After the release of her EP Circulus Vitiosus, the London-based artist has proved one thing: never let them know your next move!

‘I guess I’m ready to get married,’ Martyna Maja, better known as VTSS, jokes over video call after she fell down the stairs of her apartment last night. No cause for concern — it takes more than a stiff neck to get her worked up. As a matter of fact, the Polish techno misfit has been taking care of herself lately. She took a one month break and now takes life one existential crisis after another. Frankly, Maja has never been feeling better. ‘I finally like where I am and who I am,’ she says of a stellar career since her breakthrough in 2018. 

Ever since her EP Circulus Vitiosus was released at the end of last year on Ninja Tunes, the Polish-born artist showed the world that VTSS is more than just your favourite DJ. It’s an exploration of different alter egos –– never the same, always surprising. Not only for herself but also for her loyal stans, who are rightfully obsessed with her virtuosity and the way she feels utterly relatable, cracking jokes while constantly refining her very own take on techno music. ‘The idea of not pleasing anyone and not pleasing older generations was a bit of a breakthrough for me,’ she admits, knowing perfectly well what she’s doing behind the decks and not taking any hate from some internet troll hiding within the cracks of anonymity. 

VTSS has been growing up — she found her superpower and the answers that have been inside her all these years. 

Let’s start with some self-reflection. What’s something you learned about yourself recently?

That I’m not invincible. I learned how fragile we are as humans, how this nightclub lifestyle I’ve been living for almost half of my life really takes a toll on my health. With this career path, it’s normalised to tour 52 weeks a year. I feel like I’ve been lying to myself, telling myself, ‘it’s just one more week, and then you get a break’, but you can’t fix yourself when you’re physically exhausted. That’s why I called January off, which was the first time I ever had a holiday in 5 years. Now, I’m trying to figure out a balance of living this hedonistic lifestyle and not making myself feel worse. 

You’re hugely inspired by the process of becoming and self-healing. Could you share a bit of your journey? Where did you start, and how did you end up where you are now?

As a kid, I was quite good at everything, so I never really found this one thing I’m exceptional at. When you put all your eggs in different baskets, you’re kind of a social butterfly. As a result, I never really found myself until I found my purpose, and my purpose turned out to be work. That was probably when I was 20. Until then, I have been doing random shit I felt I was supposed to do. I went to law school and economics school just because I had a bit of interest, but back then I didn’t know what I really wanted to do. I fell in love with clubs, and music turned out to be the answer to missing some part of my identity. It has been a bumpy ride, we all know how careers in music are. Now, after almost 15 years since I started clubbing, I’m trying to find a purpose outside of work.

“It feels great to also be a person outside of being a musician and my work.”

I imagine it to be quite difficult when people put you in a box and expect you to be that one thing, no in-betweens.

Absolutely, and if this is your whole identity, it will really affect you when someone says something bad or mean. I guess that’s the case for a lot of people, and it’s a scary and dangerous place. When it’s all your life and all who you are, there’s nothing left if anything goes wrong. I’ve been working on this for the last 3 years, and it feels great to also be a person outside of being a musician and my work. It’s a process that is going to last forever, but it’s fun to go on this journey and to feel like finding this identity that I’ve been looking for, and finding the answers that have been inside me all those years. 

Your EP, Circulus Vitiosus wasreleased at the end of last year on Ninja Tune. What feels like a vicious circle in your life?

At one point, everything felt like a vicious circle. It’s been a journey to break all of them, so it doesn’t feel like that anymore. With this EP, VTSS got her voice –– it’s not just beats, there is a story behind it. I realised that VTSS is an exploration of all the versions of me if I had made different choices at some point. Some of those might hit closer to the truth than others, but I guess this really helped me to figure out what the truth is for myself. 

This issue is all about virtuosity. Have you always believed in yourself and your skills, or do you have moments when you don’t feel good enough?

It took me years and years of active practicing, touring and working every single week to be where I am and what I do the way I do it. I’m quite comfortable DJing in front of people, but last year when I started to go in the studio for the first time, I was absolutely terrified. It was the first time I started to make music with other people, not by myself at home, or sending stems back and forth. It was also my first session as a vocalist in front of strangers, which is such a new thing for me. I did my first session with Boys Noize, and we made an amazing track I’m really excited about. At the beginning I was so insecure and scared of going into these sessions that I don’t know enough, that I’m not technical enough, and that I will be so embarrassed. Afterwards, I learned that it’s actually OK to admit you don’t know stuff. It’s not like anyone is going to laugh at you, and if they do, it means they are mean people, and you never want to have anything to do with them anyway. Everyone does stuff in their own way and that’s the magic of it –– even the most DIY ‘unprofessional’ ways can be incredibly inspiring to others. 

When I think about my first Boiler Room for example, I might cringe about some technical aspects or mistakes that I hear, but skill comes with practice! Especially in creative arts, there are so many ways to do stuff. There’s no rulebook.

“Even if user10735 will tell you this is not the right way to do stuff, it doesn’t mean anything. You just have to keep going, get better and find your way.”

While we’re at it, what’s a secret skill of yours not everyone knows about?

I give amazing relationship advice. That has always been my obsession. You know, if someone says something silly, I’m holding it in — so I don’t give unsolicited advice. 

