From Los Angeles To Berlin, Micky Friedmann is one of the premier DJ’s in the world, and has sets that are considered the “circuit standard” by many. According to this master of the booth though, definitely don’t consider him “a star”. With a keen ear, clever collaborations, and a masterful touch in the studio, Friedmann has established himself as one of the true “go-to” names when it comes to circuit music worldwide. I caught up with Friedmann recently to talk about how he went from dancing on stage to being the maestro of the dance floor, working with one of the biggest up and coming names around, and he offered some beyond sage advice for those just starting out in the industry.
Michael Cook: Right off the bat Micky, how did you get into the world of DJ’ing? If I’m not mistaken, DJ’ing was definitely not your first passion correct?
Micky Friedman: Correct. I received my musical education at the Rubin music & dance academy in Jerusalem when I was 11 years old. Soon after graduating at the age of 18, I started my professional life as a classical ballet & contemporary dancer & danced internationally with five leading companies around Europe, ending my career as a first soloist after seven seasons with the Berlin Ballet. No matter what city I was dancing in, I was always very involved in the party club scene & belonged to the notorious group of dancers who’d go out every weekend & party hard all weekend long.
During the summers of these years, we would fly to Ibiza every summer and spend three weeks during the summer party season. We’d go out to every party of Matinee & Carl Cox at Space, Circo Loco at DC10 or La Troya at Amnesia. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, these years molded my identity as a DJ, listening to the sets of these phenomenal DJ’s. It was the school for my future career.
MC: So that is when you think things really pivoted to you being truly interested in getting behind the decks…
MF: A great friend of mine, Bernie Colling, who at that time worked for MTV in London, encouraged me to purchase some basic DJ equipment, turn tables, mixer & monitors and just for fun I started teaching myself how to mix the records. Still at that point I had no intention of pursuing a career as a DJ though.
MC: Choosing to walk away from being a dancer must have been a difficult decision though.
MF: Retiring from a successful dancing career is not easy. One gives up a life’s passion & a very exotic status of an artist, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. I started DJ’ing every Wednesday night at Berlin’s “Toms Bar”. After that, I started spinning at an early evening “after work party” in a lounge bar mostly for a straight corporate crowd. That was my basic training. After a year, I was offered a residency at a new gay T -dance party at a new posh club in Berlin called Bangaluu; the party was a hit. Promoters from all around the world came & heard my sets. I was offered a gig at SPLASH in NYC which back then was still at its prime. After my gig at SPLASH, I was discovered by one of the scenes leading & most influential managers George Dellinger. My career took off to an international level.
MC: For those that have never heard your sound, how would you describe it?
MF: My sound is constructed of progressive house, melodic techno & classic circuit vocal tribal house. I’m taking lots of risks performing my sets; I believe a large part of our scene is open and ready to experience new sounds. Most importantly, DJ’s must never play to impress their friends, but to develop an intelligent technique of telling a story for everyone.
MC: It’s hard to climb the ladder and become one of the premier DJ’s in the industry today; what do you think the secret is to your success?
MF: Climbing the ladder is hard, but what’s even harder is staying at the top for almost twenty years, serving constant quality music.
Here are a few rules I always followed throughout my career: Believe in your musical talent. Be disciplined, always. Never be 100% satisfied with your achievements, as there’s always place for improvement. No one is perfect, so if you make a mistake, don’t be too hard on yourself. Always stay humble. Never ever consider yourself a star!
MC: Your remix projects are always big productions and you have done some amazing work, including a recent project remixing one of the artists of the moment Ava Max and another, “Flame Is Burning”, featuring Sophia Omarji. Tell me about them. What was that experience like on these projects?’
MF: Working on “Torn” an official remix for a star in the magnitude of Ava Max whom I consider a huge future icon was incredible. The stems recordings of her voice & all the instruments were insane which made it a huge pleasure working on her new song. “Flame is Burning” is a cover of a Russian song. I fell in love with it immediately & knew I’m going to bring it to the clubs. Later i learned about the heart breaking tragic story of Yulia Samoylova, a strong beautiful singer who struggles physical challenges all her life. Yulia ended up not performing that year at the Eurovision Song Contest because of political reasons.
MC: How do you choose the projects you work on? Any favorite mixes of yours that stand out? Anything super fun coming that you can talk about?
MF: Having such a crazy traveling schedule, I must prioritize. My brain is piled up with a million ideas that I have collected through the years. New ideas & inspirations are added daily to that endless pile. I probably need another lifetime to make all these ideas come alive. One very special process of producing is the collaboration with my very close friend & a musical genius: Sagi Kariv. When we work together it’s like time stands still. We feed off each other’s minds & it feels like our musical identities become one fierce monster of emotions.
It’s hard for me to chose a favorite out of all my productions. I really love them all & each one has a story of a special time in my life. I love “Let The Night Take The Blame”, “Let Me Go”, “We’re All The Same”, “The Message” & “Where Are You Now” both with Sagi. The list is just too long, especially if you add all of the hundreds of beautiful remixes of my tracks by such talented producers through the years.
MC: You’re a native of Israeli, but live in Berlin. For those that have never been, what is the scene like there for the LGBT community? The music scene?
MF: I was born, raised & educated in Jerusalem. I have lived in Berlin since 1998, so I’m a true “Berliner” by now. In terms of acceptance & social equality on every level, today’s Berlin is the gay capital of the world. The music of the gay scene in Berlin is mostly integrated with the straight music scene. Circuit music does not exist in Berlin at all. Techno, progressive & minimal rule in Berlin. I’m always positively surprised to see how well these genres are accepted by party goers from all around the world who visit Berlin. Another proof that real quality music speaks to the open minded.
MC: What’s next for Micky Friedmann?
MF: Well personally, after five years with my Russian prince we are getting married this November, that’s a very special moment for me.In terms of production: “Freedom for the World” (Sagi Kariv & Micky Friedmann ft. Maya Buskila) will soon be released on Queen Digital, as will the Part 1 remix pack of “Lucifer”. “In Your Soul” will be released on Guareber Digital. I have five new original productions that are scheduled for 2020, and the year is already filled with a heavy bookings tour schedule all around the world.
MC: What would the Micky Friedmann of today tell the Micky Friedmann who was just starting out as a DJ/Remixer?
MF: Chose your “friends” more carefully for there are too many manipulative wolves out there taking advantage of an innocent heart…
All Art Courtesy of Micky Friedmann (Facebook)
Catch up with Micky Friedmann on Facebook@ DJ-Micky-Friedmann