Artist of the Week: Max GrahamOctober 16th, 2008
To some, Max Graham is the guy that delivered one of the biggest and most popular remakes, ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’. To others, he’s the guy that created the most sensitive prog-track ever made. ‘I know you’re gone’. It’s obvious, Max Graham cannot be put into one box or style. And that’s exactly what he loves.
Max: ‘Chunky and energetic. I like tough bass lines and beats, but later in my set I love to get into the melodic stuff.’ Well, that explains a bit. Max Graham likes to keep his sound diverse and build up to something unexpected. To understand why, you have to look back upon Max’ past and find out what’s shaped his style to what it is today.
Starting at the turntables in 1986, Max went from cut and scratch to house and eventually discovered progressive back in 1992, when the sounds of BT and Underworld were slowly getting bigger. Max was part of the dance music renaissance. Max: ‘Those times were amazing. Awesome labels like Jackpot and Skinny Malinky, Stress and Deconstruction. There was some amazing music back then and the scene was smaller, so people really felt they were part of something special.’ Inspired by dj’s like Paul Oakenfold and Sasha, Max decided to infect Canada with this new sound and therewith made himself one of the few dj’s that were playing so called ‘trance’ in the country. It took some years, but eventually Canada picked it up and Max grew out to be one of the busiest and most booked progressive dj’s. Several record labels picked up his vibe and his first mix albums appeared around 2001. Duty was calling Max, cause if you want to be a big DJ, you have to produce some of your own tracks. Next to that, he stopped doing the legendary 6 hour sets in Atomic, the club in Ottawa that, with these nights, left a huge cultural imprint on the Canadian EDM evolution. Max: ‘I wanted to take things to another level. The residency and the success we had at Atomic told me that more was possible, so I bucked down and started producing.’
In the meanwhile
So Max spend his time in the studio, building the foundations of a faster path to success. One of his first productions, ‘Airtight’ in 2001, became a massive hit and propelled Max into the international music scene, resulting in a #23 position in the DJ Mag Top 100 and receiving massive airplay on Pete Tong’s Essential Mix on Radio 1. But the biggest hit was yet to come. Max’ remake of eighties classic ‘Yes – Owner of a lonely heart’ didn’t only turned out to be a massive hit, but also caused quite some confusion. Max: ‘I kind of did it for fun and it blew up. I can’t complain but I have to admit it did confuse some people, haha!’ That’s quite an understatement, especially with progtrancer ‘I Know You’re Gone’ being the total opposite of it yet released in 2005 as well, but luckily Max himself is perfectly well aware of what he was doing. Max: ‘You see, ‘I Know You’re Gone’ is 128 BPM and uses house beats and I don’t see how this is anywhere close to the 136bpm trance that’s’ out there at all. But I guess it touched a lot of people who like trance, so it got lumped in with them. I’m really versatile in my sets. I play some trance and some techy stuff with prog and techno in between. I play whatever really turns me on and that can be from any genre.’
In 2006, Max saw the broadcast of his first Essential Mix for BBC Radio, and in 2008 teamed up with Armada, resulting in a new imprint: ‘Re*Brand’, referring to the constant evolution of dance music and Max’ indefinable style. Ever since, the imprint has been providing the scene with several massive tunes, ranging from the new talents of Mat Zo, Patch Park and Tim Davison to Max’ own releases, like ‘Smack’ and ‘Cosmic Funk’. Teaming up with Armada was an easy choice for Max. Max: ‘Armin and Markus have always been fans of mine. I was looking for more of a family environment of people with the same goals, and Armada really fits that.’ In July 2008, Max released mix album ‘Cycles’, which was more than welcome to fans and EDM lovers and received massive international acclaim. More releases on Re*Brand are on their way, with amongst them the new Max Graham duo pack ‘Frozen/ The Power of One’, released on October 13th. ‘Frozen’ is a profound, mysterious track that’ll take your breath away and send you off to another place and time. ‘The Power of One’ is light-hearted and atmospheric, and will surely make you float a few meters above the floor while listening. Don’t just keep an eye on the releases, but also make sure you keep track of Max’ upcoming artist album!
Check out his exclusive mix here
Max Graham – Frozen / The Power Of One