The modern-day Indonesian citizen is here in the format of Mikey Moran. From the outside there is something that screams this guy knows something I want to know, but once you get chatting its simple to grasp there is a lot more to ask. Music flows thru his family, he’s studied across the globe but born & raised in Jakarta, now residing in Bali while bringing a fresh breath of air to the local industry. Founder of Gojek, entrepreneur, genre-bending DJ who loves to make shit happen. The timing was perfect to sit down one of the local music industries busiest and most creative minds and see what’s up in 2020 now things have taken a twist. Furthermore, that’s just the tip of the iceberg within this week’s top DJ interview so grab your pen and paper as there is few recommended notes #incoming.
First of all, tell us where you are from? Where you went to school and where you live nowadays?
I’m from Jakarta, Indonesia originally. My dad is Indian and my mom is Indo-chinese from Manado. I went to school in Jakarta during the early childhood, then Singapore for middle school / high school and Boston / San Francisco for college. Even though I’ve been growing up between Jakarta and Bali, I made the decision to move to Bali 2 years and probably the best decision ever hehe
Is there any other musician blood in your family or close friends?
First I think it started with mom and dad. Dad loves to sing karaoke. We used to host parties growing up and I got on the mic a lot and sang with the fam. My mom is an excellent pianist, and even though she doesn’t do it through reading notes, she’s just the best at. My brother Kiki is a drummer and an excellent guitarist. We used to jam together back in the day. I also got a lot of my rock influence from him and my late brother Dino.
Looking back on your days at school did you think you would be in the music industry? What are some of the key memories in your childhood that now plays a big part in the career you are in now?
I knew I wanted to be in entertainment… I just didn’t know in what way. As I said, we used to host a lot of events and we as a family unit and even later with my friends loved getting people together and had a good time. I used to make playlists for my parties and seeing how people react to music and how it made them happy, I knew there was something special there. During my childhood, I learnt the piano, drums, saxophone, and guitar. A lot of it was just through listening. I think the whole shape of doing DJing as a career started with performing with bands in high school and college, the energy was just insane when you’re on stage.
What was the first electronic tune that made you fall in love with electronic music?
Damn… there’s so many. I think everyone in some form or another grew up with the first album “Homework” of Daft Punk with Around the World. It was such a funky tune. Of course we can’t forget fat Boy Slim, Chemical Brothers and Prodigy’s first album as well. Then going to parties / festivals, it had to be ATB – til I come.
Describe the music style you are currently playing when performing at some of Bali’s best venues? How has your music style changed in recent years and what has stayed the same?
Bali’s / Indonesia is a very interesting place because I think its one of the places where you have to be really versatile / flexible as a DJ. I’ve really gone through the rounds starting with deep soulful house then moving to Indonesia in 2003 from college, everyone in Jakarta was playing hiphop – the era of Missy, Ja Rule, Nelly, Justin Timberlake, Destiny’s Child… ya couldn’t go anywhere without hearing it so I played hiphop. Then went to Electro after meeting my business partner Fadi, then had a dark tech house / minimal phase for a bit, then went to EDM (sad I know but had to pay the bills)… actually without EDM I wouldn’t have opened for Gorillaz, Kellis, Swedish House Mafia, NE-YO, Far East Movement, Afrojack, Quintino and many others… so it had its perks… but now am back to deep house / tech house.
I am currently a resident in Cafe Del Mar and there I play anything from balaeric, melodic house, deep house, and classic house. The cool thing about having such a big range of music vocabulary and songs, is that I can be very broad in the range of my sets. As we know we djing, you need to be on top of things on what works and what doesn’t. I think having this background has shaped me and be fortunate on the gigs that I have had.
So I think in terms of style, a lot has changed. It really depends on the client, the venue, the crowd, the trends, everything. But what I can say about what’s changed the same is I love to keep people dancing and moving, and my style is flexible enough to make that happen.
How does that record you first fell in love with influence your sets nowadays?
Around the world… sometimes you just have to keep it funky and drop something familiar… everyone loves a little old skool jam. With my sets nowadays, there’s always some good remixes of old songs. Its fresh and guys love the bass line beats, and the girls love something they can sing along to.
Tell us some more about your project Bali Praia? What does it mean and what does it stand for? How long have you guys been open?
Bali Praia is a passion project of mine together with my partner DJ Fadi. It actually started with 5 guys for the love of electronic music – again how a common theme from back from my roots that we just love to get people together and make people have a good time with the music that we played. Bali Praia actually means Bali Beach but in Portugese, since we were collaborating with some Brazilian DJs during its inception. Started in 2016 and officially opened in 2018, we had a studio, cafe and a lounge. These were just the facilities but I wanted to turn it to something more. It was an evolving business plan as we wanted to create impact with the facilities that we had. Now Bali Praia is a center for creatives… people can use the facilities for their liking – mixtapes, podcasts, producing music, recording vocals. But we took it a step further to become of the leading DJ schools here in Bali. We also teach electronic music production but our DJ courses seem to be the winner also with the most leading inquiries. With over 30 graduates, we had had some major success stories with our Indonesian graduates all having residences in Bali, and our international students DJing in festivals, clubs and even touring Europe.
Its really testing times for us all right now. What are some of the plans that Bali Praia has put in place to make sure you keep things moving over the upcoming quiet period? What were some of the great plans that you had for 2020 that now you have to cancel or postpone til things start toget better again which they always do in Bali.
