Having learned the ropes in Detroit‘s underground scene in the mid to late 90s, Magda became a household name almost overnight when she teamed up with the M_nus crew in 1998 – joining artists such as Richie Hawtin, Ricardo Villalobos, Zip and others as they ploughed new furrows for techno at the start of the Millennium.

The experience with M_nus gave Polish-born Magda the springboard to delve into production – her debut album, From The Fallen Page, was released in 2010 – as well as running the Items & Things label alongside Marc Houle and Troy Pierce, and finding the time to unveil her own tequila brand (Maria Pascuala Tequila).

Her most recent release was the album Superconductor under the alias Blotter Trax – a collaboration between Jay Ahern aka T.B. Arthur, Hannes Strobl, and herself – which landed last summer on JD Twitch’s Optimo Music.

“While rooted in electro and acid, the album is low-slung and funky, with nods towards our mutual love of Arthur Russell, early ’80s NYC downtown disco, left-field, new-wave pop and punk-funk,” Magda says of the Blotter Trax project. 

This coming summer sees her set out on the festival circuit, with an appearance at the inaugural Sunny Side Festival, taking place in Malta from 17 to 19 already confirmed. She will join artists such as tINI, Dana Ruh, Satoshi Tomiie, Ryan Elliott and Dyed Soundroom at the festival, details of which can be found here.

909originals caught up with her. 

Hi Magda, thanks for talking to us. You were one of the first DJs announced for the Sunny Side Festival in Malta this summer – have you played in Malta before?

Yes, I have played in Malta before but I believe it was more than ten years ago so I am excited to come back and explore! It’s such a beautiful place and the festival looks great. I will definitely stay a while.

How does your approach to DJing at a festival differ from a club set?

I think it all depends on the festival – the size of the stage, the location, and set time. Each show is different, with its own vibe, so I make sure I have various types of tracks ready for any occasion. 

I can try to imagine what the show might be like and what to play, but in the end it is very intuitive and things happen in the moment.

This year marks 25 years or so from when you first teamed up with the M_nus crew – what are your favourite memories of those early years?

I think one of my favourite times was around 2003. It felt like a musical renaissance that connected different scenes and DJs who shared a common ground and love of underground music. Things were shifting and music was very exciting. 

It felt like uncharted territory. The parties were really wild with no rules or regulations. There was no social media, so everything felt more free. I had just moved to Berlin from New York at that time and I was shocked. 

There were countless magical moments playing back to back with Zip, Ricardo [Villalobos], Richie [Hawtin], Vera, and other friends. It seemed like the parties had no end, with all of us together – totally sweaty and happy.

We’ll always have good memories of seeing you in Cocoon Ibiza during the mid-2000s, and the She’s A Dancing Machine mix album. That was at the height of the ‘minimal wave’ – as your career progressed, was the ‘minimal’ tag a blessing or a curse?

I feel the word ‘minimal’ has changed meaning a hundred times over the years and indeed, it became a bit of a curse for me, because it put me in a box I never wanted to be in. 

I have always played a range of styles but somehow this particular tag tied me to something I did not connect with after a certain period. It has taken quite some time to get back from that.

As someone who grew up in Detroit, you have a close connection with the city. You last played there in October – does it feel like ‘returning home’ for you, or do you consider Berlin your home?

It always feels great to touch my feet back on Detroit soil. It really does feel like a return home to Gotham City and to all its wonderful quirks. 

I have a very deep connection to it, because it shaped my entire youth and taught me a lot of musical richness and diversity. I would not be who I am without those meaningful lessons.

You were there ‘at the start’ of the digital DJ revolution, when Final Scratch was launched. A quarter of a century on, do you agree with us that too many DJs are leaning too much on technology and the art of DJing is somewhat lacking?

A quarter century on sounds pretty crazy, ha ha. I suppose your question depends on what you consider the art of DJing. I really appreciate and respect artists who find their own sound and build their record collections through a passion for digging and exploring music from the past and present. 

It’s important to understand and appreciate where music comes from. That way you can build your own unique narrative from those highly personal experiences and influences. 

Whether that is expressed through vinyl or digital means is not as important to me as the way it is expressed. At the end of the day, it’s about the person behind the decks and what they have to say.

What does the rest of the year have in store for you? 

Lots of fun and connections – old and new. Let’s go!

Thanks Magda for the interview. Keep up to date with her latest releases and DJ dates here. More information on Sunny Side Festival can be found here. 

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