Sat 29 JUN – Sun jun 30
Awakenings Festival 2019
She's in the zone, unphased by the raucous response she's generating. Virtually hidden by the racks of fx units and monitors surrounding her, she remains a picture of calmness, dictating the play with a cool hand. It's easy to see why she's one of the most exciting prospects to breakthrough in recent years. Magda makes things happen. Always has done, always will do. Currently residing in Berlin, a relative stone's throw from her home town of Zywiec in Poland considering the nomadic existence of her childhood, she seems to have finally found a city that mirrors her own attitude to life - no restrictions and certainly no compromise. It's a philosophy that also flows through Magda's music particularly during her after hour sets. The ability to guide her audience through the dark recesses of contemporary minimalism before delivering them back safely into the light means her name is never far from the lips of discerning clubbers and fellow DJs alike. Her family left Zywiec for Texas in 1984 when she was nine before finally settling in Detroit in 1986. All this travelling around from one starkly contrasting environment to another, taught her to deal with new challenges and to adapt to new situations pretty quickly, lessons that have subsequently helped her deal with the often hectic life of a touring DJ. Always the outsider, the concept of 'home' was never as straightforward as it is for some. Sometimes though, home isn't a physical location, it's a state of mind and when she first turned up at a warehouse party a couple of blocks from where she'd grown up in the tough Detroit district of Hamtramck, she knew she'd found it. Initially puzzled by the euphoria that accompanied the introduction of even the simplest hi hat pattern, she was soon overwhelmed by the atmosphere, the freaky people and the positive vibe. This initial foray into the Detroit underground culminated in the mind-blowing experience that was Spastik, Richie Hawtin's first Plastikman PA. She was hooked. Within a few months, armed with a cheap pair of belt drive turntables and an unquenchable thirst for vinyl, she'd moved from one side of the shop counter to the other at the influential Record Time store and had also persuaded the bar where she worked to put on a monthly techno night with Claude Young and Daniel Bell. Her enthusiasm was totally infectious and they soon asked her to warm up for them. In conversation it's clear to see how much the lack of attitude and unconditional support from Bell in particular has shaped Magda's own way of doing things. Then, inspired by her mother's 'dark and symbolic' art she decided to study Fine Art in New York state but soon realised music was the most naturel medium for her self expression. Nevertheless, this abstract influence can still be found in her music production, juxtaposing as she does warm, thick swaythes of sound with jagged little hi hat patterns, sometimes lazy, sometimes clinical but always purposeful and expressive. On returning to Detroit she met Richie Hawtin at one of the legendary Hot Box parties where to her embarrassment she was introduced by a mutual friend as his 'number one fan'. It was the first of what turned out to be a couple of chaotic encounters (the second involving beer spillage and a pair of brand new leather sandals in Miami '97) that eventually led to the invitation of a gig at Hawtin's 13 Below night. It was there she first met Marc Houle. Their off-beat humour quickly developed into an unshakeable friendship and Magda was soon lodging with Marc in Windsor where their musical symbiosis started laying the foundations for 2003's Run Stop Restore project together with Troy Pierce. By this time she'd already cut her teeth on the main stage. Booked as a backroom warm up DJ at a System rave in Detroit and already having nightmares about opening her record box to find a choice selection of Tiffany and Def Leopard records, fate somehow intervened and she found herself playing the main room at 1am. Head down and totally focused after a shaky start she recalls looking up to find herself at the eye of a storm as all around bodies flipped out to her slow, chugging, electro-tinged groove. The transition was complete and the momentum carried her forward quickly, more System gigs followed and she also started throwing her own parties as part of the Women on Wax collective together with DJ Minx. Things don't always go according to plan though, and by 1998 Magda was pretty much fed up with the 'scene politics' that seemed directly at odds with the initial vibe she had encountered back in the days. She took a step back, followed her heart and immersed herself in the minimal sounds scuttling out of Germany in particular (i.e Brinkmann, Perlon, Kompakt). The resulting mix tape won her a new set of admirers and consolidated her growing relationship with Hawtin, opening for him at the millennium celebration EPOK and also forming part of an enviable line up at the Plus 8 ten year anniversary party From Our Minds To Yours. Since then she has become his sole choice as opening DJ, accompanying him on both European and Stateside tours. A little C90 mix tape can go a long way - next year will see the release of her first official mix CD on Minus. The new millennium brought a host of new digital technology with it, most notably Final Scratch and when she wasn't on the road she could be found wiling away the hours transferring Hawtin's vast record collection into the digital domain. At the time there were only about ten DJs using Final Scratch and while others regarded it with suspicion, Magda was quick to see the potential, re-editing her favourite tracks to further enhance the distinctive flavour of her sets. She shies away slightly from the ubiquitous 'minimal' tag, citing Chicago Jack and Acid as equally significant ingredients in her sound but whichever way you look at it, she is part of a movement that is rapidly redefining electronic dance music as we know it. Turntables, laptops, samplers and fx units now clutter her DJ booth as the wall between traditional DJing and 'on the fly' production starts to crumble. And so, the Minus train rumbles on, forging a relentless path through new, uncharted territory. Magda however, remains refreshingly free from the burden of expectation. Genuinely surprised by the trajectory her life has taken yet deeply aware of the responsibility she has to her growing army of fans, she faces the future with the same wide-eyed, 'devil may care' attitude that has always accompanied her from city to city, from airport to airport, from disco to disco. A lonely existence? For some maybe but Magda knows more than most that home is where the heart is.