INTERVIEW & ART:CAST SPECIAL Merve

Surfing on the House Music wave it’s Australian artist Merve who delivers the goodies and insights around her artistical persona. The Melbourne based DJ, currently experiencing something that has almost been forgotten in many places, namely playing gigs in front of a real crowd, has been around for a moment in her home country, playing with scene mainstays and renowned artists alike and sharing her vision and approach of genre to a wider audience. During the lockdown she (re)discovered her preference for the radio amongst other things. Additionally Merve speaks to Torture the Artist about the Aussie club (culture), her first steps in and into the scene, the few positive sides of the pandemic and its impact on the local nightlife and lastly delivers the latest episode of the art:cast special series.

Torture the Artist: Hello Merve, tell us something about your day.

Merve: Well, I had my first ever covid test because I traveled to another city recently, and it’s a requirement. I would rate the experience 2/10, but the nurses were really sweet.

Torture the Artist: You are from Australia, excuse the question, but when did you last go surfing?

Merve: <laughs> Fair question! I still have never been surfing sadly, but it’s on my bucket list.

The positive side of not having international artists, has been that people are still happily buying tickets to all local line-ups.

Torture the Artist: Australians have the privilege or opportunity to play real events unlike many other artists in the world. Do you witness more artists coming to Australia at the moment in order to play gigs and therefore the country’s nightlife is getting more attention than pre-Covid times?

Merve: The only artists that have successfully made it back to Australia have been residents/ citizens, and they’ve had to wait months for a flight home. The positive side of not having international artists, has been that people are still happily buying tickets to all local line-ups, they’re arriving to shows early, newer DJs are being given the opportunity to play to crowds and play more frequently. It’s really nice to see!

Merve by JacksonGrant

Torture the Artist: Do you generallly realize a shift of taste or a prioritization of non-club music or other (sub) genres at the moment as there is fewer music (for the clubs) coming out?

Merve: Not at all! New music releases don’t dictate what I want to listen to. A lot of what I like is old club music anyway, so my listening habits have not really changed over the past months.

Torture the Artist: What’s an artist you’d like to share the decks with, and why?

Merve: There are so many, but in the spirit of looking at the local scene – DJ JNETT. She is the best of the best, as a person and as an artist. She’s an unbelievably skilled DJ. Her love and passion for what she does really radiates through every track she plays. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single person who isn’t smiling during her sets.

Torture the Artist: You’ve played with a lot of the scene’s heavyweights lor influental artists like the Blessed Madonna, Marcellus Pittmann, Harvey Sutherland, Honey Dijon, Floating Points or Andras. We all have this one gig in our lives that stands out, what’s yours?

Merve: Ooh this one’s a really hard one, there’s a few! But one that I’ve been thinking about recently, is when I played the closing party for my favourite clubs here, Hugs&Kisses. It was so intensely hot, and sweaty and messy. I had an hour to contribute to the chaos and say my goodbyes. It was super special, and so was that club to myself and many others. RIP!!

Torture the Artist: How and what has the pandemic changed for you personally and in terms of your musical career?

Merve: Personally, I think I may have become a bit more patient… maybe. I’m more aware of who and what I want to give my energy and time to. Musical career-wise, because I wasn’t able to play shows, I had more time and space to think up and work on other music related projects. I was invited to cover a few radio shows during lockdown, which was really fun as it was the only way to share music to a live audience. But doing that also reminded me how much I enjoy radio, and opened me back up to it.

Torture the Artist: If we were taught one thing over the past months then it was that a lot of artists need to have another string to their bow, what’s yours?

Merve: All my strings are attached to the music and arts world, which were both hit hard by the pandemic. So I guess I’m doomed! <laughs>

It’s silly to push artists to produce to boost their profile or to create more opportunities, if they don’t want to.

Torture the Artist: So far you’ve not made the transition from DJing to producing. However, nowadays it’s almost a must to produce music in order to get gigs. Are you having any plans to sit in the studio or do you leave that to others?

Merve: Yes, production is a part of my plan, but not to ‘get gigs’. I know artists constantly hear this, which I think is an old formula to get more gigs. I think it’s silly to push artists to produce to boost their profile or to create more opportunities, if they don’t want to. In the same way how some producers are told they should be djing, when maybe they’re not comfortable in that scenario? We should appreciate whatever the artist feels good doing and sharing with the world, and let that be enough.

Whatever was thrown my way, I tried it out.

Torture the Artist: Australia is probably not the hub of the world when it comes to electronic music, though some outstanding artists come from Down Under. How and when did you get involved with the music there?

Merve: It’s not the hub, but I think that’s probably the reason why we have so many unique artists and sounds coming out of Australia. We’re so far away from everything! I got started when I was 17, I did radio training and had a show with a friend straight after high school. Eventually, I wanted to be involved in events, so I interned. This led to being employed, and doing things like booking live music, then moving on to work on tours with DJs, artist liaising, stage manager, curating line-ups… whatever was thrown my way, I tried it out. I really loved being involved in and contributing to the music scene. But the best part was seeing people enjoying themselves at the events. At some point, I decided to stop working in events, went away and focused on djing, which I had already started doing but it would always fall second to my work responsibilities.

Taken by Duncographic

Torture the Artist: If you had to pinpoint your beginnings in the scene with one track, which one would that be and what memories do you connect with it?

Merve: Another hard one, and a bit too hard to pinpoint! I recently remembered the first artist and show I had to look after when the person I worked for was away. It was DJ Godfather for a Redbull Music Club Night. He was really easy going and had brought his wife along on tour, who was also lovely. So the track would have to be DJ Godfather – Back To The Old Skool.

Torture the Artist: What are some recent inspirations (musical or not) that have fueled your contemporary soundscape?

Merve: Right now, it’s more about enjoying the freedom while we have it and the energy it gives me, seeing and meeting new people again and the sun before it leaves us.

Torture the Artist: What would be a musical extravagance you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

Merve: I would send money to clubs and music venues all around the world, so that they’re able to open their doors when the time comes. And specifically here, I would actually open a few new clubs, as some of the best small clubs we oncehad are long gone.

Torture the Artist: What is something that you don’t take for granted — in your personal life or otherwise — and how has it filtered into your career?

Merve: My family and close friends, my strength and my ears. My family and friends support and ground me, strength for when hard, sh*t or negative things come my way, and my ears for hearing the sounds that make me feel good and excited!

Torture the Artist: What was the last thing that deeply touched you?

Merve: It was my birthday recently, and some of the messages and words friends shared with me definitely got to me. I’m very lucky.

Words by Holger Breuer

Cover picture + first picture by Jackson Grant, second picture by Duncographic