Timo Maas is an artist that has been involved in electronic music for over 30 years. From his residency at Circoloco in Ibiza where he has been entrenched for over 15 years to tours around Europe and the rest of the world, Timo Maas maintains a huge level of consistency in an industry that is often very harsh and unforgiving. His international recognition began with the unforgettable remix of ‘Dooms Night’ by Azzido Da Bass which was played across every genre I can think of, as well as by pretty much every DJ involved in the scene. Since that very track, Timo has gone on to work alongside a plethora of superstars from Madonna to Depeche Mode, and Fatboy Slim to Muse.
He has produced three albums, ‘Loud’ in 2001, ‘Pictures’ in 2005 and, most recently, ‘Lifer’ in 2013 that saw collaborations with a diverse range of artists including Placebo’s Brian Molko, James Lavelle, and Mikill Pane. Ultimately, he is an artist whose roots lie within the club environment. He is a DJ first and foremost, injecting his experience in the booth to his artistry in the studio and consistently demonstrating his ability to connect with any crowd he is in front of. From closing the main stage at Benicassim after Blur, numerous Glastonbury, and Ants Ibiza performances, regular appearances at institutions such as Warung Beach Club, right through to his intense and intimate shows at smaller venues.
In conjunction with what appears to be a mountain of studio work, Timo maintains his own label, Rockets & Ponies, which has been releasing some of the best electronic music for almost a decade. Artists from Acid Mondays to Maetrik, from Addison Groove to Nightmares On Wax, from Alan Fitzpatrick to Ion Ludwig have been featured on the imprint and in particular, an EP comprising of Ricardo Villalobos’ remixes of famous German jazz drummer Wolfgang Haffner.
Recently Timo has released EP’s on Joris Voorn’s eminent Rejected label, returned to My Favorite Robot for another release and not only this but crafted a remix of the fabled ‘Porcelain’ by Moby on his own Rockets & Ponies label. As time passes by, Timo Maas remains relevant, hungry and bursting with ideas. Never looking to the past, always in the here and now…
I felt very fortunate to grab some time from one of the busiest men in the industry to talk about his history in the scene, his latest release, and what he has planned for the Ibiza season with his own special night.
Timo and I began chatting about what he has been up to with his day, and as well as being an artist that never appears to rest he is also a family man. How he manages to balance everything I do not know… I asked Timo how he deals with the balance of family life and touring as a DJ? “Story of my life…its always a balancing act between both worlds but it mostly works pretty well. It also depends on your partner and the awareness that in the end, it’s a job too, and we all have to work.”
As a man that has been involved in the scene for seems like forever I wanted to know, in his opinion, what some of the most significant changes in the scene have been over the years? Timo was quick to respond and seemed very adamant that the most significant change was the move from analog to digital “with all its consequences… the buying behaviour, listening and consuming behaviour.” Timo went on to talk about how he first got into electronic music…
“I started getting involved in the early 80’s, the “electronic music” scene was not there but sample and synth-based music like Art of Noise, Jean Michel Jarre, Propaganda etc had a huge influence on me and opened me up for discovering more music like that.”
We moved on to talking about Timo’s latest release on Mobilee with Basti Grub and Eric Volta. As many of you will be aware Timo is not afraid of collaborations in the studio. I was keen to find out how this trio produced track came about and where the idea came from…
“I have known and hugely respect Eric for many years now, and we already worked in the studio together. Eric sent me the raw demo version of this track quite a while ago, tow and a half years to be exact! I always loved the version, but also always asked him to finish it and send it to me, considering making a release out of that. As things happen…nothing happened. Recently I have been working quite a lot with Basti and when I played him that demo we spontaneously decided to make a proper version, which we did and sent to Volta. He absolutely loved it and we decided to do the project together, made another version, and here we go.”
Since we were on the subject of collaborations and studio chat it is harder to think of artists that Timo hasn’t worked than ones that he has. He has worked with Paul McCartney, Depeche Mode, Fatboy Slim, Madonna, Tori Amos, Thomas Schumacher, James Teej, Aidan Lavelle, and Rennie Pilgrem to name but a few. I wanted to know what he really loves about working alongside others in a studio… “its always a certain unique vibe, when it “clicks”, when musical experience and understanding from different “worlds” collide and create something special and unique. I love this experience because you never really know what is going to be the outcome of that.” I quickly went on to ask who would he really love to work with that he has not yet had the change to… Timo’s answer was instant and to the point, “David Bowie.”
His last album ‘Lifer’, included collaborations with a diverse range of artists including Placebo’s Brian Molko, James Lavelle, and Mikill Pane. Having been a fan of many of Timo’s productions I wanted to know if there was a new album filled with collaborations on the horizon… “Collabs for sure… an album I am thinking of… nothing is in the making yet but some projects certainly are… let’s see.” Not exactly a yes but knowing the output of this man I am sure it is not too far away. One to look out for I am sure over the next 12-24 months eh Timo?!
In the midst of being a family man, touring, running nights etc, Timo also finds time to run a very successful label, Rockets & Ponies. As it is nearing its tenth anniversary I asked Timo if we could expect any kind of release to celebrate the labels ten years in business. Timo kept his cards close to his chest and just said: “I am planning something… more information coming soon.”
I went on to ask Tim what he looks for when searching for new music for his label and I loved his answer… “mostly something that disturbs me, that sounds different than the usual stuff, that is either clever, beautiful, strange, sophisticated or all of it at the same time ideally.” This led me on to ask Timo if we can expect any new music from himself over the next few months… “I have a bunch of new EPs and remixes in the making right now, some quite different stuff again. Keep your eyes and ears open.” Now that does sound like good news for Timo fans out there!!!
With the Ibiza season fast approaching, and many of my friends already telling me daily about their planned Ibiza holidays and beach body diets (yawn) I was very intrigued by Timo’s new night on the island. I asked Timo to tell me about the concept and what can be expected over the season?
“I kind of want to “break the circle” of those standard nights in Ibiza… not all of them obviously but quite a lot of nights and events are very similarly programmed, loads of DJ names on the list, 90 minute DJ sets blah blah. I want to get back a little to very experienced artist friends, which I first respect strongly and second have the ability to do a “storyteller” DJ set, longer sets that really take u on a journey instead of delivering the standards… I have got some true IDOLS in the boat already… this will be very special!”
I don’t know about you, but this is music to my ears! Times are a changing!!!
Timo spoke with DJ Mag in late 2017 about his first ever DJ gig. I cheekily asked him how that first gig compared to his most recent gig. Timo laughed and added… “the first one wasn’t busy, the last one was!” We went on to speak about some of his most memorable gigs over the years and he always talks very fondly of gigs in his home country. Timo went on to say “there really are too many to mention, as every night is a special one… I really loved the gigs in Cologne the past months for example… great city, great people, and clubs… but also cannot wait for the summer with Ibiza and all the other stuff popping up.”
I would like to thank Timo for his time, and if you have the opportunity to get over to Ibiza for one of his events I strongly recommend you attend.