14.10.2017 | Words by:
Mairo Nawaz is the type of person that only beams with rays of positive energy when you speak to him: just like his dj sets and his vision on music. We had a chat about music and hobbies in his apartment, situated right in the middle of Amsterdam's Red Light District.Q: You play a lot of hiphop. Did you grow up listening to this?
A: I used to listen to hiphop when I was young. In high school we had music on MTV, which I went to record with my Sony Ericsson device and then listened to that on my way to school. My mother had lots of Michael Jackson tapes, so I used to have a Walkman and listen to that as well. Q: How come you have been playing more house music lately?
A: It is probably because of the influence of people by who I am surrounded. I used to play hiphop parties before playing De School. I started going to house parties more often, and also I started playing De School when that opened around 1,5 years ago and going to events where house music was played. Luc from De School told me to check out certain dj's and that kind of stuff, and eventually I ended up really liking some of them a lot. It was more some kind of further development in my musical genre.Q: How do you prepare your sets?
A: I rarely prepare my sets: I do search for new music but if I play I just play. It really depends on the moment and how I feel at that particular time. I also don’t like to prepare my sets because then you might hold on to one thing, and then you might not really feel how you feel yourself, so you can’t really let go.Q: You do have said before, that you DJ more for yourself then you do for a crowd.
A: That is still true. I do play more for myself then for the people that are there. That is also the image I have of an artist: someone that makes or does something for what he or she finds cool, and that for that reason people come to you because you think that is cool yourself, or maybe not at all. But still that you try to create your own fan base or group. People that think you are awesome, people that don’t think you’re awesome. That's what you get by doing what you think is best, without too much external influences. Therefore it becomes clear for people what you do as an artist.
Imagine you go out partying, and every song you have in your head gets played in the sequence you had imagined yourself already. That is the best party that you’ve ever been to. And can you imagine that I play what I like most; so then every party is the best party ever for me.Q: Who are your role models, if you have any?
A: I have multiple, but there's one person in particular – who I owe a lot to – and that is Vic Crezée. I learned a lot from him and he gave me the space to develop. Even when I was unsure if people liked the music I was playing. If you just play what you like most yourself and nobody dances, you get pretty insecure. Always when I had such a moment I could always go to Vic: he is like my big brother. Technically I learned a lot from him, but also mentally, and how you handle certain situations.Q: Getting back to the example you gave earler – about the best party ever: every song you already had in your mind, played in the sequence you already had in your mind. What do you get from a crowd, when you're playing at such moment?
A: An acknowledgement, that people like my music. Also it is like a kind of mirror, the energy, when I am playing and enjoying the music and really dancing. If the crowd has the same, then it is like some energy that is pumping back and forth. That's a really nice feeling. That hype is like my fuel.
I play music for myself but if the people understand it and go along with it, you get one big field of energy. That is what I enjoy most. Q: How do you find the current spirit in our local dance scene?
A: I think there definitely is a positive spirit, of what I see and experience. Currently I play as a hiphop DJ at De School. There doesn’t seem to be such a big gap between the artists at De School and the people I play with, and everyone seems to have the same attitude. As an artist we are all the same, we think the same and we want the same: we just want to play cool music and that’s what everybody wants. Therefore there’s a good bond between all artists at De School. Everyone shares with each other, speaks with each other and supports each other. It’s nice to see that there is so much support. Also from my side towards other artists, and that everybody somehow appreciates that of each other. Q: Because of this feeling of exchange, have you started appreciating let’s say, techno music more as well?
A: It’s not that I like genres, but I just like music in general. It can be techno, it can be EDM, it can be something I find beautiful and that is what I like. And that’s not really related or connected to a genre for me. In every genre you will eventually find something you think is really beautiful. Q: We talked music, let’s talk about fashion. Before you became a DJ you were the assistant of Bonne Reijn [a Dutch fashion designer]. Do you have a special bond with fashion, or is it more like a hobby?
A: The funny thing is djing is also still like a hobby to me, but it’s my job because I live from it: at least that’s what people tell me. But I still see it as a hobby and the same goes for fashion. If you think something is beautiful, you want to have it or show it and share with other people. Music and fashion therefore are very closely related to me because it is of the beauty of the product that makes something stand out. Q: You love beautiful clothes, beautiful music and also beautiful mopeds. Can you tell something more about this last hobby of yours?
A: I build mopeds in my free time as a hobby. That is how I get to relax. Just me, myself and my moped: that is literally what it is (laughs). You are creating something from nothing, and it’s such a nice sensation – fiddling with all the wiring and suddenly the lights are working. Then you feel like some sort of Einstein. That is an amazing feeling. When I am by myself all alone and fixing my moped and I succeed in something it feels like a great accomplishment. My friend Tobias owns a workplace in Slotervaart (Amsterdam), and it’s always super fun to be out there.Q: You say working on your moped calms your mind. Do you also have that with music?
A: It’s mix of energy I have at that moment, and excitement to go work on my moped. If I find an awesome track I can instantly be like: "Oh my god, I can’t wait to play this track”. When I start playing, I can’t wait until the room is packed, so that everyone can hear it. But then before you know, your time is already over, so you have to be cautious (laughs).
Dj'ing is fun, but you do need some peace sometimes. Everybody needs peace sometimes, a place where you can take a rest. Some people have that with sports or something else, I have that with mopeds. Some place where you can put your mind to zero. Q: What about the future? Do you want to start producing your own tracks?
A: Yes, that’s something I really want to start working on with full focus. The idea of it really excites me. Again, that great feeling of creating something and showing it to other people. I'll see how it goes. Off course I want to become a super big DJ, that seems really sick to me. The more, the merrier (laughs). But if you are so busy with reaching that goal, I think you’re not living in the moment accordingly. If I don’t become a big DJ, at least I had a wonderful time and enjoyed it all to the fullest. In any case, I really enjoy every day of what I am doing right now.Catch Mairo Nawaz playing Het Muzieklokaal at Het Weekend during ADE. He'll play Friday night from 03.00 – 05.00. Full schedule can be found right here.