“She was already a mediatrix for all who were seeking the fullness of joy. She had never been just a spectator, but a full participant willingly involving herself in the needs of others.”
Make no bones about it, Nina Mediatrix, a.k.a Mediatrix Music, is cool. After an incredible response of over 80,000 views on You Tube to 2015’s ‘Maybe Mediatrix’ bootleg remix of Björk‘s ‘Lionsong’, the London based twenty something gained a certain kudos, which has only served to enhance the reputation of the producer/DJ/artist, building on previous mixes of the likes of Zhala in the guise of Nina The First. She has since gone on to work with other musicians as diverse as My Ruin vocalist Tairrie B., contributing to her recent rap project, Paleface Junkies and indie pop hipsters Faded Paper Figures, as well as releasing a single, ‘Summer Saga’, in her own right.
Nina has quietly built an enviable portfolio of work and with a host of other projects in the pipeline, such as ‘The Cassette Project’, it is fair to say the future looks bright for this hard working innovator. Moreover, given that women in music already have a difficult enough time getting taken as seriously as they deserve, being on the production side, where “male dominated” would be an immense understatement, makes Nina’s credentials even more admirable.
Anyway, I recently caught up with Nina on Twitter and put a few questions to her about her career, collaborations and the difficulties women face in the music business; here’s what she had to say…
Last year’s bootleg remix of Björk’s ‘Lionsong’ helped establish your credentials as a producer, but given that you are also putting out your own music, how do you see yourself – Producer? DJ? Artist?
I’m a remixer, producer and songwriter, but whenever I meet a new person and I’m asked that question I always answer “a musician”- I think this label really covers all of it!
Was/Is your music career planned out?
I’ve always been the kind of person to make lists and vision boards so I can be clear about what I need to do and I do like to be organised. Of course I certainly have goals for things that I want to achieve in the next few years, but I wouldn’t say it’s planned as in a military operation.
How difficult has it been and has your gender made it even more complicated?
Well my producer name is ‘Mediatrix Music’, or if I’m doing a remix ‘Mediatrix Remix’, so as a name it is non gender specific, so I think that the majority of people who hear my music at this stage won’t be approaching it from the angle of “I’m listening to something that a woman produced/remixed”. But the response I’ve had so far to my music has been positive and actually looking at my youtube stats (and I don’t know how accurate these really are), more men listen to my music on youtube than women so… make of that what you will.
So, how hard is it for women to be taken seriously? Is it even harder on the production side of things? – personally I can’t think of one female producer (except you!) which is unreal!
I’m going to quote Björk on this. She summed up the situation in an interview: “You’re not just imagining things. It’s tough. Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times.” So..if a woman as accomplished and successful as Björk is saying that then it is certainly something to think about and remember. Personally, I think that I was lucky in that when I started producing and remixing the people that I was working alongside at the time were very supportive and respectful so I had a positive experience early on. If they had not been so great, maybe it would have discouraged me- because faith and confidence can be really fragile things especially when you’re starting something new- I like to think that it wouldn’t and I’d find my way, but I appreciate that it can be tough.
Also, off the top of my head, two great examples of female producers!- Linda Perry and Grimes. I think there’s a lot more people getting into production generally because technology has really opened up this aspect of the industry and I think a lot of writers and artists are enjoying producing and seeing the possibilities that go with it. I think we’ll eventually see a lot more women moving into this area – I hope so.
You’ve had some interesting collaborations of late with the likes of Tairrie B, Pale Faced Junkies and Faded Paper Figures – how did these come about?
Long story short, I’ve been a fan of Tairrie’s for a long time and I had done an interview last year where I listed her as one of my top women in music; so I think initially we connected on Twitter through that. When I had heard Vintage Curses I loved it and approached Tairrie about remixing for her, and it was exciting because I hadn’t really listened to her early 90s rap music, I was a My Ruin fan, so it was very cool to be able to rediscover and enjoy her work in a completely different genre. After producing my first remix for her which was for the ‘Wicked Witch Of The West Coast’ track Tairrie invited me back to do another for ‘Sky Above City Below’ and then after she had released the video for BTCHCRVFT, she reminded me that it was the track I had initially approached her to remix, so I’ve just finished producing that! So we’ve kind of gone full circle which is quite witchy and mystical- very Vintage Curses!
