Meeting Morpine <> 06

Meeting Morpine <> 06 1024 1024 Be Techno

A podcast and deep conversation with the young, enigmatic Romanian techno DJ, Morpine. With banging techno in the background, we touched upon music, DJing, togetherness, being an artist, the power of play, society, and life itself.

It’s really nice to do this, thanks. Let me just start with a bit of introduction. Who is the man behind Morpine?

Same here.

Well, I used to think I am somebody, but lately I realized that it’s impossible to answer to this question. I just can’t figure it out. I’m not sure I would even want to figure it out, I prefer the liberty to invent myself at every second…

A tough one isn’t it, when you really think about it. Let me rephrase a bit: how would you describe yourself in a few words?

I’d stick mainly to being a very resilient guy and a lover of social life.

Ha, interesting. As a lover of social life, why did you choose to remain anonymous as Morpine?

I’d rather not answer this one.

Alright, tell me a bit about you growing up musically.

I grew up with the 70s, 80s and 90s music since my parents, especially my father, was a true lover of music…regardless of the genre. I liked that music and I still like it. Then, it was that period mid 00s when I went into R&B, hip-hop and rap. After that, when becoming a teenager, I started to embrace the electronic music while spending a lot of time with an older friend of mine who was a big fan of electro, minimal and electro swing.

Fast forward in my mid 20s and I am a huge hard style fan. Be it techno, hard techno, tek or hard trance classics…I don’t really care as long as it shakes my brain. But besides this side, I’m a lot into jazz and everything with a jazz influence, old folk songs, ambient stuff etc.

I’m curious about that fast-forward, there’s quite a bridge to cross from electro swing to bangers, how come?

Nah, it wasn’t that sudden, it was a classic step by step process. Of course, I went through my first commercial EDM phases, then switched fast to progressive electro and house. It peaked at some point with me becoming a huge fan of Maceo Plex and tech house. Then I discovered slowly the rave night life and very much of this shift took place in De School, Amsterdam, a place which provided the means to find new perspectives of having fun and living new experiences, going in blind. Then, it was just my brain learning how to listen. And I learned to listen to all kinds of stuff. Tempos that once would’ve been a wild attempt to annoy me and were just hitting me like a wall were suddenly just another bits of life filling me up with energy and happiness.

It sounds like an interesting and fun transition. Why DJing then?

In the beginning, plain curiosity and a bit of excitement towards something unknown. Now, because I like to let myself explore new territories when it comes to my own feelings. I like to select music, I like to add to the music’s own life parts of myself and vice-versa, and then I just like to be crazy in the moment, either alone or with dear friends.

But, most importantly I feel that I can reach certain known emotions from a big stack of them and it’s a way of creating a playground for social interactions, which is more or less defined by the “everything is everything” energy that people build through togetherness. And you might think that this togetherness is built by the DJ, but we actually don’t know where it really comes from. It just is. Such a long answer for such a short question.

Talking about this togetherness on the dancefloor and around it, I know that you’ve been mostly involved in mixing for online and not so much for a crowd. How was that experience, feeling the crowd, is that something you wanna go into more? What is it that brings that common emotion of belonging together?

The experience is always incredible when there’s someone around to connect with. It’s unique and special, also because I love doing it behind closed doors, with close friends. I think that what brings us together is that we all aim for the same thing. But I really have to insist that it’s quite abstract and hard to define that target beyond the need for hedonism and for feeling part of a group. Feeling accepted and loved…

What’s the most challenging for you as a DJ?

The most challenging is finding the right inner balance to be able to offer what I have. It’s staying cool and excited at the same time, it’s letting your guard down and at the same time be prepared for punching hard, staying fully focused and also relaxed enough to be a pleasant presence. These kind of things…

Is DJing a form of art, and are you an artist? If so, art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social role or create engagement and awareness. How do you see this?

I don’t want to define DJing in general. For me, it is a creative outlet and a means to have more journeys. It gives me experiences that deep down satisfy a need. Art or not, at the end of it it’s a win. If there is such thing as art, then we are all artists, don’t you think? As I said, I believe in oneness, it’s every piece of the puzzle that is the puzzle.

Fair enough. I like that viewpoint, seems influenced by eastern philosophy. With this in mind, what is Morpine inspired by and what is the message of Morpine?

