May 14, 2021
5 min read
Korolova, real name Olga Korolova, finally feels connected to her music. Her lilting and emotional melodic techno represents a full-circle moment for the Ukrainian DJ and producer.
She first fell in love with dance music while watching Gabriel & Dresden in 2003. And while she's spent much of her career in EDM, she's held her connection to the soaring melodies she heard that night close to her heart. She's spent the last year reinventing herself, and she feels at home at last.
“I’ve never been a very big fan of pop music,” she says. “Before I listened to Korn and very hard music. Or British rock and old music, like Bob Marley.” But when she watched Gabriel & Dresden perform something woke up in her. She knew that she wanted to give others the same feeling.
Korolova immediately took to DJing. And she pivoted from a degree in mathematics to music, much to the dismay of her parents. Although her mom encouraged her to take music lessons as a child - a tradition she's continued with her daughter - her parents weren’t convinced DJing was a realistic career choice. “My parents started thinking that maybe you need to change your way and try to something else. They were worried. You can be a good music player, but my parents were not thinking about this as a good profession.”
She eventually found herself traveling the world as an EDM DJ under the name DJ Da Queen. She was living her dream of being on stage, but her heart was somewhere else. She says, “I was not very big fan of that style, actually. For me it’s too much hard bass. It’s why I wasn’t a very good producer of this music. I’m not feeling that.”
Korolova was grateful for her success, yet she struggled to find her voice. That changed when she traveled to Mexico to perform at Daydream Festival in 2017. She was booked to play the main stage with Yellow Claw, Oliver Heldens, Afrojack, and a host of other massive EDM heavy hitters. After her set, she ended up at a stage that resonated with her deeply. As she marveled at music from Claptone, Boris Breja, and Kölsch she turned to her manager (husband) and said, “Andrew, we need we need to do something in this way for sure. This is music for my soul.”
She started to work on techno as a side project in 2016 and still accepted gigs to play EDM. “Every time I wanted to start something my company would say ‘Olga you don’t have time, you have a lot of gigs.’ It was very hard for me.” That is until COVID hit. With no bookings, nothing was holding her back anymore. “It was time for me! I was very happy that we had time for my project Korolova. And it’s worked!”
Korolova has found her heart song. Her keen attention to melody is something she’s wanted to share since she first heard Gabriel & Dresden nearly 20 years ago. She’s now remixed Tube & Berger, released a collaboration with Jan Blomqvist on Get Physical, and has an upcoming project on Tiesto’s Musical Freedom. It’s a remarkable moment for her because Tiesto’s trance classics are such an integral part of her musical DNA.
She’s leaned into the beauty of her music with a series of YouTube videos recorded against breathtaking backdrops. They’re almost like personal Cercle events complete with drone shots of fantastic locations like Love Valley in Turkey, an ancient castle in Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ukraine, and the Farsh Café on the cliffs of Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
It’s a fascinating way to connect with her audience. And while the experience has been gratifying she admits, “It's a little bit sometimes complicated. Especially one of them in [a] frozen lake.” She imagined recording from a place many could only dream of. Especially her family in Portugal who has never seen snow before. However, she says, “It was very hard because it was minus 10. Can you imagine?” And her set from Egypt was another extreme, “And the last set was another situation, it was plus 35. It was so so hot!”
This intimate way of connecting with her audience is a nod to her preference for small rooms. Festival stages are too detached. She says, “I love to see the people. I love to see that reaction. They bring me energy and I'm bringing it back.” She goes on to explain how she needs to feel the warm energy of a smaller venue. “I prefer [a] small place when you can touch, you can feel each other.”
With her sound solidified, and her direction sure Korolova is eager to take on the future with a renewed sense of purpose. She finally feels heard, “My whole team, now understands what I tried to tell them [for] 10 years. It’s not just [a] project. It’s music.”