Maxxi Soundsystem on Collabo With Miami's Danny Daze and Loving the Electric Pickle
There are far too many electronic dance music artists blowing up because of sheer hype these days. Too many bedroom producers stitching tired old samples and DJ tools and saturating the market with unremarkable dancefloor fodder.
But every once on a while, we're treated to flashes of genius, like those of Maxxi Soundsystem (AKA Sam Watts), whose lush baroque disco-house gems (out on hot labels like Nervous, Hot Waves and Futureboogie this year) have been garnering near-universal praise on both sides of the Atlantic.
If you missed Maxxi Soundsystem's debut Miami gigs during WMC week, don't sleep on his headlining performance alongside Art Department's Jonny White at the Electric Pickle tonight.
Crossfade: How were you first drawn to electronic dance music? And when did you begin producing? How did you develop the slick chops you're known for in the studio?
Maxxi Soundsystem: I think I was always drawn to music that used synthesizers, like '80s synth-pop and electro, which eventually lead to dance music. I was a collector and a DJ way before I ever got seriosuly into production. Although, I should add my father is a professional composer and musician. So making music was always around me. When I decided I wanted to get into it properly, I spent alot of time with other producers watching them work and just spent all my spare time learning how to do it for myself.
We all know the UK as a seminal dance music nation. What is the scene like in your hometown of Brighton? How did growing up there shape you as an artist?
Well, I actually grew up in a smaller town called Hastings, which was also home to house music artists like John Digweed and Danny Howells. But it was when drum 'n' bass came along in the mid '90s that I was probably most influenced. I used to go to a lot of the big raves in the area.
I've now lived in Brighton for over ten years and it's a great party town, very laid back and a little bit sleazy. I was definitely influenced by local label Skint Records, in the early to mid Noughties, as well as Norman Cook's Boutique parties, which I got the chance to play for a few times, and artists like Radio Slave, Kenny Hawkes and Cagedbaby who used to live here. The latter was an act I ended up being involved in. More recently, local labels like Wolf Music (Greymatter, Medlar, and KRL) have been putting out great music.
This year you blew up practically overnight. What would you say was the the turning point?
I did? I feel like there are other artists who have had much faster trajectories, but I can imagine it can seem like that from outside. I suppose the most obvious moment was when my first Maxxi Soundsystem release "Criticize" got played by Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1.
What are the pros and cons of international recognition so far? Is there an added pressure to release better and better quality output?
Oh, I need the pressure. It just helps me work harder. I'm really enjoying the touring experience. I suppose the only real drawback is not being able to work on the road and being away from my studio for weeks. I usually work all the time.
We heard it through the grapevine that you have a collaboration project with Miami's Danny Daze in the works. What can you tell us about it?
Well, we've put together a collaboration track. It's my job to get the final version ready, actually. So I need to find some time to do that! There are no firm release plans, but we're both keen to have it before the year's is out. Really enjoy working with Danny. We have very different backgrounds, but we have quite a similar way of working in the studio.
What can fans expect from your for the rest of the year? Any forthcoming projects or releases?
Yes, got a load of stuff about to come out. I think the first one is a release on Maceo Plex's Ellum label -- a pure dancefloor record. I've also been working with a singer called Name One alot and we have quite alot of tracks that I am really pleased with. The first one of that collab will be out soon on London label Hypercolour, together with a great remix by Matthew Herbert. I've also got stuff lined up for Moda Black and Wolf Music before the end of the year.
You might be from the UK, but there is something about your bass-heavy tropical grooves that reeks of Miami. Did you feel warmly received during your gigs here last March? What were the highlights of your WMC experience?
I think working with Danny was great. And also, discovering the Electric Pickle. What a great place. The people who run that venue are in it for all the right reasons -- so genuine. I think a huge highlight was playing downstairs and having some of the bar staff offer me some of their wages to carry on playing, felt so flattered. I didn't take their money by the way!
So what can we expect at the Electric Pickle tonight? Do you have any special tricks up your sleeve for this gig?
No tricks really -- just tune into the crowd on the floor as much as possible and have fun. I feel like I'm going to be playing for friends, so will treat it as that.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Miami, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.