Name: Mirko Loko
Occupation: DJ, producer
Current Release: Mirko Loko has mixed the latest edition of the Detroit Love Compilation, which is out via Planet E now.
Recommendations: A very talented graphic designer called Flerk please check his art on instagram (byflerk). He is a master of 3D artwork.
If you enjoyed this interview with Mirko Loko, visit his facebook account or soundcloud profile for background news, current updates and music.
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started very early, around the age of 17 (1996). At that time we were listening to a radio station which was one of the first in Europe to broadcast mixes. This show, called Pump It Up Live, would treat us to all the latest electronic music. Every weekend it was broadcasting live from clubs and raves and it was the very beginning of the culture club and raves in Switzerland. It was so new and exciting that we exchanged tapes of the shows on the playground. We also had great record stores, so it was really a good time to start.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
I went to a good school! I was lucky enough to see legends playing regularly next to my door at the end 90's. I wouldn't know how to pronounce myself on my own creativity, my musical world is full of influences that I hold in high esteem and who have taught me a lot. Copying them would have been pointless.
What were some of the main challenges and goals when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
I didn't have a career plan or strategies. I didn't ask myself all these questions. I just wanted to share my favorites in front of an audience. Then I released my first record and then another one. I didn't plan or schedule anything.
I'm very lucky to have been able to live from music and I appreciate that. However, it's not always easy for me to move between my passion and the fact that it's my job. Combining these two aspects is a balancing act and I sometimes have a hard time finding my place.
The cult of the DJ makes me uncomfortable. Social networks are a necessary but complicated aspect for me, I don't recognize myself in it. On the other hand, I still love to play and I like to produce my own music. As soon as I have the time to do it, it's an essential aspect for my development.
How would you define the job and describe the influence of the DJ? How are the experience and the music transformed through your work?
My job is about selecting the finest music, sharing it in a very serious way to entertain people that want to have a good time as seriously as possible.
What was your first set-up as DJ like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
My setup before was two turntables and one mixer. Today it is four CDJs and a mixer.
With the years it's become more comfortable to travel and prepare my stuff with as much music as I can. About the gear the most important is a sound system well adapted and equalized for the room.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
Technology is the bridge to arrive at your ideas.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do life and creativity feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
Yes, I think I can say that I have my little routines in place. I usually get up around 8-9am. I devote a lot of my time to my festival. It's a lot of preparation and we have a very small team, so there's always something to do. The creative aspect is very close but I prefer to work during the night on the music I like to create when everyone is asleep. I feel like time has stopped.
Let's say you have a gig coming up tonight. What does your approach look like – from selecting the material and preparing for, opening and then building a set?
It usually takes me a whole week or more. I like to look for music and prepare my selection during the week. I always find time for that. It's important to bring out stuff or listen to new stuff all week.
Can you describe your state of mind during a DJ set? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Playing music that I like, trying to get people into it. I don't have a real strategy for that by trying to have fun.
What are some of the considerations that go into deciding which track to play next? What makes two tracks a good fit? How far do you tend to plan ahead during a set?
Again, I think the most important thing is to have fun with what you play. Adapt to the circumstances and try to please with a good selection.
Would you say you see DJing as improvisation? As composition in the moment? Or as something entirely different from these terms?
Absolutely ! For me anyway it's an improvisation with a list of things I would like to try.
How do playing music at home and presenting it in the club compare and relate? What can be achieved through them, respectively, and what do you personally draw from both?
I like to be surprised by the record I play on a good sound system, it allows me to rediscover it, it's stimulating.
How would you describe the relationship between your choices and goals as a DJ and the expectations, desires and feedback of the audience? How does this relationship manifest itself during a performance and how do you concretely tap into it?
Being honest with what you do is a source of fulfillment. Being able to continue to do it for years to come in this way would be a very good thing.
Especially thanks to the storage facilities of digital media, DJ sets could potentially go on forever. Other than closing time, what marks the end of a DJ performance for you? What are the most satisfying conclusions to a set?
There are no rules for me. It all depends on where people are and what mood they are in.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
For me music and being an artist is a fundamental part of who I am, and provides context for how I experience everything. I cannot imagine my life or how I would even see the world without music being a part of it.