Mapalma by Sven Harambasic Mapalma by Sven Harambasic
Photo by Sven Harambasic

Contemporary Club Music from Zagreb to Berlin: A Chat with Mapalma

November 27, 2016
Text by Markus Blahus
Mapalma by Sven Harambasic
Photo by Sven Harambasic

Distance vs Talent. An Interview with Mapalma who made her name known amongst the most important labels and names despite living far away from her scenes’ hotspots.

Born and raised in Croatia’s capital Zagreb, a city of about 800.000 inhabitants, young DJ and producer Mapalma grew fond of an international contemporary club music movement which mostly exists and thrives in Europe’s biggest capitals. Still, many important figures couldn’t ignore her unique, emotional and pioneering sound for long and she is now making waves in a scene that is developing and pushing club music far off classical genre boundaries. One week before her DJ premiere in Vienna, we met her for an interview.

Who were your biggest inspirations to start producing music and why?

I started making beats in 2010 because I was surrounded by my brother and other guys who were doing this. They taught me a few things and I never stopped learning. I have no music education but I was always interested in producing myself, so playing with samples and rhythms was a great start for me.

Your sound is often described as contemporary club music taking influences from a wide range of sources like Reggaeton, R’n’B, Bass music & more. How would you yourself describe it best?

In all honesty I have no idea how to describe it. I think anyone who listens to my music can tell that playing with different rhythms is what I basically do in my tracks and remixes. Since I was a kid I’ve been influenced by so many different genres and what I listen to on a daily basis is still very diverse.

So what do you listen to on a daily basis? Give us some of your favourite genres and artists:

I currently listen to playlists I make myself which mostly consist of classic Jazz, Bossa Nova and Cuban (Guajira) music. But I also love Sevdaliza, Abra, Arabic Electronica…

Speaking of Arabic Electronica, you recently posted a mix by Loris with the caption: »Dare To say, my all time favourite mix«. Loris is from Mexico and has Palestinian roots, how did you get to know her and her music?

I met Loris through a private group called Sister on Facebook. It is a virtual collective of female and non-binary electronic music professionals across the globe, striving to make the industry a more equal place. I think this group is very important, very loving and supportive towards each other. This space is essential to all of us in it and hopefully inspires more girls to get into producing, promoting and sharing their music. Actually I met Ghazal from Staycore through this group and it is also where Bao (Mobilegirl) and me first shared our song Philae Touchdown and received great feedback. That was really important for me and helped me have confidence in my own music.

As you said, you worked with Mobilegirl on a track that was released on highly respected Staycore from Stockholm, you have released on London based gender inclusive label x club night Boko! Boko! and have a bunch of much hyped songs on your own Soundcloud. Do you have plans to release an EP anytime soon?

I would love to have an EP out in 2017, I have a few projects and ideas for it but I first have to get my head around it and I want to be really happy about the output in the end. So I won’t rush it if I don’t think I’m finished.

What is the music / club scene in Zagreb like? Are there parties where you can comfortably play your sound and people react to it in a positive way?

I used to go clubbing a lot more, nowadays I only go to shows I really want to see. So I don’t think my opinion is very relevant in regard to the scene in Zagreb, but I feel like it’s a bit sparse and there could be a lot more going on. When I do play here, which is very rarely, I’m usually comfortable and I get to play what I want and the people seem to enjoy it.

How do you feel about clubs in general? Do you like to play/be/work there?

Clubs for me can be a bit stressful but it’s my personal issue, it has nothing to do with the crowd or vibe. But once I enjoy the music and relax a bit it can be an amazing experience. Mostly, I feel safe in clubs, as personally I haven’t really had bad experiences.

The contemporary club scene is focused on a few key cities like Berlin or London. And even though there’s micro-scenes in many other cities and everything is very well connected through the internet, did you ever think about moving to a bigger city to focus on your musical career?

At the moment I’m trying to move to Berlin, but it’s not only to focus on music, it’s a big personal challenge I need to take on in life so I can be happier. I’ve been there only recently and there is so much positive energy, good music and people in this place.

If you had to describe a Mapalma DJ-set with three words, what would you say?

This is the hardest part of this interview haha. When I think hard and long about it I’d say: Cute but angry.

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