The Long Podcast: Voices from the Electronic Dance Music Scene in Malta

To celebrate the launch of the People and Dancefloors Malta project, we have invited prominent voices from the Maltese electronic dance music scene to participate in a panel about the state of clubbing and electronic music in Malta which you can watch or listen to below.

The People and Dancefloors Malta team

Tina, Edwin, Neil and Mark, along with the People and Dancefloors Malta team, discussed music-making and art, clubbing, nightlife and substance use within the scene. 

The music, the people, the dance floor are the three ingredients that create a unique atmosphere. Highlighting the benefits of this unique social activity, the panel underlined the sad reality for a lot of Maltese people of having to live in the shadows due to stigma and widespread negative perceptions linked to recreational substance use and dancefloors, resulting in misunderstandings and a general sense of mistrust between the authorities and electronic music event organisers. 

Whilst recognising that the situation has improved, there are still numerous structural hurdles that continue to foster a culture of discrimination. Education and community are key to promoting a safe space for all, but the lack of appropriate regulation of club venues continues to be an obstacle to creating safer spaces.   

The media was seen as the main culprit for sustaining an ‘us’ – the mainstream ‘good society’ enjoying licit substances and activities, versus ‘them’  – electronic music enthusiasts and recreational illicit substance users – mentality. 

Creating a more open dialogue

Panellists underlined the urgent need to demystify reasons why people choose to listen to electronic music and use substances by creating more open dialogue. Speaking of both the benefits and potential harms associated with any substance use, panelists highlighted the importance of education and the introduction of simple harm reduction measures as key to promoting safety.  

They also hoped authorities would be less stringent towards licensing of electronic music events beyond the constricts of a club environment, thus exploring new outdoor venues and opportunities. Funding too seems to be a serious stumbling block for local artists, still relegated to an underclass category and not fully recognised as artists and professionals.  

Calling on local electronic music artists to break the shackles of stigma and continue to embark on their musical journey, panellists hope the local electronic music scene is recognised as a valuable cultural asset, enriching the cultural and artistic heritage of the Maltese islands.  

Panel participants:

Edwin Balzan – one half of the Maltese techno duo – Duo Blank; he’s been in music for over 30 years, producing music for dancefloors for quite some time! He runs an NGO in Malta called Electronic Music Malta whose aim (amongst others) is to fight against the prejudice on electronic music producers. 

Neil Hales, an electronic music producer from Malta, he records and releases under the names Acidulant and Collateral Intelligence. The music he records under the name Acidulant is directly inspired and influenced by dancefloor music. He is also a founding member of Electronic Music Malta. 

Mark, co-founder of Unmute_Malta (an electronic music streaming platform), has been in the techno/electronic music scene since 1993, and was part of the core team of the famous, but now-defunct Tribu Festival. Currently, he is working to establish a major international network to promote local electronic music artists abroad.

Martina Camilleri (Tina) is not tied to a particular field, with her ethos manifested in visual art, sound, performance and writing. Her academic journey, having received a B.A. Honours in Fine Art and currently reading for an M.A. in Social Practice Art and Critical Education, lies in parallel with active involvement in various organisations – cultural, philanthropic and environmental.

You can either listen or watch on the links below.

Watch part one of our chat here:

Watch part two of our chat here:

Listen to part one here

Listen to part two here

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