Entertainment and Lifestyle

The Bergman effect

Israeli DJ and Scratch artiste, Mayaan Bergman, recently lit up the Dawa Music Festival stage at Carnivore. The renowned mix master, who was in Kenya for the first time, shares his musical journey with Wairimu Nyingi

You come from an artistic family; how much of this influence would you say led you down the path you are on?

I’ve thought about it many times, and I always wondered if my dad wasn’t a DJ and mum a fashion designer, where I would have landed. I think it would be something close to that effect, just maybe not music. For sure though, it wouldn’t be anything to do with numbers or something boring — I love creating, and I believe no matter where fate took me, I would still be driving the wheel in the creatives world. My old man was one of the first DJs in Israel and a proud owner of a charming and one of a kind record store from the early 80s. I was raised there, so music, and especially vinyl, have surrounded me for as long as I can remember.

Over the years, you’ve successfully branded yourself as a freestyle DJ and can play eight different styles in a night. This is quite a game changer compared to other mainstream DJs out there.

I love a lot of the genres — hip-hop, oldschool, newschool, funk, motown, sometimes with the African touch of soul, riddims, electronic, trap, dubstep; I can never know what I’m gonna play. My musical versatility makes me a great choice for all sorts of events. Once I understand the needs and conditions, I adapt and perform! This is me, this is my ideology. I love to think and search for the creative sides in me. At the end of the night, the best feedback is when someone turns around and asks: “Who is this DJ?!”

Alongside being a DJ, you’re also a turntablist and a scratch artiste. Could you talk to us a bit about this.

The Beastie Boys got me into the art of scratching. When I was green in the craft, I tried scratching on a hip-hop track, it didn’t go so well. Years later, I went to New York to study hip-hop and scratching at the DJ Scratch Academy alongside some of the best DJs in the world such as Jam Master Jay of the influential hip-hop, group Run–DMC and others.

Breakdown scratching for us.

Scratching is a technique of moving a vinyl record back and forth on a turntable to produce percussive or rhythmic sounds.

So how did a scratch artiste and DJ end up in the Israeli army?

Everyone one joins the army in Israel — it’s like a right of passage of sorts. And I think everyone should enlist. It  makes you a real man — not because you get behind the gun, no. It makes you a better person, gives you ambition. You learn how to take orders, have discipline; it is a wholesome experience. I was with the air force, and funny enough, had time to deejay. Next to the base was a club, I’d to sneak out, scale the fence and hit the decks. I didn’t do it often, the army is quite taxing, and when my three years came to a close, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I relocated to the Big Apple, hit DJ Scratch Academy and never looked back. It was amazing learning from the greats; it gave me the basics I needed.

No wonder you were such a big shot when you went back home.

Laughs. I had the honour of working with some of the most popular hip-hop artistes in the Israeli music industry. I was also the resident DJ of Subliminal (rapper), The Tact Family, Shabak Samech and others.

How’s the scene in Tel Aviv?

Tel Aviv is a party town. The nightlife is vibrant, especially in underground circles — trap, hip-hop, techno. We also have a lot of dancehall artistes — check out rapper Nechi Nech. You’ll love his work.

I’ll take your word for it. I was expecting you’d come with the family and enjoy 254 a while longer after the show.

Sadly, that was not to be. The Mrs went to Berlin to see Beyoncé. I think it’s cool to see Beyoncé, instead of watching your husband deejaying (laughs). I think it’s better, no? I would be with her if I wasn’t deejaying. The new album, The
Carters,
is crazy! I’ll play some during the set.

It can’t be easy though travelling all over the world, especially as a family man.

Ya, it’s hard, but we try to always find time for each other. My wife, she’s expecting our firstborn, a boy, due in December. Maybe he’s gonna be a deejay (laughs). It’s hard, but it’s all about trust — you never get used to it though, the distance; it’s always hard.

Biggest crowd you’ve played for?

Sometime back, I played in Los Angeles for over 60,000 people. It was Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.

The year 2018 has been a hard. We’ve lost many talented acts (Avicii, Chester Bennington) to suicide. What, in your opinion is ailing the entertainment scene?

The pressure. Many turn to drugs when they can’t handle the pressure; they try to escape. It’s like the 27 Club (a term invented to categorise the unsettling trend of famous celebrities who died at that age, such as Amy Winehouse).

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