he signs to R-label Group always smash the dance floor.


I also want to highlight Klangkuenster, who puts on his shows incredibly cool. I saw several of his performances, and each time the vibe on the dance floor was insane - all the ravers loved him and what he did. The same with Nico Moreno. These guys have been doing glorious over this year.


Lastly, what can we expect from Xenia in 2023?


Although I like to live in the moment, of course, I also pay attention to planning my career. I am actively working on new tracks now. I plan to tour new countries. I will debut in the UK in January, Finland in March, and tours in Spain, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Croatia, Poland, Hungary, and Latin America.


I'm seriously thinking about a new vinyl label that will showcase my current sound more. I plan to release many tracks I have been working on during 2022.


I am sure that 2023 will be very eventful; stay tuned!


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