I’m inspired by whatever brings value to what I already know or by what adds a plus to my state of well-being. When it comes to Morpine, it’s the stuff full of energy, the industrial sounds, the tribal influences, the vibrant acid sound, the powerful bass of rave. I suppose my style would be hard to define, but if I had to sum it up, it would be that it’s focused on the most perverse of the emotions and on the dark side of hedonism.

What is your main goal as a DJ?

For now, become better at it, technically.

Talk to me about your mixing, take it wherever you want.

Mixing is a creative outlet for me. It lets me explore different sides of my personality and it gives me the necessary space to discover additional spectrums of feelings. I often find through mixing the much-stereotyped feeling of freedom. Usually, I tend to be quite aggressive in the way I transition between tracks when I am playing in the front of an audience. This happens most likely because I am a man of momentum. However, when I do home sessions, I am more balanced and sometimes even go for the long and smooth way. In the long run, it’s a lot also about selecting the tracks for my playlists and it plays a central part in the process. I have to be alone when selecting. It can be quite divine sometimes. But you know what’s more divine? When you get into that state of being where the inner seems to stay still for a while and at the same time it explodes in a big bang of emotions. It happens during some sets, but it can also happen when I suddenly just find myself watching the spectacular show of the kiddos yelling and playing like there’s no tomorrow in the backyard. I think it’s good to play.

Back to selections…I am always looking for sounds that fuel me with emotion, with empathy, with energy, sounds that make me dance and push me into a state of ecstasy. I like when I can escape, who doesn’t? But I like it even better when the room fills with life, with sounds and colors, when I am totally there, absorbing everything that arises.

The power of play, I’m a big fan, how much do you play with your music?

I play quite a lot and I’d say the most joyful and blissful moments I’ve ever had while playing with music were when I was totally alone, not recording, when everything was just in the space of my own consciousness. I find it quite peculiar. Sure, playing in front of the crowd also brought me to some special moments, but I guess, not everyone is lucky enough to find that setting where the chemistry of the group is beyond imaginary. I think that’s normal though.

I’m resonating deeply with you here, on finding the special moments by ourselves. Are you / do you plan to gig anonymously as well, what should people expect from you?

Ha. When I played for an audience, I didn’t wear a mask or anything, people knew who was at the booth. As for the future, it might happen again, it might not, not sure where this thing will actually lead me to. I don’t have any concrete plans, so, nothing certain for the future. I will think about it more when I’ll think about it.

Tell me about the mix you’ve made for us.

I had a lot of fun and I hope you will as well. I’ll let you judge for the rest.

Tell me about the techno scene in Romania, take it anywhere you want.

It’s a small scene, but constantly expanding. We have a lot to grow as individuals and as a society overall before a scene like ours can evolve into something as big as in other countries. Techno developed into a culture based on friendship, on sharing and openness to diversity. Let’s not forget how corrupt we are and how we still feel the socio-political trauma of communism. The sound itself is in its beginning phase, much inspired by the more popular names from the foreign stages, but it’s slowly emerging into different niches, somehow described by particular mixtures of rhythms and vibes. It’s a good place to start, but since business-wise we are fed with a limited spectrum of vibrations, we as a whole will not be able to learn how to listen to more genres and sub-genres of electronic music. It’s the underground that is still small. Not absent, not bad at all, but obviously suffers of a lack of exposure via social and networking channels of actuality.

We are still poor on average and we live from one day to another. You can’t expect young adults getting out of school, buying gear, producing music and investing a lot of time in something that might not generate enough money to provide for themselves or for a family even after years. So, it’s not that simple. When we’ll be able to cooperate better, escape our third world problems such as infrastructure and health care system issues, we’ll be able to attract even more foreign investments or grow our business in such a way that we will rest easy at night and don’t care about the money when playing with music. When your desire and your ambition comes because of money, you will be doomed as an artist, or at least frustrated. And it can happen without it being your fault. We’re talking about a certain level of structural violence which limits the flourishing of young people in this artsy direction.

I’ve recently had a discussion on the importance to promote techno as a whole in RO because it’s still in the inception phase vs. promoting underground niche artists that would otherwise not find a space to develop. What’s your take on this?

Niche. I’m all for lots of communities, each with its own view, with its own identity and particularities. People will then have a big pool to choose from and the more a community establishes for itself a certain vibe, the better its fans will engage and communicate.

Tell us one name in the Romanian scene that we should know of.

Tudoman Sergiu (Soundcloud)

Anything else you would like to add? Thank you so much, really. This was, in retrospect, quite inspiring.

The most important thing is to not forget that you can think. Thank you too, cheers!  

The end.

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