DEEP, crisp, subtle, electronic grooves with a sublime energy are a staple of Mihai Popoviciu’s music both in his DJ sets and in his productions.
The Romanian born DJ and producer was influenced growing up in his home town of Sibiu by the steady stream of music coming out of London, Ibiza and Berlin in the 90’s. The problem was there wasn’t much of a local dance music culture to speak of in Sibiu with no local clubs. He was eventually able to realise his dream through producing music and we are not talking making one hit record. In the early days he was making at least one record a day for months on end, perfecting his craft before eventually in 2005 his determination and passion paid off when he was signed to International Deejay Gigolo. Dozens of acclaimed releases then followed on a variety of labels including Highgrade, Poker Flat, Bedrock and Dessous. He went on to establish his own label Cyclic in 2012.
Fast forward to 2017 and Mihai has graced the decks of some of the best clubs and festivals in Europe including Berghain and Watergate in Berlin; to London’s fabric to DC10 in Ibiza and the music he produces is unmistakably his own. We caught up with him this week to find out more about his journey so far, plus we have a very special mix from him for The Night Bazaar Sessions which you can listen to below.
Your entry into dance music as a DJ has followed the more traditional path these days of becoming well known for your productions ahead of being booked all over the world for shows but it was even more challenging than that in your home town of Sibiu in Romania wasn’t it?
Yes indeed! I started producing in 2001 when there was almost no scene for electronic music in Romania. My first vinyl record came out in 2005 and by that time things were already going better so I also started to play as a DJ.
How long was it before your productions led to gigs and getting involved in the wider scene in Romania and around the world?
I think it was 2007/2008 when I started to have gigs outside Romania. In those years I was also very focused on producing and releasing music. Those where the years when I had decided do music as a full time job.
You made a lot of records in the early days through your obvious passion. How important were these days in honing your skills as a producer and how much has the production process changed since you started?
Those years were extremely important for developing my skills! I used to spend many hours every day in front of the computer and playing around with sounds, experimenting and learning by myself. I was in university back then and I was not focused on school at all but on music. At the moment modern technology makes it easier to produce decent music.
Are you striving for perfection in your music?
I think it is important to know when to stop perfecting a piece of music, to know when a track is good enough. Of course you could always make things a bit better and improved but you risk circling around your tail forever and never finishing anything while looking for absolute perfection.
Are your motivations to create and play music the same as when you started out?
Yes, this hasn’t changed a bit! I love music in general and I love producing and playing it. Earning a decent living from music was my teenage dream and I have been living this dream for many years now.
What have you got coming up with regard to releases both with your own productions and on your Cyclic label?
After releasing my last EP on Poker Flat Recordings in spring this year I took a short break from producing. Just recently I have finished the tracks for my next release that will come out in september on Cyclic Records. In between I have a couple of remixes that are planned to be released soon.
What other producers and/or DJs inspire you?
I feel musically connected to people like Toygun, James Dexter or Per Hammar and you will soon hear some music that we did together. We like eachothers productions so we try to collaborate on few projects.
Do you think it’s important for DJs to be producers aswell in today’s scene or is there still room at the top for Djs who purely play other people’s music?
I think there is still room at the top for people who only DJ but it is harder to get there without producing. You either have to be a truly outstanding DJ or have a strong PR agency to push you to the top.
Typically in your DJ sets how much of your own music might you play?
I think around 20-25% of what I play is my own music. I like to test out new tracks or remixes that I have just finished and see how they work on the dancefloor.
Talk us through some of the shows you are really looking forward to playing this summer?
I am excited to be back at 3SOF Festival in Romania on 28th July. It is a small festival on a remote island in the middle of the Danube river and the nature there is amazing. One other important gig on my list this summer is Untold Festival, the biggest festival in Romania. It will be my first time there so I am looking forward to it. On 18th August I will play in Portugal at Waking Life Festival and that should be good fun too!
Where is your favourite place to play?
I have many places around the world that will always stay in my heart. I couldn’t really pick just one but if i had to make a list I would say that in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Sydney or Bucharest I had a great time.
What advice would you give to aspiring DJ/producers?
Don’t give up, keep your path and stay true to yourself. Find your own musical direction and stick to it.