SPIN ME ROUND. Milinka Radisic, one of Southeast Asia’s most famous female DJs, talks to DA MAN about her rocky road to music maker, her quest to make the Top 100 list and having one foot in Indonesia and one in Serbia. By Petricia Yuvita
Milinka Radisic did not grow up wanting to be a DJ, and in fact worked jobs in investing, advertising and design before finally settling into the groove of being a professional spinner.
Although she had long toyed with the idea of being a DJ, other considerations got in the way. “Actually, I really wanted to be a DJ before I got married, but then I got married and I got pregnant, so I postponed it for one and a half years,” Milinka recalls.
“But when I was pregnant, I had cravings, and I ended up buying a turntable (laughs). Seriously. So everyday, I was listening to trance during the day and at night, classic [songs] for my baby, of course. Then, after that, I became a DJ.”
Milinka explained that, when she told her family that she wanted to work as a DJ, nobody was thrilled with the idea. “They were just like, ‘no.’ I told them when we were having a family meeting, so it was like everyone from my side of the family and my ex-husband’s side.” But despite their opposition, Milinka decided to follow her passion anyways, ultimately leading to success.
Milinka said finding that success was not easy, as being a DJ is trickier than most think. “Actually, the basics are easy. Anybody can do it, everybody can go to a DJ school and they’re gonna have the same skills. But the difficult part is actually creating a good flow on every set, and also reading people. That’s psychological, to be able to read people. Responding to what they want, you have to be quick, especially when you feel that people are getting bored. You have to start preparing what you are going to play next. And I have to be creative. I can’t be the same Milinka every year. So I normally… Well, I’m a trendsetter for DJs (laughs). Everything that I do, they always follow me.”
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After parting ways with DJ Devina, her co-DJ in the Electric Barbarellas, Milinka started up her own musical project, called HDM (House of Dance Music) and a charity called Milinka Love Movement (a project to help orphans in Indonesia).
At the beginning of this year, Milinka, who is of Indonesian and Serbian descent, was asked to become an official tourism representative of Indonesia to Serbia. She said of her experience, “As a representative of Indonesia in Serbia, I think I did well. There are not so many Indonesian residents there, but from the magazine, newspaper and television coverage, I think everybody learned a lot more about Indonesia. It’s fun, and also the Indonesian ambassadors came to my gigs,” she said with a laugh.
She shared with DA MAN that she was also being offered a nationality in Serbia. “As I did very well in Serbia, by the second week I was there, all of a sudden I was really famous. I was everywhere – in daily newspapers, the weekly magazines, television, almost every day. And also, with the Indonesian Embassy in Serbia, they were all very supportive of me. Then, on the third week of my trip, there was a big group of people, say about 20 people, who came to my gig and it turned out they were from the Serbian government. So it was like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the scientists, the business men. They came and brought me flowers and said things like, ‘Welcome to Serbia, would you like to hold our citizenship? Let me talk to your ambassador.’ And so they are offered to give me Serbian nationality, and I said, “why not?” A few weeks ago, they called me and asked me to be the president of their association, so I’ve got a lot of things to do (laughs)”.
The Serbian government asked for her assistance in helping to promote their country in Asia, “So I have to introduce a lot of investor from Serbia to Asia, as well as exchange students, professors and scientists. So, I’m dealing with ambassador things everyday.”
Although you would think her job as a DJ would make her a night owl, Milinka said she tries to keep to a normal sleep schedule. “I go to sleep around ten to midnight from Monday to Thursday, and wake up as usual in the morning, because I have to take care of my daughter. But every weekend, I get less sleep time and sometimes I don’t sleep at all. Maybe it’s because I’m doing what I like, that’s why it’s fun.”
When asked about Indonesia’s clubbing scene, Milinka said, “I think Indonesia’s [club scene] is better than in Vietnam or Malaysia and even Singapore. Because Indonesia is very complicated. Only when they know the songs will they dance.”
When asked how she is able to be successful in the ever growing DJ field, Milinka said, “I think that I know my strengths and my weaknesses. And then I have to think of myself as a product, in that I have to know how to sell myself. It’s not like just a matter of playing and luck. Being a good DJ requires discipline and sadly, most DJs don’t have it.”
Although she’s been to many countries as a DJ, Milinka said, “I love Serbia a lot. I like the music, I also like clubs in Switzerland, I love Switzerland too, but then, when I went to Serbia, it’s totally different because, as you know, Serbia is known as the center of nightlife in Eastern Europe and everybody loves to dance and they appreciate their lives there. Once the office hours end, they go to cafés and clubs or restaurant. So, so far I love clubs in Serbia the most.”
There might be another reason she loves to travel. When asked about her love life, Milinka laughed and said, “It’s hard to find a good one in Indonesia. Well, I haven’t found a cute guy here. In short, it’s hard to find my type of guy in Indonesia, because I prefer Caucasians. I’m not really into faces, it has more to do with their charisma.”
But Milinka said her main goal at the moment is to get onto the list of the Top 100 DJs of the world, and in order to do that, she’s planning to move to Europe, “Within two years from now, I’m planning to move to Europe. And I can’t have an Indonesian passport anymore because, when I travel in Asia, looking like a foreigner, but then they find out that I’m holding an Indonesian passport, they lower my salary. I [also] want to broaden my international foundation. For now, I am organizing charity events every once a month in different cities called Milinka Love Movement, and that’s why I want to move to Eastern Europe, because there are a lot of poor orphans that need help there.”
Although she admits it has been a hard road that has brought her to her success, Milinka said, “Most people give up when they’ve almost succeeded, that’s how I feel. In the end, you will learn from your mistakes or from your failure, so just keep going. I never regret anything in my life. Even when I’m at my worst point. Because I will learn from that. And that is what has made me who I am today.”
Photographs: Robin Alfian
Styling: Peter Zewet
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