Noema: The ‘Monday Is OK Mix’
Istanbul and Berlin-based producer, DJ and label boss Noema brings a sprinkling of the spiritual, the psychedelic and the down right magical to his musical explorations.
His dynamic DJ sets blend dubbed-out disco with enchanting strains of house music, sounds that continue on his own productions which have been released via The Magic Movement, a label he co-runs alongside Beju and Circus Varghese.
He welcomes us into a new week with his Pacific Poems mix, a spiritual ride through folk rock and psychedelic singer songwriter cuts, recorded during a sunset Bonjuk Bay beach in South Turkey. Let those worries float away for just a moment and remember, there’s only one more week of work until Christmas.
Please introduce yourself… Who are you, where are you, what are you?
This is Noema. Half of my life I used to live in Berlin, currently I spend a lot of time in Istanbul. I mostly compose, produce and DJ. I’m also teaching composition, music theory, music production and classical guitar, aswell as doing some co-production and mixing for other artists.
Together with Beju and Circus Varghese I run The Magic Movement label, where we release music and do events around USA and Europe. My grandmother says I’m special.
Tell us about the Monday mixtape you’ve put together for us.
It’s a selection of my current favourite songs in the spectrum of folk rock to singer/songwriter tunes. Some people might consider it “Balearic”.
If it were to be drawn what would it look like?
Like a sky in a wave on the wings of a sunset under a blanket above a memory.
If it were a food what would it be?
A salad of fresh greens and herbs with pomegranate dressing and grilled cheese accompanied with a bottle of very dry Sauvignon Blanc. Not to forget fresh Black pepper, of course.
What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?
A vintage convertable sports car, cruising down Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles with your best friends.
What should we be wearing?
A headscarf flowing in the wind, your favourite t-shirt, a skirt or shorts, Sunglasses and no shoes.
Where was it recorded?
It was recorded live, during a sunset on the beach at Bonjuk Bay (South Turkey). It was a lush summer day, the booth was 10m away from the sea and people were chilling in the setting sun.
Are you on the same wavelength as the boomtown rats or do you actually like Mondays?
Usually on Friday I’m in love and get down Saturday night’s, but I also don’t mind a good old-fashioned Monday.
Who got you hooked on electronic music?
My brother, who is three years older then me. He was a Raver in the mid nineties, going regularly to the legendary clubs Omen in Franfurt (run by Sven Väth) and Aufschwung Ost/Stammheim in Kassel. He discovered great music there and shared it with me.
Who would you say are your biggest influences and what are you hoping to achieve with your music?
I was lucky to work with some great teachers in my life that had a huge influence on me. That was especially my first guitar teacher, with whom I worked from the age of six till eigthteen, my piano teacher, who introduced me to a lot of Jazz music, aswell as my guitar teacher at university, who first and foremost taught me a certain attitude towards making music.
There is really too many artists to mention here that had a profound impact on me. Too keep it short, Matthew Herbert is a huge influence when it comes to sound design, Talking Heads for pop music, Dixon for playing slow club music, DJ Ata at Robert Johnson for House Music, Leigh Bowery and Pina Bausch when it comes to performance. John Cage aswell as the Surrealists are a huge influence with respect to artistsic concepts.
Regarding achievements, I hope to help spreading love and kindness in the world, give hope in times of desperation and to inspire people. Music and art in generell saved me many times and had a profound impact on my life. I would be happy to provide this for other people in the same way like my favourite artists provided for me.
What were your original aspirations as a musician and how do you think you’re shaping up?
My original aspirations never changed. I like to offer an alternative, a bullshit free zone for real people. Artistically I’m interested in things that are “different” and non-conformist. I prefer to try something new and fail instead of copying common formulars in order to be commercially successfull. High artistic standards and values are very important to me, so I always push myself to the limit of my abilities, giving my best today, learn, and try to make it better tomorrow. I believe making music and art is a constant learning process that never ends.
