Hometown Heroes: MMA Resident DJ On Munich's Techno Comeback – Telekom Electronic Beats

Hometown Heroes: MMA Resident DJ On Munich’s Techno Comeback

In the first installment of our new feature on resident DJs, Hometown Heroes, Munich's homegrown selector Essika describes what makes the MMA club special and how it revived a style of large-scale raving the city hasn't seen in years.

I grew up in a rural area close to Munich, and after finishing school I moved straight to the city. I’ve never lived anywhere else, so I’m a true Munich girl and know the scene here very well. I was already pretty into electronic music, and when I turned 18 I started going out to clubs like Rote Sonne, Registratur and Harry Klein before it moved locations. I’d also started collecting records pretty early—when I was a teenager—but I didn’t start actually DJing until about 2012, by which time I already had quite a big collection at home. That’s quite unusual I think, as most people probably do it the other way around. I used to construct playlists a lot when my friends and I were at my place, and for them it was just the logical consequence to also mix those tracks together at some point and become a DJ. They encouraged me a lot, so I finally started to teach myself to DJ at home with two turntables and a mixer. It took a while, but I finally learned to beatmatch.

One of my close friends, Mirko, made me a resident at his party series, STOCK5, where I played my first gig on New Year’s Eve 2012/2013 at Rote Sonne. Before MMA opened, STOCK5 took place at different clubs in Munich, like Rote Sonne, Bob Beaman, Harry Klein and Registratur. I remember when I recorded my first mix for STOCK5 and showed it to Mirko. Although he seemed to like it, he was like, “This is way too techno and way too hard. You can’t play this kind of sound at the party.”

That was about five years ago, when all of this more deep house-oriented stuff was at a high point. Of course, electronic music has its trends, and sometimes as a resident DJ you have to customize your set a little bit—so I had to play a bit softer than I wanted to at the beginning of my career. But the STOCK5 bookings were always high quality and a little ahead of their time at any given point, which was quite important to us because it kept it a little underground. By now, the party has returned to techno bookings, and I’m really looking forward to playing a proper techno set this Friday at the MODU5 party, which is a collaboration between STOCK5 and From Another Mind.

Mirko took over the job as booker of MMA about one year after it opened in 2014. He basically brought me along, and I became a resident DJ there at the same time he started booking. That’s also when MMA started to develop and become what it is now: “the Berghain of the south,” as some people say. Mirko started to book techno acts and arranged label showcases in this really big room with its industrial charm. This wasn’t really something new to Munich, but it was something we hadn’t seen in quite a while—perhaps the last time such “classic raves” took place was in the ‘90s with the Ultraschall club. The big room, the Halle, is also a great venue for concerts, exhibitions and other cultural events.

I actually haven’t played in that room yet—but it’s on the agenda for the near future. But I’ve played in the club space lots of times. Playing there is really cool because usually when we have big events, it’s already pretty crowded in the smaller room by the time I start playing, and people are so excited and really want to dance—even during the early hours of the night. The acoustics and often very diverse bookings allow DJs to experiment a lot with their sounds, which I enjoy because I don’t really play a straight, predetermined kind of sound. I like to bring more extravagant stuff to my sets, like ‘80s- or more disco-oriented sounds.

I actually took a break last year because I became a mom in September. During my pregnancy I only played warm-ups in the club, and of course I stopped playing entirely for a while after the birth of my son. But in the meantime I did start a monthly radio show with my boyfriend, Andi Damaschun, on Radio 80000 in Munich. It’s called Weed Beats, and it concentrates more on reggae, dub and afrobeat music—but also anything in between. For the most part, it’s just about relaxing tunes and playing records you can’t play in the club. I used to have dreadlocks in my teenage years and listened to reggae and dub a lot, so in a way it’s back to my roots. At the moment Andi and I are also working on our first original productions; releasing music under our project name, Jelly3000, is the big goal for 2017.

Essika will play with Silent Servant, Sigha and Oscar Mulero at MMA on February 24, 2017. Find more information here.