By: Dream Chimney

The following interview was conducted on July 8, 2024

Noema Here we speak to David Benjamin (Noema, Magic Jams). He is an artist of many disciplines: Dj, producer, label owner, musician and performance artist. He has held a residency for 10 years at Berlins Wilde Renate and runs the mystical Magic Movement. On the week of the release of his African Shaketown EP, we get a chance to get to know this interesting individual a little more…

Thanks for talking to us. Where are you this moment and how are you spending the day?

Thanks for having me! I'm at my studio in Berlin right now.

I'm gonna work on some new music today!

Where were you born? Where are you based?

I was born in the centre of Germany, in a town called Wiesbaden, which is about 40km from Frankfurt am Main. I'm based in Berlin. I moved here around 2002 but had a few years in between when I was based in Istanbul.

What do you love most about where you are living and what keeps you where you are today?

I especially love the extremely relaxed vibe of Berlin. On the streets every day feels like a Sunday. At the same time, it has a lot to offer in terms of culture. There's also a lot of creative and interesting people here, so the scene is very inspiring.

How long have you been making music?

I have done music pretty much all my life. I started guitar lessons at the age of six, later piano lessons as well and did my diploma in classical guitar, music theory and music education at the University for Music -Hanns Eisler” in Berlin.

Playing music was also my first job. When I was about 14 years old I was part of a guitar duo. The conservatory at which we were studying at the time had a booking agency, so they got us a lot of gigs at birthday parties, company anniversaries etc. We played about 80 shows before I moved to Berlin. In that time, I realized that I can actually do what I love and make some money, so I decided to study music at college and become a professional musician.

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What came first Djing or production?

Djing is my main job. I DJ'd already for a long time. I started in late 1997. Only a little later, I also made my first steps in music production on my computer. Back in the days, I was playing around with Fruity Loops, before I started to use Cubase and eventually moved on to Ableton.

What kind of artists, DJs, genres were you into growing up?

It was (and still am) into an extremely eclectic mix of artists. To limit the selection a bit, let's talk about what I listened to until I was around 18 years old: I have a strong background in classical music, so I listened a lot to J.S. Bach, M. Ravel, C. Debussy, Steve Reich and Heitor Villa-Lobos. I had a phase where I was checking out Astor Piazzolla quite intensely.

For many years the music I listened to the most was Jazz. From the classics of Miles, Coltrane, Monk, Keith Jarret etc to more modern stuff like The Necks, Brad Mehldau and Esbjörn Svensson Trio. There was also more rock/indie/punk stuff, like Guns n Roses, Radiohead, NoFX etc. Rap played a big role, from KRS One to Mobb Deep, Pharcyde, Tribe called Quest and many more.

In terms of Djs, the first ones that inspired me were ATA (Robert Johnson), Heiko M/S/O, Jazzanova and Funkmaster Flex. I also still remember when I heard the early Plastikman releases for the first time. “Helicopter” was unlike anything I had ever heard. In terms of music production Matthew Herbert was my absolute hero.

Who are the artists that you follow right now?

I have a phase right now where I mostly listen to old music, but in terms of new stuff I like Oscar Jerome a lot. Also Floating Points, Daphni, Four Tet, Bastien Keb, Sir Was and Conan Mockasin come to mind.

What is the most recent record you purchased or downloaded?

Tension Hot​-​Shot by Amédée Ô Suriam, Canine Carnaval by Dea,

and I finally bought a copy of Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians,

which I only had digitally until now.

If you could choose a few words to describe the vibe of Noema what would they be?

Trippy Shizzle Galore, Extremely Eclectic, Uplifting, Transcendental, Soulful, Funky.

Talk to us about the new EP and the initial idea.

The initial idea came with the first African Shakedown records we did around 2013. The track around everything was built was my tribute edit of Ata Kak's “Daa Nyinaa”, where i imagined how the track would have sounded if Ata Kak would have had access to a better studio and vinyl pressing.

For this new EP I did edits and remixes of music that I really love, but needed some work in order to be able to play them in my own sets. The tracks are also extremely rare and not easy to get.

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What was most important for you to convey through these tracks?

I believe these tracks all have their own unique vibe, which is the kind of vibe that I like to create on the dancefloor. If the record can help to spread a little happiness then my intentions would be accomplished.

Tell us a little about the label African Shaketown?

The label started actually as Shakedown. In the past there was an African and also a Brazilian one. Now I rebranded it with a “t” in the name. On the Shaketown series we will continue do release edits and remixes of all kinds of music, African music is only one of them.

What are you most proud of with this release?

All profits will be donated to the @africa_music_school_org

in Uganda. They have the beautiful mission of offering free music education to less privileged children.

Who are the other artists/musicians on this EP?

I did two remixes as Noema, and two under my other alias Magic Jams.

In the last years, I had the feeling that the diversity of my output was slightly too extreme in terms of style, so I recently decided to release the more funky and Disco-ish music as Magic Jams, and the rather electronic, contemporary sounding and psychedelic music under Noema.

What drives you to create music?

Making music is natural to me, it's just what I always did and always will do. I have music constantly in my head which somehow needs to get out. I never get tired of it. Even when I leave the studio after a long session I can't wait to come back! The studio but also the DJ booth are definitely my happy places.

Bringing people together on the dancefloor, sharing music I love and creating transcendental moments of pure bliss gives me enormous pleasure. I LOVE DJing.

What has been one of your favorite moments from the past year?

I was for the first time in Asia and played a few gigs in Hong-Kong and Bangkok. I loved it and can't wait go back!

Where do you find the most inspiration when it comes to discovering new music?

It's mostly by checking new releases on great shops like Oye, Phonica and Rush Hour. Listening to sets and DJ mixes of fellow DJs and taking deep dives into discographies of artists and labels I like via Discogs.

What can we hope to see next from Noema?

In terms of releases, I'm working on a new Shaketown release as we speak, but don't wanna reveal yet where we are heading with this one.

In the fall, I will start to release the second round of remixes of my last album ONE, featuring Hear&Now, Kelpe, M. Rux and Nicola Noir. The original Album is a 45min long minimal music piece that I recorded with a 14-piece orchestra. The first round of remixes featured Kalabrese, Lauer, Mehmet Aslan, Panthera Krause and Shubostar.

I'm also working on two new event series “Electric Eden” is focused on Balearic and Cosmic Disco, while “Pardon My French” is club ready for Disco, Classic House, Indi Dance and a dash of Bongo Rock!


Check out the latest release from Noema.


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