WORDS: Alex Caslano
‘The weather's terrible but nothing a few pints can't fix!’ Speaking about her new base in Glasgow, Maya Medvesek aka Nightwave has an infectiously positive attitude towards life. Producer, promoter, DJ and singer, the Red Bull Music Academy graduate moved here from London in 2012 and has never looked back. ‘I love the people here, the humour, the general energy of the city and the passion for music. It's the most at home I've ever felt in my life!’ she enthuses. It’s a sentiment we share, and with her new label, Heka Trax, going from strength to strength, it’s clear that the less than appealing weather is working in her favour.
Originally from Ljubljana and attracted to dance music from an early age, Maya has already been on an incredible journey. Purchasing her first pair of decks at the age of 15 and making herself known to the city’s clubs, DJ’s and promoters (‘I was a trainspotter with a notepad and pen’ she recalls), she immersed herself in the sounds of Detroit and Chicago, obsessing over Dance Mania and Underground Resistance records. With production being a natural progression, she was able to teach herself the basics, eventually releasing music under the name of 8Bitch on labels such as Slit Jockey and Seed Records.
But it was in 2011 when Red Bull invited her to Madrid for their prestigious Music Academy that things went next level. ‘RBMA was the most wonderful and surreal experience of my life’ she reflects. ‘It really was invaluable to have amazing people like Erykah and (MF) Doom give a little insight into their musical journey.’ Brimming with confidence, skill and passion, she’s clearly taken things in her stride, producing innovative music which blends booty, bass, juke and techno into something entirely fresh. Recently releasing three explosive EPs on her aforementioned label, Heka Trax, as well as promoting hugely popular party, Nightrave at La Cheetah, the term ‘unstoppable’ springs to mind, but then she insists that there’s still much more to learn: ‘I've realised recently that I've based my life on achievements and ambition and that's not necessarily a good thing! My life so far has been fun and exciting, but I now want to really focus on my personal development, as well as learning, sharing and perhaps mentoring.’ It’s a healthy realisation to make, and certainly, if the journey so far is anything to go by we’re sure the next chapter will be just as exciting as the last.
Check out some of Nightwave’s recent productions below, as well as an interview in which we talk more about coming up in Slovenia, her experience at the Red Bull Music Academy and some invaluable advice for aspiring producers:
SG: So you’re from Slovenia and spent some time in London before moving here to Glasgow; now that you’ve been here a while, is there anything about the city which you really love (or indeed, hate)? Presumably you’ve got used to the weather?
Nightwave: The weather's terrible but nothing a few pints can't fix! I love the people here, the humour, the general energy of the city and the passion for music. It's the most at home I've ever felt in my life!
SG: You promote a regular party at La Cheetah called Nightrave which seems to get a lot of love; any particular nights or guests which have stood out? Your b2b sessions with Éclair FiFi always to go down well!
Nightwave: Doing Nightrave is a lot of fun and I get so much satisfaction from seeing everyone enjoy themselves! I love playing b2b with Fifi and sadly we've both been a bit too busy for it recently, but we'll be back! I think the launch night with us, Cleoslaptra and Rustie was my favourite - we had no idea what to expect and there was a queue down the block! We have a really special Halloween 'Nightgrave' coming up, watch this space hehe.
SG: If we rewind a bit and talk about your entry to dance music, what was the scene like in Ljubljana when you were coming up? Did it act as a big influence in terms of sounds and styles or were you looking to other places when you started buying records?
Nightwave: I first got into the rave scene because I was intrigued by the crazy and fun looking clothes when I was about 12 and then got into happy hardcore and slowly started discovering techno and house later on. I bought my first decks when I was 15 which I was super proud of, but then I could hardly afford any records plus we only had one record shop in town that ordered just enough copies for the selected few DJs haha. I was very, very lucky that Ljubljana was heavy into Detroit and Chicago techno back then and I got so obsessed with it; I was a trainspotter with a notepad and pen by the DJs which they must have found endearing as a lot of them helped me out as I was learning to DJ.
SG: We read a great quote from your TLG interview in which you advise aspiring producers to actually throw themselves into it and not be too proud to ask for help. Looking back, is there anything you’d do differently during your first years of production? And did you find it daunting taking that first step?
