Next up in the Ticket Arena In Conversation series, we speak to tech house star and Resonance Records boss Max Chapman. A prolific producer whose quick ascent from obscurity to high-demand appears to still be gaining pace, Chapman has earned himself bookings alongside many of underground dance music’s biggest stars, and will be playing in Amsterdam, London, Manchester and further afield over the coming months.
Having enjoyed a lucrative year in 2016, it looks like there are big things on the horizon for Max Chapman, who will take to stages up and down the country again this year as his profile as a DJ continues to rise. Here’s what he had to say as we talked to him about the year behind, the year ahead and an unplanned entry into dance music.
Hi Max, it seems like 2016 was a big year for you; how do you view it looking back?
2016 was definitely one of the most exciting times of my career so far. From releasing an album, to getting a Beatport #1 with BodyJack. I played some incredible shows all over the world at venues I only dreamed of playing when I was younger. My Boiler Room show at Lost Beach in Ecuador was a highlight, as well as seeing the new year in at Fabric in Barcelona and playing some really cool festivals like Pur, HU1 and We Are FSTVL. Can’t wait to see what the future has in store…
Who are your musical influences?
In terms of DJing, I’m a big fan of the likes of The Martinez Brothers, Cuartero and Jamie Jones. They have a great sound, and always create a big party atmosphere behind the decks. From a musical point of view, I like to listen to Ludovico Einaudi and Hans Zimmer. I like to deconstruct classical music and get myself in the zone of listening to orchestral music. From strings to percussion, I find the whole process of writing and performing fascinating.
Whilst a lot of producers have been playing around with production since they were kids, your entry into production came a little later via a visit to a friend’s studio. Were you always on the search for new dance music or was that visit the catalyst for your love of DJing as well?
The day I walked into that studio I didn’t even know what dance music was, it was a whole new world to me. I loved the equipment, the speakers, decks, mixer, synths, everything just looked cool to me. I went out and bought everything I thought I needed and it all started there. I’ve not stopped messing about with the equipment since I took it out of the box!
You really didn’t waste any time once you’d got involved in making music, releasing your first tracks in September 2012, just months after you’d started. Would you say that production comes quite naturally to you?
I’ve always said the studio is one of my favourite places to be, it’s my natural habit for sure. I love experimenting with different sounds and challenging myself to evolve as much as possible. Some tracks just seem to work naturally, others can take time and lots of revisits. Every studio session is different, I love the unpredictability of what will happen.
You’ve also been busy on the label side of things, with loads of releases on your Resonance Records imprint since it dropped Resonance Records Records Vol. 1. Which tracks are you most proud to have released?
There have been some amazing tracks released on Resonance, but three that stick out are:
Waff – Space InvadaZ
Michael Jansons – Tunnel Vision (Richy Ahmed Remix)
Majesty – Second Wind (Latmun Remix)
Resonance is a digital only label - is vinyl something that you are interested in or is it not really something that you’d look to get involved in?
I would love to delve into releasing on vinyl at some point, but I have to look at the label from a business point of view and unfortunately now isn’t the time to do it. We’re really lucky to have all of the resources we need online, and at the minute it’s working well for us!
Last year you played at Ecuador’s first ever Boiler Room show. Ecuador isn’t known as one of the go-to locations for house music, so how did you find the clubbing culture there?
It was absolutely amazing. As I mentioned earlier, definitely one of my career highlights so far, if not my favourite gig to date. The people were so hospitable and lovely, from the moment I arrived to the moment I left they were so welcoming. There was such a buzz about the place, the setting was amazing and the crowd were more than up for it. A great atmosphere and I’d love to get back over there and play again!
Tell us a bit about your forthcoming release on Toolroom.
Really excited for this one. The ideas started as most of my tracks do, just playing around in the studio. I knew I wanted a chunky bass line with plenty of percussion going on, so I experimented for a while and out came two tracks that I’m really proud of. It’s coming out on the 10th and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.
Your upcoming shows include the Cutting Edge Amsterdam Weekender and Promised Land & Funkinyou, with a slot at Parklife Festival also secured for the summer. How exciting is the year ahead?
So far so good! I started the new year at the Albert Hall in Manchester with Kaluki, that was a great benchmark to start 2017 with. Really excited to play on big stages with some of my biggest influences, as well as hopefully travelling to places I haven’t played before. I’m also playing at a DJ Mag Live Stream next week which will be really cool, and I’m looking forward to getting behind the decks at Fabric after everything that’s happened. Some really good shows coming up over the next few months for sure.
You’ve carved out a pretty strong identity with your releases, with cleanly produced tech house slammers clearly your forte. Can you give us a track that shows off some of your tastes outside of house music?
I’d say The Chemical Brothers – "Life Is Sweet". I used to listen to this before I knew what house music was, so I guess it brings out my origins and first impressions of production.
Max plays at Panama, Amsterdam for the Cutting Edge Amsterdam Weekender at the start of March, but can also be caught at Egg London for the Promised Land & Funkinyou Easter special on Sunday 16th April. He will also appear at Parklife Festival, which takes place at Manchester’s Heaton Park on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th June.
Interview by Andrew Kemp
Photo courtesy of Max Chapman