Aleksandar Grozdanovski—also known by his DJ name Herzel—curates the latest Friends of Friends Mixtape, fusing together tracks by the likes of Longhair, So Many Men, and Photonz.
How did you get into music?
I think I’ve always been obsessed with music. I grew up listening to post-punk, new wave and good pop music from the ’80s and ’90s. I began to be interested in electronic music while I was in high school, particularly IDM, house, techno, rave genres, and music coming from the UK and the US. Some of my favorite artists included Juan Atkins, Carl Craig, Kenny Larkin, Phuture, Aphex Twin, Orbital, Autechre to name a few.
Photonz – SHAKTI
Ton Rire – Solar (Original Mix)
Uabos – Emotion
D.K. – Shoubuari (Battle Mix)
Masalo – Cycles
So Many Men – Voskhod II (Original Mix)
Look Like – Giro Di Notte
Longhair – As We Travel
Herzel – Sea Level Rise
Did you always know you wanted to be a DJ?
The role of the DJ is a mythical one to me. DJs have the power to generate new ideas and open new spaces in people’s minds and bodies. I started DJ’ing around 1995, and after working for ten years as a DJ, promoter and event organizer, I’ve also started working as a professional photographer.
You recently moved from Skopje to Berlin. What prompted your move?
My first gig outside of Macedonia was in Berlin. Since then, I’ve started playing in the city a lot, particularly at Griessmuehle. It is very sad that it is closing soon. I have many good memories there.
I’ve been working between Macedonia and Germany for almost ten years now, so it was natural for me to move to Berlin. Every music scene has its own magic and its own good and bad sides. It is hard to compare Berlin and Skopje as the countries they are located in both have very different economic, social, and business structures. However, for me, Berlin is a place that takes risks, opening new perspectives and directions in the process. The impact of this can be felt not only in Berlin’s scene but in the global scene as well.
“DJs have the power to generate new ideas and open new spaces in people’s minds and bodies.”
You own your own label ‘Bran’ along with your partner Andrej Micajkov. Can you tell me how this started?
The idea behind the label—which we founded last year—is to resurrect Macedonian jazz, funk and pop music from the past century and to utilize it in today’s context. It was a spontaneous decision that emerged from talks and shared ideas about the music scene in Macedonia and the lack of labels in the country. We are working on the second release at the moment, and we have scheduled our first showcase on May 2 at Badehaus in Berlin.
Can you tell me about your other roles, such as your work at Telekom Electronic Beats?
I was invited by an agency that represents Telekom Electronic Beats to work as a music journalist. I felt like it was the right moment to step in and to contribute to the music scene slightly from a different angle. I also joined Parallel in 2012, a Berlin-based agency which I am still a part of to this day. They’re like a family to me. We are a close group of friends who share the same ideas about club culture.
How did you select the tracks for this mix?
I mainly used tracks that appear frequently in my DJ sets. I recorded this mix live at Badehaus in one take. The idea behind was to simulate a live raw mix and to avoid creating a polished studio recording.
Aleksandar Grozdanovski is a Macedonian DJ currently based in Berlin, also known as Herzel. Alongside performing himself, he is also the co-founder of his own label Bran, a music journalist at Telekom Electronic Beats, and a member of Berlin-based agency Parallel. If you’d like find out more about Grozdanovski, why not read this article in which he showed us around the music scene and Brutalist architecture in the Macedonian capital. Or, if you’d like to listen to more playlists curated by international creatives, check out our Mixtapes section.
Text: Emily May
Photography: Ivan Soluncev, Petar Petkovski, and Bojan Haron