Influences 09: Magda
Retrospective selections from Magdalena Chojnacka.
Magda, real name Magdalena Chojnacka, was born and raised in Poland before escaping the Eastern Bloc’s martial law with her family by fleeing to the United States in 1984. They spent two years in Texas before eventually settling in Detroit, where her fascination with music grew, firstly through hip-hop, post-punk, new wave, and bands like Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. Her fascination with DJing was sparked in 1994 when she attended a Richie Hawtin “Spastik” party, and no sooner was she immersed in the Detroit’s then-thriving underground scene. She first joined the city’s all-female collective Women On Wax before her minimal sounds drew the attention of Hawtin himself who recruited her to his label and took him on the road as his opening DJ. She soon moved to New York and started a weekly party called Gel & Weave, inviting artists who inspired her the most such as Zip, Daniel Bell, and Theo Parrish. In 2003 she moved to Berlin, where she continued to hone her skills under the Minus umbrella. It wasn’t until 2011 that she parted ways with the label, turning her back to start her own label Items & Things with Marc Houle and Troy Pierce.
Today she boasts a touring schedule as busy as anyone out there. She’s a consistent yet adventurous performer, with a fine reputation for her sense of flow and eclectic, off-kilter selections.
Collaboration has become a vital part of her studio work, most recently working with T.B. Arthur, releasing 12”s of jam-based analog modular grooves under the name Blotter Trax. The duo also perform live together. She is also part of Cornerbred with Daniela Huerta focusing on a series of eclectic mixes which highlight some of her past influences. Also grounded in the concept of collaboration is her PERM event series. It began with a string of successful events in Berlin over 2016, all exploring innovative visual and musical ideas, and is set to branch out to become a record label with the same ethos.
Her Influences podcast reveals a very different side of Magda. Tracks come from the likes of The Pharcyde, Slum Village, Sonic Youth, and Throbbing Gristle. It’s an enthralling listen that shines a light on some fine records, past and present—all of which have shaped Magda into the artist she is today.
“When I started to think about this mix, I thought, “How do I sum up my life into a few tracks that paint the right picture?” As I started the trip down memory lane, I rediscovered many bands I hadn’t thought of in years and decided to focus on a few genres that have shaped me the most. Growing up in Detroit, I listened to a lot of hip-hop in the late ’80s and early ’90s, as well as indie rock. One of the tracks I chose for the mix is by a Detroit hip-hop group called Slum Village whom I used to often see at the Shelter (the first club I ever went to). It’s also the place where I saw many indie shows in high school and one of the first “official” places to play techno. I chose not to go too deep into electronic music and rather focus on the foundations which led to the electronic music I like. A huge influence has been Krautrock, with bands like Can and Harmonia, as well as a lot of post-punk which I have included in the mix. There is something so incredible in the stripped-down grooves bands like ESG, Bush Tetras, and The Flying Lizards were able to create, and to this day all of that is deeply ingrained in me. Overall, I aimed to create a story and atmosphere that really shows who I am. I have to say this was truly a fun project. Thank you.” — Magda
01. Harmonia & EEno ’76 “Les Demoiselles”
02. Sonic Youth “Shadow Of A Doubt”
03. Spacemen 3 “Ode to Street Hassle”
04. Tones on Tail “A Bigger Splash”
05. Tarwater “Witch Park”
06. Stereolab “Metronomic Underground”
07. Bernard Fevre “Molecule Dance”
08. DAF “Der Räuber und der Prinz”
09. Chris & Cosey “Talk To M”
10. The Flying Lizards “Sex Machine”
11. Mantronix “Who Is It”
12. Parliament “Night Of The Thumpasorus Peoples”
13. The Pharcyde “Pack The Pipe”
14. Slum Village “Conant Garden”
15. Man Parrish “Hip Hop Be Bop” (Don’t Stop)
16. Throbbing Gristle “Hot On Heels of Love”
17. Portion Control “The Pressure Is High”
18. Cluster “Seltsame Gegend”
19. Ikeyard “Night After Night”
20. ESG “U.F.O.”
21. Delta 5 “Mind Your Own Business”
22. Bush Tetras “Too Many Creeps”
23. Unknown DJ “Basstronic”
Photo: Leandro Quintero