There’s a deep complexity and emotion to Finnish-born producer Katerina‘s movements, be that as a DJ, producer or radio host. Part of the Cómeme family, a collective and label run by Matias Aguayo, she first contributed tracks to their Solidarity Forever V/A series, before going on to release her debut EP with the label back in 2018. And it’s with Radio Cómeme that she hosts her Emotsiya radio show, an outlet to spread her vast musical knowledge that takes its name from her own label, which has released music from Sansibar, Ann Hiko, Denzel and Endamisi Salamisi.
This year will see the release of more Katerina material, including an EP for her close affiliates Cómeme and another for Paris-based Tigersushi, and she’ll also be putting the final touches to her debut album, which will soon see the light of day.
For her Self-Portrait mix she pieces together an hour of original jams recorded over the last three years, alongside an interview about her approach to production and the people who’ve inspired her practice along the way.
Let’s start with an ice breaker, what’s your earliest musical memory?
It’s definitely classical music. Me and my cousins would listen to Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” – I remember it being very exciting, almost scary. I danced ballet from early on and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker was a big deal for me. I also use to practice to Jean Sibelius’s Valse Triste with my dad humming along to it, he loves that one. Also Waltz No. 2 by Shostakovich springs to mind.
Did you have a particularly musical upbringing?
Always music in our house. My dad is a musician, he was a drummer in a big band and played the trumpet. After he retired from being a touring musician he worked as a promoter and we’d be going to lots of concerts and festivals. There were always tickets to something haha. I learned about Jazz, Afro and Funk from dad. Both of my parents are classical music enthusiasts so I’ve soaked up a lot of it growing up. I took on piano lessons from age six onwards, later singing too.
What led you into music production?
A feeling inside me was telling me I have something to give but it took me years to actually get into it – I guess I was a coward.
Are there any producers or artists who have inspired your production?
My musical taste is wide and I’m probably inspired by all of it. Everything from Hip Hop to classical music.
Are there any particular rituals you go through before you head into the studio?
I get up in the morning, make coffee, take my cat out for a walk and then head to the studio. This is basically every day.
Do you come in with a destination in mind before starting a jam?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no but even if I have a certain idea in mind, most of the time I end up somewhere completely different.
Are you the type of producer to work on a track until it’s perfect, or are you more of an impulsive creator, happy with first takes and sketches?
I’m getting more and more into mixing and trying to make my songs sound better. I’m at the beginning of all of this and have only been producing for three years so it takes me a long time to finish a track. Ideas come quick and easy but to actually finish something takes time and hard work. I’m lucky that my friend Jani is teaching me how to mix. We’ve known each other since we were kids and he’s pretty much taught me everything I know and encouraged me to produce to which I’m eternally grateful for. He’s been a great teacher because he has more than 20 years of experience but also because he knows me and knows it’s important to take it slow, step by step because I get overwhelmed easily.
Can you talk us through how you might construct a track?
Every track is different but if I have an idea of a melody in my head I go to my piano and play around with it for a while, record the idea on my phone and then go in the studio and start to work on it. Sometimes I start with a vocal but rarely with drums. I record everything in Logic Pro X. As time goes on, my skills as a producer slowly improve but I still cherish most of my early musical ideas. I keep everything and sometimes go back to my early work, pick an idea that inspires me and see it through.
How much of your material is sample based and how much is original?
I enjoy playing melodies, harmonies, rhythms, so that’s what I do. I record stuff like birds, people talking, the ocean.
What’s the most important bits of kit that make a Katerina track?
I compose most of my ideas on my acoustic piano. It’s an instrument that I took on as a kid and I still find it’s the most comfortable tool to sketch ideas on. It’s not like I’m a good pianist at all but I like to play my own ideas and I really enjoy playing.
This mix is comprised of 100% original unreleased Katerina material. Could you tell us a bit about it? Any tracks that are particularly special to you?
It’s like a practice to finishing an album, at least how it felt. None of these tracks will ever be released as they are so it’s like a compilation of early works. In fact, some of the tracks and interludes are from three years ago when I first started and I just freshened them up a bit. When I first took this on, I didn’t realize how nervous I would feel putting this raw, unpolished piece of me out there. It’s quite personal, to say the least, but I kept reminding myself that nobody really cares that much haha
Anything on the horizon for you? Any releases we should know about?
Yeah, I’m gonna be releasing lots of music this year. I have something coming out on Comeme and Tigersushi Records in the next couple of months. I’m also preparing two EPs to be released on labels I’ve been dreaming to work with. Will continue putting (other people’s) music out on my own label Emotsiya and finally finish my debut album!
The Ocean Called
Death Comes Too Soon
UR Happiness (Interlude)
You & Me (In My Dream)
Her Name Is (Bullet Proof)
Sea Of Sparks (Interlude)
Lolita (Express 2 Hell)
You Wrote Me From Bali
Feelings Of Innocence
Ride With The Stars
Sexual Harassment (Guidelines)
Dreams Of Reality