Interview + Exclusive Mix: Venturing deep into French techno with Maelstrom

The exclusive mix travels through Bjarki, James Ruskin, Rebekah, and more.
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Maelstrom has had an incredibly busy year, and to cap it off, he's just delivered us a stunning mix as we head into Thanksgiving this week.

On top of that, we sat down with the talented Nantes-based artist about running RAAR Records, working with Louisahhh, and his newest TREVANIAN project. 

Tracklist:

01. Monoloc - Ground Disorder

02. Sarin - Thresold

03. Maelstrom - Lithium

04. Ploy - Iron Lungs

05. Maelstrom & Louisahhh - Hurry ( Remix)

06. Echo 106 - 100M Splutter

07. Kamikaze Space Programme - Type 2

08. L/F/D/M - Elek F

09. Dax J - Understate

10. Surgeon - Floorshow

11. Rebekah - The Riddle

12. 138 - Body Rott (Revisited)

13. Sterac - Energetix

14. Somewhen - Inward

15. James Ruskin & DVS1 - Page 1

16. Bjarki - Baepolar 

Hey Maelstrom, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. We've got a mix with you today. For those that are reading the interview before listening to the mix, what can people expect from the mix? 

Hi - Lately I’ve been booked to play longer DJ sets (3 to 4h) and I often end up playing until 6 or 7am, at this point in the night/morning, I try to dig deeper into my playlist and try out unexpected combinations, take the audience to a place they wouldn’t expect me to explore. I’d say this mix is quite similar to what I would play at the Rex Club in Paris 1h before curfew

You dropped an EP with Louisahhh, a musical partner you've worked with for quite some time now. As you've continued to make music, how has working with her influenced the solo work that you do and how does the music-making process itself differ when working by yourself, versus working with her? 

Every EP we’ve done together has been wilder than the last and we’re always reminding each other that we’re not doing this work to please anyone but because we think what we do should be somehow necessary and express some truth about who we are. Working with her has influenced my solo work in the sense that it’s helped me focus more on the content of my work rather than on its shape. Actually, the way I work on my solo projects and the way I collaborate with Louisa and others has become very similar : I usually record jam sessions and focus more on the music itself than on the technical aspects, my studio is setup so that I can record every machine or source individually, so it’s easy to go back and edit the result afterwards, this way you can focus on the energy and the interaction during the recording, and then keep the best parts from the takes and rework them if needed. 

You launched RAAR and you've hit roughly the year mark with the label. What have been the biggest challenges you've faced in maintaining the label and what advice would you have for anyone that is looking to start a label of their own? 

We’ve faced challenges with almost every aspect of the process - distribution issues, manufacturing problems, and so on, but it has forced us to come up with innovative and DIY ways of making things happen. We’ve come to a point where we trust the process to take us where we’re supposed to go, with the label itself guiding us. At first we wanted everything to be done by the rules and it can be stressful meeting deadlines or trying to plan things too far ahead. Now we’re more trying to focus on what’s right in front of us, step by step, and trust that whatever happens, it will help us learn and progress. 

Running a label is a lot of work for almost no reward other than the pleasure of releasing music you feel is important and necessary, it's a true commitment to a culture. don’t do it for the wrong reasons. 

You've also started releasing work under the TREVANIAN project. How does this project differ from the rest of your releases, and could we expect more of these tracks in the coming months? 

I see it more as a hobby at the moment, a pet project. As a producer, I record hundreds of tracks every year and half of these are very far away from my work as Maelstrom. Trevanian is a way to free myself from Maelstrom and be able to release a different side of my music production. There’s no big plan for it so far, but I’ve collected many ideas so who knows, when the time is right I might take it more seriously. 

Finally, what can we expect from you in 2017?

I’ve been very busy in the studio these last 10 months, so you can expect new Maelstrom material being released early next year if all goes well. We also have a couple of RAAR releases in the works, and RAAR label nights in France and Europe.

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