Dark and rowdy club sounds.
Over the last few years, Martyna Maja has emerged as one of techno's most rebellious new voices. Her sound is tastefully hard and thrillingly vicious, something she says she learned from Poland's underground scene—clubs like Jasna1, the former party Brutaz and the WIXAPOL crew—which introduced her to the strains of EBM, industrial, hardcore and neo-gabber that give her style a fresh twist. In the DJ booth, as Will Lynch once put it, Maja has a "freestyling, don't-give-a-fuck attitude," a quality that can be applied to everything she touches, from her mixing style, production work and choice of collaborators (fellow rule breakers like SPFDJ and Varg) down to her piss-taking social media presence.
Maja's enjoyed a meteoric rise as a DJ since moving from Warsaw to Berlin in 2018, playing on industrial-heavy lineups like Amsterdam's Katharsis Festival to experimental events like Atonal, CTM and Unsound. Her productions, too, have earned a passionate following, once again defying expectations for what techno, EBM and acid can be. Her mix for RA, made up of mostly new tracks she's been playing out recently, accelerates through these peak-time rave styles with an extrovert's touch. In this period of social-distancing, RA.722 is an evil reminder of just how wicked a night at the club can be.
What have you been up to recently?
A couple of weeks ago I was still touring a lot, making a bit of music, collecting tracks for a project I'm curating, waiting for spring the allergy season to come. Last year I've become a resident of the amazing Possession party in Paris and maintained my residency in my hometown, Warsaw, making parties bringing some DJ friends of mine and showing them Polish hospitality (also wisniówka shots + pierogi) at my homeclub Jasna1. I was also getting ready for my three-week Asia / Australia tour which of course is not happening anymore due to the global crisis caused by the pandemic. I was also really excited and prepping for my only live show this year scheduled for May, which is most likely not gonna happen. So recently I've been basically staying inside for mine and everyone else's health and well-being, checking on my family and friends daily and trying to adjust to the new uncertain reality.
How and where was the mix recorded?
The mix was recorded at my home in Berlin. I still don't own the CDJs so I had to borrow it from a friend (shouts to Reichenberger studios) + from a rental place. I've used my Xone 92 mixer and three CDJ-2000 NXS2. My old recorder ruined a take or two also so let's not ID it.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
The mix contains tracks I've been DJing over the last month or two + fresh promos. I wanted to use this opportunity to showcase how I've been djing lately. I believe even when you play fast / hard there should still be a certain idea for every mix and a build-up, not just pummelling bangers from the very beginning till the end. It might sound obvious but I've noticed less and less of that recently with both local DJs but also the new generation of more international names.
Starting from my more EBM and industrial influences, through more banging tracks, to harder acid sounds, using also a few not-necessarily-techno loops as "tools" or vocals. When I fully transitioned from playing records to CDJs I completely changed the way I play—not as many mix-in-mix-out kind of blends, not that often letting tracks play in full (sorry!) but more rearranging, hot cues, looping and layering without (hopefully) making it sound boring and avoiding this wall of techno drum loops effect.
I've also played tracks by many of my favorite producers and labels that I respect a lot and has had a big impact on what I do, + one upcoming track of mine own, a remix I made for an old homie of mine, fellow Jasna1 resident Sept.
You collaborate with Randomer as Body Sushi and with Varg as VARGTSS. Have these projects brought new approaches to the way you produce and perform?
Both of these projects couldn't be much further from one another. In both cases, we understand each other well, while there are still so many differences in what we're doing, how we approach music production or performing, which I personally find super inspiring. I never wanted to surround myself musically (but also privately) with people I'm too much alike and I agree with a lot. It's those artistic or personal differences that keep me stimulated, get me out of my comfort zone and truly keep me going. This all can be of course also quite challenging at times but I think I've grown the most from trying to understand different approaches, backgrounds, opinions, learn from that (again both musically and privately) and implement it into what I do.
Me and Randomer played our first b2b at a crazy Power Play rave in Berlin, without any plan about what we're gonna play, having way too much fun, also trying to dare one another, and this kinda set the theme for this project—fun, fast and daring. However, regardless of the common opinion—he's the harder one, I'm constantly trying to slow / chill him down haha.
Me and Varg have been friends for years, before I've started touring internationally, just mostly playing live and DJing back then back in Poland. We met at Unsound in '14 or '15, something like that, and wanted to work with each other for a while but both had been a bit too shy to ask. Our Atonal performance was an over-the-top hybrid set with tracks we've chosen together and what I've liked about performing with Jonas is no expectations from the crowd. He's known for making some ridiculous hit-or-miss kinda style musical choices, so it also gets me out of this, "Woohoo there comes VTSS, fuck us up!" expectations.
Before last year I used to be the biggest lone-wolf, quitting all the projects or collectives I've been in, a bit of a control freak, always thought my way is the way and I know best. What I find interesting now (also in terms of my self-growth) is giving up the control in those collaborations—in some projects (like Body Sushi) I would just make a draft of a track and you would hear the other person do their magic, learn to accept and let it go, which was something I haven't truly learned before, while in other projects you get some weird-ass,not really groovy and not rhythmical stems from a collaborator and you turn them into your thing, make it more banging (in this case) without killing their original spirit.
Over the past two years, your touring schedule has gotten pretty intense. How are you feeling about this unexpected time off?
The first weekend off felt like a much-needed break after two years almost every week with three gigs. With my weak lung capacity, asthma and other health stuff I take the self-isolation really seriously, however being locked completely alone for two weeks now is kinda kicking in. I see these producers all over Instagram talking about the music they're making during the quarantine and listeners getting excited how much good music it's gonna come out of it and I'm honestly so not on the same page, even envious of these producers. Not sure if it's the isolation, being far from my family that is in Poland or the uncertainty of the future (especially for club music)—I just feel so uninspired and gloomy right now. Hope that changes soon though, for now, I've been doing anything but music.
What are you up to next?
Well, all my (and everyone else's) festival season or summer vacation (I actually blocked two weeks to go for a vacation in May) are not gonna happen so I'm gonna stay alone inside in my apartment in Berlin, try to get my head around this new reality, hopefully, figure out how to get back to making music and drop the hottest post-quarantine EP of the year lol.