TF Archives

Max Graham interview

Author: Terry Goldfain
Monday, December 5, 2005
Dance music journalists are a solitary bunch, spending most of our working life huddled over home computers, or conducting phone interviews with Djs. However, the rare opportunities we have to congregate are as gossip-laden as any water-cooler session. Of course, comparing recent interview subjects is a popular topic, perhaps summarized best (with a nod to Clint Eastood's 'The Good, the Bad and The Ugly' and a bit of poetic license) as 'The Arrogant, The Eloquent and the Ugly'. Many interviewees don't have the media experience to vocalize their musical passion, while the media savvy DJs are so slick that their answers sound more like a press release. Well, Canadian DJ and producer, Max Graham's, ears must be burning as I have been raving about him to all that will listen. Well spoken, down to earth, intelligent and informative, at the risk of me sounding like I sycophant, he is a journalist's ideal interview subject. Luckily, I'm in good company and with a chart topping rework of Yes's Owner of a Lonely Heart, recent track signings and a new compilation all following in quick succession, he's currently one of the hottest names in dance music.

"It began as a something I did for myself to play, and I gave a copy to a few people like Deep Dish and Pete Tong as a way of saying thanks for the great support they've given me," he explains of the Max Graham vs Yes bootleg's humble beginnings. ".I never thought it would be licensed and come out as for that to happen it has to be approved by Yes's four or five writers, multiple managers, lawyers and the label staff. But I passed it on to Warner anyway, they gave it to the band, and everyone liked it which was amazing. It was a bit of a headache to get it all done, but everyone was on the same page and saw the potential for this song to go really big."

With his stylish fusing of the original vocals with guitar riffs and deep chugging bassline, it is no wonder that Owner of a Lonely Heart is a highlight of Graham's latest compilation, the most recent in the DMC Mixmag Live series. The series place in dance music history is already assured, given that Dave Seaman and Carl Cox's Mixmag Live volume in 1991 was the world's first legal DJ mix compilation. Since then the series reputation has been enhanced by such names as Sasha, Laurent Garnier, LTJ Bukem, Hype and Tom Middleton. "The label approached me as they felt the timing was right, due to the exposure that the Yes record has given me, to showcase a sound that truly represents me. I used to be considered a trance DJ, and that kind of sent me down the wrong path because I wasn't really playing trance. So the trance clubs wouldn't book me and all the other clubs thought I played trance so wouldn't book me either."

"I was flattered to get the opportunity to mix this CD, and see it as a good sign that I'm doing something right if compilation series like this are paying attention. It was somewhat of a coming of age for me, as was mixing a 'Transport' compilation in 2001. They changed the name from 'Tranceport' to 'Transport' because I really wasn't a trance DJ, but I think that still went over people's heads. Perception is always tough to change once you have people thinking they know what type of sound you play."

Graham's DMC Mixmag Live compilation will go a long way in disposing of this misconception, the mix book ended by the break-beat styling of KiloWatts and includes such diverse artists as Funk Harmony, Steve Porter, Chab and Kaskade. "It's impossible to break a sound down and say that the CD is definitively one style, as everybody has such a different idea of terminology," muses Graham. "You've got my track Automatic Weapon on there that is really pumping. Then you've got Kaskade who are considered deep house, but I think it fits right in with the CD because it has the same kind of Deep Dish vibe to it. The last track is KiloWatt's break-beat guitar piece which doesn't fit in with the house vibe, but listeners d