Fresh off the success of his monster Prometheus EP for Technique Recordings, the Ukraine-based MaxNRG stops by the Kmag offices for a quick spot of tea and glimpse at what the future holds for the latest import from the east.
First off, who is MaxNRG and how would you describe your vibe or sound?
MaxNRG is a brand new producer on the world scene from Ukraine, a country that the world knows by Klitschko, Shevchenko, Euro 2012, wonderful ladies, delicious cuisine and beautiful nature. Now it's time to remind you that we have also a good bass music. My main goal is to make music that encourages people to forget about everything and have a good break away on the dancefloor! But maybe someone can dig deeper and discover other layers of the music and also find something special for the soul.
I know you've been holding it down in the Ukraine for over ten years now, fill us in on what your local/national scene looks like and how your role has transformed over the years from DJ to promoter to producer.
Actually I evolved from a producer to a promoter and DJ. At that time [the late 1990s], the scene in the Ukraine was in its infancy stage, so I started doing parties with my best friends and colleagues, Derrick and Tonika, where we played our tunes and music that we liked. So began the history of Funk Masters - a group of like-minded individuals, promoting their favourite music. Over the years we have organised dozens of drum & bass parties with top artists from the international scene, opened our own label DNBSession Music, which promoted Ukrainian d&b music and released a Funk Masters album called “Drum And Bass Nation” that included tracks from myself and Derrick & Tonika.
What led you to drum & bass in the first place? What sort of music did you listen to before d&b entered your world?
Music always played in our house for as long as I remember, many thanks to my father - a great music lover and musician. I grew up on classic jazz and rock (Led Zeppelin forever!). As a teenager I became interested in hip-hop and then discovered The Prodigy and electronic music, though always preferring broken beats. Once one of my very good friends ‘Werya’ gave me a tape to listen to that was a new style for us - it was a compilation called 'Quiet Storm: The Drum Bass Project (1997)'.
I had never heard anything like it and it was so unusual that I even thought, wow, these guys are crazy! Tracks like DJ Trace’s ‘Mutant Revisited’, Shy FX’s ‘This Style’, and T-Power’s ‘Symbiosis’ caught my attention. I began to listen more d&b, discovered Roni Size, Krust, EZ Rollers, Alex Reece, Adam F, LTJ Bukem, Aphrodite, Ganja Kru, and especially Ed Rush & Optical’s - Wormhole LP which completely and irrevocably implicated me in the jungle! Bad Company and Ram Trilogy also had an immense influence on me as would High Contrast, Calyx & TeeBee, Black Sun Empire, Future Prophecies, Noisia, Spor, Sub Focus, Netsky, Camo & Krooked, Nero, Chase & Status, Knife Party, Bassnectar, Porter Robinson, and Skrillex.
At what point did production enter the picture for you? I know you quite nearly broke out with your remix of Pendulum's "The Island" in their 2010 remix competition, how did it feel to come in third out of 800+ entries?
Of course, participation in Pendulum's remix contest played a very important role for me. I have great respect for their creativity and so when I found out about the contest, I immediately set about trying to make my d&b version of the ‘Island’ tune. I very seriously and carefully worked on a remix, gaining invaluable experience, which in the future proved useful when creating my own tracks.
I confess that I was not expecting that remix to take any place in the competition, because there were more than 800 applicants! It seemed necessary to have an angelic patience to just listen to all entries. So when I discovered that my remix came third, I was in seventh heaven, because Pendulum is one of my favourite d&b groups! All this gave me some notoriety, and, most importantly, self-confidence and motivation to work harder to create new tracks! So, many thanks to Rob Swire, Gareth McGrillen, and Paul Harding a.k.a. El Hornet for their support!
Flash-forward to 2012 and things are picking up for you in a huge way. How did you originally link up with the Technique crew and at what was your reaction when you realised that you'd locked down an EP ?
I have been carefully following the releases of Technique Recordings and have been loving the tunes from Drumsound & Bassline Smith, Tantrum Desire, Shock One, Phetsta, L Plus and others. So I sent two my tracks 'Prometheus' and 'Arkan' to the label by email and I was surprised when I received a reply from Simon saying, “Thanks for the tracks. Are you looking for a label?” Of course I immediately responded, “Yes, I am looking for a label!” And so began our acquaintance that grew into, hopefully, a long and fruitful collaboration!
The titles on all of these tunes from the EP are intriguing and seem to tell a story. Talk a bit about your vision behind the EP and what kind of story you hope they tell.
Each tune for me is a story told in the language of music. Prometheus: my childhood fascination with the ancient Greek epic and one of the favourite myths of the noble hero who gave fire to people. My hope was to make it sound epic and like a hymn. Arkan: is a tribute to Ukrainian folk music, in this case, the creative refining Hutsul ritual dance in the drum & bass style. I am very pleased that our traditional ethnic melodies are recognised in the world! Metro 2033 VIP: was created under the influence of the post-apocalyptic atmosphere of the gloomy future of science fiction films and computer games such as 'S.T.A.L.K.E.R.' and 'Metro 2033', in whose honour, in fact, the song got its name. Sunset of Empire: reflects my fascination with the history of the ancient world, about the fall of the Roman Empire, which, despite all its power and splendour, could not resist the onslaught of the barbarians. Nihil semper floret...
Up-and-coming producers from around the world are always interested when someone "new" breaks into the big time to see what kind of rig they're running - fill us in on what your studio set-up looks like and any special advice you have for other heads looking to refine their sound.
My studio set-up is very simple: I’m using a PC computer, Sennheiser HD 25 headphones, and a Midi keyboard. That’s all, no external hardware or additional gear. Remember, it's not about what equipment you have; the point is how you use it! As for advice: what really helped me were the training videos with tips from Pendulum, Sub Focus, Camo & Krooked, as well as technical interviews with Noisia, Skrillex, Black Sun Empire and reading magazines like Computer Music and Future Music.
In terms of achieving a high-quality sound - listen to musical references, tracks that you like how they sound and compare them with your tracks. You will discover many new things, immediately see your mistakes and understand what you need to work on! For this purpose it is desirable to have good speakers or good headphones at least. And be sure to listen to good music from a variety of genres and not only those in drum & bass and dubstep. This will broaden your musical horizons and help in writing original music.
Now that things are locked in with Technique, what else can we be expecting from you in the coming months? Any plans to start touring outside of the Ukraine?
I am working on new tunes exclusively for forthcoming releases on Technique Recordings and I hope to release another EP in the autumn. At the moment I am just concentrating on my production to build up my skills. If the opportunity arises to do gigs around Europe that would be amazing!
Any final thoughts?
Thanks to Kmag, respect to Technique Recordings, and big up Ukraine!
Words: Chris Muniz
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