It’s only been three years since Rotterdam DJ Miran Belhanafi emerged from darkness to let partygoers know about her new moniker, mad miran. Since then, the spotlight has been shining brighter every day for the young genre-hopper, with gigs sprawling in all directions. Last year alone, mad miran played festivals including Best Kept Secret and Primavera, gigs at De School and XOYO, and went on a mini-tour in India. With interest growing but few interviews to date, we decided to catch this night owl in full flight for a brief moment to chat about sleepless nights, overthinking and making the after-hours her playground.
Hey Miran. We’re curious: what does a night owl like you do to fall asleep?
Nothing really... It seems like everything goes against my will or craving to sleep when I most want it. Breathing in and out very deeply does the magic trick sometimes. But my mind often keeps me awake, it’s hard to shut it off.
What’s the most recent dream you remember?
I’m currently in Italy and having the most relaxing week I’ve had in awhile, sleeping alone in a house up in the mountains, living from sunset to sunrise with total darkness surrounding me in the evening. The last dream I remember here is short scenes of me being lost in the mountains, running, not being able to find someone… but that’s it, that’s all I remember now… It’s weird, the more I think about the dream the more it seems to fade away.
In Bombay I played an hour longer than planned, and I even saw someone wearing a Red Light Radio shirt
Speaking of travelling, what was your craziest clubbing experience abroad as a DJ?
I just got back from India, and my expectations did not match reality at all. The floor was filled with local dancers, fully going for it. They told me the underground scene had just started to rise, so I figured people wouldn’t be that open-minded yet. But the night in Bombay I played an hour longer than planned, and I even saw someone wearing a Red Light Radio shirt. Music connects! [Laughs]
We’re not so different after all...
Well, I think the night brings people together, differently than during the day. During the day you kinda have obligations, while in the night you choose to be there and that gives a freedom of connection with those around you. It creates subcultures, with less borders. You connect because you all come alive at night. I met some of my now close friends in a club. We all come from completely different backgrounds, but we choose to step out of that to get into the one thing we have in common. Daytime life should learn from this. [Laughs]
Have your party habits changed now you’re a DJ yourself?
I rave less, because my weekends are my working hours. Nowadays I try to compensate for my nocturnal life by eating healthy and taking care of myself. I also work at Clone Records, a job with more balanced working hours. And when I party, I close my eyes, stop worrying and become one with the music. There’s a certain unity you only find on dance floors. After a good night of dancing I get enough energy for a couple of weeks, literally.
As a DJ, the night is your territory. What are you generally up to at midnight? 2am? 4am? 6am?
On a weekday, at midnight my thoughts usually are something like, ‘Oh fuck, I’m not tired enough to sleep,’ then at 2am: ‘It’s 2am already, I should be sleepling within the next hour for sure.’ Come 4am: ‘Oh no, are these birds?’, and by 6am, ‘All right, let’s have breakfast.’ In between those thoughts, my activities are opening 50 tabs and throwing myself into a lot of information; finding new labels, chasing all the tracks they have, then occasionally stumbling on something else because someone commented on a YouTube video and pandora’s box just opened. It’s addictive…