What was the first electronic record you heard and how did it make you feel?
The first electronic music that I remember listening to is the Prodigy’s first album from 1992. I was fascinated by the energy that this music radiated. It sounded fresh and very exciting! Another momentous moment was when my brother showed me a tape of Mixmag Live! by Plastikman in 1996. The track “Helikopter” totally blew my mind. I remember taking that tape on a school trip and showing it to my classmates. Everybody hated it hahahahaha.
How does your brain work when making music? How does it work when you aren’t?
When I make music in the studio I get totally absorbed. I work rather fast and intuitive, yet switch on my analytical brain periodically to see where I’m at from a theoretical/technical point of view. At the risk of sounding all Shanti Shanti, when I DJ I often enter a meditation-like state. Since I DJ for a very long time, my preferred mixer, CDJs or record players feel like an extended part of my body. That’s why my musical ideas don’t get stuck between my fingers and the knobs, but travel directly from my mind out of the speakers. When I’m into it, track selection and mixing seem to fall into place by itself. It happened to me many times that I was looking at my hands during a mix and it didn’t feel like it was me doing it. This is the state I’m looking for when I play a gig. It’s not always easy to get there of course, especially if you only have a 1.5 hour slot. It’s tough to do anything worthwhile in this amount of time, let alone to take the crowd on a really profound journey. These kind of sets don’t really make sense to me, at least according to my idea what the job of a DJ is. That’s why I regularly play extended sets, lasting six to ten hours. This is were the magic happens. In this context, I can highly recommend “Zen in the Art of Archery” by Eugen Herrigel. My first guitar teacher gave it to me when I was teenager. It is a documentary about exactly this state.
When I don’t make music I have rather problems concentrating lol.
What were the first and last records you bought?
The first record was “Use your Illusion part 1“ by Guns & Roses, the last one I bought today, it’s “The Corner of a Sphere” by Alabaster dePlume.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
I started working on an album, which is more song-oriented then the stuff I did in the past. It’s a new and exciting experience for me to write songs and experiment with my voice. Generally I’m in a more experimental phase right now and allow myself to explore and play around with different styles without pressure to create results.
I’m also working on an event concept which I’m really excited about. I call it an “interactive performance installation“. With this concept my partners and I will offer a space where club culture, music, dance, interactive theatre, performance and installation-art come together in a way like it has never been done before. We exchange the role of our guests from consumers to creative participators and offer a safe and highly inclusive space for self expression. The vibe will be rather like a 60s Happening than a regular club party.
If you could travel in time…where in time would you go? Why?
I would probably go to Paris between 1918 and 1933. In that period the freshest artists alive from different disciplines were all in one place, hanging out together and exchanging ideas. The Surrealists, Dada, Marcel Duchamp, Eric Satie, Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Ballets Russes… just to name a few! It must have been extremely exciting and inspiring! Or I would go to New York in the 60s/70s for the same reasons. The Kitchen, The Factory, having this crazy Jazz scene around, hanging out at the Chelsea Hotel, the Loft, Paradise Garage, etc etc…. I’m sure I would have a good time.
Some self help questions for a Monday…
Am I excited to dive into the challenges that I have lined up for the week?
Am I looking forward to engaging with the people I am meeting or working with?
Am I going to my dream job?
Lucky me, I do!
Am I being compensated fairly for the value I bring to my job?
My psychiatrist advised me not to discuss this with strangers.
Do I feel energised, rested, and confident?
After a four week recovery phase from Covid I’m slowly getting there.
If you were trapped on a desert island with one other person, who would you choose? How long would it be before you eat them?
Luciano Pavarotti, of course! He’s fairly entertaining but especially gives a rich meal after a day or two (I have a very fast metabolism you must know).
Your doctor says you need more exercise….what do you take up for exercise?
Dancing, of course!
What’s your answer to everything?
Non-Attachment. And John Coltrane.
Anything else we need to discuss?
The significance of Schrödinger’s cat in wrestling!