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Cooking with Dina

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Dina Ginzburg ’18, from Berlin, is an artist who involves herself with radically different disciplines. She is a computer science major as well as a member of the band Calypso Baby! with Blake Oetting ’18 and Noah Lifset ’18.

Although this band and her solo work are closer to studies of experimentalism, a compositional practice that explores sensibilities and movement, she first became interested in music through classical music. 

“I’ve had piano lessons since I was seven, so I’m pretty classically trained. I had a Russian piano teacher. I can pick stuff on a guitar and I sing, but I don’t really like my voice,” Ginzburg said.

This classical training in piano has not manifested itself in musical pretentiousness. Modern technology has influenced her art and music.

“We’ve been talking about that in my Integrated Media Design class a lot because a lot of that has to do with using different mediums like projection. But basically it’s more tools for making art and if they’re the right tools for the idea that you have and the message you’re trying to get across, of course, use whatever you need, ” Ginzburg said.

However, she does believe that technology should only be used purposefully.

“Technology for technology’s sake is obviously pretty stupid,” said Ginzburg.

She dislikes the new culture of creating music with high-tech equipment and catered towards those who are familiar with specific types of music theory or practices. She believes that this type of culture is one that is exclusionary and also doesn’t really guarantee good or interesting music. Ginzburg herself is not trained in this way.

“I don’t think I’m technically or formally trained, like I’ve never been taught music theory or had any training in how to play an instrument other than piano or been taught how to write songs or anything like that. And I recorded them on my laptop and I don’t care if I make mistakes or it sounds weird. So like depending on the constraints I have on what I’m doing, each album sounds really different,” said Ginzburg.

The aesthetic of each album’s artwork also plays an interesting role in setting the tone for the album. She described the reason behind  her album “cooking with dina.”

“This one is because I wrote all of these songs while I was here over the summer and I had just moved into my new apartment and it reminds me of home and being okay,” said Ginzburg.

She looked at another album called “RELG 008: PAtternsof Asian Religions,” and explained the album art:

“This one is just a photo from my Patterns of Asian Religion class. The professor would have photo slides and he would click and they would change.” She points, “this one is a reclining Buddha which has lots of meaning and I just thought it’s a really moving photo,” said Ginzburg.

She described the artwork for her first album, “for myself”, illustrating the influence from her time at the Harvard library.

“I was working at the Harvard library in the Judaica division. This one is from these postcards that we were cataloging and archiving, and also this album is vaguely about me getting over my high school boyfriend like two years later. I’m into more traditional gender roles when it comes to romantic relationships and like how that was shown here,”said Ginzburg.

Music can be a profoundly cathartic medium, one which Ginzburg appreciates both on a personal level and on the ways it can heal society.

“Music is very emotional and it’s a very visceral thing. You hear it and you immediately feel

it,” said Ginzburg.  

She believes that the empowering faculties of music are especially relevant in today’s time and that music can be a source of hope. Inspirational artists that spread messages relevant to modern times can play a crucial role in our future society.

“I feel like 2016 was such a good year for music and there are so many important albums like Solange’s album, and Tribe Called Quest’s. I just found this woman named Xenia Rubinos who is also amazing,” said Ginzburg.

One artist that Ginzburg loves is PJ Harvey, a female English musician, poet, and composer.

“I’m going to go see her in April in Philly alone. I’m going by myself and getting there early and will stand first in line. She’s really awesome. I really really connect with her, especially as a woman and the way she responds to femininity and the way she feels as a woman,” Ginzburg explained.

“Also, every album has a completely different style and different aesthetic, even the music videos and her live shows. She always feels very of-the-time. Her most recent album, which she’s going on tour with, is all about globalisation and capitalism and she’s moved farther away from the 90’s angsty girl music.”

Ginzburg is excited about the performance also because PJ Harvey deeply resonates with her at this point in her life.  

“She just came to me at a really perfect time. I just really think she’s so cool.”

Ginzburg’s funky taste in music and ideals of inclusivity show through in her own work. In the upcoming year, Dina and Calypso Baby! plan to record their albums in a professional studio, and to also direct music videos for their songs.

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