The different faces of Makam

The different faces of Makam

18-06-2014 | 13.59

There are a handful of DJ’s that will always be special to Trouw. They regularly make appearances in our DJ booths and captivate Trouw’s audience with their extensive knowledge and experience of the scene and its music. We make these DJ’s residents, and the latest DJ to join this special list is none other than Makam. Guy Blanken had his first release under the Makam moniker back in 2009. In Makam, the producer put years of experience into a project he described as his “definte sound”. An album soon followed on Sushitech, a label he regularly calls home, and his deep explorations into House have been well received wherever they are heard. As a world-class DJ he regularly features alongside the Dekmantel guys (his second home), and often plays in some of the most exotic locations around the world. I caught up with him via email, after his recent trip to Sonar, where he played at a Sushitech showcase alongside the likes of Efdemin. He is still recovering from the effects of Barcelona when I get a reply, but still makes some time to answer some questions as Trouw’s first ever resident of the month for this year's summer season. 

Are you aware that you are only the second resident Trouw has ever had to start the summer season?
"No, I didn’t know... Sounds good though!"

Do you think this information will affect your residency?
"No, I don’t think so!"

For your inaugural event as resident, you will be playing all night long. What usually stimulates you during the various stages of a longer set like that?
"I always try to bring and keep the right energy on the floor. It’s all about the art of energy, keeping the right tension at the right moment. Meaning that at some point you need to take down that peak energy, to build it up again."

Being no stranger to Trouw, you must know its crowd well by now. How does this knowledge of the audience affect your sets whenever you play at here?
"I know that people love energy at Trouw. I believe the floor needs that, as I’ve had the opportunity to play here a lot, and time & experience has taught me this. Actually, I’ve learned a lot in Trouw over the last couple of years. It really shaped me and I’ve grown a lot because of it, something I’m really grateful for. But there is no secret formula to guarantee a great party, every single time it’s different and should be approached as such. However, knowing the people and the venue obviously helps you in this approach."

Let’s get into Makam, the producer … well actually, the last time you spoke to Trouw, you mentioned that you’ve delved into the harder side of techno under a new alias, but you were reluctant to share the details. Are you ready to share this secret identity with us yet? 
"What secret identity…?"

Why do want to keep it a secret?
"I feel that myself as a producer, I simply can’t do a single thing. It will bore and limit me… will interfere with growing and learning new things. That’s why I’m always doing something new and having projects on the side. This techno project is just one of them. As I have different ‘faces’ as a producer, it doesn’t mean that people should know who all of these faces are. Because it’s not about the face, it’s about the music and what I want to express with it. And I don’t want people to start mixing up faces or create a bias towards one, because I want people to judge and appreciate the music for what it is."

"With this reason I think that some things should simply remain unsaid, as it’s actually not important at all. Even though I can be incredibly proud of it and sometimes would love to scream it out loud."

In another interview around that same time, you mentioned that you found your “definite sound” in Makam. Is this statement still true now that this new alias has come along?
"Like I mentioned before, Makam is one of the faces I have as a producer. It’s a face that’s have been with me for a long time and people start to recognize musically. I feel incredibly comfortable with it and it lives in great harmony with my other projects. So the statement remains very true."

"Makam is a certain vibe and energy I want to bring across, and it can embody all different kinds of music. Makam has grown together with me over all these years; it gave me the freedom and space to do many different things musically, which keeps it exciting to keep working on."

By the time Makam was established with a first release, you had a decade’s worth of production experience under your belt. How did this experience come together into that “definite sound” for you?
"The years of experiences allowed me to be more fluent in my musical expression. I don’t need to think anymore how to create a certain type of sound or atmosphere; it just flows naturally and is very much in sync with how I feel at the moment. The many years of dedication and experience allowed me to reach this stage."

Most of Makam’s output thus far, has been released on Sushitech. What is it about Berlin label that encourages you to keep going back?
"Sushitech supported me since the beginning of Makam and we’ve grown together. I really think they have a strong philosophy behind the label and the music they release. They really create something special with each release and I feel proud that I’ve become a part of this family."

Your other affiliation is with Dekmantel, and yet What Ya Doin’ has been the only release on their label. I am sure I speak for everyone when I ask, ‘when will you guys recreate the magic of that EP’?
"Haha, not entirely true, as I also did the track, ‘Good To You’ on the their 5 year compilation. But definitely an affiliation, as I’ve known Casper & Thomas of Dekmantel ever since we were kids and just started out with music. So you can imagine we’re good friends. What Ya Doin’ was a spontaneous thing we decided to release at that time, and can’t be recreated because of its spontaneity. I just like to work in the moment. But it doesn’t mean we can’t create some new magic, which will definitely happen at some point."

If you are not currently working on the next Dekmantel release, what do you have in the pipeline?
"First of all my new label called Amulett will launch this month. A place where I can really do everything I want. Could be Makam, or even a different project. Again creating even more freedom for myself, which will translate in the releases we’re planning to do. So you can really expect anything to happen on Amulett, house, techno, dub, whatever… Whatever we feel like. Besides my own productions, I definitely want to create a place where other artists, old and new, can come and release their stuff. So Amulett will also be the place where I want to release my second album, which is planned for 2015… Finally, I’ve contributed a track to ‘Panorama Bar 06’, done by Ryan Elliott and which will be released next month on Ostgut Ton."

On a sad note… Besides being the first resident to occupy this year's summer season at Trouw, you will also be one of the last. What has been your favorite memory of the club thus far?
"Oh wow….there are so many good memories, but I think the first edition of ‘Club Night’ is one of my most special ones."

And if you could play the last track on the closing night, what would that track be?
"This track still needs to be made… but definitely will be made! As a small token to honor Trouw and give something back."

Text: Mischa Mathys