Interview, photo: Polina Belehhova
How was the Makornik entity born?
It’s actually a funny story. Every single summer since I was a kid, I would go to Serbia with my family. Over the years I went to camps and I’ve met that one friend that I’ve particularly bonded with. This was when I was 14. We kept seeing each other in Serbia where he has a flat, where we would just chill with his group of friends who are Serbians. One day we were hanging as usual and it was about 3-4am. Then this group of friends comes in completely wasted, hammered out of their minds making this hilarious epic scene. And at that time I had a Macklemore haircut. So this guy comes up completely smashed and says: ‘Are you not Makronik?’ But he made a mistake, he said it wrong. And so for the next three years my name was Makornik, they would all call me that, it kind of stuck. Two years ago when I started producing and I was looking for a name. I had few ideas but nothing was defining me as who I am. And then I was like: ‘Holy shit, why don’t I use this thing that all of my friends call me’. And that was it, that was how it was born.
How well do you know yourself?
Not enough to not worry I guess. I know myself pretty well but not enough to protect myself. I’m kind of self-destructive; I’m pretty influence-able too. Whenever I would go out to parties I’m always the one who is influencing people to push it further.
So are you influenced or influencing?
Both. I’m influencing because I want people to see me … It’s really a psychological problem. I really want people around me to have a good time and to do that I sometimes have to push myself to do things I normally wouldn’t do. And those things can be destructive most of the time: there is always this energy but it’s not a positive one. It’s fun, but in the end I’m always the one who takes the most damage. I’m working on it.
What role is fear playing in our lives? Tell us about your fears and phobias.
Let me use the quote from Interstellar (2014): ‘People fear what they don’t know’. Fear is what makes us human I guess. We are all afraid of something. To a degree fear stimulates us: from fear you get adrenaline. And then this energy in turn can push your boundaries. I came across one phobia a multiple times in my life. It’s called thalassophobia – fear of the sea. When you are in the middle of it, you jump in and you see nothing. It’s just black. You don’t know what’s underneath you, if there’s something swimming or not. It’s a weird uneasy feeling that I get. It’s a fear of the unknown.
What is your definition of beauty?
Beauty for me is something that sparks an eternal feeling, an emotion. Something that creates ideas that you wouldn’t have created on your own. For me beauty is everywhere – in nature, in humans; and it just surrounds us. The more beautiful things you see the more everything becomes beautiful.
Who is your inspiration?
I don’t think about this too much because I don’t want to be affiliated to only one person. I like to be inspired by different kinds of people. If I had to pick one person I guess it would be just any artist who became successful. To me people who burn hours, days, years, are the biggest inspiration. It’s incredible that someone can work for 7 years for example on a piece of art. Those are the people I respect the most: who push their dreams and themselves, who refuse to listen to anyone else and do what they want to do.
What are the top 3 songs in your playlist right now?
VSK – Attention
Wieloryb – Budgam
Tymon – Godless
What was the wisest thing you have ever heard?
‘The moment human beings became human is the moment they started burying the dead’. You know, we were savages at one point. But the moment we start burying our people is the moment when we start to believe in something and that’s the beginning of humanity.
If you had a superpower what would you choose?
One that I would definitely not choose is to read people’s minds. That for me would be the worst superpower. Human beings are mean. My favorite superpower would be to be able to fly. I would love the sensation of complete bliss and peace. That one or teleportation. But then you wouldn’t have the beauty of the floating feeling. I think we will get to this point.
What animal would you like to be and why?
An eagle. Why? Because eagles are awesome!
Every person has a void deep inside, what does your look like?
It’s an underground dark kind of pit, a closed off space where the demons lurk. It has rave energy – very dark but powerful. The entire vibe is very grim, kind of angry but conscious. Red and black. I guess it’s like a beast. There’s an element of destruction in it but it’s controlled. It comes out often when I produce certain tracks. Sometimes when I walk down the street I get those surges of energy that I would feel I’m not here anymore.
Was there a crucial moment in your life?
My mom passed away when I just turned 7, she was battling cancer. It was a turning point in my life, which I think might be another reason why I have this void inside of me. I never understood it and from that point on I kept questioning why did it all happened to my family. I became difficult, egoistic, it was hard to bond with me. Another turning point in my life was this year, when my father showed us our childhood videos, which changed my vision and my memory of her. It made me sad to acknowledge that we were happy together but it was taken away from us. Family is the most important thing – the undefined love for people is outstanding and it’s what makes us human. I wonder what my mother would think of the music I produce.
How to survive in the nightlife?
When you think you shouldn’t do it – don’t do it. But a life without risks is a life that would be boring. Fun usually comes when you’re taken by surprise, when you don’t expect anything. So sometimes when you exceed the limits that you’ve set for yourself on a night out, it can turn into a great and fun experience. It’s also important to protect yourself, especially your ears. Stay safe, be smart, don’t overdo it.
We loved your first EP Pandemonium. Are you happy with the general feedback?
I am. The thing about this EP is that I’ve started producing it in September 2016 and since then I’ve changed my production style. I look back at those tracks and I think that they’re good, but today I know that I can produce something much more interesting. It’s a natural way of evolving.
Does your music reflect your inner state?
Definitely. My music speaks to me. It’s like a drug, like a getaway to another dimension, it’s a part of my life and to live without it would be a disaster. I also listen to a lot of jazz and funk, I appreciate any kind of music, if it’s done well and captivating. When you make music it’s important to put your point of view in it, to make it sound like you, to add your personal touch. Ultimately, when you create a track, you use elements that many have used before, but no one has used those elements with your mind, so it all leads to unique result.
