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Stellar Vibe

A Swedish DJ lands a solid one for the DIY ethic

Samar Grewal Jun 10, 2008
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“I get very bored if someone plays a whole hour of tech-house,” offered DJ Stella Nutella with a deadpan bat of the eyelids and a look that we best interpreted as ‘There! I said it.’ Bright as a disco ball mere hours after an effervescent, wall-shattering set at Kuki in Delhi, the perpetually itinerant Swedish-born spinner was trying to explain to Rolling Stone why her show sounded so different from the mostly straight-up psy and progressive that’s the bread and wine of EDM crowds all over this country. “I play a mix-mash of different styles. Often times I play one house track, then electro, then trance. It’s just how you put it together to make it work. I try to forget the genres and just play what sounds and feels good. I try to surprise myself,” she added.

Stella to her fans (and there are many, judging by the impressive list of gigs she’s blasted from all over Europe to Brazil, Zambia and Japan), Hanna Flemstrom grew up just outside the Arctic circle, in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, listening to and learning English from Depeche Mode records. After picking up a love for psy-trance (besides her name and a hitherto-undiscovered knack for spinning discs) in London, Stella branched out variously into progressive trance, deep-electro and tech-house in the course of dividing residence between various European cities.

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It’s been a journey at many levels, and the confidence one must need to feel at-home in any environment showed clean through in her inspired gig at Kuki. Starting off with some fairly archetypal stuff (the kind that tends to make everyone at the bar grudgingly bend one knee to the beat), Stella took about three quarters of an hour and a baffling variety of imaginatively treated fuzz and noise, in addition to the characteristic house samples, to propel her mixes and her audience towards a series of ecstatic and immensely gratifying crescendos and bursts. And the sonic melange she concocted was a master class in translating the personal (in this case unusually accented, and often irregular, breaks) into the accessible.

In India for a couple a months, Stella’s been able to make a four-week window for herself before the mid-June shows in Bengaluru and Mumbai, in which to travel to Kathmandu, trek in the Himalayas, get in hours of her beloved yoga and scout local talent for the female DJ agency she runs in Kuala Lumpur, where she is currently based. “I’ve spent some time in Bombay and I like the dance scene here. But I think the problem in India is that there aren’t enough good clubs. New trends get here very slowly and stay small because they’re swallowed by the more commercial and safe Bollywood and Hip Hop. But it’s been recommended to me to check out a couple of Indian DJs so I’m looking forward to that,” she said. Be that as that may, whatever end of the EDM spectrum your loyalties lie at, having heard her weave that crazy pumped-up sound, we think any opportunity to be in the same room as Stella Nutella shouldn’t be passed-up.

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Five things I won’t leave home without

  1. Pink MacBook. Though i do most of my work when I’m home, I’d never go anywhere without this.
  2. USB key for Logic, my computer programme. Without this, there is no music.
  3. Pink Mobile phone. The colour is very important.
  4. Yoga mats. I’ve been practising for a decade now.
  5. My passport.

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