After gaining fame as a member of The Prodigy, Maxim is back to share with the world his musical talents, this time as a solo bass-heavy DJ/producer. His unique blend of hip hop and trap creates a distinct sound that Maxim will surely soon gain notoriety for. Infuse the lyrics of Cianna Blaze, and Maxim’s new EP Animal Anger becomes straight fire. As an introduction to both his newly found DJ path and the lyrical genius of MC Cianna Blaze, Animal Anger is the icing on any bass lover’s cake. It’s not a cookie-cutter model of commercialized trap; it’s a unique, original, and distinguished EP that is sure to define Maxim‘s sound as he takes the next steps in his career.
Before the release of Animal Anger, Your EDM had the chance to sit down on intricately decorated pillows with Maxim in a small Indian restaurant in Manhattan. As hookah smoke danced throughout the room, Maxim and I discussed his music, what it’s like working with Cianna, his favorite pre-show meal, and the transition from being a member of The Prodigy to a solo artist. Check out Wolf, Phase Me, 808, and Lucky Bitch as you peruse the interview, and be sure to grab the entire Animal Anger EP for free here to show your support!
After being a member of The Prodigy for so long, as well as being involved in a few other past solo projects, why did you decide to embark on this new DJ venture- is it an extension of your musical journey or a fresh, new path?
It’s an extension of my journey; I find it easier. There’s no pressure in doing it. It’s kind of like when you’re doing a solo album there’s so much pressure in creating it, putting the tracks together so they relate to each other, doing the artwork, scheduling a release date, and the build up and so forth. I mean it’s exciting but there is a lot of pressure involved. Whereas this way I’m writing music with a friend of mine, I’m DJing, I might write a track during the day and play it in the evening.
Your debut EP Animal Anger just dropped – what was it like working on that?
I’ve been writing music and DJing for the last year. I’ve got tracks here and there but it was just time to get a track out with my MC Cianna Blaze. She’s a really good MC. She looks good, she sounds good, and she’s got lyrics. She’s a good vocalist, so it was just time to get her in the forefront. Every track on this EP features her. And hopefully after this EP I’ll have another EP out with her doing more lyrics. So this is just kind of an introduction to Cianna, really.
So what was your inspiration for Animal Anger?
Well, her. It’s more her on the live shows. When I first started writing tracks it was just instrumentals and getting samples. Since she was such a good MC, we decided to get her in the studio to do vocals. So it was just a matter of time that having a collection of songs with her, you know we got like 7,8 songs with her so we were like ‘Well why don’t we put this out?’ Maxim featuring Cianna Blaze. So it was kind of putting her on the forefront.
What was the hardest part about working on this EP?
It’s not really that hard. (laughs). It was fun. That’s what music is supposed to be, isn’t it? Fun. I’m used to this DJ game so I’m just giving out songs as free downloads. I just want people to hear the music, get into what we’re doing, and kind of see who Cianna Blaze is as an MC and a vocalist and see who I am as a DJ. It’s about building a DJ career, I suppose, so I’m just giving the music away. It’s all fun, there’s no pressure; there’s no expectation. It’s not like, “I’ve got to get this song in the top 10,” so it’s just putting out music we enjoy and hopefully people like it and hopefully people will play it.
You just had a lot of shows around the US this fall in big cities like Chicago and Nocturnal Wonderland- did you play your new stuff? How did the crowds react?
Yeah. 90% of the set is all tunes that we’ve written. Obviously I do play the commercial side of trap- tunes to get people going, because that’s what people know. Hopefully by next year it’ll be purely Maxim & Cianna Blaze tunes. Some of them don’t go down because obviously people don’t know them. And that’s the way it is. When you’re a DJ people respond to tracks in which they know, or even if they don’t know them sometimes they get excited. So there are tracks that people don’t know that get them excited, but sometimes they’re like, “Oh, we don’t know this.” It’s a matter of time.
You’ve mentioned that the current “trap scene” has brought out your inner creativity, which inspired this new sound. What about the scene or the music helped develop it?
I just like the creativity and what people are doing in it. I like house music but I like old style house music. I like Chicago and Detroit house. I like some dubstep, but not monotonous dubstep. I’m trying to bring the dirty edge into trap because the music, which I’ve always been into, is like Public Enemy. Bass. If you come to the UK and you go to the club it’s all about sub and bass. And that’s what I’m into. So with the hip hop beats, and the Miami style beats…that’s how I describe trap. My music is just Maxim music. I’m joining influences from so many different areas, from reggae, punk, ska, hip hop, and trap and then I put dirt on top of it. I have this noise, I sprinkle dirt, and that’s me. I don’t like to categorize my own music but obviously my outlet is with the trap scene until people get to know what I’m about and who I am.
If you had to switch places for a week with one other DJ, who would it be?
Rl Grime. I like his sound. I like what he does.
Do you find it hard establishing yourself in a solo career after gaining fame from The Prodigy?
Yeah, I’m going back to zero. As much as people know I’m from The Prodigy, that’s me in The Prodigy. Doesn’t mean I get respect in another scene. I’m still a nobody in this scene.
Do you think people expect to hear The Prodigy sounds when they see you now?
Maybe people do. Admittedly when I first started to DJ, I did play a few Prodigy songs. I don’t play it now because I don’t want to get people confused. I don’t want them to think, “Oh, Maxim is a DJ and he just plays Prodigy music.” No, I‘m trying to bring something new. I’m trying to create something new for myself outside of The Prodigy. Yeah, it’s going to take people time to understand. And there are always going to be people skeptical about why I’m doing this because that’s what happens.
How do you respond to criticism from fans who expect to hear a similar sound to The Prodigy in your solo DJ career?
Let them judge me by my music and that’s it. That’s all I can say. Don’t judge me by being in The Prodigy because when I’m in The Prodigy I’m a performer, I’m an MC, I’m a vocalist. And I’m not doing that now; I’m behind the decks. I’m totally on the other end of the spectrum.
What do you think is the most important thing for aspiring DJ/producers to know?
Well, I’m the aspiring DJ so I can’t give advice! Um, as a Dj/Producer/musician I would say keep it original. Be yourself and keep it original. Don’t be a book reader, be a book writer.
What is your favorite pre-show meal?
You know what, I don’t really eat that much pre-show. I do like broccoli? I love a bit of broccoli. And after the show, just straight to the champagne. Two bottles on ice. Always.
Two bottles? I would be on the floor.