Published: 1 Feb 2018
- Magda Bytnerowicz

A two hour journey into the night with one of Sydney's most trusted guides.

This week we have a long awaited selection from one of Australia’s most cherished late night operators, a Sydney DJ who has been playing records together with inimitable finesse since way back in the early 2000s. Catching Magda play over the years has always left us feeling inspired, with her sets at Inner Varnika and our former clubnight Lost Weekend some of the best we’ve seen. In Sydney she’s regularly called upon to support the likes of Derrick May, Steffi, DVS1, Nick Höppner and co, plus her sets at long-running Sydney institution Mad Racket have always held a special place amongst local dancers. Her contribution here is another display of impeccably layered dubby techno, deep acid, electro and stripped back hypnotic rhythms. Best you turn it up!

Magda, so great to finally have you on! I know you’ve had a bit of a crazy past year, which I hear came to a close at the notorious Mad Racket party on NYE. What can you tell us about that one, and your experiences at Racket as both a punter and a DJ over the years?

Thanks for inviting me Myles! Racket on NYE when Claire Morgan is playing is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned, what a magical combo! It’s always so exciting walking into a party knowing a good mate is going to wreck the joint, and of course Claire did. I’ve not heard techno being played quite so vigorously at Racket in a while, and it was hugely satisfying hearing it go down a treat. More broadly, the thing that always makes it easy to decide to go to Racket is knowing that I can arrive alone but run into a bunch of long time music friends there, as well as delightfully, unexpectedly, people from my day-to-day life, or from my past, and it’s the sort of party that enables deeper engagement with said folks. It might sound a bit cheesy, but I’m a firm believer in the transcendent power of the communal dance – the act of people coming together and letting go carries a profundity that shouldn’t be underestimated. Not that it happens every time – you have to have skin in the game in order to find and make those moments.

I know you’ve recently taken a break from running events, but you’re known to have hosted some pretty memorable Sydney warehouse parties in years gone by under the 4our banner, with DJs like Steffi, XDB and Eric Cloutier to name a few. Were those parties your first foray into promoting, and which do you think were the key ingredients that made them so special?

4our wasn’t my first stab at promoting actually. I did something in the mid 2000s with some mates called Fold, then I ran a little bar gig on my own that I forget if I gave a name, and the final thing before 4our was a collab called JACK with Sydney legend Mark Murphy, focused on house music. All of them were on the now sadly far less trafficked Oxford Street in Sydney though.

With 4our, in hindsight I think a lot of it came down to good timing – we presented punters with the right thing at the right time. We started before the lockouts in Sydney were an issue and so warehouse parties were far more on the fringes than they are now. We had some friends kind enough to pass on contacts for venues that we clicked with (out to Holland St!). I think our booking policy in combination with a good space sealed the deal and once people came once, they’d come again and again. We had a lot of regulars, even when we moved things back into legit venues for various reasons. We also selfishly wanted a platform for ourselves as well as to focus on local DJs, female as a priority, because we thought it was lacking at the time and there were so many talented and underbooked artists out there.

Also vital were our residents Claire Morgan and Kate Doherty – I feel people really gelled with us as a foursome. Rounding it all out was our international bookings policy, which was we both had to agree on the artist and we focused on getting the artists we were interested in as fans and punters rather than just taking the Sydney date for someone that we weren’t that into. We also placed a huge emphasis on venue when hosting someone – if we couldn’t find the right space that suited their and our vibe we would not proceed. Finally, I owe a massive shout out to Renae Trcek aka Trinity, my partner in the venture, as I think we both brought complementary skills and energy to the table.

One thing I’ve always loved about your style is that you’re able to layer sounds to create energy with long, perfectly executed mixes while playing all records – something that isn’t seen too often anymore these days. I’m curious to know as an up and coming DJ back in the early 2000s, who were some of the most impressive clinical DJs that inspired this kind of seamless approach?

Ooooh you’re stretching my memory to be honest (and that’s a lovely compliment!) One person initially who was an influence was the guy who facilitated me learning to DJ in the first place, an architect named Adrian – naturally I absorbed how he played as I was learning the ropes. Through him I got exposed to a lot of the more proggy smoothly mixed stuff like Deep Dish, but also Danny Tenaglia and Chris Duckenfield and a ton more that I can’t remember, but all DJs with exceptional technical skills. As a result the more I actively listened to various DJs the more I started hone in on what I liked – the magic of the ‘third track’ created when two are being mixed together and knowing your tunes inside out were my key takeaways. It was also the early 2000s, so technically sound mixing was par for the course – everyone was still playing vinyl in clubs and DJs wouldn’t be booked if they didn’t have the skills, simple as that. All the house guys I would go out to at The Globe or Sublime for example, had insane technical skills – Illya springs to mind – as did the drum n bass (Matt and Kayla) and techno/house DJs (Phil Smart, Ken Cloud, Simon Caldwell).

I know you’ve been plotting this mix for quite some time now… what can you tell us about the finished product, and what are some of the records in there that deserve a special mention?

I’ve been trying to find a place for a couple of sequences in here for aaaaages and it’s so satisfying when the pieces of the puzzle fit together in a way that tells a cohesive story. The Acid Jesus into Urgent track into Call Super sequence at the end I’ve had in mind for something like 2 years, DJ Steaw into Tracey Thorn into Leafar Legov I feel is a really nice turn around a corner and finally the 4 track sequence that makes up the intro gives me the warm and fuzzies as well.

What do you have coming up this year that you’re most looking forward to?

At the moment taking things as they come to be honest, taking the gig opportunities as they arise and trying to present the best music I can at each one. I have some super nice support slots lined up for Objekt and a couple of others I can’t reveal yet that I’m chuffed to have been asked to do so focusing on those one by one!

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