The Paleface Junkies collaboration was connected to my work with Tairrie, as Kid Vibe from Paleface Junkies had done an excellent remix for her first single ‘Beware The Crone’ and at the end of last year he got in touch with me about remixing his own song ‘Heated Up’, which also features Liquor Store Bandits. I had already checked out his work and I loved his Golden Era/old school vibe, so was happy to do it and I think the remix is a cool switch up. Faded Paper Figures and I had connected through Twitter but as their music has been played on Greys Anatomy I had probably heard their stuff before, as I’m a big fan of that show! The track I remixed is ‘Hear Me Out’ with the original song being from their most recent EP ‘Remnants’.
There is quite a depth to your remixes, with a number of influences from different genres, as well as an Old Skool feel – are you a bit of a music geek?
Probably. I listen to every genre under the sun, you know if I like it, I’m not really worried about whether it’s cool or what it ‘says’ about me as a person. I don’t believe in musical snobbery. Also I’m a pianist and I think piano is quite a geeky instrument- it’s not guitar or drums is it? But i also think it’s the best instrument to have training in if you’re going to want to write for other instruments, because you can easily mimic their behaviour and sound, particularly with keyboards and software tones. I’m not saying it’s better than getting real musicians in, but you have the option if you’re writing or producing.
How do you approach a remix, do you immediately know what you want to do?
It’s probably not the most satisfactory answer but every track is different! Often when I hear the original version of a track I will get some ideas and may start working those as a starting point. Occasionally an early idea can form the backbone of a remix and be expanded upon, but then sometimes the finished track is completely different to my original plan. It’s trial and error and both technical and instinctive. Also, I want to consider the artist that I’m producing for and who the artist’s fan base is – I’m trying to create music which I love and that I hope the artist and their fans will also love.
Who are your musical heroes and biggest influences?
Too many to mention! But saying that I will copy paste what I put on my Facebook page: Michael Jackson, Björk, Cheiron Studio, Denniz PoP, Motown, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, Quincy Jones, NIN, Darkchild, Timbaland, Tairrie B, Tracey Emin, Robyn, Salvador Dali, Orbital, Madonna, Chopin, Beethoven, Nora Tate, Stock Aitken Waterman, Danja, The Prodigy, 808s, Chords, Orchestra Hits, Pitch Bends. God. Endless…
Given the ever changing dynamic of the music industry, is it possible to make a living, or do you need a day job?
I actually think the shift is overall positive. I think certain aspects of the changes happening may put off the kind of person who is attracted to music solely for reasons like instant fame and riches or whatever. But for most of the people I know in music, they’re in it because of an incredible passion for it and they see it as a vocation, more than a job. Obviously people need to make a living, but this is what the whole indie movement is about at the moment because this is really the first generation that have the opportunity to completely reshape how things are done and ways of monetising are changing. I’m hoping for a renaissance period. Imagine in the future if we had a situation where if a kid says “I want to be musician/artist/producer” – people actually take it seriously, rather than discouraging the child, and see it as a viable profession and something concrete – not necessarily chasing mega bucks, but a job like an artisan, earning your living through your craft and skill.
Also I’m grateful for the technology that we have in terms of connectivity and being able to share your work. It’s great for collaborating – the people you want to work with and the people that you want to hear your work, whether artists or producers – these people are far more accessible – that doesn’t mean that they’re going to say yes to working with you (!), but you have the opportunity to make contact and get your music heard in a way that was previously difficult.
Plans for the future?
Hopefully continuing to work with people that inspire me and those with similar musical visions. I’ve got lots of remix projects coming up over the next few months and I’ll be releasing an EP as well this year. The working title is ‘The Cassette Project’ and it’ll be available digitally from iTunes, Tidal, Spotify etc, but also I’ll be doing a limited edition run in cassette format. It’s going to be a cool nostalgia trip with some very 90s influences and hopefully something fun for those that didn’t get to experience the joy of cassettes (and the 90s) the first time round. It’s also a cool way to amalgamate the Mediatrix Music sound. I work with lots of different genres, and most of what I’ve created so far has been totally different from track to track, so I think this is a good way for people that are interested to hear more of what I’m about as musician.
Many thanks to Nina for taking the time to give such thoughtful and thorough answers.
For more on Mediatrix check out: http://www.mediatrixmusic.com and here are links for free downloads of Mediatrix remixes of Tairrie B.: https://tairrieb.bandcamp.com/track/sky-above-city-below-mediatrix-remix