Imagine, you start all over and become a therapist…

Maybe at one point! That would be fun. Let’s see where music gets me and if I have the capacity to do it for the rest of my life, or at least for the next 20 years. But if not, this is the closest of what I probably would get into. When I speak to my therapist, I’m always like, ‘rate my coping mechanism!’

“Sometimes it’s really hard to work on yourself when your friends expect you to be who they know you are.”

You’re someone who embraces change, and not only moved from Berlin to London, but also shifted direction with your music. Do you feel like change comes easy for you, or is it a certain feeling you just have to act on? 

For me, change always felt natural. When I was a kid, I changed schools quite a lot. As I said before, I didn’t know my place and nothing really felt significant enough for me. I guess this is also my ADHD, which I didn’t know I had back then. It has always been very easy for me to move on, and I always loved the idea of starting over. That’s why London is so great because it’s so big that if I’m done with it, I can just move south and might not even run into anyone I know. I do love a little reset, getting rid of all the expectations and ideas of you, even the ideas your friends have about who you are. Sometimes it’s really hard to work on yourself when your friends expect you to be who they know you are. Sometimes it’s nice to have a clean slate, especially if you have many identity crises like I had, apparently. I had always lived by this quote from Sharpay of High School Musical fame: ‘It’s out with the old and in with the new.’ Now that I’m growing up, I don’t have the energy and time to play that game anymore. I finally like where I am and who I am, so maybe I don’t need to run away that much.

How do you manage to be your unapologetic self throughout this journey? 

It took me a long time to find out who I am, and I obviously made a lot of mistakes and burned a lot of bridges along the way. But you shouldn’t be scared of disappointing people if it’s for the greater good, and you shouldn’t let people’s expectations of you hold you back in any way.

That’s one of the most important things I learned in my whole career. Especially where I come from, there has always been this one idea of what techno music or what a DJ was supposed to be like. When I was younger, I tried to please a lot of people with my sound, because I knew if I would play too like this or that I would get hate for it. The idea of not pleasing anyone and not pleasing older generations was a bit of a breakthrough for me. I’m not Gen Z, sadly, but what I love about this generation so much is this unapologetic attitude of just doing your own thing.

“It was a really stressful process knowing this is who I am, but the whole world doesn’t know about it yet.”

There will always be haters, you can never please everyone.

Exactly. Even if there were moments when I was really affected by what was being said online, I got through it, because I knew the end goal and the only reason this is going to work out was authenticity. For me, it was also the courage to use my own voice with the last EP and release the music that wasn’t expected from me. I let go of my shell, and that was the breaking point for my identity process. I have always been struggling with vulnerability in everything –– in public spaces, but also in social relationships. It was a really stressful process knowing this is who I am, but the whole world doesn’t know about it yet. It’s been interesting to release something unexpected and invite all the hate. It made me feel stronger and helped me to be more vulnerable. You can’t be authentic without being vulnerable.

What’s your advice to help push yourself out of your comfort zone instead of postponing your ideas and dreams to the perfect moment, which doesn’t exist in the first place?

There will never be the perfect time, and waiting for hard things to get easier is not going to make us any stronger. I know that when you’re struggling to survive every day, it’s incredibly hard to see the potential in yourself and in your life. When you see people who share the same qualities do well on social media, it can either be inspiring or often make you feel so much worse because it seems like they are so much ahead of you. When I started to make music, I just had an old laptop I couldn’t even install Ableton on. So I borrowed an old white MacBook from a friend –– absolute vintage vibes –– and cracked the program. I didn’t have production headphones, so I just used random earpods and watched YouTube tutorials. It was an absolute nightmare, and I wanted to quit because I couldn’t get anything to work. None of the channels could hold more than one (even built-in) plugin, so I had to freeze and flatten every stem after every move. There will always be obstacles — what you have to do is nurture the drive inside you. Your mind will try to distract you, it doesn’t want to change stuff, it wants to keep the safe routine of the bare minimum. 

There’s nothing sexier than saying no. What’s the last thing you’ve been saying no to?

I’ve been saying no to alcohol for like a month and a half now. I realised how it was sabotaging the love for my work. When I woke up after a gig, the hangxiety was the only thing I remembered after a few days. I also said no to a work relationship, which was really hard to say no to because it felt like a good idea, and we’ve been nurturing it for a second. With stuff like that, it’s an act of kindness to let go and move on. I highly recommend saying no! If they don’t come back with a better opportunity, someone else will. It’s not the end of the world. If you don’t feel it, you shouldn’t push it. The universe has a way to find the right thing for you! 


Talent · VTSS
Creative Direction and Photography · Erika Kamano  
Styling · Natacha Voranger
Hair · Chrissy Hutton
Makeup · Mathilda Mace
Set Design · Louis Gibson
Photography Assistant · Steve Braiden
Styling Assistant · Aoife Akue
Retouching · Anna Pinigina
Location · Little Big Studios London
Interview · Juule Kay
Special thanks to Ludovica Ludinatrice at Modern Matters


  1.  Dress RUI ZHOU, shoes SINI SAAVALA and earring ROHAN MIRZA
  2.  Necklace ZWYRTECH, dress ANNA HEIM, panties SEHNSUCHT, leg warmers ANNA HEIM and shoes MATHILDE FENOLL
  5.  Head piece SOMA FAITANIN, leather piece SOMA FAITANIN and bodysuit PATRYCJA PAGAS 
  6.  Full look JOYCE BAO, shoes SINI SAAVALA  and earrings MILKO BOYAROV 

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