Ninajirachi chats online communities, confronting solitude and performing live ahead of her Liminal performance
Liminal is a new live music performance series hosted by The Sydney Opera House. The dynamic new film series set to engage some of the most creative musical minds in the country. This week’s Liminal releases includes a performance by Eora based producer extraordinaire, Ninajirachi, premiering tonight.
Taking place inside SOH’s iconic Joan Sutherland Theatre and directed by acclaimed entertainment studio Subversus, the team will radically transform the stage into an evocative Lightbox of colours and sounds for audiences all around the world to experience from the comfort of their homes. Ninajirachi is paired with a 360-degree blank canvas performance space, where she will be performing a full set of original tunes spanning across her entire career.
To get to know the performance better, we chat to Ninajirachi about performing live, how collaboration has elevated her artistic strengths, online music communities, and what Liminal means to her.
You can check out Nina’s performance after it airs at 8pm tonight HERE as well as artist performances from the Liminal line-up as the drop each weekend from mid-November.
How do you believe your relationship with performing live changed over the past year and half? Has your perception of what a show of yours changed based on the break?
At my shows before lockdown, I was more concerned than I am now with playing the music I thought people wanted to hear. Playing music for money is such a privilege and I have to provide a service and give people a great time, which sometimes comes with some compromise. Over the last year or two though, spending so much time on the internet and watching the rise of so many niche and amazing microscenes, I’ve realised that often people don’t know what they like until they hear it. I actually want my shows now to be more of an opportunity to show people the music that I love and find interesting. I also can’t take for granted that there are going to be more opportunities to take risks at my shows in the future, because shows have been cancelled with a moment’s notice again and again over the last two years – playing whatever kind of music I want to play feels more urgent now than ever.
You started off as producing in your bedroom, but your artistry has really evolved to a whole range of skill levels. How important has collaboration played in your personal learning as an artist, or how important is collaboration in you becoming the artist you are today?
It’s been imperative! Truly nobody can do this on their own. I taught myself songwriting and to produce when I was very young, but without any help, the learning process was super slow and insular. Collaborating with Kota Banks and my ongoing working relationship with her has taught me so much about songwriting and pop artistry, and collaboration in general has taught me to hear my own music in different ways. I can get so caught up in tiny sounds and song elements that I miss the bigger picture, or fail to hear important changes that need to be made. Hearing alternative perspectives from people in my inner circle is really invaluable and there’s no way I can grow without their support and advice.
How has being forcibly confronted by solitude changed your opinion on the idea of motivation and being an artist? Did you need to find new and unique ways to remain motivated creatively? Or was being creative in parts genuinely impossible?
At times it was genuinely impossible. For me, being an artist is not about creating new work, more about interpreting, deciphering and transcribing. All of my favourite ideas feel like they come from outside of myself and my job is just to reproduce them into something more tangible. Having limited stimuli from the outside world and missing out on face to face experiences meant that for me, there was less material to shape into art, if that makes sense. Lockdown or no lockdown though, I simply can’t be creatively motivated all the time, and I’m more comfortable with that now! The last few months reminded me that I’m a person before I’m an artist, and it’s okay to take it easy. Big love to my close friends, team, partner and Twitter mutuals (it’s been a bit of an outlet haha) for helping me to remember that <3
So many music communities have shifted online. You’re deeply ingrained in an online music community that isn’t limited by genre or boundary. How much credit do you give being engaged in an online community to both your success as an artist, but also in finding your feet to be the artist you are today?
I give it SO much credit, I feel like my artist journey began when I started using YouTube to discover artists like Porter Robinson when I was in year 7. I grew up on the Central Coast of NSW which is a regional, beachy area with a pretty straight, white demographic and homogenous culture, so my access to electronic, dance and club music and their cultures was basically entirely via online communities. I’m SO unexplainably grateful for my access to the internet and these online communities and friends in my adolescence, because even when I felt misunderstood by the people immediately around me, I knew that there were others out there in the world with the same interests as me and it was only a matter of time before I could be amongst them.
What can we expect from your Liminal performance for the screen?
Performing as part of a series that includes an array of incredible live vocalists and instrumentalists meant that if I wanted to play a DJ set, it would have to be more special than any DJ set I’ve played before! So, I combined elements of 26 different songs from my discography, all mashed up into a 39 minute mix. I really enjoyed every minute spent putting this set together, it made me feel very proud of my work and the set itself feels like a bit of a love letter to my discography up until now.
It’s been 4 massive years since your breakthrough track Pure Luck. What do you wish you could tell your younger self, at the stage of your career?
I would give her a big hug and say don’t worry so much about school lol, just have fun, academia isn’t everything and it’s not what you think it is. Stop being so afraid of being disliked and don’t stifle yourself for people at school who only started being nice to you after your music got played on the radio lollllll. There are powerful and accomplished people AND people who REALLY care about you who think they know what’s best for you, but you’re right to trust your gut! Everything is going to get better! Keep going hard, I love you!!
How special is performing as a part of the Sydney Opera House new film series, Liminal, mean to you? Where does it rank on your career goals?
I’m not kidding, I wrote ‘play at the Opera House’ on a list of life goals when I was in high school, alongside things like ‘buy a house’ haha. It’s crazy special! I never expected that it would happen in this capacity and I’m so grateful to everyone involved for believing in me and having me be a part of the series.
What does Liminal mean to you?
The space in between, something transitional. Very fitting for this series and its timing – watching Liminal online so far has been a really nice way to prepare for Sydney having live music again!