By Krishna Prasad
Born in Obninsk, famous for being the location of the world’s first grid-connected nuclear power plant, Alina Liubina always had a penchant for classical Russian music from a young age. Little would anyone have guessed that, years later, she would end up being a professional DJ in India’s most famous party town, Goa.
Known by her artist name Kaos Kitten for melodic techno and progressive house project, and Missterical for underground techno, Alina first went to music school in childhood to learn how to play the orchestral instrument domra, along with piano classes.
After completing her graduation followed by a business management course from Russian State Social University in Moscow, she worked with a retail trading company. But corporate culture left her joyless with repetitious shifts, and she decided to do something different and expand her boundaries.
And so, she travelled to India and, gradually, fell in love with the place. She started to visit every year, got married and settled here 17 years ago, and calls it her second home. Her son is now seven years old.
“All my life, I collected music, and that’s how a DJ’s career usually starts,” says Alina, whose husband is also a DJ and taught her the ropes of the business. She has played all over India – from Delhi to Meghalaya to Kerala – and has had gigs in Russia, Qatar and Dubai as well.
What Alina loves most about India is its plethora of festivals, and that the people are friendly and congenial. “They always love to celebrate and have a good time,” she says, adding that their warm responses and feedback – both online and offline – give her energy and keep her going.
Though most DJs in India happen to be men, things are changing now, says Alina, especially since the audience and employers have realised that one’s gender has nothing to do with having good technical skills. “Many of them even say that I’m better with music than my male counterparts,” she smiles.
She loves Goa for its warmth, energy and its happening party culture. Her usual work routine requires a bit of prepping and homework before stepping into her console every night.
“Being a mother and wife, I do have my family responsibilities too so I’m continuously working at home. It’s a cumbersome process. I listen to all the latest releases and I am very picky with my music selection to meet the industry standards. The major part is music production, where one needs to experiment from a pool of options with sounds and play a bit around the tunes to create new dance floor anthems,” she shares about the process.
She names Indian artists like Synister, Calm Chor, Ash Roy, Tim Taste, Carbon, Breger, Danny Wabbit, and Monococ as being particularly popular in Goa’s underground scene. She also follows record labels like Phobos, Occultech, Soupherb and Subious.
While basic knowledge of music theory is required to be a DJ, Alina says, the actual job involves much more than just music research and production. “Sometimes, it can be pretty exhausting, travelling from venue to venue, having sleepless nights, not being able to have your meals in time, changing flights. Most of all, you’re missing home all the time, and can’t celebrate festivals with your family,” she admits.
She’s also become hardwired to stay away from anything that spells trouble, especially alcohol and substances.
The COVID pandemic has hit the party business the most, and it’s a testing time for DJs with venues being shut for months. “Undeniably, the entertainment industry is not going to be the same after this coronavirus breakdown,” she says.
But Alina has been using her time productively. “Since lockdown, I have been working on my personal music production, because finally I have enough time to do it. It gives you a sense of excitement when you see the result and are able to express your musical sentiment and idea effectively.”
A dedicated yoga practitioner, Alina says it helps her stay balanced amidst her hectic schedule. “It helps me release stress and feel healthier. In the future, I’m planning to open my yoga school too,” she says. “Right now, yoga is going along with my music very well.”
She signs off philosophically, “Music is an abstract form of art that can be interpreted in numerous ways. For me, the work of a DJ is the highest form of art. I am happy to be a willing servant and patron of this art.”
First published in eShe’s September 2020 issue