In the less than three years since Moktar released his first EP, the Egyptian-Australian DJ and producer has established himself as one of the best in the techno and club music scene, both locally and abroad.
Moktar grew up in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire surrounded by music (his father is a conductor and Arabic and folk music composer) and started DJing in high school. He took an extended break from DJing to pursue live music and production, performing as half of electronic duo Pholographia for much of his twenties.
After relocating to Melbourne, Moktar returned to DJing in 2021. Inspired by his Egyptian heritage, he developed a sound that he describes as “the Arabic fusion of the West.” Moktar melds bouncy techno, house and electronic music with the traditional Arabic music he grew up with, often incorporating folk melodies and junglist breakbeats.
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Moktar was quickly signed by fellow Aussie DJ Mall Grab’s label Steel City Dance Discs and released his debut single Silk. His celebration of Middle Eastern culture resonated – and still resonates – with many.
“Because I'm so big on being able to promote my culture through music – especially in this world and in Australia – it’s nice to be able to push it,” says Moktar.
“I wanted to learn how to play drums when I was younger, so I've always been big on Arabic tablas and those types of sounds from the Middle East,” he says. “[Blending them into] techno or dance music comes quite naturally.”
This year, Moktar will appear for the first time at Coburg Velodrome’s beloved New Year’s Day festival Sun Cycle. He’ll be going back-to-back with Melbourne-based club music producer (and long-time friend) DJ Plead for the first time ever.
“I know people who are deliberately having a chill New Year’s Eve just to focus their energy on Sun Cycle. It’s a big thing in Melbourne. It’s also great that it's in Coburg and bringing people out to that side of Melbourne.”
The high-energy set will be partially inspired by DJ Plead’s 2022 Inner Varnika set, because Moktar loved its “fun dubby-step” elements. Expect plenty of percussion and bass, as well as “nice ambient music” mixed with “dubby” sounds. Moktar hints the set will feature some of his new music, too.
When asked about who he’s most excited to see at Sun Cycle, Moktar says Danish singer-songwriter Erika de Casier is at the top of his list. He’ll also be checking out Berlin-based DJ and producer Objekt, and his “favourite DJs in Australia” Wax’o Paradiso.
Moktar says he’s overjoyed to be performing in Australia again, especially when the local music scene is better than ever. “I think that we’re probably the best in the world at the moment,” he says. “Every time I go overseas, people rave on about Australian acts, and they seem so excited for us. There's so much talent coming out of Australia at the moment … you can easily see it [on] the line-ups.”
“Two years ago [the local music scene] felt way different to what it is now, and I find that really exciting,” he adds.
Since 2021, Moktar has released two exuberant EPs (the self-titled Moktar and Immigrant), plus heavy-hitting singles such as 2023’s All Like That. He’s played at Inner Varnika, Strawberry Fields and Sugar Mountain and curated a stage at Dark Mofo. He’s also appeared on line-ups in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris and more alongside Jayda G, Kerri Chandler and Fred Again.
As for the future, Moktar says he’s “always maturing with [his] sound” and plans to move it in a “livelier” direction. Expect more live music elements in his sets and a new album soon. “I want to focus on an album you can listen to start to finish instead of playing it out to the clubs,” he says.
Sun Cycle returns to the Coburg Velodrome on January 1, 2024. Alongside Moktar, the line-up features British electronic duo Overmono, house DJ Jayda G, Melbourne-based psychedelic jazz band Mildlife and plenty more. More information and get tickets.
Broadsheet is a proud media partner of Sun Cycle.