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New dance star Tina Says proves the Perth scene is on fire

In our new series Spotlight, DAVE RUBY HOWE is profiling the local electronic artists you need to know. Today, it’s Perth native Tina Says.

When Christina Kostopoulos was wrapping up her trek to Splendour in the Grass as a punter in 2014, she made a pact with herself.

“I told myself that I would only go again if I was playing,” Kostopoulos, who DJs as Tina Says, admits. So it was a good thing when that gambit paid off and she got the call up to DJ at Splendour 2016. “I was kind of in shock when I found out and so excited,” the Perth native beams. “It was great for that aim to materialise.”

Repping Perth mainstays Pilerats during their takeover of the Smirnoff stage, Tina says that the highlight of her Splendour experience came when a special guest crashed her set. “Emoh from What So Not surprised me and jumped on during my second set,” she remembers. “He played back-to-back with me for a while. It was awesome!”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Tina’s keeping company with the elite of the Australian electronic scene. Even though her output as a producer is still in its early stages, she’s already a card-carrying member of the Perth club community with a reputation as a solid selector.

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“I was always into electronic music, mostly club music – like obsessed. My friends would laugh at me for playing the heaviest music in the morning,” she laughs. “One of my good friends had decks that he hardly used so he lent them to me. I purely took it up for fun, but a bunch of friends that run club nights back in Perth told me I could pursue music if it was something I really wanted to, if I put the time and effort in. I felt so inspired by that talk and feeling a bit of dissatisfaction with every other type of work I’d ever done, that I was like, okay I’m going to do this.”

Once she’d mastered the DJ thing, Tina took the next step and started producing her own tracks. With an ear for what works in the club thanks to all those late night sets, the challenge of teaching herself production appealed to her.

“I realised there was a big gap in the music industry where more female music producers should be and I wanted to step up and fill it”

“I got to the stage with DJing where I had it down-pat, and I was curious to start creating music – seeing as though teaching yourself production had become so accessible,” she says.

“I also realised there was a big gap in the music industry where more female music producers should be and I wanted to step up and fill it. At the time Alison Wonderland was just starting out, Tigerlily was popping onto the scene too. They both definitely inspired me and made me see what was possible and in different ways.”

So far Tina’s studio offerings – including a dark and rumbling reimagining of KLP’s Air on the digital remix EP, and most recently the thumping original Check It – have spoken volumes to her potential as a producer. “I wanted to write a fast-paced club track – around 90 bpm – and I’m also super into jungle percussion at the moment, it really just hits a spot for me,” Tina says. “So those two elements came together to form the basis of Check It.”

The release of the single saw Tina heading outside of Perth for her first interstate tour (it wraps up at Perth’s Mondo on Friday), an exciting prospect for the Western Australian who admits that the local community can feel occasionally isolated from the rest of the country.

“Even though we have a super versatile club music culture here with heaps of talented players, it’s expensive for artists in Perth to fly over east, so getting those first interstate gigs is more of a challenge. You don’t have that proximity to other club scenes and it’s not as easy to just jump across to a neighbouring state for a gig on the weekend,” she explains.

“But in a way I feel it is easier to stand out or make a name for yourself in Perth – the big fish in a small pond thing, which is the deceptive in the scheme of such a massive industry.”

Dave Ruby Howe is a writer, broadcaster and music director of Australia’s largest independent music discovery platform. You can find him on Twitter.