TLDR: Max Graham begins 2015 strong with Cycles 6 and FRISKY Artist of the Week feature.
Max Graham’s impact on the house music industry has been legendary. First noticed by Paul Oakenfold and Nick Warren in the late 90’s/early ‘00s, Max mixed the fourth installment of the influential Transport series in 2001 and received the highest new entry in the DJMag poll that year. He has continued to build on this steady ground, creating labels ShineMusic and Re*brand, which have partnered up with Dutch powerhouse label Armada. He has toured the world bringing an evolving yet continually solid sound to eager audiences in every corner of the planet. With emotion, creativity, and energy as his continuous focus, Max’s music is always fresh, and never kept within a box. Tastes of progressive, trance, house, and techno can be heard throughout his sets, where he seamlessly integrates one sound to the next. His epic Open to Close sets truly showcase his innate ability to take an entire crowd on a journey, his years of experience and passion passing through to all who want to join in.
Capturing these moments is Max Graham’s Cycles series. First beginning as a weekly radio show, Cycles has been released as a double CD since 2008. Featuring the music that has been influencing him on his journeys, Cycles takes listeners deep into the sounds that are making an impact on electronic music fans around the world. His latest release “Cycles 6” will be released on January 16th, and is now available for PreOrder.
On Tuesday January 13th, Max Graham will be featured as FRISKY’s Artist of the Week, taking 2 hours on the air to broadcast his latest and favorite tracks that have been making waves on the dancefloor and in the homes of electronic music fans around the world. We caught up with Max to learn more about his latest album, and recent experiences on the road.
What excites you the most about this new album?
Well a couple of things, I’ve been in a transition this past year and this is kind of the culmination of the year’s musical adjustment. I call it a “snapshot” of where I’m at musically so I’m always excited to kinda showcase that yearly change but beyond that I’m always proud to showcase some of the younger up and coming artists on there. Thomas Vink and Tim Penner for example, are two guys I think are going to have great careers ahead and I’m so happy to have them as part of the mix.
Do you find that the Cycles series coincides with what you are experiencing in your life? How would you describe this 6th cycle?
Well my career is such a huge part of my every day life and I think everyone’s musical taste is a reflection of both what they are exposed to growing up but also directly reflects their mood. No one is listening to happy songs after a breakup haha. I think for me I’ve been getting more serious about the craft, even after 15 years I’m learning and adjusting and the music reflects that. I also don’t vibe at all with the instant gratification sounds that are so dominant in the poppy side of dance music. A lot of the trance I used to play has fallen victim to that quick fix sounds that get people’s attention but don’t hold it.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more relaxed and patient and I think that’s reflected in the music.
Was it difficult to balance working on the album while maintaining a busy touring schedule?
Not really because the music on Cycles 6 is what I’m DJing. Right now I’m finding it hard to find the time to produce original material as I’m always searching for material for my DJ sets and that gives me more material for Cycles 6 and Cycles Radio so it all kinda goes hand in hand. I was actually on holiday in Indonesia for the last week of making the CD which worked out well, I would make adjustments then take the iPhone to the beach and listen, uninterrupted on headphones taking notes. That type of focus would be virtually impossible at home with emails and other things happening. Pretty good excuse for sitting on the beach, I guess. But even when not on holiday between Dropbox, Ableton and email it’s pretty easy to keep on top of new music and keep in touch with producers who were involved in the mix.
How did the idea of Open to Close sets come about? What do you enjoy most about those shows?
Well it’s nothing new, it’s the way we all grew up DJing, literally playing a wide variety of top 40 music and learning how to get the best reaction by playing things at the right time. Ask anyone who’s considered a veteran in techno, trance or whatever and they will all have stories of when they played at a local bar and were alone all night playing RnB, Hip Hop, Dance whatever worked. I’ve always been more comfortable playing longer as I learned to DJ listening to guys like Digweed and Danny Howells who are masters of creating that slow build. I think the payoff is that much greater when you make people work for it than if you give it to them right away. About two years ago I convinced Esscala in NYC to give me the whole night since so many openers today are modeling their sets after the festival one hour bangers and it’s not setting the right mood. So they agreed and we did it at Pachita and it was kind of a greatest hits of the last few years and really caught some people’s attention. That led to more promoters trusting it and seeing good results. I also feel the timing is right as people are getting a bit tired of the same same short sets you’re hearing from a lot these days. For me it’s absolutely my favourite way to DJ, from the first person walking in to the end of the night, it’s heaven. Plus there’s so much music out there that I like, the long sets gives me a chance to hit all those sounds.
Is there anything that you have learned from being on the road, about music or life in general, that you find yourself returning to?
Well, yes, but not on a musical level, more on a human, political, social level. I’ve realised how different everyone’s opinions of each other are globally and how unfortunately they are shaped by media and not reality. I think this is probably for another interview but travel and talking to locals the world over has been incredibly eye opening.
Has anything about your audiences surprised you during your tour this summer?
Oh yes, their patience. It’s tough sometimes as people want to hear the records you made last year that they love and not much else, so you’ll get people coming for a long set who only want the evil ID and are upset when I don’t play it (it’s been months since I have) but this summer it’s been 95% crowds that come out with their cell phones deep in their pockets, no requests, no comments like “pick it up” or anything.
Just complete trust and patience and it’s the greatest feeling as a DJ.
Get ready by listening to Max Graham’s guest mix on Perspectives & be sure to tune into his Artist of the Week feature on January 13th @ 2PM EST [convert timezone]:
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