The first time I saw Maxo play live, I had just finished DJing myself. When he came on, it was like—remember the scene in Planet Earth when the great white shark launches itself completely out of the water to chomp on a seal? Maxo was the shark. I was the little bird flying by for a half-second of TV time beforehand. His music—hyper, chirpy, super-fun—is also really complex, with a ton of layers that precisely start, stop, and stutter. On top of that all, which I didn't know but learned live, is Maxo wigging out on a MIDI keyboard, not just cuing tracks or spinning effects knobs but doing all of that plus improvisatory, equally frenetic and jubilant key-tickling. Maybe it's not that crazy. But it kind of is, and certainly electronic music would be funner if there were more Maxos. Download his exclusive FADER mix, then drop below for an exclamation-mark-filled email chat about Maxo's improvisatory approach, some beats-in-progress, and good news for the new year.
So I was pretty mind-blown watching you play. How'd you start with your live approach? Thanks so much! I try and have a lot of fun! When I play live, I rely very heavily on improvisation. I learn best by ear, so this is what comes to me first. To me, making music as a whole is very improvisatory, so I think what I'm doing on stage tends to reflect that!
How much of your recording process is you playing in real time, vs. drawing melodies in Ableton? I'd say half and half, but it depends on the song. Since I've started using Ableton more heavily, I feel like I gravitate more towards 'pointing & clicking', especially for drum work. When I work with harmony and melody though, I very often record material in, and manipulate it after!
There's a Kitty remix on your mix. You were doing some production for her, too, right? Me and Kitty know a lot of the same people, so it was probably only a matter of time before we were introduced! We played a show at Palisades (BK) together in August and became fast friends! Pretty soon after, I got offered the part in the music video for "Second Life"! I didn't end up producing any material for her latest EP, FROSTBITE, but me and Kitty still have tunes in the works, so keep an ear open! My remix of "285" should be out separately very soon!
Who's an artist you love that sounds nothing like you? Mitski! We went to college together and I've always been blown away by her music, so it's been really amazing seeing her get so much attention! She's totally in a league of her own. Check out Bury Me at Makeout Creek and you'll hear what I mean.
What are you looking forward to about 2015? Everything! I'm actually really nervous about everything that's happening this year, but nervousness and excitement often go hand-in-hand for me! I think you can expect a lot of big and crazy things from Maxo in 2015!
What are you not looking forward to? Definitely not looking forward to another three months of winter. Or paying student loans every month.
What food do you like to cook, and how do you make it? I'm not the best cook, and there's a lot I cannot do! I can make fried rice, or a pretty decent burger, but my real forté is still toaster oven sandwiches… ;)
0:00 - Maxo - Intro / Evening Of The Tick
0:17 - Sharp Eagle Platform - gramtaer
2:21 - Maxo - Eddy Vancouver
5:22 - MINO MINO - TBH
8:08 - Lindsay Lowend - martian junkyard
11:25 - Toby Gale - Hawaii Wifi Tiger Moves
14:35 - Kitty - 285 (Maxo Parasolmix)
17:29 - popcorn_10 - paperhat
21:05 - JNTHN STEIN X Brasstracks - Laced Up
23:51 - Maxo - Bishonen Line
26:25 - Guy Akimoto - What's It For (Maxo Jetmix)
28:51 - Maxo - untitled theme / Outro