Under The MEOKO Microscope - Maksim & Mix
- Published on Wednesday, 20 December 2017 10:59
When you’re steeped in the European minimal scene, it’s easy to forget that there is more to it than the Old Continent’s capital cities, that everything does not exclusively revolve around London, Berlin, and the occasional Romanian getaway. Just as comfortable spinning in his native Russia or his adopted home of New York, Maksim is the living proof that the scene is just as vital in many places around the globe, and he’s now part of those DJs from the periphery that have started touring Europe, rather than the other way around. Indeed, as a resident of ReSolute, Maksim cut his teeth on one of the states’ most infamous minimal dancefloors; it’s no surprise that, sooner or later, our European ears would catch wind of the man’s talents.
It surely helped that 2017 saw him release his first official EP on Aline Brooklyn — the three edits have encountered massive success and already fetch high prices on the second-hand market. Thankfully if you’ve missed the boat on this one, Maksim hints at more to come on the release front next year. And with a Moscow booking that places him along the likes of Eli Verveine, Dorian Paic or Livio & Roby for the New Year, his name is justly becoming an established one on the circuit.
As the list of his achievements is sure to grow longer in the coming years, it was due time for Maksim to get Under The MEOKO Microscope, with an interview that sees him talking Russian clubbing, edits, and… Spice Girls. And to soundtrack the read, Maksim offered one of his own favourite creations as a MEOKO exclusive. Nope, it’s no Spice Girls edit — we’re still hoping to ever hear this one — but this rendition of Chinawoman’s “Party Girl”’s got the languid groove that’s steadily becoming Maksim’s calling card all over it.
Hey Maksim, thanks for having us, a pleasure for me!
Thanks for having me, I was looking forward to it!
1- You’re one of ReSolute’s resident DJ since 2013, so let’s start from there. Can you introduce ReSolute to our European readers?
Resolute, resolute.. well, it's dirty, it's dark, and it's real. We have guests come from around the world to join our parties in everchanging venues in NYC ( mostly warehouses) and also throw international parties. The consistent component is the music. Don't expect to leave with clean shoes but expect to dance till sunrise. And a driving force behind all of it is Nektarios, with his charm and vision.
2- And what about you? What age did you move stateside? Can you tell us a bit about your backstory basically?
It was an accident. I had friends living in New York and was invited to visit so I got a visa but never used it. Then, after a long party, a fight with my girlfriend, and one brilliant decision... I walked out from the afterparty onto a flight.
3- You’ve been spinning for 6/7 years now but how did you get into electronic music and ended up becoming one of ReSolute’s residents? Are there some DJs that exerted a strong influence on you?
My dad was music collector and my mom was a ballerina.. well, actually not true. I was a fan of Spice Girls and had a Nick Carter haircut. No jazz in the kindergarten for me, I literally had a bad taste in everything. I was a part of all subcultures in the end, but I can still sing along with Britney Spears.
It’s okay to grow, to learn, you don’t have to be brilliant from the beginning. Look at me now, doing an interview for Meoko.
My first club job, at 17, was a favor to my sister and was in my hometown. I’m still not sure what kind of a shady business it was, but I got in as a lighting guy. Needless to say, I had no idea what I was doing. Aside from lighting, I also resuscitated the resident who drank too much. My "big chance" came when unable to revive him, I was asked to jump in and play. Eventually, I began to play on the weekends.Then I moved to Kursk and got a job at the club there. It was pretty commercial but it was huge and popular and paid. After 5 am we could play whatever we wanted, so I started to explore. Minimal came along, I fell in love, I got fired. But, don't fret, love of a woman did get me to Moscow and Arma17. Which finished shaping my taste
NYC was a crazy couch surfing, broke, no visa situation. But over time I made progress in the techno scene. Connie, who is a resident of Resolute, got me my first gig at a resolute Party. I guess I was okay because I became a resident shortly after.
When it comes to influences it’s Backstreet Boys.. joking. It’s Trentemoller who was ahead of his times, Led Zeppelin (yes) and Mathew Herbert. I love Mathews music and enjoy listening to his interviews. He often gets blamed for being too political and talking too much about societal problems, but I think that’s what art is about. I personally believe good music comes from a similar inspection of the struggles and debates of the times, but then again sometimes you just want to dance. Unfortunately, nowadays its difficult to be critical or have a differing opinion, the art of intelligent debate has suffered under social media.
4- You had a few tracks and edits coming out under your birth name in the past, but Aline 002 is really your first proper release. Can you talk about the label and the people behind it, and how this record came up? It seems quite mysterious…
True, I had a few digital releases back in the day. Different genre, not a big fan of those. but there is always a beginning ;) Then I started doing edits, they're more like remixes without stems. Some received lots of positive attention, like Who are we- on Ricardo Villalobos. One of my favorites is an edit on China Woman - Party girl. I love Rock and grunge.
