Techno was created and developed far away from the mainstream. The underground sound got its deserved popularity in the past few years but there is a lot of movement in sound with sub-genres and a lot of talent you may not hear about.
We believe underground producers and labels deserve special recognition, so we will be dedicating our new feature series to this cause.
This week we will have a look into a rising name on the underground scene, Anastasia Kristensen.
Kristensen’s assured sense of self comes through in the music she has made her own. Tracks that could be bludgeoning in the wrong hands become tactile in hers, weapons to move bodies in unison. The music is spacey and then suddenly sharp as a tack, as breaks careen forward and records spin back.
Born into an artsy family in Moscow, a move to Denmark in the mid-2000s galvanised a determination to avoid conformity, and hack her own path. After years of sharpening her reputation as a resident at Culture Box, and in particular Mainstream, one of the city’s few dedicated LGBTQ parties, in early 2017 she was welcomed for her first shows out of Europe. The mini-tour of Pittsburgh’s Hot Mass, New York’s Unter and San Francisco’s The Stud – aka the white-hot fringe of the American queer underground – did not represent a risk. As with most things in Kristensen’s life, she was well-drilled to make the step up when the occasion presented itself. This short American run had the effect of throwing a can of gas onto a fire that was already burning bright.
From there, a live set was made up especially for a Strøm event on Copenhagen’s Metro. A celebrated edition of the Resident Advisor mix series arrived, as well as two Boiler Room shows in 9 months, plus career-defining trips to Movement and EXIT Festivals, and a general deluge of bookings to pack out the 2018 calendar. On have followed shows across the world: in Hanoi, Grenoble, Kaunas, Tuzla, Bogotá, Dresden, Edmonton, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo; a live performance for the Berghain on the opening night of CTM Festival, repeat bookings at Bassiani and Blitz, a graduation to Afterlife and Awakenings-sized events, and a stint as DJ Mag cover star. This prominence as a DJ has lent her the presence of a seasoned producer, bolstered by a successful introduction to her burgeoning chops, “Spring Ballade,” and high-profile remixes for artists like Special Request and Daniel Avery that generated mass airtime in clubs.
Yet only in 2019 did her first full release, an EP by the name of Ascetic, arrive on Warp offshoot Arcola – a point of immense pride for Kristensen, given both the main label’s unrivalled importance, and the sub-label’s fine roster of cutting-edge talent. It’s where she belongs. As well as straddling rave’s storied past and immediate future, another duality marks Kristensen at this stage of her career: the “collectivism vs individualism” she experienced growing up in a foreign land, working out the kinks of its society and its culture. This chimes with her status as a breakout star who still remains resolutely curious about the music, trends and people that makes the underground tick in any particular city she plays in. It is why she travels back to a city like Hong Kong, to feed off like minds and feed back into their ecosystem, to stay in touch with the person she has always been: an enthusiastic, geeky, utterly dedicated lover of music, first and foremost.
This folds itself around Kristensen’s aura in the booth and the sounds that come out of the studio: the sound of someone who is evidently having fun, and, critically, having fun making other people have fun.
By taking that vital first flash of energy and making it relatable, accessible and utterly infectious, Anastasia Kristensen has rapidly clicked with a great deal of people across all walks of dance music – and why she is set to keep doing so for years and years to come.