Following a gig at the sold-out Darklove showcase, Melbourne DJ Traxion unravels the current state of the industry, making music and performing post-lockdown

Following a gig at the sold-out Darklove showcase, Melbourne DJ Traxion unravels the current state of the industry, making music and performing post-lockdown

Darklove. Photography by Duncographic
Words by Tomasina Dimopoulos

Traxion performed at the recent 'Darklove' event, a celebration of Melbourne’s local talent in the nu-wave, dark disco and electronic genres.

Novel’s ‘Darklove’ has broken from the dreaded lockdown hiatus and joined the enlightened era of pandemic survivalist events. With an ease and steeze that lulls one into forgetting the depravity that became of the live music scene (only mere months ago), Darklove has strut back into our lives paying homage to what we have sacrificed, and acute attention to what we now inherently crave – a good damn time, with damn good sounds.

This edition of Darklove hosted in the old-gaol vibe gem which is Bourke Street Courtyard, gave way to a lineup of pure funkiness, freshness and all the goodness in between. Headlined by newly signed, nu-wave, and nu-disco artist Gumm, and supported by much loved Traxion, Ham, Jake Hughes and Walter Juan, the crew held us in their capable hands from dusk till dawn.

I had the honour of chatting to my mate Traxion, (known to me as ‘Brad’), to get the 441 on his mixes and all the visceral ingredients that go into cooking such multidimensional tracks:

For those who aren’t familiar, tell me who is Traxion? Would you consider Traxion a persona/ alter ego? What are they all about?
You know honestly, it’s something not really thought about much it; originally was just an alias but now that I think of it I’ve come to realise when I’m up there “Traxion” is 110% Brad Calleja, no filter, no holds barred, just up there doing me!

So thank you for that question and making me actually think about and see that! That’s amazing!

What does it feel like to finally be playing events again post-lockdown?
So for me the first half of lockdown wasn’t too bad, it gave me more time to spend time in the studio ect. But the second half I found really got to me at points. One reason is due to my absolute love of live music and doing what I do, and two is not being out, seeing friends and family.
So it’s amazing being back able to do my biggest passion in my life; performing to crowds! I also think events, festivals, art shows, you name it, are also things that people go to enjoy their time off or forget about life for a while, which can really help with many different mental stresses. So it’s great it’s also back for that reason too.

I know you’ve been busy lately playing between house parties, secret raves and booked events, what is your favourite kind of gig to play and why?
Well, they are all amazingly fun each in their own way. I think every punter has most likely experienced some awesome moments of energy from a packed out booked event to a secret rave to even a house party. All different yet all very fun, so it’s so hard to say which is my favourite really! Don’t make me do it!

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If you could change just a single aspect of the music/ live gig industry right now what would it be?
Artists being booked for their capabilities and loyalty not how many people they can bring through the door. I myself know a fair few Melbourne artists that go under the radar that deserve to be noticed because of this.

What music do you listen to on the daily? Do you listen to your own tracks?
It’s funny, by the time I’ve finished my own tracks I’ve heard them so much I myself am over it, so the only time I really would listen to it again is if I play it in one of my sets. On the daily it really depends on my mood, if it’s not similar to what I play it’s from 90s hip hop, to 80s synth wave, to Tame impala! Just really depends on what I’m feeling.

It’s the classic cliche for a DJ to find annoyance in song requests but if you could compel someone to request one song for you to play what would it be?
Skatt Bros – Walk the night 100%

Where do you draw your inspiration from for your music?
I draw my inspiration from many things, some being other favourite artists, going to live events listening to some 70s & 80s rock classics to synth-pop. I really can draw inspiration from many different things, even one certain sound in a track.

Have you ever thought of quitting the industry/ struggled to produce?
I have many times. Unfortunately in life we all have ups and downs and sometimes on the downs we have thoughts in our minds to quit or give up. Sometimes for me because it’s my one greatest passion, it can also really get me down and quickly go from being the best thing going for me in life (maybe after a really good gig or amount of gigs), to then on the being the one thing in life that gets me down (being lack of gigs or writers block producing for example). So it can be hard at times for sure with such a passion for this industry.

What would be your advice to others aspiring to be in the position you’re in now?
I tell this to everyone that asks me; I’m a very old-school respectful kind of guy and don’t really believe in asking for gigs. My advice would be to go out, support the night or event you’re aiming to play at, introduce yourself to people and most of the time if you are talented enough and the promoter sees that, you will get an opportunity. I don’t know about anyone else but I’d rather be booked for my abilities rather than because I asked for a gig. That’s just how I see it and what’s worked for me.

What is the best and worst piece of feedback or reaction you’ve received to your music?
Best piece of feedback for me and it’s amazing how much I get it is actually someone coming up to me and saying” man….loved your set/what you play, you have such a unique style!” That for me is the most rewarding feedback I can hear.

Worst piece of feedback is probably being yelled at by a girl because I wouldn’t play rnb at a techno club hahahaha!

If you could play any event anywhere in the world what/where would it be?
Wow, there are so many amazing events I’d love to play and funny enough most are here! Rainbow, Strawberry and I was lucky enough to have already played Pitch but would love to again! International would be Burning Man and Mayan Warrior without a doubt!

I always like to ask this final question at the end of the interview, is there anything you wish I asked you? Or that you would like to add?
How to pronounce my DJ name would be one. Not that I really care anyway, I think it’s cool that it’s a talking point; “it’s produced this”, “it’s pronounced that”. But it’s actually pronounced “traction” not “Trax í on”.

Keep up with all things Traxion via Soundcloud and Instagram.