Interview: Maelstrom

By Nick Taylor, Aug 2nd, 2012 | In Nightlife



Maelstrom blew up last year after releasing back-to-back EPs on Boys Noize Records, Sound Pellegrino in France and Dirty Bird, Claude VonStroke’s label in San Francisco, but he’s been DJing and making music since the mid 90s. He’s in town with STD for a DJ set at The Shelter on Friday night. When we spoke to him he’d just come to Shanghai after a 10-day tour of Australia.

***

SmSh: So, how did you get to be flying around the world, playing shows in strange countries? Does it feel like it's all happened quite suddenly?

Maelstrom: I’ve been DJing since I was 14, so in some ways it’s been a long road. I got into it pretty early through the illegal rave scene in Europe. There was a group called Spiral Tribe who were busted out of England around 1994 for putting on illegal raves. Most of them loaded their gear into vans and took it to France and started putting on parties there in fields.

I got hooked into this. So I spent like six to 10 years doing that stuff, DJing, beginning to buy drum machines and play live. I was playing heavy techno and hardcore. It was great for a young kid of my age. It was an opportunity to play to a crowd of 1000 people every week. You could just show up with a bunch of records and wait until the party was calming down in the morning and then line up behind the decks and wait for a chance to play.



SmSh: So you didn’t come up listening to Air and Daft Punk and all that champagne electro in Paris.

Maelstrom: I was deep into the underground side of things until the late 90s. Then at some point I started shifting to UK bass music. I started playing drum and bass, early dubstep, still in raves in Italy, Spain, France.

SmSh: When did you start playing live?

Maelstrom: The same time. I just had some bad Akai samplers, no computers, just hardware sequencers. Then I got some basic software. You had to write your beats in hexadecimal language. It was all just Midi, no audio recording. One of the first times I played live, we had three samplers and we had to have me playing live with another guy just changing the floppy disks and loading up the new sounds. I only started DJing in clubs around 2006, when I started releasing on UK labels and getting more exposure.



SmSh: When did it start to explode?

Maelstrom: Only last year. I got signed to Boys Noize, Dirty Bird and Sound Pellegrino. That helped and got me all the extra exposure.

SmSh: Your music draws influences from a long time ago and that seems to be what people are interested in recently, rather than just huge bass sounds.

Maelstrom: Four or five years ago it was all about massive, in-your-face sounds and brand new studio tricks, but I think nowadays it’s more about if the artist has something to say. Now anyone can be a DJ or producer, so it brings the focus back on who you truly are and what story you’re telling, where the music came from. It’s not enough just to be able to produce technically proficient tracks, it’s got to reach out beyond the music.

SmSh: Tell me about your technique for making tunes – is it a cerebral process or do you just sit in front of machines until something good comes out?

Maelstrom: I’d like it to be a cerebral process, but it’s not. It’s just me sitting in my studio eight hours a day, every day that I’m at home, waiting for something good to happen.



SmSh: It’s like a day joy for you?

Maelstrom: It really is. Eight hours a day, every day. You never know when something good it going to emerge. Sometimes I finish a tune in a day, like in 10 hours and it’s done. But for this to happen you have to go through all the other days when nothing happens. Honestly, the best tracks are the ones that come naturally, you’re driven through it, you don’t even know why. The audience can hear it, that it’s something natural. Sometimes I work on a track for two weeks and it gets a bit weird, you put too much attention to detail and the track’s never good. When it comes naturally in a day, you don’t get a chance to over-think it.

SmSh: What do you have in your studio?

Maelstrom: The most crucial part is the room. I made a soundproof room in my house, and I did acoustic treatments to the walls so it sounds perfect inside. For me, that’s the best instrument – the room itself. That’s the basic element of my equipment. Apart from that, I used to work a lot on Cubase but these days I use Ableton. I have a couple of keyboards, a Moog, a Juno, but most of it’s software. All the arrangements are on the computer. Everything’s processed and treated in the computer even if the sound originates from a hardware synth.

SmSh: When did you get to the point that you could have a dedicated, soundproof room in your house? When were you able to stop working and treat this as your fulltime job?

Maelstrom: I’ve never been working. I’ve always been doing music. I’ve never had a normal job. I got the soundproof room last year and I think it explains why I’ve been able to sign to Boys Noize and Sound Pellegrino after that. To me it’s totally linked.



SmSh: So what you going to give us on Friday night?

Maelstrom: I have five or six new tracks of my own to play. And I just finished a new remix for Boys Noize and Erol Alkan that’s going to get released I think next week. I’ve just had the masters, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how that goes. What else? I never really know. I just pick up 100 tunes on the afternoon that I play and that will be my crate for the night. It’ll be techno, bass… You have to come. It’ll be cool. I’ll make you a playlist after.

Maelstrom plays Friday, August 3 at The Shelter. Support from STDJs: R3, Lin Feng, Ado8, El'se. VJ: Olivepixel. 60rmb. Full listing here.

Tagged: STD The Shelter

Heatwolves, Aug 3rd, 2012

sounds dope, much respect for releases on sound pellegrino and dirtybird

Gamble, Aug 6th, 2012

omgay

Post a Comment
Signed in with: Not signed in


Please sign in or register to comment

Hassle free ticket purchasing and delivery for Shanghai's cultural and concert events:

The Oz Noy Trio

Sep 4-5
at On Stage


Rock Around The Clock

Aug 27-28
at Shanghai Oriental Art Center


Giardini Piano Quartet

Oct 25
at Shanghai Oriental Art Center


ERA

Daily 7.30pm
at Shanghai Circus World


Chk Chk Chk

Aug 28
at MAO Livehouse


Francesca

Aug 23
at Shanghai Oriental Art Center


HIM 2014

Aug 29
at QSW Culture Centre


Kenny G 2014

Sep 4
at Shanghai Oriental Art Center


Manon Lescaut

Sep 3-7
at Shanghai Grand Theatre


El Gran Combo

Sep 8
at MAO Livehouse


Das Musical Elisabeth

Dec 9-Jan 11
at Shanghai Culture Square


Queen Tribute Concert

Sep 5-6
at The Pearl


Yohei Hibiki

Sep 26
at On Stage


Liars 2014

Aug 29
at MAO Livehouse


Riccardo Tamai

Oct 11
at Shanghai Oriental Art Center


Shane Filan 2014

Sep 21
at Shanghai Grand Stage


Tap Dogs

Sep 2-21
at QSW Culture Centre


Shanghai Rolex Masters

Oct 4-12
at Qizhong Forest Tennis Center


TOE China Tour

Sep 5
at MAO Livehouse


JZ Festival

Oct 18-19
at Expo Park


Bloc Party

Aug 28
at Arkham


Swan Lake

Sept 25 - Oct 5
at Shanghai Culture Square


A Midsummer Night's Dream

Sep 19-21
at Shanghai Oriental Art Center


More on SmartTicket »