No stranger to Sydney, Czech DJ and Beef records label boss Michael AKA DJ Schwa recently returned to his former home to grace the decks at SASH by Day. We managed to pin him down for a chat after his Australian tour to relive the glory days of Reckless Republic and his residency at Spice...
RR: Michael, great to chat. How did you spend your time in Sydney besides working and playing gigs?
DJ Schwa: I spent more time in the studio than at the beach, but it was great. I used to live in Sydney so it didn't feel like I was a tourist in a foreign country. I went fishing on the Harbour in a small boat... caught some fish... straight from the Harbour on to the barbie!
RR: So when you lived here from 2011 to 2016, where did you used to play?
DJ Schwa: I started to play in Sydney’s underground scene at the legendary Reckless Republic parties in Kings Cross. I was also a resident DJ at Sydney's finest after-hours party Spice. I played at the first two Subsonic music festivals and pretty much every year at Rainbow Serpent in Victoria. I was also regularly playing at many other clubs in Melbourne and Sydney like Revolver, Civic, Home, Tramp, OneSixOne, Burdekin, Abercrombie...
RR: Cool. What are your favourite festivals here? Any chance of returning to them?
DJ Schwa: My best memories are from Subsonic and Rainbow Serpent... the organisers of Subsonic are friends of mine. But the festival season in Australia is when we are busy organising New Year’s events back in Prague. And during Christmas time, I am with my family so it's hard to come over.
RR: When you lived in Sydney, did you get a chance to travel with music much?
DJ Schwa: When I lived there we visited Japan, India, and Thailand. In India, the gig in Goa was the best. Japan is also great for music - or at least it used to be, I haven’t been back for quite a few years. I also did a couple of small gigs in Mexico last year, which was great. I spun in Tulum, Playa, and Monterrey - a town close to the US border. We had a great time. The year before I played at BPM with Catz n Dogz which was an amazing experience.
RR: Having played extensively in Europe and Australia, do you notice any differences between the crowds?
DJ Schwa: I wouldn’t say that there is any difference. With a crowd, you need a little bit of everything. You have to have music freaks who analyse every mix, guys who get drunk, girls who want to dance. People who are just there to party and have the best night, they don't know what you’ve produced in the past. What is most important is to play the right gigs for your music. I guess if I ever get booked for a psy-trance party it's not gonna work! If you play the right gig then the right crowd will come.
RR: Fair point. What's your motivation for making a new track?
DJ Schwa: A combination of things... the process relaxes me, especially when you're jamming with other people. You get high in the studio, the energy when that happens is amazing, you’re high but actually you’re not... you are productive. You might listen to it later and maybe you’ll throw it away because it wasn't right, but when it is right and you play it at the gig and afterwards people come over and ask you “what's the name of the track?” - that’s the second rush. Great feeling.
RR: What equipment do you like using in your studio?
DJ Schwa: Ableton live, synthesizers and a drum machines. Mainly SH101, Juno 106, MS2000, Moog Voyager, Reaktor plug ins. I used DSI Tempest for the last two years, but I didn't take that with me to Sydney this time… its too big to carry around airports. Great machine though.
RR: So did you get to spend time writing tracks during the trip?
DJ Schwa: Yes... I would rather be on the beach, hanging out with my friends but I don’t get to see Nick West - my Australian partner in crime very often. So when we do meet, we spend our time working.
RR: Your label Beef Records is making a mark. Tell us how it started and what we can expect from it this year.
DJ Schwa: About 13 years ago I was working on a label called Tribal Vision with my partner Slater. Then I realised I wanna do something on my own with my own understanding of techno and electro. The first release was a compilation Prime Cuts with names like Martinez and Trentemoller, producers who influenced me a lot. The rest is history! We are still pressing 12” records, we also did 6 CD albums and many digital releases. The most recent project on Beef is 2 vinyl samplers and an LP by BUSZ, which is Pier Bucci and Oskar Szafraniec. Great jazzy techno / minimal music.
RR: Finally - any festivals lined up?
DJ Schwa: Yes! I will be playing at the Prague festival, RoundUp, which runs from the 11-13th of May.
RR: Great. Thank you Michael!