Romanian groovy master Mihai Popoviciu has been delivering slick melodic rollers for over a decade, making a standout DJ and producer when it comes to deep grooves, crisp precision, and dreamy synths. Over the years he had the chance to perform on some of the world’s biggest spots including Berghain and Watergate in Berlin, London’s iconic Fabric and Egg, D-Edge in São Paulo, and the infamous DC-10 in Ibiza, always bringing his infectious grooves with class and energy. As a producer, he’s being relentless in the studio and his tracks have been released on top-notch labels like Get Physical, Bondage, NO ART, Poker Flat, Bedrock, and of course his own Cyclic Records – the place where he feels free to let magic rhythms fly over the imaginations.
Following his release on Framed Realities we caught up with the man himself for a special interview.
When did you first start Djing and producing?
Yes indeed, in the first years of 2000′ when I started to produce and learn how to play records, access to electronic music was difficult. There was no proper internet at that time and there was no scene for this kind of music in Romania. To somehow explore and fulfill my passion for music, I started to produce music on a software called Jeskola Buzz. This was a freeware day which was surprisingly complex for those times. It took me about 4 years of experimenting with it until I released my first vinyl on Gigolo Records in 2005. I also learnt to play vinyl on the turntables of a friend from my home town and started buying second hand records. Around 2003-2004 I had my first gigs in Romania at small parties.
What was the musical experience that unleashed this deep sensitivity in you with the music you make?
It was a slow process of discovering new music and surfing around different styles. In the beginning I was more into techno, then electro and synth pop before landing on the house and deep house ground where I feel most comfortable. I like music with a lot of groove. In the first years of producing music I was more focused on melodies and later I started to pay more attention to rhythm and grooves. I believe that somehow I found a good balance between melody and rhythm in my music.
We have read in several interviews, your reflections on how artistic talent has lost value. Do you think that what generated the pandemic could reverse the effects of a scene that was distorted by the media?
I don’t think that there is anything that could reverse the effect of media into our scene. It’s just the way it is, you can only adapt to these times. However, the pandemic gives a chance for local acts to have more exposure for a while.
Tell us about your creative process… what are the states you inhabit until you reach the end of your projects? What are your current favorite tools and / or processes in the studio?
For almost 10 years now I produce music with Ableton. I am an “in the box” type of producer which means that I only use software and my setup is stripped down to the maximum. I have an almost daily producing routine and I work from home because I like the flexibility of sitting down and jamming whenever I want. I use mostly samples for percussion and a handful of virtual synths for the melody part of a track.
What is the context in which you feel best to develop your set?
The most important ingredients for a good set are a proper sound system and a cool and receptive crowd in a nice setup. The rest is just an exchange of energy from the DJ to the audience and back. Smiles are very important!
3 fundamental tracks from your own discography and why?
“Sexy Spenders” released on Gigolo Records in 2005 because this was my first vinyl that came out and I consider it to be my official start as a music producer.
“Adviced” released on Highgrade Records because I believe it has a timeless feel to it. I still play it nowadays and it always works great on the dancefloor. You could say that this track is my definition of house music.
“Glitter” to be out soon on Berg Audio. I have a very good feeling about it and I think that it has the ingredients to become a big track: it’s groovy and melodic with a melancholic touch.
How do you find the Romanian scene for when the festivals come back?
The Romanian scene has been very solid and influential in the past years and it will stay the same in the future. People are hungry for parties and interaction after all the restrictions and so much good music was produced in the last year. The best is still yet to come I believe. I can’t wait to get back to playing gigs!
We know that what motivates you is to see people enjoying themselves, regardless of what you do, but tell us … with so many years of experience, achievements and fulfilled dreams, do you think that your motivation continues to be born from there or now it comes from sustaining this dream that came true?
I will always find my motivation and inspiration coming from a good party or from a release that is well appreciated by the public. My dream was to earn a proper living from music and I hope to be able to do that for as long as possible. This pandemic break gave me time to produce a lot of new music and I am fully motivated to start touring again when it will be possible.
Let’s talk about your label, Cyclic. How was this project born? What is your concept?
Cyclic Records was born in 2012 as a platform mainly for upcoming talent. Most of the releases from my label come from artists that are little known but this is not a general rule. There is no deep concept behind it and I like to take things very easy with the label. I take care of everything from listening to demos to posting online. I release anything that I get sent to and like. There is no pressure of any kind, no deadlines or targets.
Finally, what could you share with us about the near future, in terms of projects, releases, gigs, etc …
I have several releases coming out by the end of this year on Hedzup, Berg Audio and Moan Recordings plus a bunch of remixes. A new collab with James Dexter is also shaping up. You should check out my last vinyl EP called “Azul” just releases on Bondage Music too.
Regarding gigs you can catch my playing this summer in Romania, Lithuania, France, Croatia and UK so far if all goes well with the pandemic.
Words by Pilar Molinero