Magda: “Minimal techno is mainstream”

By ben raven

Since her move to Berlin in the early naughties Magda [a] has become one of the world’s biggest techno DJs riding the crest of the boom in underground music.

The Minus [a] [l] star takes a break from her insane touring schedule to answer some questions about her life on the road and why minimal is going all “ticky-ticky-ticky-ticky.”

What do you think about the boom in minimal dance music?

It’s now mainstream in a way.

When I go to clubs that played mainstream techno and now they play this.. you know .. it’s mainstream.

Even though that word has become a mainstream word I don’t believe that what me or my colleagues play fits that definition.

Although each person has their own definition of THAT word.

But a lot of the sound has become generic as with anything that becomes mainstream.

It’s over-formulated and over-saturated.

But what people are doing is still quite interesting so there’s still good stuff.

Its just that there’s more of it..

Minimal techno doesn’t have to be ‘ticka-ticka-ticka-ticka’.

You’re making a new album and touring a frightening number of parties each month, how do you find the time to make music?

It’s a major problem.

It takes a day to adjust when I come home.

There’s so much to do – bills to sort and things that have piled up and by the time I’ve had time for myself or to see a friend or wherever it’s time to leave again.

That’s a big reason why I haven’t had too much time in the studio but it’s no one’s fault and that’s how I choose to do it.

Do you still love DJing when touring is a constant gruelling process?

Playing itself is fun.

It’s a release and makes your brain work, it’s just getting there and getting out is the problem.

Dealing with that makes me crazy and what also makes me crazy are little things like being in the airport and having to get on a little packed bus to get the plane.

It’s very draining.

Do you feel under pressure to do every gig?

I realised there’s a fine line between sanity and doing every gig.

If I come home with a pocket full of cash but I feel shit mentally and physically shit then it’s not worth it.

There are moments where you have to do five gigs in a row.

But it’s not all the time. You need balance.

Especially in the summer it gets crazy.

You’ve been a resident of Berlin for the past five years, tell me about the first time you played that made you want to move?

I came to Germany to play for Zip’s Perlon night at the old Panorama bar and a Playhouse party.

I felt so lucky.

I worshipped and have been so inspired by these two labels and I got to come to Berlin and play at their parties.

The old Panorama bar was smaller but just as crazy.

I was so shocked the party went on ‘til 4pm.

I didn’t understand that concept and the fact that DJs played for four hours was ridiculous.

I was staying with Zip and at five in the morning I was asking him, “So, what time we going?”

He was like, “11.”

I thought no one would be there, but at 11 it was totally packed. I had the best time.

The whole city was so relaxing – so different from the hectic life in New York.

What’s your first memory of music?

My father’s record collection.

It was all classic rock from people like Electric Llight Orchestra, Pink Floyd or Eric Clapton.

I used to hate it at first but then I loved it.

As a kid I went through phases of rap, metal, indie rock.

I always liked hanging out with the alternative crowds.

I learned to play the bass a bit but I never had the inclination to join a band.

I was more focused on visual art.

When I was 17 I was rebellious, hanging out with some crazy people and started discovering some of the underground scenes around Detroit.

My best friend and I went a little goth for awhile and went to this bar called Changes.

They would play a half hour of indie, a half hour of industrial and then a half hour of techno.

So for a half hour the Goths would dance and the next half hour the ravers would dance.

What made you fall in love with dance music culture?

In Detroit when you walked into a party there was such a mix of people from ravers, diva house heads to skaters to nu wave punks — all kinds of people .

I remember going to one party and listening to Claude Young or Dan Belland going to another and hearing electro or Direct Beat ghetto tech.

Then going to a really black and gay loft party and hearing Moodymann or Theo Parrish.

I started listening more to the music at parties and thinking, “I really want to get this track”.

I went to a record shop and they found it for me but because it was only available on vinyl I bought four records and a turntable mixer combo so I could play them.

I drove my roommate crazy trying to match the beats of these four records all day every day.