What is the best gig you’ve ever attended as a viewer?
It would have to be that time when I saw VSK in 2016 when I’d just moved to Paris. I went to this rave and I stayed from 1AM till 4PM. VSK played his set for 4 hours, there weren’t a lot of people, but during that set I was standing there in the middle of the crowd, by the speakers, just dancing. The tracks that he was playing had such a feel, such a dark emotion. I guess that party reflected the void inside me and the feelings I encounter as a producer. It was this red dark room with huge black speakers, and the music that was coming out of that sound system was absolutely insane, I was just yelling, my body couldn’t take it. I rarely experience that sort of thing at a techno party so this one was really the one. I doubt I’ll ever experience something like this again: the circumstances, the environment, people, the music, everything. That’s what I like about the underground culture, it bonds people with any type of background and that is what’s beautiful about it.
How long have you been involved in creating music?
I had my first taste of Ableton when I was 12-13, I played around for a few days but nothing really came out of it. At 16 I worked on a few projects, but they were very dark-minimal, a bit trippy, but I didn’t have any technical skills to produce a track that could be published. When I came to Paris in 2015 and started going out, I was inspired to get into it again. I’ve started DJing on the side, then I came up with two tracks and it just went downhill from there. Ok wait, downhill is negative, it all went uphill.
If it goes downhill it goes faster.
True, depends how you look at it.
What new experiences do you desire?
To be in an space that I’ve never been in before, with people that I probably would never come across with in normal circumstances, and to just bond with them, create new connections, generate new thoughts.
What excites you the most in your field of activity?
What excites me is sharing my music and my personal views of electronic music.
Does it get affected by the reception you get?
Reception of my music is something that I used to care about, but I know that some people will definitely not like the music that I produce. I like sharing my music and I like when others share their music with me.
What upsets you the most in your field of activity?
The fact that I can’t go out as much as I want to. None of my friends are studying the same degree as I am [engineering], so I have a lot of work to do. My friends party a lot and I would really love to be with them more often. On the other hand, if I would be free of these restrictions then I would probably destroy myself even more. Moderation and selection of particular events is key.
Describe the world you are trying to create with your music?
A world where you forget about the real world. When you’re at a party and you listen to what the DJ chose, what he has to say, so in a way, you’re on his ship and he’s the captain, so everyone is going on some journey. For me, that journey is really anywhere between heaven and hell. My friend says that my music makes others feel bad, but in a good sense, it touches the darker side of the self. I want my music to unleash the beast inside of us.
What is one thing you’ve never done but you really want to?
Skydiving, paragliding or bungee jumping.
Is it a desire to completely lose control?
It is. It’s also about the adrenaline rush and the idea of just soaring through the sky. It puts you into an area that you are not naturally a part of. We weren’t meant to fly.
Do you have an ambition to be famous?
Not really. My goal is for those who listen to my music, to simply feel.
What is fucked up about the world of today?
Money, greed, politicians, religion. Religion is one of the things that scares me the most, especially what people do for religion or religious beliefs. We’re all human beings and for people thinking that some are more superior to others is completely ridiculous, and that, I guess, all originated from religion. How can you put so much faith in something that you have no way of proving? I’m kind of working on new project, which touches the religious aspect of life, it’s noisier than Makornik. But the thing about religion is that if you take the poorest people on the planet, who I’m sure all believe in something. When people have nothing, they seek for a god. For me, the fact that people put hope into something that can be both beautiful and ugly, is blinding: they forget that they live in a world where things don’t work that way anymore. They rely on miracles when miracles don’t exist. If you want something in life you have to get out there and get it.
What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen in your life?
Nature. All those mountains and overwhelming landscapes just make you feel so small. When you stand in a beautiful scenery it just feels as if nature is accepting you, that you should simply be there.
What’s it like to be young in this industry? Do you face the problem of ageism or being taken seriously?
Being young means you’re more open to different experiences. I have relatively fresh and new mind for things. When a person has been in the industry for ages, he kind of starts to stagnate, there is no renewal. Being young lets me experiment with things that I probably wouldn’t be able to do if I was older.
What country, city or club would you like to play in?
I’d like to play in my hometown Belgrade, it has to happen. Also Berlin would be nice. But not Berghain haha, it’s too soft for my music. I’ve never been to Berghain, but from the lineups that I’ve seen, it doesn’t usually depass 140 bpm, I think it just stays between 125-140 bpm. For me, it’s definitely a place that I would want to visit, to play there would be awesome, but I don’t think it’s the proper space for me. I’d be fine with just a rave in some huge abandoned warehouse with a hell-like lights: you’re there for the music and that’s it.
How is the techno scene in Belgrade though?
It’s getting bigger and the scene is definitely growing in Serbia. There’s the Exit Festival, where they bring big artists, but those are artists like Solomun, Dixon, etc. I used to love that kind of music when I first came to Paris but then I realised it’s not really my thing. I started listening to old school stuff and that, for me, is actual proper techno.
What interests you outside of music?
Art or anything that I find captivating. I also draw when I have free time, typically with a black and red pen. I just create little monsters, faces, disfigured things, a lot of eyes. I love eyes, they’re the one part of the human body that scares me the most. You can’t predict them, you can’t know what lies behind them.