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Like many DJs, Joanna Magik’s initial foray into the world of beats and turntables was somewhat modest.
More than a decade ago, the former professional snowboarder – born Joanna Majcherkiewicz in her native Poland – played a wedding in Calgary. Fast-forward a decade and Magik is now generally regarded as a talent to watch in the EDM world as a DJ and producer. Earlier this year, she won the Pete Tong x Apple Music DJ Mix series. She has released five songs in 2023. That includes Energy, a soaring high-energy summer single in collaboration with local veterans The Smalltown DJs and Techno Tupac released on California’s influential Dirtybird Records. It currently has more than 100,000 streams.
She recently played at The Shambhala Music Festival in British Columbia, considered one of the most influential for EDM, back in July before heading to the U.S. to perform at some of the genre’s iconic dance-music clubs. That included stops at the Space Miami in Florida and The Academy in Los Angeles.
“These are clubs with huge followings where some of the world’s most popular DJs play,” says Magik, who will perform at a hometown gig Saturday at the Zen Garden Festival.
“So, for a lot of artists, it’s a bucket list item to get into these parties.”
For anyone who has followed her pre-DJ endeavours, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Magik has approached her music career with ambition and focus. She followed up her competitive snowboarding career by turning her attention to sports broadcasting, which included a stint announcing at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the Calgary Stampede and the U.S. Open of Snowboarding(While Joanna Magik may sound like a name custom-made for DJing, the moniker was actually originally bestowed on her by a fellow broadcaster who couldn’t pronounce her name in Vancouver). She has also worked in marketing for Red Bull Canada, Quicksilver and Lululemon. As an entrepreneur, she co-founded the UNDRCARD Boxing Studio in Calgary’s Beltline and another fitness business in Toronto.
Magik spent her high school and university years in Calgary eventually earning a Bachelor of Commerce with a specialty in marketing. She volunteered at CJSW during her university years and was initially more of a punk-rock fan. After her snowboarding career took her to Whistler and led to a sports-announcing career, Magik returned to Calgary for a job with Redbull Canada. The music and marketing worlds overlapped and she found inspiration at the now-defunct Hi-Fi Club that was co-owned by Pete Emes, one-half of The Smalltown DJs. Emes and his musical partner Mike Grimes cultivated their sound at the club, but also brought in big names from the DJing scene such as Jamie xx.
“Before music was my main focus, I was working for brands that were heavy into music – so Redbull Canada and then I went on to work in PR for Quicksilver and Lululemon,” Magik says. “I would be working on a national level and anytime there was an event in Calgary and was at the Hi-Fi, people I would host there would be ‘What is this place? It feels like Tokyo. It feels like New York.’”
Magik released her first single at the end of 2020 when the world was still locked down due to COVID-19.
During the pandemic, when her businesses in Calgary and Toronto were “on pause,” Magic began focusing her time and energy on recording and releasing music.
“It was back to the mind-shift thing, I decided to change my social media to reveal I was an artist,” she says. “I was keeping it on the down low, with the pandemic I changed my Instagram and made a concerted effort to become an artist.”
That has included working with Femme House Collective, a non-profit organization that advocates for more equitable opportunities for women and gender-expansive individuals in EMD. In early 2023, she co-hosted workshops for women DJs in Calgary and Toronto. DJing tends to be a male-dominated world, but Magik and others are hoping to change that.
“Working in the action sports world – the whole snowboard and skateboard and surfing world – that’s also really male-dominated but you learn to navigate it,” Magik says. “It’s just a mind-shift. So I was able to apply all that to DJing.”
“I have had such incredible mentors and been given such a leg up in my music work that I definitely want to give back, right out of the gate,” she adds. “I think I’m in a position where I can share my knowledge.”
Earlier this month, Magik released the pulsing single Kick Out, a collaboration with Insomniac artist Black V Neck’s Retail Records. It’s just one of the established labels and top artists she has worked with, including Claude Von Stroke at Dirty Bird and Kyle Watson at Box of Cats, during her relatively short career so far.
“As soon as the music started coming out, I realized I was in a really lucky position,” she says. “A quote I go back to is ‘Do what you love and what loves you back.’ I felt like things were progressing nicely. I was putting in work but I was seeing results and that was huge. It’s the kind of thing I work on where the hours fly by.”
Joanna Magik will perform at the Zen Garden Festival on Sept. 9 at Waterfront Park on the Bow River. Visit zengardenfestival.com