Join us as we take a trip in to the world of Detroit raised, Magda. Not many words are needed to introduce such a high caliber artist from over the years, a sturdy reputation built upon a dare to be different ethos. Taking music in directions beyond the imagination. The definition of an artist, combining a wide range of aspects; audio, visually and the surroundings they can be experienced.
We discussed exciting new projects regarding Perm Records, and her unique alias under the name Blotter Trax. Live set ups, upcoming festivals and mention of a particularly random trip from Colombia to Margarita Island, Venezuela.
Check it for yourself…
First of all, many thanks for your time and catching up with us again after almost six years. How have you been?
I have been well, thanks for asking. So yeah, let’s catch up! 😉
Just a little bit about your past. It has been an incredible twenty years since you first signed with Minus, touring with Richie Hawtin. Is there any particular memories that really spring to mind when you think of these times? How would you say the scene has changed since then?
It’s crazy to think two decades have passed since I began all of this… Some memories feel like another life. Those early days were pretty crazy, especially moving to Berlin in 2003. Everything felt so raw and free and completely wild, it was a real shock coming from NYC where the nightlife was restricted by no dancing laws and curfews. Berlin was the opposite and I loved it. My first gig was at the old Panorama Bar when Zip invited me to a Perlon night. I’ll never forget asking him what time I was playing and he said 11 AM. I was shocked. I’ve never heard of such a thing, and it was even more shocking to find out that it was completely packed the entire day. That’s the truly unique thing about Berlin, which has also taught me how to play long sets. There are so many funny memories I have of first tours, travels and crazy adventures. One that springs to mind is being on a jet in Colombia, sitting on the pilot’s lap with a bottle of vodka en route to a show on Margarita Island, Venezuela, where we got into a car crash and got help from a transsexual prostitute. I know it sounds like I’m making this up but I’m not.
Regarding the scene, things will always change and we adjust the best we can. I would love for artists and managers to come down to earth a bit more and work with promoters with more realistic expectations so that they can build the scene as they want it.
When you look at future events you have planned across the year such as Time Warp, UP Festival and Houghton Festival, it does not really get much bigger than that. Would you say you prepare differently for these types of high profile gigs than smaller events? Is there any particular parties you always look forward to playing the most?
I usually think about every gig beforehand, but I do prepare a bit more for festivals and shows I find dear to my heart. I particularly look forward to parties where I play alongside my friends in special venues. Houghton Festival, for example, was just that. Playing in the woods, and in nature in general, is incredible. It’s just such a good vibe.
Speaking of Festivals, A fresh addition UP Festival taking place at a new destination for the festival land; Czech Republic. Do you think a festival can play a vital role to a country’s exposure?
Absolutely. I must say I usually don’t play there and many of my friends don’t either, so it is a great opportunity to expose the Czech people to what we do and hopefully grow something new.
This April your next release under your psychedelic alias Blotter Trax with T.B. Arthur will see the light of day, how did this collaboration originally begin, and what separates these ideas from your other projects?
TB Arthur and I were introduced by our mutual friend BMG of Ectomorph because I was obsessing over TB’s first releases. We immediately hit it off and connected through our shared love of the sound from the midwest growing up. From our first studio session, it was clear we were onto something, and things just flowed after that. The workflow is exactly what makes this project different: we don’t use a computer and we base everything on long studio jams recorded straight to tape. It’s a fast and exciting process because of the limitation of not multitracking anything. Whatever happens, happens, and we have had some wonderful surprises and happy mistakes along the way. These recordings were about capturing great live performances and playing off each other, much like recording a band.
The Blotter Trax outlet is based around all analogue machinery, is this something you have always had an interest in?
I’ve always worked with both digital and analog formats but never strictly analog, and it definitely feels different. You are constantly refining the instruments, how they interact with each other and who you are recording with. It’s about listening and performing, without the visual distraction of a screen.
Last May your first live modular set took place together, can you explain to us a bit about your set up? Would you say you connect with the crowd/audience differently when playing live as opposed to DJing?
We were still figuring out the right set up last year and for that live PA we used a mixture of gear and a laptop. We had an 808, TB’s modular Eurorack, a Roland Space Echo, a Simmons SDS9, and a laptop controlled by Maschine. I had never played live before so it was a whole new experience for me. It’s quite a different feeling to be limited to your own sounds. I felt quite impatient and wanted things to change faster because I’m used to that in my DJ sets. However, once I got into the groove of this different way of performing I really enjoyed it and understood it much better.
In 2016 you launched Perm, a home for innovative visual and music ideas. What triggered the birth of Perm? With new material and events on the way, can you give us a bit more information about what is in store? What is it that draws you towards Berlin?
PERM is a project inspired by my musical and aesthetic influences growing up in Detroit and always searching for the lines between things. It’s a collaboration between myself, Baby Vulture, Hamid, and our visual artist \ // \\\ . I wanted to create a cozy living room atmosphere where PERM can sit at the crossroads of art and club culture, showcasing anything from an ambient performance to a left-field club set. A huge part of the project is its overall production quality with emphasis on sound and visual installations. These change with each PERM event so none are quite the same. It has been a lot of work and experimentation resulting in an amazing learning experience. I’m very excited to launch the PERM label in the next months and start doing events again. Our first one is scheduled for April 26th with Jan Jelinek live and Melina Serser as special guests. We are working with a great new venue called Arkaoda and looking forward to utilizing the space in a new way. What draws me to Berlin is its rich and diverse musical palette: there’s something interesting happening every night of the week and that is a huge reason PERM was born.
The Perm podcast series is nothing short of magical with luscious downtempo and experimental rhythms. When you began the project, did you have certain artists in mind to carry out such a unique vibe?
We wanted to keep the focus on more eclectic non-dance mixes from various artists and friends we like, and respect who have been a part of our events. I’m very happy with the range of the mixes and they definitely carry a unique vibe as a whole.
Is there anything else you would like to enlighten us with from the world of Magda?
Yes, actually I want to mention that TB Arthur and I will be performing live as Blotter Trax May 3rd at Superbooth in Berlin with a very special visual performance by Lillevan. I’m very much looking forward to this.
Thank you so much for the mix, we have been wishing for this to happen for a long time. How would you best describe it for the MEOKO listeners?
Cosmic cats riding through electro space on the psychedelic disco train.
Last of all, a question we like to ask, can you name three records that have rarely left your bag over the years?
A Number Of Names;
Shari Vari (Ectomorph Remix)
Chaka Khan – I Feel For You (Silent Treatment remix)
DBX – Losing Control
Words by Zac Bidwell