Photo courtesy of twnty three
23-year-old Australian triple threat Nina Wilson, better known as Ninajirachi, is one of the music industry's biggest forces to be reckoned with. The genre-defying producer, songwriter and DJ has already made a name for herself, gaining nods from Billboard, BBC Radio 1 and The Guardian. To top it all off, her 2021 collaborative EP with fellow Aussie artist Kota Banks, True North, was recognized as the 7th-best album of the year by The Atlantic. In 2022, Ninajirachi continues to be a trailblazer with the upcoming release of Second Nature, her first mixtape.
Second Nature proves just how naturally electronic music-making comes to the artist, and she flexes her muscles across the 12 tracks. In the limelight are Ninajirachi's artistic sensibilities and her signature out-of-this-world production. There's great momentum within the project, and as a result, you can't help but foresee a continuing upward trajectory in her career.
Tonitruale got an opportunity to talk to Ninajirachi about her upcoming mixtape, the work that went into making it, what's in store for the future and everything in between.
Despite the lack of traditional instruments, Second Nature still manages to be quite evocative of nature. How intentional was that, and did it play a hand in naming the mixtape?
Yeah, it definitely played a hand in the naming of the mixtape. It kind of went sound first and then title. The title was actually one of the last things I had for this project at all. It kind of got to the point where when the music was done, I still didn't know what I wanted to call it, so I found that title which was very last minute and very lucky, but I guess I'm from Australia, and there's a lot of beautiful sounds in the Australian outback that I've recorded and put in here as well, but I guess it wasn't super intentional I just was sort of doing what felt right and what sounded nice to me in the moment, and that just happened to be sounds using all of those kinds of recordings and stuff, so I guess that was how the title came about it was more after the fact.
I'm curious about your music cover art. Pure Luck has a simple illustration of flowers, which was way back in 2017, but as the years progressed, you've moved to these rich, shimmery, and extremely detailed artworks. How much of a say do you have in that, and how much do you think they reflect your evolution as an artist?
I've never actually really thought about it, but I'm pretty sure all of my cover art for every song I've ever released has some element of nature on it which is quite cool now that I think about it. I think that just sort of speaks to me and my interests, I guess, and where I grew up because I didn't grow up in a city, I grew up in more kind of regional Australia. A lot of the time, they're the color blue as well. That's just something I like. It's also really cool to think about the fact that it was a real simple flower illustration, and now it's more detailed because I think my production has gotten more detailed over that span of time as well. Pure Luck was quite a simple song, and a lot of the music I'm putting out now has a lot more kind of detail to it. I think that's a reflection of my skill and my taste, I guess. But also just my growth as a person as well because when I put out Pure Luck, I was 17, and it was my first song, and I didn't really know much about what I liked or what I wanted to be. It was a confusing time as being 17 is, I guess, and now I know much more about myself and who I want to be, so there's really more to explore and be more explicit about what's on the cover art. I don't make the cover art myself. I'm pretty collaborative with other artists. I'll usually find someone whose work I like and commission them, send them references and go back and forth that way.
Multiple publications have described your music with words like "transcendent," "ethereal," and "exhilarating." Does this align with your artistic intentions?
Yeah, I think so. That's really, really nice and flattering to hear that people have said those things. I guess those are words I would use to describe my favorite music that I listen to by other artists, and I'm a fan of music before anything else, so I started making it because of that, and I guess if that's just my influences shining through that's really cool. I guess I just sort of always sit down and make whatever feels right to me in the moment, which is always a very big range of things, so I never kind of sit down and think, "Oh, I'm gonna try and make something transcendent" because I feel like that would be setting myself a bit of a challenge, but the fact that people feel that way about it is really cool because that's how I feel about the music that I'm inspired by.
Could you describe the creative process behind Second Nature?
So the reason it's a mixtape is because a lot of the songs don't necessarily link up together. All but one of the songs on the whole project were written completely individually, not thinking about a project, a bigger body of work, cohesion, or gluing things together - not at all. They were all just written on completely separate occasions, completely different contexts, and completely different times between 2019 and 2022, so that's why it's a mixtape because it's just a collection of songs that are all individual little pieces that I wanted to release, so it made sense to put them all together. The exception is the song called Soma. I think it's maybe track 5, and I made that song because I wanted to create a link between One Long Firework… and Petroleum and I just couldn't find a way to make the two songs go together, so I figured it would be best to make kind of like an interlude between them. So it started as a really short 30-second piece of music, and then it just grew and grew into the song called Soma. That was the only one I made where I sat down and thought, "Okay, this is for my mixtape." Every other song, I have no idea what I was doing. I just sort of had them all and then put them all together.
