It’s rare and pleasant when a crossover is executed successfully, like when an artist makes that perfect transition from one genre to another without skipping a beat. Maximono pulled off this kind of a fluid transition, switching from drum & bass to house music just as the dance music scene was beginning to find its step with the more low end driven side of house. It was probably his background in heavier styles that enabled Maximono to not only embrace this sound with such passion but also to rise so quickly. This Ain’t Bristol was founded shortly after this transition alongside label mainstay and co-founder Billy Kenny. In no time, This Ain’t Bristol became a household name in dance music. In the four years since they released their first “Selections” compilation, This Ain’t Bristol has remained at the forefront of house music, and arguably was instrumental in forming a foundation for the massive move for more groove on the dancefloor.
We caught up with the man who helped found one of house music’s favorite labels to chat about collaboration, finding balance with a 9-5 and being a globe-trotting DJ, and hamburgers.
You recently did a tune with Marten Hørger, who’s been causing quite a stir as of late. Can you talk about working with him in the studio and how that whole thing came about?
I’ve met Marten only about a year ago in Miami (MMW 2018) at our label showcase at Treehouse. There was instant chemistry. Apart from being both German, we have so many things in common. He’s crossed over from the breakbeat scene to house which is pretty much the same path I had taken a couple of years ago when I stopped doing drum & bass to enter the house music scene. So after finding out all these parallels and just having a great time together, we decided to jump on a couple of tracks. The tracks came together super quick and natural which is the most important thing when I collaborate with someone. We signed “So High“ to In/Rotation and “Loco“ to Be Rich Records in Australia. ”So High“ is still getting played a lot and has brought us a nice sync deal for a Marvel series called “Cloak and Dagger.“
You’ve collaborated with artists from all across the board, what was is it about collaboration that you enjoy so much?
The whole point of collaborating is to force me to push my sound to new territories and [break down] certain borders in my mind. As soon as I find someone I feel [I can] do something new and special with, it’s a go! It automatically pushes you to a new level. That’s why I try to make sure the artists I’ve involved in the Maximono & Friends project are as diverse as possible. Also making music is a constant process of learning new things which is way more fun to do on a real project than just watching YouTube tutorials.
Besides touring and producing you also hold down a day job as CEO of Appvisory. How do find balance between the two?
Add the label owner role for This Ain’t Bristol and you’ve got three jobs. Welcome to my everyday challenge! For years I tried hard to separate these worlds from each other because I was afraid the stakeholders in each business weren’t really going together well. But after doing it for some years now I’ve started to realize how these different jobs and worlds actually help each other. This contrast is basically my fuel to function as I take so much motivation out of each of the three jobs. I’ve learned a lot from each of them and they’ve each helped me do the others better. Also doing more than one thing helps to keep the pressure away, which I think is poison for a creative job. Of course, the downside of all this is the lack of time as my days have only 24 hours. So I’m trying to handle these things as best as I can. The IT stuff happens in Europe mostly whereas Maximono and This Ain’t Bristol are global so there’s basically something popping up 24/7 due to the different time zones. But it’s fine and I love being busy. At the same time, I’m glad I’ve managed to find a way of making way for my private life too, which was my biggest challenge to date.
Do they each provide stimulation for different aspects of your personality?
They absolutely do. Every job needs different skills all the time. For example, running the IT company with around 25 employees is something I’ve never forced, it just grew [organically]. Now I’m in the position of leading these people and motivating them to do the best job they can. I’m responsible for their jobs and financial situations which has allowed me grow up a lot quicker than if I was just a DJ and producer with mainly the responsibility for myself or just the few people around me. On the music business side of things, there are totally different aspects of my personality that I need to bring in. It’s all a big challenge and I love challenges and improving myself.
Speaking of which, both in tech and music there is a lot of focus on success, yet people fail to realize the amount of failure that has made that success possible.
I’m failing on a daily basis, most of the things are luckily just small mistakes. The most successful people are the ones that are constantly making mistakes but learning from them super quick. Some of my biggest failures and weaknesses in both worlds are that I can’t say “No,“ always naively believing in the good in people. But that’s just my personality. It constantly puts me into difficult situations, but I still wouldn’t try to change it. Another thing where I’ve often failed in the past is finding the balance between being too optimistic vs. too pessimistic.
How are these kinds of experiences important to you?
I often refer to Steve Jobs’ quote “Stay Foolish“ as it’s important and inevitable to make mistakes in order to find new ways and solutions and to reinvent yourself, which is essential in the music industry in particular. The ones that learn quicker from their mistakes are the ones that are going to be successful.
You have a heavy background in D&B and are also heavily influenced by hip-hop.
That’s true but I’d say I’m generally influenced by a whole lot of different music that is not house. I listen to a lot of soul, funk, hip-hop, trap and even ambient and classical music. I go to a lot of concerts and always try to stay open for any music that has a soul and depth. Speaking of electronic influences, before I got into drum & bass in the mid-late 90s, I collected and played acid, hardcore and techno. But I’ve simply spent the longest time of my life doing drum & bass and jungle so far.
I hear you play a lot of UNO.
I love playing analog games in this digital world as much as I can. To be honest it’s getting less and less but I still try and keep it up, especially during the quiet time of the year around Christmas or when I’m on vacation.
You’ve said that In-N-Out isn’t your thing, so what’s your go-to American food or the best place you’ve eaten while in the states?
That’s true, I mean I love burgers but In-N-Out is super overhyped for me. There are so many better places to have a sick ass burger. But I’d say my go-to food when I’m in America is Korean BBQ (Asian food always catches me in general). I love Vietnamese and Thai too. Apart from that, I’d say Brazilian Steakhouses. In general, food in America is dope if you spend some extra time finding good places.