"I feel like, if anything, being at the ABC you can't make big claims, and you can't have a biased opinion..."
Sydney DJ Nina Las Vegas (aka Nina Agzarian) is starting afresh. A popular radio host on triple j, she left the station in October to focus on her fledgling label, NLV Records, and production. Meanwhile, Agzarian is emerging as a global star, landing a prestigious slot at Coachella.
Agzarian, originally from regional Wagga Wagga, has paid her dues in the dance music scene. She began interning at triple j in 2004. Agzarian went on to present the Saturday night program House Party, branding it with compilations and tours, then Mix Up Exclusives. The tastemaker has consistently supported cutting-edge Australian, and international, electronic acts — women among them. Some would say she's Australia's Annie Mac.
"I'm someone with the shortest attention span ever, so for me to have a job at one place for 11 years is kind of a pretty big deal!"
Agzarian's decision to quit her triple j "day job" was a momentous one. "I don't necessarily wanna stay in radio forever," Agzarian reflects. "I was just becoming a bit complacent and, when that happens, you have to move on. I'm someone with the shortest attention span ever, so for me to have a job at one place for 11 years is kind of a pretty big deal! So it was easy to let go of, in that regard. Everyone deserves a career change."
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Agzarian has already secured cred acts for NLV — even signing Melbourne's Lewis Cancut. She recently shared a sampler on SoundCloud entailing her own traphall banger Contagious, featuring Miami's Snappy Jit. Agzarian will drop the first part of an as-yet-untitled EP at the end of January. It will be her solo debut after two outings with Swick (the last, 2015's Cools Sports, materialising on A-Trak's Fool's Gold). "At the moment I'm happy to make club stuff," Agzarian says. "Especially in my job at triple j, I found that so many people are focusing on making radio songs and just really stuff that was expected — and I am okay with that not happening. I like that songs could be for a DJ set."
Australia's EDM movement has come under scrutiny with a spate of drug casualties at festivals. The mainstream commentary, and trolling on social media, has underscored the extent to which dance music is still misunderstood and misrepresented. "I am a pretty good person," Agzarian says. "I am a law-abiding citizen. I'm not fucked up and all that kinda stuff. I've survived in a really exciting scene for ten years and I love it. I feel like, if anything, being at the ABC you can't make big claims, and you can't have a biased opinion, so now that I'm not in the system, maybe I will speak out about how I perceive dance music. It's something that I grew up on and I'm really excited about."
On Saturday 16 Jan Agzarian will play the inaugural Corona Extra Presents SunSets Music Festival in Fremantle alongside Flight Facilities — a warm-up for April's Coachella, where she'll DJ on the same days as LCD Soundsystem. Though Agzarian has hung out at the Cali extravaganza with her friend Anna Lunoe, it'll be her first set. "I don't know the times I'm playing yet, but I'm sure it will be early — which is fine by me — because it's so hot and I'm in one of the tents, which means people will come to have a bit of shade."