PALINA Kolenitchenko is a well-renowned international DJ and aspiring actor.
Under the stage name Palina La Diva, she has performed for brands such as Absolut Vodka, MTV, Grey Goose, Red Bull and worked with artists like Eric Bellinger and DJ Antoine.
Now based out of New York City, Palina continues to follow her dreams behind the decks and in front of the camera. Close-up Culture caught up with her to talk about her lavish lifestyle, female DJs, acting and much more.
Q: How did you get into DJing and what drove your passion for it?
A: I REMEMBER the moment when I discovered my sister’s portable CD player for the first time and her little CD collection. I would sit all day in my room and just listen to all the CDs that she had at the time. That is where my obsession with CDs started. I spent all of my money that my parents would give me to buy new CDs and then when we finally got a computer that changed my life.
I actually never thought that DJing would be my job one day. My friends and I would always make fun about me being a DJ because I always had the biggest music collection. Whenever we would hang out somewhere, or if someone had a birthday party or house party, it was always obvious that I would manage the music
Back then I would just switch the songs from my MP3 Player and then at one point when I started working and earned my first real money I decided to put that money into DJing – and learn it professionally.
I discovered then that DJing is way harder than I could have ever imagined but I loved it so much. I started practicing every day, sometimes for eight hours straight, and then I had my first booking for a festival in Berlin and I will never forget how nervous I was. I instantly forgot everything about DJing and I just saw buttons.
Of course that was only the first moment and I figured it out right after that. Thank God, otherwise my career would have been over before it had even begun. But after that festival I got a big opportunity to work as the resident DJ in a new Club in Berlin that turned out to be the best club in the city. From Justin Bieber to Lil Jon and Rita Ora, everyone was there. And yes, that is really how it all started.
Q: How would you describe your DJ style? What kind of music do you play?
A: I LOVE to play Hip Hop, R’n’B, Trap, Twerk and just everything that is Urban really.
That is the music that I always felt most connected to, but since I moved to New York and got booked for jobs where clients requested to sometimes mix some house tunes, I discovered my passion for that as well.
Q: What qualities and disciplines does it take to be a DJ?
A: FIRST, you should have a love of music – and I am not talking about the love that everyone shares for music. In my opinion it is more like an obsession. The need to experience music in every kind of way possible.
And then comes practice, practice and more practice. I know DJs who have been in the business for more than 15 years and they are still practicing.
I think that is really the most important part because that is how you are actually going to figure out your style of mixing – especially in the beginning. Along your way you will always find new things and it is also fun to just play around.
Q: Most people imagine the DJ life to be rather luxurious with world travel and rooftop parties – your Instagram shows that. How have you found the lifestyle? Is it really luxurious? Are there any pitfalls?
A: IT definitely is luxurious. I remember when I started having my first big gigs in Europe – they would always send a car to pick me up from the airport and organise fancy dinners beforehand with the people that were organising the event and other artists. So I would always feel like a little star.
But of course no one sees the whole unglamorous part behind it. The part where you sometimes have to travel for 10 or more hours to go to your next destination after working the night before. It is exhausting. You never really get enough sleep and your sleep cycle is completely off, especially during the week. But I figured out it was best to be as healthy as possible so I feel like I can handle it way better now.
Q: There is a real focus on the positioning and treatment of women in Hollywood – and other professions – at this moment. What is the atmosphere like for a female in the DJ community?
A: IT has always been a little tense, I would say. But in the end I think if you are really good at what you are doing in this business – especially as a woman – people will appreciate you. In my opinion sometimes good female DJs are appreciated even more than male DJs with the same skills. And I guess every female DJ has had people making questionable offers or saying inappropriate things. But as long as you conduct yourself like a true professional you will be treated with respect.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring DJs, especially females?
A: JUST practice and try to take any opportunity there is to get out there and play for a crowd no matter how big or small. Just know who you are and what your skills are. Do not let anyone tell you that you are not good enough or not pretty enough or not experienced enough. Just do your thing.
In this industry you need thick skin because people will always find something negative to say because most of the time they are afraid that you could become better than they are and steal their job.
Q: You are an actor as well as DJ. Do you get a different thrill and enjoyment from the two?
A: OH I surely do. As a DJ it is all about the crowd and what the crowd gives me – that is an unbelievable feeling that I cannot get from anything else.
But in acting it is more about me and experiencing different parts of myself and sometimes just diving into a completely different world. Whenever I am working on a new role for a new project I sometimes daydream about the how the character would think about certain stuff or how they would walk or what words they would use and what gestures. It is so interesting and while doing that I get to know myself so much better.
Q: What kind of acting roles are you looking for?
A: I AM not really looking for any specific roles. I like freaky and extreme characters though but almost every role has something special about it.
I would really love to play a role where I can be in a gun fight and where there are a lot of stage combat scenes. When I was in acting school that was always my favourite class.
Q: If you could play any character from TV or film who would it be and why?
A: MY dream role would be Natalie Portman’s part in Black Swan. I love the whole story and character – bringing two extremes into one and in the end be willing to die for it.
Q: Do you have any upcoming shows or projects you can tell us about?
A: I AM working on two great acting projects at the moment and of course I am not allowed to really talk about them. But what I can say is there are so many changes during the one movie that in the end you will just have that: ‘Oh my God, I did not expect that at all’ moment. That is the kind of movies I LOVE LOVE LOVE!
But I am also focusing more on producing music right now and I am looking for great artists to create some magic together. This year, some big changes will happen but I do not want to say too much before everything is finalised and signed.
So big things are coming!