BE AT: Djuma Soundsystem

This coming Friday we are hosting Djuma Soundsystem at Chapeau Rouge, Prague. We caught up with Mikkas in our Prague based ORM Studio to collaborate on some music. In between bouncing ideas and producing music we managed to squeeze in a little interview. Enjoy the read and if you are around come this Friday to Chapeau Rouge.
Hi Mikkas, how are you and what you up to right now?
Hi! I’m in Praha right now, for the first time in like 15 years or so.  I’ve never played here before, it’s been one of the few “white spots” on my European map so pretty excited about that.  I came a bit early to hang out with my pal Schwa, and see if we can cook up a track or two together. I’m really sad to see how everything is so affected by the flood over here.
You come from Norway but for quite some time you have been living in Denmark. Why did you move over there? Is Denmark a bit warmer?

I was studying to be a movie director back then, and after doing the education that was possible in Norway, I tried Denmark, witch is a bit “closer to Europe”, and a bit more liberal in spirit.  Long story short; I stopped with the film dreams, got into professional dj’ing and production instead, and stayed in Denmark for 15 years now.
How would you describe Denmark to a foreigner? And what about the local music scene? Do you have a strong local underground scene? I have heard about some pretty crazy open air parties over there.
Denmark is very centralized around the scene in the capital – Copenhagen. All summer there will be great festivals – a lot of them pretty underground. I played the most crazy of them all last week.  It’s called “Distortion”, and takes place in different areas of town every day for four days. Each day party is for free, out in the streets, with dj set ups on every corner and people just buying cheap beers all over.  It gets up to around 100.000 people on the streets on the busyest days, witch looks pretty crazy
Quite popular label from Copenhagen is called Iboga. I used to play some of their records back in early 2000. Their music used to be quite prolific and different. Do you know them well?
Iboga is one of the biggest underground trance labels still. It’s a very different style of music then what I’m into – I’m more of a deep house guy. But I know the guys pretty well – even had some studio sessions with Emok. It was quite funny, as we didn’t know where to end up, and so far it’s a disco track! He he! Then both him and me travelled too much to be able to meet again, so the project has been on ice for 1½ year so far.
 You travel a lot right? First time we have meet was in India. How was your this tour for you? Are you planning on coming back to India? 
I enjoy traveling a lot, and work hard to make it possible to happen, as it doesn’t just happen by it selves. I especially focus on escaping Eurpe in the winter half of the year. I’ve been touring quite a lot in India, and I’m enjoying witnessing the scene growing a lot throught the resent years. I’ve had a recidency at, in my own opinion, the best club in Goa (small touristic state in India) this winter season, witch was very cool, as it it was my first recidency for well over ten years, and it’s a completely different way of playing.
 Where have you played since then?
 After India, I did a tour in South Africa and Mozambique for a month, then Egypt, Libanon and Russia, before heading back to Europe. SA was amazing for me, as I discovered their very own deep house culture, witch is unique to them only, and is the biggest marked for selling house music in the world! No less!
Les Djinns was definitely your biggest hit that catapulted Djuma Soundsystem on top of chart and got you a lot of publicity… did you expect it to do so well, or was it something that came out of a blue?
It was totally unexpected, and gave us (we where two guys back then) the oportunity to play really big venues all over, but also sometimes horrible places, as a lot of people heard it as a pop song, and not the underground tune it was ment as. Luckily we had a great manager and booker that helped us take the right descissions to turn down the better paid comercial gigs, and focus on branding us as an underground act.
 How did you feel when this happened and would you do it again if you could go back in time?
 Looking back, I’m absolutely certain that I made the right choice, as I didn’t want to, and simply couldn’t deliver what the pop crowd expected. Also a pop carriere can be big, but very short, if you don’t follow up on it. I guess you have to have an interrest and a heart in everything you do – even when making pop music, and my heart was not there. I feel very comfortable where I am right now, despite of not being as ritch as I guess I could’ve been.

<p><a href=”″>Djuma Soundsystem – Live at Sullivan Room – NYC</a> from <a href=””></a&gt; on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

How much time you spend in the studio? Are you a sound engineer type of a geek guy or you more focused on the harmonic structures of a song?
As I travel a lot, I never get enough time to produce, as it never works out for me to create on the road. But when I’m hoe, I try to spend as much time as possible. I guess I see myself more as a dj, then a producer, in the sense that I don’t feel very “skilled” as a musician or something like that. I just like to have fun with it, and see what pops up. This is a very time consuming, and not too practical, way to work, but the only one I know how, I guess.
I like to collaborate with others as well, as sitting alone can be a little anti social at times. I focus less on the production side of it, as the most important for me is that the tunes have “something to say”, in the sense of being a creative idea. I probably finish only one out of 40 ideas, as I often feel the idea wasn’t strong enough.
 We are looking forward to have you play. Is there anything you would like to say to your Czech fans?
 Again; I’m very psyched to be here for the first time! Hope you guys survived the flood, and are in a good party mood! I know it’s a small club, and sometimes that can be fantastic in terms of atmosphere, so I’m ready to make it boil at BE AT!
More info about Djuma Soundsystem:
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