Interview: with Gigstarter DJ of the Year 2021 and Flemish DJ Mini Maal

By The Gigstarter Team on 21-04-2022 |

One sequencer, one piano, two synths... that is all that Mini Maal needs. His back to basic approach is refreshing, minimal and most importantly live! Last year at our Artist & DJ of the Year competition Mini Maal won the title of DJ of the Year 2021. One of his winnings was a session from DJ School Amsterdam. We are curious about what Mini Maal has been up to and how his session with DJ School Amsterdam went. Time for the interview!

DJ Mini MaalDJ Mini Maal

1. Let's start at the beginning, how and when did you start DJ'ing?

My father was a radio DJ for a local station. I spent hours snooping through his record box from a very young age.
I bought my first vinyl record (Stanny Franssen - I Love Techno) in 2003, when I was 14 years old. From then on I started to get into Techno and Electro-House. I played at my first party when I was 16 and played my first residency at 18, so this was a very nice start for me. In 2014 I made the decision to stop as a DJ and switch to an analog live set. This project started in 2018 under the name Mini Maal and I have continued to build on this until now.

2. Where (or from whom) do you get your inspiration?

The absolute trigger for me to start DJ'ing was Simian Mobile Disco. Currently, I like to be influenced by artists such as Bicep, French 79 and Arnaud Rebotini. I am also a member of a DAWless community with many unknown but fanatical artists who, like me, choose to write electronic music without a laptop.

3. What is your most memorable or greatest gig where you have been able to perform?

I once got to play on the Redbull Hummer in the middle of the festival field. As a young DJ, this was certainly a milestone for me. With Mini Maal, City Of Dance (Middelburg) was my first big festival abroad.

4. How do you find your way with the branding of yourself as an artist and/or how do you position yourself as a brand?

The concept is simple: Mini Maal is 'back to basics' with live techno. I use 1 sequencer, 2 synths, and 1 piano, nothing else. Less is more. Because you are limited, you learn to be creative and you can't hide behind a laptop. You have to learn everything by heart and accept that sometimes things go wrong. This way you expose yourself and that is very much appreciated by your audience.
The disadvantage is that it takes more effort to sell yourself to programmers. You don't play a standard DJ set with the usual material, but you're not a band either because you play house/techno. Fortunately, artists are now choosing more often to integrate live elements in their set, which helps with getting new opportunities.

DJ Mini MaalDJ Mini Maal performance at Open Kiosk in Veurne

5. How has DJ School Amsterdam helped you (with Artist Development)?

Above all, they made me see how others see you: Are you easy to find on social media? What expectations do you create? What is the trigger for the audience to come to your next event? There are also crucial tips on stage: Nobody expects perfection. Breakaway from your material and invest in interaction with your audience. After all, they are coming for you. These and many other tips focused on a number of core values will really give you a professional boost.

6. What key lessons have you learned from DJ School Amsterdam?

"You are half artist, half salesman" The best tracks remain unknown if you don't put yourself in the spotlight.

7. How did you apply these lessons in practice?

I realized that I was actually putting very little time into making myself visible and selling myself. I have now started to catch up.

8. What are your future plans/dreams?

I like smaller, more intimate clubs where your audience is close to you. This is where my focus lies. I try to do more gigs in the Netherlands besides Belgium. The ultimate dream is a gig at the Ancienne Belgique.

9. Do you have any tips for other Gigstarter DJs reading this?

Always make your music for yourself. Your real self is the best you have to offer... and sell it!

We want to thank Mini Maal for giving us these useful and great insights. And wish him all the best to reach his dreams!

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Tags: Mini Maal, DJ, DJ of the Year 2021, dj school amsterdam