Max first made an impact on the underground music scene in 2011, he was just 23 when he had his debut track aired on the prolific Pete Tong show on BBC Radio 1. Since then Max has released a wide range of music, proving that his production is extensively versatile, having the capabilities to create tracks that are deep and musical, rolling and clubby and everything in between.
Resonance Records is also a huge part Max, starting the label up just 8 months into his DJing career with his partners in crime, AJ Christou and Mark Horsey. Together they have created an imprint that not is blossoming with up and coming talent from every corner of the globe, it has a range of monumental established artists that are playing the biggest parties on the planet week in week out.
Max has left his mark on some of the biggest clubs and cities in the world, storming through Mexico, USA, South America, Australia, various parts of Europe and of course constantly traveling up and down the UK. It includes headlining the biggest club known to man, Privilege, along with playing and headlining other venue’s like Sankeys, both Manchester and Ibiza, The Warehouse Project, Space, Fabric, Pacha, Ministry Of Sound and many more.
A&R Simon Huxtable met up recently to chat about meeting Pete Tong, life as a producer and his plans for 2016.
Hi Max, thanks for finding the time to chat to us at Decoded Magazine today. How are you?
Yeah, I’m well. Busy, but I love it that way!
So tell us, you’ve been in the industry for a few years now. A little older and wiser, how do you think your sound has evolved since Pete Tong played your debut track back in 2011?
Yes, I definitely think my sound has evolved, but I do look back and wish that I still had the creativity that I had in the earlier days, when music making was fresh to me and I had no stress or pressure to get things done. But looking over at everything there has been an improvement all round and I think I have finally started to settle with a tech house/techno sound.
Have you actually met Pete (or any heroes of yours) in person?
I have met Pete a couple of times, once at Space Ibiza and once in Amsterdam at ADE, it’s a very strange moment, especially when you have been listening to Radio 1 all your life… It was just small talk but I still get star struck by all my peers to this day – I think that’s part of the magic that music is and that’s what makes you want to work harder, things like that are very important to me because they keep the flame alight.
We understand you’ve been working alongside a few well know producers, D.Ramirez for example. What do you think are the benefits of working with more established producers?
Well for starters, often the more experienced they are the bigger their studio is! I get a big kick out of hardware and D Ramirez has got some serious gear! I’ve worked with a lot of people already this year, Rich Wakley, Leftwing & Kody, Mark Jenkyns and also Azz! Johnston so keep your ears peeled.
In an old interview you were asked what you thought ‘your sound’ was. Never an easy question to ask an artist, as tastes are transient; for the person, for their audience and for consumer demand. You’ve had a fair bit of radio airplay which has no doubt boosted sales and general awareness of you as an artist, but do find that exposure comes at a price stylistically or from record label expectations?
100%. If you are not on a massive label or selling lots of records, then you will really notice it in your calendar. My opinion is that you need to be releasing on good, or the best, record labels 6-12 times a year, or if you can’t quite get on the big ones then you need to be really regular with releases or you just won’t get the bookings. It’s a very tough industry.
As a bit of a techy, we understand you have a particular affinity for Moogs. What is it about hardware synths that you identify with? And if the situation arose where VSTs were as good if not better, would you consider working completely ‘in the box’?
I love the fatness of a moog sound and I love to automate with my hands rather than a mouse. VSTs are great but using hardware is so much more fun! To be honest, if I had to sell my studio today and work from software I don’t think you would notice much of a difference, but there’s something special about the synth being in front of you, it’s as simple as that!
Do you find there are certain synths you migrate to religiously?
Yes, Moogs haha The Sub 37 for mid to high range sounds like leads and melodies, and The Little Phatty and The Minitaur for bass.
Bit of a cliche, but do you have a typical workflow for new music and remixes? Personally, I find I always make the drum track and then hang the melodies and bass lines from it.
I always get a kick going, whether it be a sample or on the TR-8 then I find a vocal, chop it and work it with the kick, then I create a bassline. Once you have those 3 things nailed the rest is a piece of cake.