In the past, you've said Flume inspired the production of One Long Firework in the Night Sky. Are there any other influences that shone through in other tracks on Second Nature?
Definitely, a lot of the songs are quite different, so I'd say individually, they're all inspired by different artists. The songs that I've made with collaborators are all inspired by the collaborators I've worked with because all the people I've worked with are my friends and people I spend time with outside of making music. I love them as people; I love them as artists as well. I guess there was a bit of Porter Robinson influence, especially on track 3 Things I Never Knew. That song was also inspired by artists like James Ivy and Instupendo. Cashmere Cat is one of my biggest idols and influences as well, big time. Sinjin Hawke, Zora Jones and all of the Fractal Fantasy camp - I love their music, and it's always been really inspiring to me. But I guess on a songwriting front, Mallrat as well, who's an Australian artist and one of my good friends. I think she's such a brilliant songwriter, and she's always really inspired me lyrically and melodically. There's probably a lot more artists that I'm missing, but those ones are big ones that I can think of off the top of my head.
Kota Banks is a feature on Crush Me, and you've worked with her extensively on your collaborative EP True North. How would you describe your creative relationship?
With Kota, everything is very fun and natural. We just have so much fun together. She's one of my best friends in a personal sense, like beyond music. We met as musicians but making True North, we spent so much time together that we now have a really deep personal relationship, and I just love her to death. A lot of the time, we never even say to each other, "Okay, let's go and have a session and make a song." We'll just sort of be hanging out and start doing that because it's fun to us, and that's why she's one of my favorite people to work with because it just feels so natural, and we never really have to sit down and try. Even if we were making something silly, it just always feels good. She's also so fast and so talented. I feel like we have a similar pace to one another, and we can finish songs quite quickly and then feel excited about them because they've been quick. With Crush Me, that was a similar thing. I was having a bad day in the studio, so I asked her to come and hang out and not even necessarily make something, just kind of see what happens, and then we made Crush Me, and it was perfect, so she's the best. Love her. Highly underrated.
Second Nature being your first full-length solo project, were there any challenges you faced for the first time?
I think, in general, this has been the hardest project I've ever worked on, and I think that was mainly because I was trying to work on it through a really heavy lockdown in Australia. I lost a lot of shows, and it was just sort of not a great time for my mental health, so I had no desire to work on this thing at all. I think eventually it came good, but I think if that challenge had not arised, it probably would have come out a bit sooner. I usually like to work a little faster than I have on this one. Just because of what was happening in the world, it was a real hard struggle to work on this. I think the other thing that I struggled with was working on songs that were kind of old. I made some of the songs in 2019 when I was a teenager, and I just felt like I'd outgrown them a little bit that I just had to keep reminding myself that other people are hearing them for the first time and to them, it's exciting even though I've spent way too many hours just listening to the same thing.
What do you anticipate the reception to the mixtape will be both locally and internationally?
I really don't know, but I have a really open mind. The reception to the singles has been really cool. It's been really nice to see people really enjoying them. I hope people like it, but I never set any crazy expectations for myself cause, in the end, I started making music as a hobby, and it's always just been a fun thing for me and unfortunate that other people like it, so sometimes I get to make some money from it, but in the end, I make music for selfish reasons because I love it and no matter what happens I'm just happy that this is out there and if people like it that's great; if they don't, that's cool. I'll just make another one and see how that one goes.
You'll embark on a tour around Australia a week after Second Nature's release. For international fans, is there anything on the horizon?
I can't say. I'm really excited for these Australia shows. It's gonna be a busy summer. I've got the tour and then a lot of festivals as well but international; my lips are sealed for now.
What additions to your discography can fans look forward to after Second Nature?
I don't think I'm quite done with the Second Nature era yet. I feel like there's gonna be a few alternative versions that I might want to show people that I've been working on in the last couple of weeks. So if they end up being good, I would love to show people those. I actually have a collaborative EP with another Australian producer who I've looked up to for a really long time. I won't say who it is, but we've been working on something really cool, and I guess the natural next step would be an album, but I'm putting no pressure on myself. I just wanna enjoy making music, so I'm gonna keep doing that, and if I make anything good, I will show as many people as I can.
Second Nature comes out on 11/11 and you can listen to it through any platform listed on Ninajirachi's website.