Nightwave: Redressing the balance in dance music

We catch up with Glasgow-based DJ and producer Maya Medvesek, aka Nightwave, to chat about her forthcoming EP release, her Producergirls workshops – and why we need to ditch the term 'female DJ'

Article by Claire Francis | 07 Mar 2017

The Skinny: Can you tell us a bit about how you first got into DJing?

Nightwave: I got into DJing as a teenager. I thought DJing looked even more fun than dancing, so I used the money I earned from acting in a sitcom to buy my first turntables. That was about 18 years ago.

You're originally from Slovenia; what is the dance music scene like there, and what kind of music influenced you growing up?

I've lived in the UK for 15 years so I'm pretty out of touch, but the few people doing nights there are putting on very exciting and progressive music. When I was a teenager in Ljubljana the techno scene was very healthy and I think that definitely helped me shape my sound. 

You moved to the UK to pursue a career in production, how has that benefitted your career? What were the advantages of living in London, and now Glasgow?

I moved mainly because Slovenia felt too small and I wanted to learn and grow – back then it was impossible to do that since there was no internet, no opportunities... It took many years and lots of odd jobs to do music professionally, but I got there in the end. London was great for discovering new sounds – garage, grime and dubstep for example. Glasgow is fantastic because of its people and overall energy. It's also got a fantastic club scene.

What's the story behind the Nightwave name? 

To be honest it was quite a quick decision as I used to have a rather funny and PR-unfriendly artist name (8Bitch). I love the sea so I thought Nightwave was cool.

What projects do you have planned for 2017 on your own Heka Trax label?

The label is doing well, I released four different artists last year and I'm sorting the schedule for this year. The first record is by a band called Tree Trunks, it's something a bit different. I've been very busy with my own stuff, so the label took a little break I guess.

You've got a new EP coming out next month – what can you tell us about it?

Yes, the Wavejumper EP is out soon on Fools Gold. It's a six-track record with three vocal features (Chippy Nonstop, Rye Rye and Rell Rock). The record is fun and upbeat with a grime-rave-club kinda feel to it. 

What music are you listening to currently, and what were some of the influences behind your EP?

If I'm not making music I usually listen to jazz, it's a nice break. Some of my favourite producers at the moment come from Japan – Carpainter for example makes crazy jazzy juke... I love a bit of Beyoncé as well.

You've just debuted your live show in Glasgow – how did you feel the show went, and can we expect to see some more live sets from you in the near future?

I think it went well! I was absolutely terrified as so much can go wrong... but I think I pulled it off. I do enjoy doing a live set and I want to build on it and make it more exciting. It's definitely nice to showcase my production.

Nightwave, photo: Matthew A. Williams

You also run a production workshop for girls, how did this come about? Was this inspired by your own experiences with starting out as a female in the industry? What has the feedback been like from the participants?

I teamed up with E.M.M.A. who started the Producergirls workshop and has already put on a few events in London. We've been overwhelmed by the number of applications and as we only offer 15 spaces, it's going to be really hard to turn people away, but we are looking at ways of making it happen on a regular basis. When I started producing there was nothing like that around and I was too shy to ask for help or even join a course, so I think I lost a lot of time trying to teach myself.

There have been a lot of comments recently about sexism in the dance music scene, with Jackmaster and others opening up about the problem on social media. What has your personal experience been regarding inequality in the industry?

We've been going on about this for years and we still get ignored... I am so tired of all this. The main issue is still banging on about the issue instead of things being done. For example the press love to write about 'all-female' stuff but fail to support and feature women's work. We need men to speak up and it's great that Jackmaster did, but it's also sad that it takes a man for some people to listen. It's a tough industry but it's just a reflection of our society, which is very sexist – women do not have a seat at the table.

What do you think needs to be done to address and combat these problems?

Book more women, write about them, make us more visible and include us in regular events and press, not as some sort of curiosity. Even the phrase 'female DJ'  makes my skin crawl. Stop focussing on the gender.

In your opinion, what are the best and worst things about having a career as a DJ/producer?

Living your dream is amazing and so rewarding but it can be quite solitary and antisocial. The club environment is hedonistic and that can get out of hand, not all people you meet are genuine... the touring lifestyle is extremely taxing, especially for one's mental health. Apart from that it's the best job in the world and it's a huge privilege to make people dance.

If you had to pick a career highlight to date, what would it be?

Probably working with DJ Deeon. He is a hero of mine and to think we have now become friends and collaborators is just amazing.

What are your goals and ambitions for the future?

It'll be time to make an album soon, more collaborations, more gigs, travel to new countries... try and explore new sound and directions and learn.

Finally, what do you enjoy doing outside of DJing? How do you like to spend your free time?

I don't do much to be honest! I love to read, I study Ancient Egyptian language part-time and spend a lot of time learning about ancient civilisations, Tibetan buddhism, yoga, meditation. I also started boxing recently, which is a lot of fun.

Nightwave's Wavejumper EP is released on 24 Mar via Fool's Gold