Name: Magit Cacoon
Occupation: DJ, producer
Current release: History In The Makin’ on Rebellion
Recommendations: I definitely have a couple albums to recommend!
1.Red Axes- ahuzat bait
2.Bords of canada - in a beautiful place in the country
Website / Contact: If this interview with Magit Cacoon made you curious about her work, visit her facebook page for news, release information and to find out where to catch her live.
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What what is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
Music has always been in my life - I grew up with exposure to all different music genres, thanks to my father. At 15, I began to start collecting my own records, everything ranging from Pink Floyd to Boards of Canada. I just loved listening to music … at some point, I got into the music scene and started hitting up electronic clubs in Tel Aviv … my parents weren’t exactly approving of this. But the music, the melody, the vibes were welcoming and exciting. Hitting up raves in the deserts of Israel - what great experiences I had. These all led me, at 19, to eventually buy my own turntables and mixer to spin around at home for fun. Never did I know I would end up where I am today!
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
I spent many hours at home with friends working on my technique - I was watching many videos from other DJs, observing their hand techniques, and using these to create my own style. I never copied someone per se, but I used their influences to help my development. Obviously it’s important to have your own voice as an artist, but as a DJ, you have to start somewhere. We have the opportunity to learn from each other and create something new out of it - that’s how one grows. My style hasn’t changed much over the years … here and there, I play deeper house, but my style consists of cool melodies and a hard bass line.
What were some of the main challenges and goals when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
It’s not an easy task getting into the music business. There are so many DJs and artists trying to get their names out there, it’s hard for people to take you seriously. I was met with a lot of rejection at first. Which is hard, because at the end of the day, I dreamed of playing the coolest festivals all around the world, on the biggest stages in front of thousands of people … But if you’re patient, everything comes in time. Now I’ve found my momentum and I just want to keep it going.
DJing is a completely other experience in comparison to music production. It’s live, it’s in the moment, it’s happening - you can’t plan the reactions of the people, and it’s indescribable to drop one of your favourite tracks and have the audience love it just as much as you do.
How would you define the job and describe the influence of the DJ? How are the experience and the music transformed through your work?
Being a DJ is really a 24h job … During the week, you are updating your music library, checking out new tracks, working on sets constantly. If you don’t dedicate enough time to the preparation, you will definitely fall behind in the music world. People want to hear the newest, latest sound and you can either keep up or not. On the weekends you have 3-4 gigs, a crazy travel schedule and sleepless nights. I couldn’t imagine my life any other way! Through my experience, I’ve learned so much about trying to find the balance and picking gigs that really fit my style.
What was your first set-up as DJ like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
My first set up as a DJ consisted of the Pioneer CDJ 100. Times have really changed! I had to bring CDs with me to every gig and now the set up is much more convenient - you only need to bring a USB stick and headphones! Nowadays I use between 3 and 4 CDJ Pioneer 2000 and an Allen & Heath mixer- They have a nice sound quality and are just great tools to have.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
I produce music on my computer, but I never use a laptop while playing a DJ gig. I think technology has come a long way, it can make the job easier because everything is automatically synced and already prepared. However, that takes all the fun out of DJing - I want to be active and involved in the music process, I want to feel the reaction from audience, I want to think for myself and not have a computer think for me.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do life and creativity feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
It’s not easy managing a daily schedule as a DJ! However, I’m working on finding my balance. I love to wake up early and check my emails, hit up the studio afterward or work from home … if I have a gig in the evening, I always try to have a proper dinner and rest beforehand, fly out to the gig, play, and then go home!
Everywhere is inspiration … friends, music, experiences, evening observing things on the street … you cannot separate creativity and life!
Let's say you have a gig coming up tonight. What does your approach look like – from selecting the material and preparing for, opening and then building a set?
A proper opener really determines in which direction a gig is going. As soon as I book a gig, I slowly work on the opener and spend a lot of time creating different options. Usually I don’t know the exact vibe of the club or what type of sound they’re looking for, so having more than one option is important. I use different loops and tracks to create something new each time. I like to maintain an air of mystery! I don’t want the crowd to expect something from me, I want them to be surprised. After the opener, I improvise! That’s part of the job … being able to read your audience and know what they want … and I’m always prepared with the freshest, hottest tracks.
Can you describe your state of mind during a DJ set? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Before I start a DJ set, I’m a bit nervous. You can’t predict how the people are going to react to your music and what kind of atmosphere you find yourself in, therefore the nerves tend to kick in beforehand. However, it’s very natural for me to flow into a focused state of mind … I focus on the sound quality, making sure I hit every tone and bass and project that vibe out onto the audience. I find myself in the moment and present, and, at this stage nothing distracts me, not even the crowd standing mere feet away from me.
What are some of the considerations that go into deciding which track to play next? What makes two tracks a good fit? How far do you tend to plan ahead during a set?
The opener for the set is prepared in advance; not just one opener, but multiple - however, I improvise the rest of the tracks during my set. You have to be very in sync with the crowd in order to feel their vibes, and therefore I experiment with tracks that I feel could work with the atmosphere and build off from there. I like to keep the crowd in a mysterious trance and surprise them with new tracks that they least expect.
Would you say you see DJing as improvisation? As composition in the moment? Or as something entirely different from these terms?
Absolutely! For me personally, DJing is all about the improvisation. What would happen if you planned your entire set ahead and it didn’t fit in with the crowd? You’re going to have a pretty disappointed audience and you will be disappointed in yourself as well. Its a lose-lose situation … Therefore, I like to have a plan in mind, but still be flexible. You never know what an effect one track switch could have!
How does playing music at home and presenting it in the club compare and relate? What can be achieved through them, respectively, and what do you personally draw from both?
There are some tracks that sound amazing in my home studio and awful in the club, and there are some tracks that sound awful in my home studio, but could potentially work with the crowd. It’s really a guessing game; however, I feel I have a good ear and can figure out what would work for the atmosphere that night. I always play the music beforehand in my home studio to hear if its a track I could use for my set or for a different project. You may not get the same feedback from the crowd when playing the tracks by yourself, but it’s always important to be able to hear the music precisely before dropping it in a set.
How would you describe the relationship between your choices and goals as a DJ and the desires and feedback of the audience? How does this relationship manifest itself during a performance and how do you concretely tap into it?
When I receive positive feedback about specific tracks, I tend to keep these tracks in my roster for awhile, using them usually in combination with other tracks and sets. Obviously when the audience are really in tune with a specific sound, I like to keep those groovy vibes going! The feedback is quite visual - the way the audience dances and finds themselves in an electronic trance, the way they celebrate tracks that they really love … you cannot escape the positive feeling!
Especially thanks to the storage facilities of digital media, DJ sets could potentially go on forever. Other than closing time, what marks the end of a DJ performance for you? What are the most satisfying conclusions to a set?
I usually have more than one set on the weekend, which also involves travel time, more preparation, etc. When closing time comes around, that’s when the set is over for me. On the rare occasions that I have time on the weekend, I will stay after my set and celebrate with friends or some of the other DJs. The most satisfying conclusions for my sets are when the crowd shows their gratitude and love for my work! I cannot say how amazing it feels to have people show you how much they appreciate your work!
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
I’m super thankful that I have the opportunity to be so creative in my work and do what I love to do. However, I don’t find it necessary to make a statement with my music - I didn’t get involved with music to take a stance about politics or social issues. I got involved with music because of the positive influence it had in my life and I just wanted to share these vibes with as many people as possible!