On Our Guestlist: Maayan Nidam

It’s one thing to produce a great track, but we are only complacently sold when we've also heard a thrilling set from a DJ. Though there can be no set formula, they ought to tell a story, to somehow progress coherently while remaining unpredictable, and provoke some sort of interior renovations to their listeners. They’re not easy to master, not everyone should do both, but there are some dedicated sound painters out there that are simply doing a tremendous job on each aspect. Producing, mixing, track selection and attitude - all flawless - while we can only imagine how much pressure and hard work that involves.

On our guestlist features artists that are outstanding in all the aspects mentioned above - that’s why they often get to be on our guest list.

Maayan Nidam - an artist in flux, continues to change, evolve and challenge boundaries both in her studio and on stage. Unsurprisingly residing in Berlin and producing one of the most delicious and filtered minimal house & techno music around, Maayan Nidam is also a real gem taster. It's impossible to reduce Maayan's productions, DJ sets or live performances to a single sound design; it might be more accurate to say that she shapes sound to fit her own singular sensibilities — a strategy that has resulted in a significant and growing body of recorded work and a reputation as a talented, versatile DJ who unerringly takes listeners to special, unexpected places.

As you might have noticed, there is a very specific vibe that comes from a combination of Mediterranean, Jewish, Arabic and east European traditions. Spending the first 20 years of her life in Israel, the sounds of that country as well as her life in Tel Aviv have left their mark on her both as a person & as a musician.

Since she began producing in 1999, Maayan has racked up an impressive discography. From her roots in Tel Aviv to settling in Berlin, she quickly forged a musical path for herself through a rich spread of projects and releases, most notably rising to prominence under the Miss Fitz moniker at a time when minimal techno was yielding its most creative and inspiring output. Likewise the Laverne Radix alias, the Spunky Brewster and collaborative projects such as Mara Trax (alongside Vera Heindel) or The Kicks (with Alex Picone) have their own style but more in the sense of musical attitude rather than in genres, speaking of a mind brimming with ideas to unleash.
Maayan is treating the studio like a laboratory. When it comes to her solo work, she tries to set it up in a way that’s most likely to get something new and exciting, and spends her time coming up with ideas of how to connect things in an interesting way or make alterations that will start chain reactions, like this follow up remix she received from Ricardo Villalobos to one of her tracks:
Maayan Nidam boasts an impressive back-catalog that includes records for the likes of Raum…musik, Perlon, Freak n’ Chic and Cadenza. As a musician obsessed about sound and the technology behind its creation, her workflow places a strong focus on the studio environment. Rather than focusing on maintaining a release schedule, she visited her studio religiously to experiment with connecting her instruments and processors in every possible combination.
Following 2016's Deep Under Sobriety Regime, and especially with her latest album, Sea Of Thee, both released at Perlon, Nidam's music has acquired a magnetic sense of immediacy. Her performative workflow translates into a feeling of being led by a presence that's sculpting and interacting with the music as it comes into form. Within her milieu, Nidam now lacks direct contemporaries. Triggering chain reactions between guitar pedals, drum machines, modular synths and acoustic instruments, generating sounds in unpredictable and exciting ways, they form up to tonal episodes that tell stories of sublime darkness, sneaky affection, mystery and magic, dream destinations, and the wisdom of sound.
Inspired by her 2014 performances as The Waves with an accompanying band, Maayan has developed a solo live set that allows her to further her studio experiments and take them on the road. With a flexibly evolving range of hardware, she re-creates the spontaneous frame of her productions, delving deep into the possibilities of live dubbing and improvisation, keeping the performance exciting for both the crowd and Maayan herself.
The collaboration between Israeli-born, Berlin-based DJ/producer Maayan Nidam and Cologne-based artist Julia König explores the marriage of deep, intricate rhythms and the hypnotic potential of the human voice. Nidam’s diverse production skills and sonic explorations harmonize with König’s interest in speech synthesis and vocal processing to provide an experience equally as important for the mind as it is for the body.
Of course though, dance music is where Maayan’s musical trajectory has stemmed from, and her love of undulating grooves is ever quenched by her work as a DJ. With selections that span the ages without fear of switching up the vibe, she may be as wilfully esoteric on the decks as in the studio but she always strikes the balance to keep from veering into self-indulgence.

Her DJ sets, predominantly based in stripped-back, deep sounds, utilise an intriguing vinyl collection, using obscure interludes for re-contextualisation. This approach makes for some magical moments on the dance-floor, where a night’s highlight may come from the most unlikely of tracks. That is, after all, the test of any great artist, to entertain and challenge in equal measure, and Maayan Nidam has that approach locked down.

If she’d had to choose a brand new career, Maayan “would stay independent and creative, maybe a writer, photographer, painter or all of the above. I would love to have more time and combine it with music instead of switching."

One of the contemporary masters of analogue minimal returns with her trademark sound at Guesthouse on Friday, the 22nd of November.

Photos: Marie Staggat
Curated by Bianca Iulia