First Gigs: Moscoman

Do you remember the first time? For most DJs, that first time may be something they’re longing to forget. Once you’ve prepare your set, practiced in your bedroom while the neighbours bang on the walls and swallowed your nerves, that first set could amount to simply playing 130BPM techno to two old guys in a pub. But thankfully, those first harrowing DJ sets don’t completely put everyone off a life in music…

One of those people is Moscoman. Tel Aviv has held a burgeoning electronic music scene for some years now, but long before the hype within the Israeli city reached wider audiences Disco Halal founder Moscoman was a driving force behind the city’s new electronic sound. Before he touches down in Bristol for the Shapes birthday bonanza alongside Tale Of Us, Mind Against, George Fitzgerald, Audion and many more on 11th November, here Moscoman tells us the story behind his very first gig…

J: What was your first ever gig?

It was in a club in Tel Aviv which was now called The Breakfast Club, but now it’s something else. I was so young, it was probably 2000 and I must have been around 18 and a half. It was still a big Tiesto, psy-trance kinda vibe in most of the clubs in Tel Aviv where I grew up. Of course, there were clubs that would play house, but I remember playing an hour of vinyl only, very, very strong techno. It was a good experience…but I was playing shit music…

J: Everyone has those moments…

M: But I still play this kind of music. Not ‘shit’ music, but trance-y music for the clubs, because it’s still part of who I am. I played all the time in Tel Aviv, I never left the city. I played a lot of what we called nature parties, open-air parties where we played with a CD Discman, one turntable and a mini-disc There was no beat matching, but that was the style when playing trance music. But back then it was different. I wasn’t saying ‘this is my profession’ like I do now.

J: What was the moment you thought ‘I want to do this professionally? As a DJ?’

The first time that I thought ‘OK, this is it’ was maybe…around 2007 when they opened the block and invited me to play. It was there that I felt a moment. I was playing disco and house records, and I thought at that moment that this is something monumental for me, that this is what I need to get all the time. This kind of moment. Everything lined up, the crowd, the music, everything.

J: Everything came together in the right way?

Exactly. Now, you need so many things to happen to recreate something like that. You need the right hype, the right moment, the right club and the right people, and then it just happens.

J: Back then, was it a bit more innocent? Not necessarily having a career aim to what you were doing?

Yeah, we never thought about success. I still don’t. A lot of DJs see success as a motivation point, but I don’t think success is something that you should be motivated by. It’s just a byproduct of what you do. I’m motivated by seeing people dance. I still am, that’s all I care about. The only thing I care about is people enjoying the music. It can be a big problem too…it might be psychotic to care so much about whether people are dancing or not.

J: Do you think that comes from you growing up in Tel Aviv?

Yeah. We like to party in Tel Aviv, and we like to make people happy. What other reason do you have to play music? This has always been the cause. You create, and you’re manipulating music to make people feel something. People say it’s the drugs that make you feel that way, but even on drugs it can still be shit.

J: How old were you when you first started buying records?

I was very young, around 12 or 13. Everyone starts with their families records and then you build on those. I didn’t have too much but the few that I had from my family were very monumental to me. I remember around 15 or 16 years old I was playing birthday parties, or in class there were always cassettes in the cupboard that I used to take out and play music and try and mix it with another tape. I remember buying a video-tape of Tiesto performing around that age. I remember seeing the moment when Tiesto started crying after his set after playing in front of 10,000 people for the first time in his life. And I kept on watching it, trying to understand what this feeling was that people were sharing. Then you realise, it’s you who controls the situation. When you try to make people feel happy and connect with each other, in my eyes it’s an amazing thing. This is something that’s always been in my head. I think some of the DJs can lose that, the success maybe blinds you, but the ones that stay, these are the ones who come back. People can peak and they’re gone, but the ones who peak and are still here are the ones who understand why they’re really doing it…