Demuja Forges a new Musical Path on his Latest Album, “Period of Time”
Demuja Forges a new Musical Path on his Latest Album, “Period of Time”August 20, 2021
A remarkably diverse audiovisual project, Demuja‘s new album, Period Of Time, is his most ambitious undertaking to date.
Revered in underground circles globally, the Austrian DJ/producer has spent the past 10-plus years carving out a substantial reputation for himself on the dance floor, performing in over 34 countries at some of the world’s most esteemed festivals, events, and venues. With releases on labels like Freerange, Shall Not Fade, Toy Tonics, Madhouse, and his own MUJA imprint, his meticulously crafted and soulful strain of house and disco is what the scene knows and loves him for. Still, Demuja’s musical range stretches far beyond the realm of house.
Spending most of his lockdown in his hometown of Salzburg, Demjua hit the reset button on his sound, and his latest album, Period Of Time is the result. At 14-track, it’s excursion across Italo disco, electro, house, and breaks in a new, unified, and fascinating way.
In addition, the album has come with a three-part music video series directed by visionary filmmaker Greg Barnes that follows the discovery of a mysterious disc called “The Demuja Plate” during an archeological dig and becomes an object of obsession for anyone who comes across it. The series is packed with stunning imagery and touches on themes like mythology, greed, possession, and reinvention, set to the sound of Demuja’s first three tracks off the album.
We caught up with Demuja to learn more about the creative process behind his new album and music video series, how his love of breakdancing lead him to the world of house music, and why he believes it’s time for a new era of Demuja.
Demuja’s new album, Period Of Time, is out now via Universal Austria. Check it out on Beatport.
Hey Berni! Thanks for joining us. How has the Summer of 2021 been treating you?
Thanks for having me! Lots and ups and downs: from great motivation in the studio to all the frustration at not being able to play as much as I wanted. But things are slowly getting better. Besides that, it was nice to have a lot of time with friends and family, while having all the time in the studio and enough sleep — even on weekends.
Growing up in Salzburg, how did your love of breakdancing and b-boy culture eventually lead you into the realm of house music?
It came naturally. As I was really deep into breakdancing (I did it for around ten years, practiced almost every day for a couple of hours, and also battles every weekend), it was obvious to get deeper into all that music, which is, of course, hip hop, funk and breaks, which kind of leads into house. And besides that, you also get to know all the other dance cultures, which are connected with it.
In my case, house-dance. I started house-dancing a little on my own as well, and started to play house-dance-battles and afterparties. I remember my first international event was in Oslo, where I was invited as a dancer and had the chance to DJ just for fun. The house-dance-judge “Kapela” (who’s a DJ now as well) gave me the first CD to play for his showcase, and this CD changed my life. Lot of underground music I’ve never heard before, and I really wanted to produce that kind of music.
In 2019, you traveled more than ever, playing 90 shows in a variety of countries. What was it like having to adjust and spend such a long stretch at home?
It was fun and exhausting at the same time. All these cultures and people; I’ve learned a lot and got a lot of inspiration out of it. But of course, all the hours on the plane or in the airport, with sometimes almost no sleep, can be very challenging, especially when you’re from such a small city (Salzburg) with no real airport.
I think it’s very important to have the right balance between party and downtime as well. Also, I think it’s important to keep your body and mind healthy and fit, especially when you want to do it for as many years as possible!
How long has Period Of Time been in the works, and what inspired the album title?
It’s hard to say, some tracks have been finished for two or three years already, and some of the tracks are almost “new.” I think it took at least one year from finding the right label until the release.
For the album title, I tried to give myself a little “restart.” My style changed quite a bit (at least in my mind, I don’t know if people can hear it), and also, the way I approach things is new and different. So it was about time for a new “period of time” to grow and expand the mind.
How did your production approach for Period Of Time change up following last year’s album, Atlantic Avenue? What were some key factors you wanted to reinvent with your new LP?
For me, it’s super important to bring something new with each release. Especially with an album, I think it should show a new different side people might not expect. Period Of Time is definitely more electronic and Italo-inspired, but of course, you will hear some jungle and hip hop. So in a way, it contains my past, present, and future.
Let’s dig into the music video series. How did you and Greg Barnes come up with the concept behind the trilogy?
First of all, a big shout out to Greg, a great filmmaker, great guy. I told him about my vision, my album goals and told him some basic ideas I had in my mind. After that, he basically worked out the whole story. However, as a film-nerd, I always had some input here and there — some references must have been quite annoying [laughs]. But as I’ve already worked with him on “Power to the People” (and of course, I knew the work he did for Kamaal Williams), I knew this work would be great and exactly what I wanted.
In the videos, the “Demuja Plate” is a forbidden and ancient disc of the gods rooted in Greek Mythology. Is Greek Mythology a particular interest of yours?
Yes, I’m generally interested in mythology, but even more into the vibe, which comes with it. The power of something “unknown”… all the mystery, all the legends.
What are some of the themes the music video trilogy grapples with, and how do those themes connect with your philosophy as an artist?
I think the end of the third music video shows exactly what I wanted to approach with the album. But, in case anyone has not seen it yet, spoiler alert: It is the end of the “old” Demuja and the start of something new.
How are things cracking on with your MUJA imprint? Anything in the works you’d like to tell us about?
I’m still really happy I’ve started MUJA. The label is doing really well and it helped me a lot during this time without gigs. And as it’s my own, I can do whatever I want, which was the reason I’ve started it. But sometimes it’s not the best to not have anyone who tells you not to release a certain track [laughs]. Actually, I’m working on a lot of music right now, but I think it’s too soon to talk about it.
Cameron Holbrook is Beatportal’s North American Editor. Find him on Twitter.