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You can tell right away that DJ MARIA. offers something special. As you immerse yourself in her music, you can immediately get the sense that her sets are crafted to evoke meditative states of mind. Halfway through, you might even suddenly feel like you’re tapping into the DJ’s own head. That wouldn’t be surprising. After all, the sensory experiences she crafts are often inspired by her personal mish-mash of past psychedelic adventures and experimental techno phases.
Like many of her peers, DJ MARIA. began her journey into DJing as a music lover. She grew up listening to sets upon sets played by other DJs before her while imagining her bedroom as a dance floor. Her vision of a crowd dancing to her spins on these musical inspirations is a simple a rite of ‘mind becoming matter. “That’s how I tend to approach curating sets, even today,” she says.
DJ MARIA.’s portfolio of techno sets ranges from acid to trance to psychedelic. She has a discernible knack for creating deep spaces within her approaches of a genre, a feat that is, to the trained listening ear, registered as her signature. Since her first official gig as a professional DJ, she’s been exploring various dimensions of house, downtempo, ambient, and world music.
DJ MARIA. has experienced various performances since, with a single unchanging goal: “I like to use my extensive musical knowledge and strong energy to bring the dancefloor to a state of euphoria.”
In 2021, DJ MARIA. began her residency at Moment, a new music festival located in Tenkawa Village, Nara Prefecture. With the world-renowned mountains of Omine and 1,300 years of historical culture as her backdrop, it’s not hard to get her juices flowing every time she plays. “The village holds a special place in my heart because of the memories I’ve had there with my grandparents. They used to live there,” she says. Clearly, it’s not just all about music. The artistic imprints of a place also holds power over her.
The organizers of Moment must have been like-minded people, we tell her. DJ MARIA agrees. “Moment is not only about music but also about art and the culture. The organizers provide safe spaces for adult-appropriate experiences, including sauna tents, kids’ areas, and live painting sessions. “If you haven’t been there, then it’s all beyond what you can imagine right now,” she said. “There is also a river running right next to the dance floor, on top of a hot spring and a spot for waterfall meditation or Takigyo (滝行),” she says. Trust the Japanese to be magical.
Back in the present, DJ MARIA. is often at home replaying tracks from her current favourite DJs and producers. “I really like Neel. I saw him play at Rural; that set influences my music direction and sense.” Who else? “Jane Fitz. She has a great track selection with good bass lines I really enjoy.” And of course, there’s Mikkel Rev. “He has produced so many tracks that resonate with me. The elements of his music are often what I look for in a track, as a listener.”
With so much music pumping the veins of her life, one does wonder what DJ MARIA. would do on her off days. “During my time away from shows, I love being outdoors. I enjoy nature through camping and hiking.” Once reenergized, it’s back to work. She always looks forward jetting off. For her, it’s always about discovering new places, meeting new people and playing at new venues. “I love to play in other countries and make all the wonderful dancers in the world dance,” she says.
In DJ MARIA.’s opinion, there isn’t just one set of qualities rendering her successful in her profession, although listening to lots of different kinds of music has helped her a lot. She still believes she has a lot to learn and is determined to get better. This mindset enables her to transcend the DJ podium and begin organizing parties on top of performing at them.
From 2017 to 2019, DJ MARIA has organized ‘RELATIVE’, a techno party based in Shibuya, Tokyo. These days, she is all about her rave-inspired party called… ‘Transcendance’ (she chuckles when we mention the aptness of the name). As more new outdoor festivals in Japan are cropping up, her excitement palpably increases day by day. “I obviously look forward to being able to perform more,” she says. You may look her name up at Moment this summer. “I am in the midst of producing some fresh tracks that will make people groove hard and dance floors shake.”
But until then? You can explore the world DJ MARIA.’s recorded sets on her Soundcloud page.