Dina Vass is a one-woman powerhouse.
Few UK dance acts are as spirited and accomplished as Dina. Somehow, you know that she could chew you up and spit you out albeit in a cool and sassy, soulful-diva kind of way - just as confidently as she uses her tremendous vocal strengths to enchant and transport us to the centre of some faraway, house music ether.
There is nothing, it seems, that Dina can’t do. She sings her own music and lyrics, produces, and still finds the time to be her own manager.
It all began at the tender age of three when Dina became fascinated by her older brother¹s record collection. "He used to DJ years ago when I was really young," she explains. "He listened to Earth, Wind And Fire and George Benson and I used to soak it all up and dance about. After he left home, I became obsessed with listening to music, sneaking off with tapes and tuning into pirate radio stations during the early hours of the morning."
Only a few years later, the young girl from north London’s Greek community was able to take her passion one-step further. "When I was seven, my parents got a double keyboard organ and it was like paradise," she remembers. "I zoomed in on it."
The melodies that were already circling around in her head came to life when she wrote her first song at 11: "I had no one to sing it, so I had a go and kept on writing. I always knew I wanted to take it further. I wanted to be up onstage making loads of different music."
Dina recorded the track at a friend’s studio and it was pressed and released without any industry involvement. "I was recording wherever possible, trading session time for backing vocals," she recalls. "My family thought it was just a hobby, but I took it to the extreme."
After leaving home at 15, Dina took up dancing to make ends meet. "I used to lie about my age," she confesses. "I worked at the Equinox in the Empire, Leicester Square. I choreographed loads of routines for myself, and once they looked professional, I auditioned and totally blagged my way in."
She went on to perform at clubs all over the capital and still insists that showmanship is vital: "I don’t like to be put in a box. I like to do what I feel, and that’s the same with dancing. It’s all about the feelgood factor. When you love what you are doing, you want to share it with everyone. It’s everybody’s gig."
It was this kind of self-assurance that enabled Dina to break into dance music circles. Despite playing PAs all over the country, she wasn’t about to sit on her laurels and wait for things to happen. Instead, she set off for Ayia Napa with 100 copies of a single that she cut herself. There, during the daytimes, she adopted the persona of "Dina’s agent", Nadine, and successfully convinced the resort’s promoters to let her appear.
"I was diplomatic but firm so they didn’t think I was a fly-by-night," she reveals. "Then I’d come back the same evening with a different hairstyle and outfit. Some of them cottoned on but thought it was funny. It really worked in my favour because they helped me out even more."
On her return, DJ Luck and MC Neat were playing the single, "Don’t Wanna Lose You", and it wasn’t long before she signed her first deal, with Honey Beat Records. Since then, she’s been picked up by Go Beat! and is set to make a major impact with her favourite "soulful and funky-sounding house", as well as softer ballads, US garage and hard house.
Dina has an astonishing eight albums worth of material written and waiting to go, but it’s the soul-soaked, ethnic melody of "The Love I Have For You", recorded with production team Full Intention, that has become one of the difining moments of Funky House
Beyond music, Dina has a passion for fast cars and motorbikes, and she’s been known to do a bit of stock-car racing. In her youth, she was an accomplished ice hockey skater, and created her own trend by taking break-dancing to ice rinks all over London.
"I love anything related to speed and I love to aim for the impossible," she grins. "Life is too short, so you’ve got to aim high and I do like to go for the total extreme. If you are hungry enough, it’s got to be worth more than life itself."
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