Nina Kraviz responds to being dropped from Clone Distribution over alleged “pro-Putin” views

"It's appalling what my country's relations with Ukraine have become"

Nina Kraviz and her трип (Trip Recordings) label have been dropped from Clone Distribution after its founder alleged that she harbours “pro-Putin” views.

The Russian DJ hadn’t spoken publicly about Russia’s war against Ukraine except for posting a video in February of a handwritten note with the word “peace” written in Russian. But she has since done so, writing on Instagram (May 17) that it’s “appalling what my country’s relations with Ukraine have become”.

Clone Recordings founder Serge Verschuur outlined his decision to cut ties with Kraviz in a recent blog post in which he criticised her for her alleged “pro-Putin” views and “CCCP/USSR sentiments”. He also claimed that she was “using Putin’s law as an excuse not to speak out”.

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Responding to the Clone’s decision to drop Kraviz, a representative for the DJ told NME: “In 2018 Nina signed a contract with [Clone Distribution] to distribute Trip Recordings and its sub labels. In the last five years, there were no issues.

“In the 20 years Nina has known Serge he has had no reason to believe the things he is saying about her today as true. He is aware of where she lives and was informed of her position at the start of the war.”

Kraviz has since taken to Instagram to issue her own statement.

“If I were to illustrate the apogee of determinism I would give as an example the times we happen to live in right now,” she wrote. “Everything that we have been involved in in the past decades has reached it’s [sic] peak when ruleless streams of lies and hatred, the reasons for which are not always obvious, inevitably lead to violence, instability and conflicts between people, between countries.

“Momentum is growing day after day. Accordingly, terrible events get mixed up on social networks and in media with daily routine. In some of these cases, all this conflicts with the established beliefs, such as the personal values and lifestyles. We are doomed to be a part of it.”

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She continued: “As a person, musician and artist I’m deeply moved by what’s happening in the world. It’s appalling what my country’s relations with Ukraine have become. I am against all forms of violence. I am praying for peace. It pains me to see innocent people die.

“I am a musician and was never involved in supporting the politicians or political parties, and I am not planning to do it in the future. I don’t understand politics or the social processes it creates. So I don’t think it is right to talk about what’s happening on social media. In my opinion, it might increase the degree of all-consuming hatred, and does not assist in understanding. According to Seneca, a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman and dramatist, the feud itself will be extinguished if one side refused to support it.”

Kraviz then went on to claim that she’s faced “hatred and lies” in recent months and that she wasn’t sure if it was because she didn’t issue a statement on Instagram. “It saddens me, but it hasn’t made me bitter,” she said.

“I have always believed that the mission of music and musicians, electronic music, techno and house scene is to unite completely different people erasing borders and patterns rather than divide them. When people are born, they choose neither parents nor country of birth. So when releasing compositions, compilations on my label Trip Recordings, it was the talent of the artist that mattered to me, not the country of birth. I intend to continue to follow the principles of unity despite attempts to censor the work of the artists on my label.”

She concluded: “Making, releasing and playing good music is what I love most.”

nina kraviz
Nina Kraviz performing at EXIT Festival 2021. CREDIT: Marko Ristc / EXIT Festival/Press

In a recent article, Time magazine collected responses from several prominent members of the electronic music scenes in Ukraine and Russia, including the Ukrainian DJ Nastia and the Russian DJ Buttechno, who criticised Kraviz’s apparent “silence” and asked her to provide clarity about her views on Russian President Vladimir Putin and the war.

But Kraviz’s defenders argued that the DJ has no involvement with the war in Ukraine and that freedom of speech includes the freedom to say nothing at all.

Supporters in the Time article also cited Russia’s recently introduced laws that forbid anti-war protests, slogans and independent journalism, as well as the potential threats that come with being a Russian dissident.

Kraviz’s representatives also provided some context to NME about where Clone founder Verschuur may have gathered what they claim are misunderstandings about the DJ’s position. They suggested that his references to her alleged “CCCP/USSR sentiments” may have sprung from a photo of Kraviz posing in a CCCP space t-shirt with a portrait of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin for a 2017 Mixmag feature.

Kraviz was visiting and performing at the San Diego Air & Space Museum for the feature. “This did not support anything other than the achievements of the space programme,” Kraviz’s representatives said.

Additionally, Kraviz’s team pointed NME to a tweet she sent in 2016 (“Don’t underestimate a russki:)”), which they claimed was posted after a personal issue. “The text and meme of this tweet had nothing to do with each other,” her representatives said.

In Verschuur’s blog post – published before Kraviz’s (May 17) Instagram post – he wrote that he supported the DJ’s right at the time to remain silent but added that it put an end to their business relationship.

“Let me be very clear about the fact that it is her right to do so. She is free to stay silent, and of course she is allowed to keep her political views to herself and to live her life as she wishes. She may well have her personal reasons to justify that behaviour, but as a business partner Clone Records is equally free to not conveniently accept those reasons,” he wrote.

“By not speaking out, Nina enables herself to continue her lifestyle and her life as a performing artist as if nothing is happening, while the looting, the raping, the murdering and the destruction of a country by her countrymen continues.”

Among other claims shared to NME, Kraviz’s team alleged that Trip Records’ latest concept album, ‘All His Decisions’, was delivered to Clone Distribution in 2021 “without issues and sent into production”.

“[In] mid April Clone asked for the meaning of certain track titles. Given the current circumstances the label gave them quotes from the artists involved explaining the titles, even when the distribution contract excludes all artistic matters. After worrying and disrespectful discussions, Clone decided to put the vinyl production on hold. Nina accepted that but at this point the relation broke down.

They continued: “The label informed Clone about switching to the new distribution company effective immediately on Saturday 14 May. On 16 May the public statement from Clone followed.”

Kraviz, meanwhile, is booked for several festival appearances this summer including Manchester’s Parklife, Barcelona’s Primavera Sound and Madrid’s Mad Cool festival.

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