The times for everyone are really truly tested. The entertainment world has been brought to a complete stop – festivals being cancelled, DJ gigs being cancelled, its really hurting us all. But we cannot sit still. Me and Fadi are cooking up something together with a team and this is actually something I wanted to talk further with you but I can’t spill any beans until we have proven that it can work. More on this when I have it all flushed out.
Plans for 2020 – we wanted to produce music retreats for dj courses and even music production. We were already mapping out the costs, who we wanted to collaborate with, how we were going to market it, everything. This together with some classic bali activities visiting sound healing camps, monkey forest, temples, etc. However, all those plans have gone down the drain.
Its also been my dream to one day make a music conference here in Bali. I see Bali as such a creative melting pot with so many artists and producers passing through and even living here. So why not create an event where people can learn, grow, network together with some bali activities. With that said, Dreams still can come true so will see.
Gojek – we know you have some very close involvement in that company and as a co-founder. What was and is your role currently and what has been your involvement to date?
I started the company with my best friend Nadiem. I was at that time an all in one branding / marketing team as we were tight on funds. After studying in the university of San Francisco for new media design, GO-JEK became my first client out of uni so I branded the whole company creating the iconic logo, jackets, helmets, website etc. Actually something everyone doesn’t know, I almost built the first GO-JEK website with a deep house playlist lol. It never happened though. My current role is that from my previous construction company, we build GO-FOOD festivals here in Bali and im more of an indirect advisor to Nadiem since he still is my best friend. I am no longer part of the management team as of Oct 2016.
Another of the co-founders has now been hand-picked from our president and working in the cabinet. For us, we were really happy to hear this and see this as such positive news for Indonesia. Can you share some more on him for us? His role with Go-jek, the government and your friendship?
Nadiem and I go back a long way. His parents and my parents were friends even before both of them got married. He has sisters that are friends with my brothers. So it was part of destiny I feel that I was supposed to be friends with this guy. Nadiem’s concept of GO-JEK started with when he was working in McKinsey and even though he was given an office car and a driver he always used motorcycle taxies. But after being an avid user, and interviewing some of the drivers, he found a major inefficiency in the “Ojek” infrastructure of Jakarta. He then thought why not try to give customers to their “mobile” phones (not smart phones then) and we take a cut of the business. He then brought me on board to invest and also brand the whole company and be his creative arm. Facing the many struggles of every entrepreneur and startup, the business struggled in the first 4 years, given that it was only possible to order GO-JEKs from a call center. In 2014, we got funded from a private equity firm name North Star and then we got together full time in the company and straight away got a tech team together and released an app in 2015. With multiple services coming out of GO-JEK, and the massive following that happened by making the service mass market, the rest is then history. Little did we know then that it would turn this simple idea into the first unicorn or even decacorn of Indonesia. GO-JEK, as you know, is Indonesia’s revolution, and it’s amazing to be part of something that is clearly changing the nation and affecting the lives on millions of people.
Nadiem and I always conversed about the education of Indonesia and how the system really needed an major improvement. He was already in close ties with Jokowi as the president was a major supporter of GO-JEK and what it did for the economy and the Indonesian people. So with Jokowi asking him to be part of the cabinet to become the minister of Education and Culture, I believe this was an offer he couldn’t refuse. Especially now that he has kids and he believes he can make a difference for his kids and also the rest of the future generation.
What’s some advice from yourself to any up and coming DJ right now trying to grow his career right now thru these tuff timesand some things to focus on while in the downtime?
Just know that you are not alone, this is something the whole world is facing across many many industries. It is a time to reflect and spend time with your loved ones and be happy that you still have your health and whatever finances you have. There are some people who are older and have had their retirement funds completely wiped from the stock market crash so some others aren’t so lucky. Make sure you stay creative – make some mixtapes, do some livestreams, keep the music juice going as people are all at home and could use a few nice tunes. Remember to stay safe and healthy, this virus is not gonna be nice to you or anyone that you could spread it to. We will come out of this and we will come out of this stronger than before as we know it will take all of us to work together hand in hand to rebuild a place we all love so dearly and that is Bali.
Postive vibes to come out of our current entertainment crisis to look forward to according to Mikey Moran?
Sometimes its nice to just appreciate the simple things in life. I know its hard given the tough times we face. But with myself working in hyperspeed because I love to get shit done, its nice for us all to take a little break and also the planet to have a little breather. Put on some Stevie wonder when you wake up and get some good vibes going. We live in Bali so get some vitamin D everyday while you blast your tunes. If ya need to keep yourself connected, start a zoom party with some friends to get your spirits up. Then when you’re feeling dandy, set yourself some personal goals that you want to achieve while you’re going through this and when you’re out of this. Tomorrow is still something to look forward to. Its not the end of the world yet, and we will all thrive after this and look back at laughing at some of the silly things we all went through.
Favourtite 5 tunes you can recommend to listen to right now at home while relaxing and thinking of the good times head?
Rufus – Desert Night (one of my fav all time songs)
Sun is Shining ATB Remix
Jorja Smith x Preditah – On My Mind
Fleetwood Mac – Dreams (Gigamesh Remix)
Quinn XCII – Another Day In Paradise (the ultimate feel good song)
Next up for Mikey Moran is?
I’ve been exploring some creative stuff – in film editing and music. But there is something bigger cooking, and hopefully I can make this happen. Its a chance for the entertainment industry to collaborate. I’ll let you know further once I have more news.