I still wanted to have a record of my own, but it seemed complicated. Then my friend Nico (French, Young, Fabulous and Broke DJ) started his Aline label. I'm glad it seems mysterious, that's what Nico wanted. I showed him some demos and he loved them, then the long process of finishing started. Producing doesn’t come easily to me, I’m quite distractable, a bit of a goldfish in a bowl if you will. I may or may not also be a perfectionist, so it's a fine balance. I had no gear. I borrowed a sound card from a friend, I used Nikos home studio to check if everything sounded ok.
5- The release’s got a great feedback, how did you feel about that? Does it mean we can we expect more stuff on the production side of things from you?
I was very excited to hear the final product and hold the record in my hands. it sold out in 3 days, I was very happy about and also now I don’t have to buy presents when I travel for a least a couple months. I have few remixes coming on Minim Records, hopefully, right after NYE. And it's a very important project for me, you’ll see what I mean later. (insert intrigue here) I actually think you should release about 3 tracks per year, as a kind of quality control. 75% of iTunes don’t get downloaded ever, seems like a bit of a quantity problem ;)
6- What’s a good edit supposed to do for you?
It gives me the freedom to breathe new life into things I already love. No rules, everything goes. Rembrandt to Picasso.
7- You still play fairly regularly in Russia, do you follow the local scene?
Yes, I do. I can say it’s one of my favorite gigs. The nightlife is crazy in a good way! There are a lot of beautiful venues. You can party just in front of the Kremlin inside the Old Soviet Saunas for top politicians which are now a club, or in a club where you walk through a Chinese takeout Place to enter, and at the roof of an old factory by the river in the middle of Moscow. it always amazes me. A huge diversity of music and on any day of the week you can find something to do. Also, the parties last forever, last time I played there it went from Friday to Sunday. I think Slowdance is one of my favorite Moscow parties and definitely Stakenshnaider in St.Petersburg is very cool. Adjustment Bureau throws out some great productions and go see Pushkarev, Gorge and Izhevsky.
8- How is it different to play in New York, Russia or Western Europe? Different crowds? Would you ever move to Europe, to be closer to the “scene”?
Crowds are very different, that what makes it exciting and sometimes challenging to play different countries and cities. I have definitely considered moving to Europe, but right now I'm happy in New York.
9- In general, what’s the scene like in New York? What would you recommend our readers to check out if they get to visit? Any artists and labels you think deserve more recognition?
New York has a very decent scene! In recent years it's grown very much. Venues, Labels and real talents have emerged here. Definitely, visit Output, stop by at TBA for a drink. Of course, Resolute always has something special. There plenty of good small underground parties, as well. Resolute has a new label DisDat that's worth a look, Julia Govor just put out a solid record, and Mimin Records have released some good stuff. and of course, my fellow residents are worth a listen, all of them unique but gifted. Lauren is the lone real jobber and is a part of All Day I Dream. Connie plays the drums is a rock band and just wrote and made a video for a Pop song. Obee just finished a project for Pornhub ( yes, you read that right) Orazio our resident political thinker.
10- Have you noticed any changes in recent times? I know the cabaret law’s been repealed, there’s a new Office of Nightlife… do you think the narrative around NYC’s nightlife is changing?
Yes, it was finally repealed but I don’t think it will directly affect dance culture. The problem with throwing parties in NY is that it takes forever to get all the permits, it's very expensive, and the relevant hours are tough to accommodate. All this just forces people to get creative for better and worse. ;)
11- There’s also quite a nice house and techno scene, with Bossa Nova, Sustain-Release, the Bunker, Unter… Is it something you’re interested in at all? Are there connections between your people and them?
It's my guilty pleasure, gladly I’m a good friend with Julia Govor, so I get an in. We recently did Resolute with Nina Kraviz, that went very well, the music the crowd! you may expect more like it in the future! I really like the sound, it’s raw it’s more human, same when it comes to the house. I like it less perfect, more dirty, that you can feel it was made by a human. Not sure about connections, when it comes to crowd’s it’s absolutely different people, which I understand, but hopefully in the future, it will be more united.
12- Any recent highlights? How was the Get Perlonized party you guys did?! You’ve also had the 10 years anniversary!
Get Perlonized is definitely a highlight for us, when a major player in the scene does a party with you, especially for their anniversary, that means a lot. Proper warehouse, next to the railroad, night to day party! For our 10th anniversary, we're going global, recently we hit Bucharest Romania, at Guest House. Then Moscow's Gazgolder and much more to come.
13- And finally, can you tell us what’s in the works for you in 2018?
2018 will start with the gig in my beloved Moscow, I’m playing for Slowdance. Then St.Petersburg on the 2nd and I have a few gig’s in Spain, definitely, wait for a couple of new edit’s, I can promise it will be special. And of course a release on Minim Records, with a truly great story behind it. I always wanted to do something good, something I can be proud of and finally got a chance, and I’m not talking about me or music.
Thank you very much, Maksim, all the best!
Thanks to you! Poka
Words by Pierre-Alexis Chauvin