A series of Q&As with musicians, DJs, artists, label managers, promoters and others focussing on the internal dimension of creative practice.

Malika is a Casablanca-born DJ who has lived in many cities, including Barcelona, Paris, Phoenix, Berlin and now Barcelona again. Her day job in Music Supervision and her other job as a DJ rely on a shared core skill: picking out the right sound for any given context. Her style and selection are informed by an enduring love for hip hop, jazz and downtempo, which she expertly captured last year in this mix for the MUDD Show. Before the pandemic she could be found playing at parties like Basic Moves, The Ghost and Seekers, and had a busy festival season ahead of her. Here, she speaks to us before and after she records a mix for Dimensions Festival’s podcast series, exploring how her selection and process is influenced by a year and a half’s absence from the dancefloor.

[Before recording]

You’re preparing a mix for Dimensions right now. How has the process been?

So far I’ve been revisiting my records because they’ve been getting quite dusty! Especially the dance music ones. Most of my recent gigs have been cancelled and I’ve also been moving country, so it’s several months since I last played out. I’ve reached the point where I really want to share music, so that’s the main drive behind the mix. The thing is, I’ve been disconnected from the dancefloor and my taste has also been changing over the course of the past months, so it all feels super experimental.

I felt similar before my first gig back. It was making me nervous. To cope, I reached for more familiar records. I fought against the uncertainty instead of embracing it.

It’s similar for me, but it’s more that I’m into more classic sounding music now. I’ve been wondering why that is, and the only explanation I can come up with is that it brings me a feeling of certainty compared to before the pandemic. Back then I was always chasing after the weirdest sounds. Now those classic sounds are what give me goosebumps when listening. I’m embracing the change – it’s how I’m feeling, I can’t help it.

I’m excited to hear that come through in the mix. Previous mixes – your lockdown session High Seas, or the guest mix you did for Polyswitch on Worldwide FM – have been more on the side of home listening.

I’ve always approached online mixes as something to be “listened” to, so I’ve never really done a “dance” mix. The more uptempo, danceable side of my collection was always kept for actual parties. But I’ve been feeling super sad about the records that have been sitting there for about two years now. I was reserving them for live DJ sets that never happened, so I want them to be heard! Now that I really feel like recording that more danceable side, it’s quite challenging. I’ve not been on a dancefloor for so long. It’s funny because in the evenings I get in the mood to play a few records and I’m dancing and getting down to them... Then I wake up in the morning and I’m in a completely different mood.

I can relate. I feel that records start judging me if they sit around on the floor for too long without being played out. Have there been other challenges in the process of recording the mix? I know you recently moved from Berlin to Barcelona.

Yes, I have been super busy moving and spending money on things like furniture, so I still only have an old mixer that red-lines as soon as I play something. I need to borrow a proper mixer for doing the recording, so in the meantime I’m just trying to put together the selection. Moving has also meant I lost a lot of my landmarks and bearings. It may be a bit cheesy to say it, but music is something I can use to orient myself. It can be confusing too, as my taste is changing, but thankfully the feelings are a constant.

[After recording]

I loved the mix. One thing I like a lot it is its patient build and flow. Is there a particular track or moment that acted as a pivotal element for you when recording it?

I wish! Actually, they kind of all act in that way. When a track is inspiring I start fantasising about a completely different direction I could take based on it and I zone out...  Which is what makes the creative process slightly draining – not in a negative way, though. It’s part of it. Most of the time, what really acts as a pivotal moment to get me to record is more a state of mind than an individual track.

The mix is really coherent harmonically. How much of that is planning and how much is intuition, spontaneous, or just good luck?

Thank you! I don’t actually have much of an idea how it works: I have no music theory training (though it’s in my list of things I’d like to do). I usually have existing combinations of records I love to play together, so in this sense there is planning, but the way I find those combinations comes from intuition (or if you want to call it luck). I’ll be playing around at home, I hear a record and I think: “OK, this is the one I want to play next”, and sometimes some nice happens and they live happily ever after together. Sometimes it doesn’t happen, but when I just follow my intuition, most of the time it does. And that’s the real work for me I think, learning to follow my intuition and block external noise.

Does your day job affect your intuition and selection as a DJ? 

I think music supervision pushes me to focus on newness and freshness, which can make me feel guilty when playing records that I’ve had for a long time. It's almost like the music supervision opens a little door in the way I listen to music. When I was in Berlin and not in music supervision, I had that door closed, so I was really focussed on a particular sound as a DJ. Now I’m back in this type of work, the door is open and I have to listen to the music differently.

Also, because I haven't been out much and haven't been around DJs for a very long time, I'm having a hard time closing that door when I want to focus on my own thing. I might think a tune is great, but then I reflect that I would never have played it two years ago. Is it just my taste evolving? Or is my music supervision ear interfering with my DJ ear somehow? But I remind myself that it’s all part of me, and that it's exciting to be open to different things.

It feels like there are plenty of parallels

Yes. In both cases I’m making an effort to create a link between my culture and sound (or that of the agency) and the culture and sound of the audience/client. In music supervision, when we pitch a song to a client it’s because we believe in it, and because it’s something timeless and has a cultural weight to it. And although I wouldn’t DJ all of the songs we pitch to our clients, the same principle – music with meaning that I believe in – applies when I’m playing. 


One producer who has got me really excited recently is Snad. I really loved his last record on Kimochi Sound.

It shouldn’t be news to anyone that great music is coming out of distant Australia. Loads of small labels are doing a great job offering a very diverse range of styles, and bringing refreshing and novel sounds together under one roof. One that got my attention and is doing it masterfully is Ken Oath Records

In terms of DJing, I really enjoy FONTE's selection. He’s based in Berlin and although he’s well-established within DJ circles he is definitely one to watch out for!

Follow Malika:



Follow Joe Delon: