Podcast 634: Mayell
A Slovenian mix to make you happy.
Podcast 634: Mayell
A Slovenian mix to make you happy.
Although only 25 years old, Maj Potočnik Zavrl is an established pillar of Slovenia’s blossoming electronic music community having spent seven years digging for the most peculiar records he could find. His close friends call him Maj, but those in music circles know him as Mayell, a resident of Ljubljana clubs ZOO, which recently closed, and K4, where he’s been playing for over three years. Over the past 18 months, he’s been popping up more regularly on minimal-leaning lineups across Europe, including at Frankfurt’s Robert Johnson, Berlin’s Hoppetosse, and Florence’s Tenax, and he’s made quite a name for himself in the process.
Mayell found music through his parents. His father has played in bands all of his life, so “since I was very small, I was listening to music all the time,” Mayell explains. At first it was Michael Bublé and Sting and then he discovered hip-hop, instrumentals, and then house, which took a hold of him. He bought his first records and a DJ setup using €2,000 he won in a casino, then only 16 and having snuck in using fake identification.
Mayell’s sound is shaped by his edits—reworks of records he likes. “A lot of times it happens that you find a record that is amazing until one point then it fucks up completely and you cannot play it,” he says. “So I rip the record, edit it, and then I can play it!” These edits can be as minor as tweaking the arrangement, but sometimes he’ll add his own drums, vocals, or anything that fits.
Mayell compiled his XLR8R podcast over the past fortnight, and it’s full of edits, many executed especially for this mix. For this reason, there’s no tracklisting provided but you’ll likely recognize some of the work, even if it’s sounding a little different to anything you’ve heard before. It begins downtempo and slow, tempting you in, and it only really gets going around the 20-minute mark, but it never really reaches too high a tempo. Expect a 90-minute insight into Mayell’s mind, filled with music you might never hear again.
What have you been up to recently?
Nothing out of the ordinary, I’m glad that I’m back into my sport routine, which takes a little discipline to maintain with gigs abroad and all, but I find it really important to uphold a healthy lifestyle. I’m also glad that I have been spending more time in my studio, which means you can expect some new releases soon.
What are your earliest experiences of music?
Because my father is a musician, I’ve been surrounded by a variety of music since day one. I listened to jazz and classical music, as well artists like Sting or Michael Bublé. I was also captivated by hip-hop instrumentals and such. I must mention that maybe the turning point for me as a musician was hearing Francesco del Garda play his set at the event we organized eight years ago; it really hit the sweet spot!
What’s going on in music in Slovenia at the moment?
I think right now our scene is in bloom—and although it’s maybe still smaller in numbers compared to other bigger cities, it’s big in the sense of a tightly-knit community and collaboration. There’s a really lovely, happy-vibes crowd, so much so that every weekend spent together feels like a family reunion.
What is it that draws you to music?
I like the thrill of the search. I revel in making my way through the vastness of music, finding it, listening to it, finding pieces that move me, and then the intoxicating feeling that is playing it in front of people, linking the pieces in a way that takes us all on a joyful journey.
Where are your favorite places to find new records?
My favorite place to find music is the internet. I’ve found out that I have a greater success rate at finding pieces I’m interested in on the web than in record shops, because of the vastness and diversity that it offers.
You edit a lot of the records you buy. Why do you feel the need?
The need to make edits comes from the thrill of when you find something you really like and then it fucks up and then you are disappointed, and you really want to play it badly, and you don’t want to just throw it away, and so then you make the effort to edit it so you can play it. Like this, I think you can play many things that you could not otherwise play. Also, I think it leads you to dig for different things because you know you that you can make the record sound a bit more you, with editing.
When did you begin editing records?
I began editing as soon as I learned how to use ProTools, about six or seven years ago.
When and where did you record this mix?
Two days ago, in my room.
How did you select the tracks that you included?
I selected the pieces that best capture the essence of who I am music- and vibe-wise.
Is there a concept to this mix?
The only concept of this and any mix of mine is to make people happy.
How much of the podcast is edits?
Around half of it, I would say.
Do you think deeply about your ambitions in music?
Not at all. I’m just going with the flow. I have a job as a sound technician in a jazz club and that pays well enough for me to be able to do things with my music that I enjoy without any pressure, financial or otherwise.
What’s on your horizon for 2020?
A lot of fun.
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to download the podcast you will need to subscribe to our Select channel. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
Editor note: there is no tracklisting for this edition.