Nightwave: I'm still a beginner right now! The more I learn the more I realise that I know nothing! Certainly I would have asked for help and advice instead of self-learning, but that was just an ego thing I guess. There is a big support network out there right now with internet tutorials and all sorts, so make the most out of that! One thing I have learned recently is how important it is to empty your mind when you make tracks; I've wasted a lot of time analysing what I'm making and wondering if it's good enough for a release bla bla…what a load of nonsense!
SG: Sound advice! You were a student at the Red Bull Music Academy in 2011 studying under the tutelage of Erykah Badu among others; what was it like learning from these legendary figures in music? Were there any moments of which opened your eyes or really resonated with you?
Nightwave: RBMA was the most wonderful and surreal experience of my life and it really was invaluable to have amazing people like Erykah and Doom give a little insight into their musical journey. I think Erykah's lesson was the most powerful, not only because I'm a big fan of her art, but because she is just such an incredible woman and that was very empowering and inspiring.
SG: Your sound has been described as incorporating elements of grime, juke and bass, and you often reference Chicago and Detroit as well as labels like Dance Mania as inspiration; are there any records in particular which you hold dear or you feel really influenced your direction?
Nightwave: Jeff Mills – ‘Berlin’ and Bangalter – ‘Trax On Da Rocks’ are two of my favourite tunes. Numerous UR tracks, Deeon and Paul Johnson tunes, as well as everything DJ Rashad has done - I'll be forever grateful for his work and the legacy he's left behind.
SG: From what we gather it sounds like you’re very much an advocate of living life to the full, and other than producing and playing music, some of your past achievements and jobs are really quite incredible; do you have certain goals or ambitions that you’re working towards (both musically and otherwise) or are you just happy to take it each day at time?
Nightwave: I've realised recently that I've based my life on achievements and ambition and that's not necessarily a good thing! My life so far has been fun and exciting, but I now want to really focus on my personal development, as well as learning, sharing and perhaps mentoring. I want to get back to singing again and I'll do that as soon as I take these fucking braces off my teeth! I honestly can't wait; it's been an absolute nightmare!
SG: We’re really hyped we finally to organise a mix with you as we’ve been listening to (and watching) the Overdrive Infinity session a lot recently; can you talk us through some of the big tracks in your mix? Are you one for planning mixes or do you just start with a record and see where it goes?
Nightwave: I did a little techno mix for you guys, slightly nostalgic maybe, with old Mills, Beltram, Drexciya etc in there! I do plan mixes a little bit as I play quite a variety of things, but very vaguely.
SG: You launched your new label ‘Heka Trax’ last year featuring three EPs from yourself to date; are there any other artists you’ve taken an interest in recently that you’d like to sign?
Nightwave: I've already signed a few new acts but I better not announce anything so I don't jinx it! I'm always looking for more material so please send that through my page hekatrax.com! Heavy party music only, haha.
SG: Looking forward, what plans do you have for the rest of the summer? Any forthcoming releases we should be looking out for? And when can we expect Nightrave to make a return?
Nightwave: I'm finishing off new material, doing a bit more touring, probably back with an EP in September and a few remixes...Nightrave is on holiday until after summer when the dark nights return to Glasgow and we can party all day long :)
SG: Make no mistake, Nightwave is one of our favourite DJs. Where many dancefloors can slip so easily into a state of predictable monotony, Nightwave will keep you on your toes, mixing forgotten classics, upfront bangers and a few surprises along the way. From DJ Deeon to Tessela, Jeff Mills to Nightwave herself, this is a workout for your entire body. Standing at the bar isn’t an option…
1/ DJ Deeon - Butterfly Rx Alternate Version
2/ UR - Analog Assassin
3/ I-F - Playstation (Instrumental)
4/ Dopplereffekt - Voice Activated
5/ Serge & Tyrell - House Countdown
6/ Gingy & Bordello - All Day (Robert Hood Remix)
5/ Jeff Mills - The Hypnotist
8/ Joey Beltram - Mentasm
9/ E-Dancer - Velocity Funk
10/ Tessela - Gateway
11/ Strip Steve - The Funktion
12/ Nightwave - Grinder
13/ Drexciya - Funk Release Valve