Janelle Borg    August 2, 2019

The Spotlight Series: Mike Bugeja

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Mike Bugeja is synonymous with Malta’s alternative music scene. Mike has been consistently working to boost Maltese artists’ visibility and is one of the few individuals who strive to support local artists at every stage of their career. Trackage Scheme chatted with Mike about his undying passion for music and the local scene.

Who ignited your interest in music growing up?

I’ve been interested in music as far back as I can remember. The radio was a prominent stepping stone, followed by my older brother Joe’s record collection. This collection included albums by Al Stewart (who is one of my all-time favourite artists), Journey, ELO, Elton John, Hot Chocolate and Slade amongst others. There was also the record collection of a neighbour of ours, Bruce, who was also a musician. I bought my first 7” single in 1976 when I was 9 years old, and I haven’t stopped building my collection of vinyl, tapes and CDs ever since.

How did you initially get involved in Malta’s music scene?

I was aware of Malta’s scene from an early age, mostly because of the Maltese songs that were played on the radio at the time. Besides, the Maltese-language newspapers regularly published local Top 10 Charts and song lyrics, which I used to cut out and paste in a scrapbook that I wish I still had.

How would you describe your relationship with the world of music journalism?

I always loved reading articles and interviews about my favourite artists, so when the opportunity to write a music article presented itself some 20 years ago, I grabbed it with both hands. It is something I enjoy, even though I have been less active in recent years due to other music-related commitments. Writing an article, especially one-to-one interviews, requires a lot of time, and I’d rather pass on an article or interview than submit a half-finished one.

On the radio side of things, I love hosting ‘Rockna’ and talking with different guests every week. I’m happy to see that there are now more individuals who are willing to promote local artists, and who are doing their best to convert Maltese audiences into regular gig-goers.

How would you describe the current Maltese music landscape?

Having watched the local scene evolve over a number of decades, I have to say that the past two decades have been fantastic in terms of both quality and quantity. The scene flourished in a variety of genres, undoubtedly helped by the advent of the internet and the increased accessibility to audio technology. The metal scene remains at the forefront in terms of international visibility, but in recent years, more bands from different genres have taken the initiative to explore foreign markets. It has always been a dream of mine to see local bands being appreciated internationally, and I’m confident that we’re getting closer to that with every passing year.

Do you have any specific music-related goals in mind that you’d like to achieve in the next couple of years?

Well, I hope that I’ll still be hosting Rockna… perhaps in a different format, who knows? I’d also love to be able to work full-time in the music sector so that I can put the experience and knowledge that I’ve acquired over the years to better use. There are a few other things on my bucket list, including some ideas that would help local artists, if they were to be taken seriously by the relevant authorities. Hopefully, I’ll get to realize as many as possible before I kick the bucket.

Mike Bugeja’s ‘Rockna’ radio show is broadcast every Monday at 7.30pm on NET FM. For more info, visit mikebugeja.com.

 

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