Magda is that rare combination: a truly talented DJ and an exceptionally lovely human being.
I first met Magda in the front bar of a friend's friend's launch party, where she was mixing some disco records.
Not only was the mixing flawless – which was astonishing, given how bad the acoustics in the place were and the absence of any foldback - but the track selection and programming were both inspired in and of themselves and perfectly sympathetic for the mood and moment.
Then there's her versatility: I had her pegged as a house and disco DJ, then she killed it at HaHa's 'Redshape' party in Sydney a few months back, with a technoid set that would have done any of the panoramabar residents proud.
Magda is proof that some people are just meant to DJ. Listen to this and you'll hear why.
Magda presents: Forty Fathoms
...casual skype Q&A follows...
m: just remembered you gave me the extended mix of Carly Simon's Why... oh the awesomeness!
p: It is fucking hot, no? But this morning I am 'oh my fucking god' spazzing out over one of the tracks on Efdemin's newie, 'Wonderland'. Reminds me why I liked Brinkmann and microhouse.
p: *ahem* First question for the Q&A: tell me (describe) a little about this mix. Specifically, tell me a little bit about what makes it your mix? Where's the Magda in this mix, the 'Magda' moment? & (what) can this mix tell us about your general approach to DJing?
m: I try and create a specific promotional mix annually, one that encapsulates where I'm at with DJing as a craft and an aesthetic, if I can say these things without sounding too pretentious! I make them to give out to friends, promoters and musical types as a promo tool, and also for the pleasure of the process. I try and present as many of the sounds and textures that are interesting to me at the time in as cohesive a package as possible when doing these promos. I love allowing the records to breathe, be their own entity, but also interact beautifully with those around them and in the mix as a whole. Also I've always been interested in that magic moment where two records playing together create something entirely new, and that tends to mean long, smooth mixes for better interplay of parts. That can get boring though - it's good to provide contrasts as well! I think this sums up this mix and my overall approach to DJing.
p: Over the past two years, I've developed two rules of thumb (and fingers!) when mixing: 1) if you can, make it good. If you can't make it good, make it quick. 2) Mixing is over-rated; track selection is not. ...what do you think about that?
m: Absolutely agree – it all falls over if you throw down a couple of ill advised tunes and the energy dissipates. Coming back from that is much more difficult than from a fluffed mix - in fact, you can often turn a shit mix to your advantage, or at least the crowd's often much more forgiving of it. I remember seeing Gilles Peterson do exactly that in Berlin a few years ago, he absolutely trashed a mix, did a spin back, got on the mic and said something along the lines of "let's try that again", started the tune and the place erupted. All because the tune was excellent.
p: What are some other moments - either out, on the phones, in the past or recently - have been really transformative for you in terms of DJing? For me, it was hearing the Globus mixes by Herbert and Dan Bell, then hearing Michael Mayer play in Tokyo in 2002 at Blue, which is now defunct. The final event was so hot for me... it made me REALise how amazing DJing could be...
m: Oh wow, that's really difficult to answer - sketchy memories! Gigs that had a huge impact in the early years were the Tweekin and Sabotage parties held in Sydney at the Metro - moments of a dancfloor enthralled. Later on, Charles Webster's appearance at a Mad Racket NYE party was bliss also, and most recently I've had most fun at Picnic's first Horse Meat Disco party and Chris Duckenfield both as PPE and at Racket. These are all moments that stand out as reminders that above all, a night out has to be fun. And all the DJs that played are masterful technixians. In the headphones, recently, Steffi's Panorama Bar II mix, Move D's mix for Sydney's Aprés Sunday session (on their soundcloud, get onto it!) and pretty much anything by Mark E.
p: Where do you feel house and techno are at right now, in three senses or sites: 1) generally, as an artform; 2) geographically, in Sydney; 3) from the heart, personally? Where do you think things are moving, and what kinds of things are moving you? ....also: what do you think makes a fun night 'fun' - and/or: what are things that venues MUST have; what are things they often DON'T have (but should); what are some other things you wish they had? I keep going back to this interview with RV:
m: PC, this is crazy Q&A styles. Alright...
1) As with any artform, music has peaks and troughs and it seems as though we're on the up and up at the moment. I judge this by how much I'm inclined to buy, and at the moment what I'm finding exciting is that there is too much good music, which hasn't been a problem over the last 12 months or so.
2) I think Sydney heads have realised over the past several years that the only way to find a platform for great music is to create it yourself, and the result is a really healthy underground scene. Parties run by HAHA, Future Classic, Loose Kaboose, Co-op, Everyone, Shrug, Picnic and more besides are all about nurturing local talent with the occasional international headliner and it's really exciting to see.
3) Personally, I'm really loving the deep house resurgence that's occurring, now that the first wave of more generic derivative stuff has passed through and producers are really digging deep. Like point, one, there's too much really exciting music getting released!
Geeky discourse aside, a fun night depends on so many variables that it's almost irrelevant listing them. All the essentials should be in place, sure - sound systems need to be good, clear, not too low, not too loud, behind the scenes seamless, all that stuff. But unless you have a trusting, up for it crowd ready to go wherever they're taken, the details don't necessarily matter. I guess the challenge lies in attracting that crowd - people that want to dance! I think Mad Racket does that really well in Sydney - a venue that has faith in the promoters, a solid sound system, but mostly the reputation to pull in a great crowd of trusting, clued up punters who know they're getting a good party regardless of who's playing, pretty much. and with that, i sign off! good night to you, sir.