Had a listen to the album again the other day in prep for this interview. Really digging Pyramids. You dedicated the album your dad who died recently, what impact he had on your music?
My Dad wasn’t a huge fan electronic music, he was a big fan of ‘real’ music as he called it – bands and singers etc. His favourites were Barry White and Mike & The Mechanics haha! It was purely dedicated to him out of love and I wrote it during the toughest parts of my grieving process, which of course I am still dealing with, but the worst has passed and it’s time to look up and move forward; he is 50% of me and will always be around.
Do you have any favourites from the album? Perhaps tracks that are working really well in your sets?
Not for my sets no, it’s not really my usual clubby sound. I have played ‘Sophisticated’ as a last track before and slotted ‘The Red Room’ in a few times but it’s more for listening to me really, for the car or the home stereo – that’s if you like house and techno of course, otherwise it’s not exactly easy listening! ha!
Aside from the album we see you have a new remix for Marco Lys out this month on Incorrect music. Where do you find the time?!
There’s always time for music! I actually find that if you don’t push yourself too hard and make music when you feel like you want to, that’s when it comes easy and just flows like you want it to.
Lets talk about your label, Resonance Records. Seems everyone these days is starting a label! What was your initial vision for Resonance?
My initial purpose for RR was to use it as a platform to release mine and my friend’s music, as I said earlier the industry is a tough one and we were struggling to get music signed back then. So, I guess it was basically to raise the profiles of the up and coming.
A&R for indie labels is paramount to its success. Are any new artists really ticking the box for you now, and why?
There are lots of new artists around; maybe not super new, but Latmun is one hell of a producer. He is also very young – I believe he is in his very early 20s and his music is so mature and super creative, he has just released on Viva so it’s not just me who has noticed him!
We also noticed a radio show on Bloop. How do you find the sterile nature of radio compares with the energy of a club setting? Do you find you make different track choices?
To be honest Ii haven’t taken any amount of time to see the impact that the show has made, it’s more to make sure I have a mix every month and that I am showcasing my sound on a regular basis, it’s just a bonus that people can lock in and listen live!
That big birthday – 30 – looms large for you soon. What else would you like to have achieved, personally or professionally by then?
Thanks for bringing that up! And I still have two whole years yet! Haha. I would like to be in a position where I can go full time and really focus on music rather than fitting toilets!
We loved that JuicePlus video you posted recently. Funny! Millennials seem to have really taken to digital marketing like ducks to water, and are engaging with fans and industry alike with a range of media. How much do you have to work at your online presence, and are there occasions where you’d like to be honest about something, but that branding genie in the back of your mind prevents you?
Haha! well I am pretty shocking at social media, that’s one thing I am trying to improve but certainly not with silly Juice Plus videos! As for being honest, I am. If I think something, I will post it – it’s usually about eating meat because I am a vegetarian but other than that I have no issues with social media. In fact, I think it’s a good thing that people keep their mouths shut sometimes, it can have a massive effect on your career… just look at Ten Walls.
HAHAHAHA!! Well, it’s been a blast Max. Great to meet you, and we hope everything works out with the album and label. Where can we catch you playing this year?
You too! you can catch me all around the UK and I will have a residency in again this season in Ibiza, but unfortunately I can’t mention anything about this yet! There are also a few internationals here and there too so see you on the dance floor!
01// Hauswerks, Raffa FL – Lost
02// Latmun – Def
03// Audiojack Feat. Kevin Knapp – Vibrate
04// Truth Be Told – 43 (Vibe Killers Remix)
05// Russ Yallop & Cera Alba – Format (Cera Alba’s Warehouse Re-Rub)
06// Max Chapman & Azz! Johnston – Vortex
07// Latmun – Sunrise On The Terrace
08// Jansons – Trust In You
09// Hauswerks – Only You
10// Yvan Genkins – Brother (Max Chapman Edgy Edit)
11// Mr Jefferson – Real Footwork
12// Max Chapman & Azz! Johnston – All I Want
13// Wade – Clique