Photo: Laila Cohen (Mayo)
It is not uncommon for DJs and producers in this scene to have a background in punk and hardcore, but few translate this so seamlessly into their sets and music like Mayo. The releases by the Amsterdam-based artist for United Identities or Fides exude a certain agnosticism when it comes to genre boundaries—in fact, her mix for our Groove podcast throws together rough-edged dance music of all sorts and hard-hitting rap—and an abrasiveness that doesn’t aim for shock value, but which simply does not care for the conventions.
You picked up learning the saxophone at an early age, having been surrounded with rock and metal music as well as Latin American dance styles as a kid. Why this particular instrument?
I think I was about 7 and thought it looked very beautiful and shiny! Of course I also loved the type of music that went along with it, when you are that young you don’t really think about genres.
You’ve been active in the punk scene and played in a few different bands. How did you get into electronic music originally, and what did your first steps as a DJ look like?
At some point I couldn’t find anyone to be in a band with and thought that through DJing I would be able to find like-minded people. I started I played super eclectic stuff in a bar that would also have bands playing earlier in the night. After doing that for a while and ending up in environments where they played techno and other electronic music, I gradually started to understand and also like it. Figuring out that there is way more beyond straightforward 4-to-the-floor house and techno was a massive eye opener.
How did it come about that you started producing music?
I’m a musician, so when electronic music started to grab my attention and I started DJing, I almost immediately got curious about how these crazy sounds were made. Then I downloaded Ableton and over the years fell completely in love with. A beautiful love story, I’d say.
You are a fan of modular synthesis and have built your own synthesizer. What draws you to this particular way of making music, and what pieces are crucial in your current creative process?
I love soldering all the modules so I can afterwards completely zone out with them. That in itself is already very crucial. Also the case and power supply is DIY. The whole thing feels very close and personal to me, learning and doing all these things by myself has helped me tremendously with shaping my own sound.
You released your debut solo EP on Carista’s United Identities in early 2022 and also contributed to the label’s latest Modern Intimacy Volume 2 compilation. How would you characterise your relationship with Carista and her project?
It’s the type of relationship where friendship and work glue together perfectly. What I love about her project is that she solely focusses on Dutch artists with mixed backgrounds in music and in life. She dares to take a risk and is always doing it with a big smile.
The follow-up to Sad Violin Music was Frenemies for the Fides label. Besides two solo productions and remixes by Danny Daze and Mary Lake, it also features a collaborative track with label head Z.I.P.P.O. What did your working process look like?
The biggest part of the track was already laid out by me, so I bounced the stems and Z.I.P.P.O. added the second bass line that comes in a bit later in the track. He also created a couple of sick effects through some processing of the drums.
The next record is already in the pipeline, a limited lathe cut—a rather unusual format in the dance music world—for brokntoys. What can you tell us about the release?
This one is very special to me since, it will show a softer and more experimental side of my own productions, hence the format. I would love for people to enjoy it at home as much as in the club. After quite the wait it will be coming out on the 27th of this month.
You’ve once mentioned Donato Dozzy’s 2017 Terraforma closing set as the “mix of mixes.” What is it about this particular set that you like so much and what could other DJs learn from someone like Dozzy?
It is completly boundaryless when it comes to genres, and just follows a beautiful hypnotic groove that is far from repetitive. Every new track is a new surprise, and you really don’t know what to expect but it’s yet very cohesive. I’d say that other DJs—myself included—can learn to not be afraid to take a risk and to educate people with sounds they have never heard but will definitely be able to appreciate. Especially right now with some DJs banging out one pop edit after another, which is an easy way to hype up a group of drunk kids, I think it would be much more beautiful and special if you could give them a bit more to experience and think about the next day.
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
Diving deep with touching the surface every once in a while, not fast but never boring.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
Right now I’m very excited about spending a lot of time on putting together my first live set, which I want to premiereuntil the end of this year at the very latest. I’m simultaneously working on new music of course and another collaboration with Z.I.P.P.O. is also in the works. Also, I’m hopefully getting a couple of dogs at some point.
Stream: Mayo – Groove Podcast 368
01. Shiken Hanzo – The Reaping (VIP)
02. Aa Sudd – Menodice
03. Homemade Weapons & Gremlinz feat. Collinjah – 11th Hour
04. Frayser Boy – Closed Mouth
05. Sam KDC, Flaminia – Bitter Root
06. DJ 8.6 – ArgentFlamme
07. Josi Devil – The Devils’s Dance
08. Mayo ft. Z.I.P.P.O – Frenemies
09. Ploy – Pax Cultura
10. TaDan – Starseed Wanderer
11. Black Propaganda – Follow Us
12. HEAP – Trist
13. Mavridis – Aeithales
14. Auren – Islandijos Gatvė
15. Overlook – Soft Focus
16. Big hands – Girde Maye Astere
17. Blackout – Dim Da Lights