Maas appeal

German born DJ and producer Timo Maas is getting set to embark on his first tour of Australia since the beginning of 2001. While many of his antipodean counterparts see fit to make the trek out to Australia at least once a year, Timo’s been a little too busy of late with the release of his debut album Loud to spend 23 hours on an airplane, “Australia is such a beautiful country, but it’s so far away from the rest of the world!” And so with fond memories of his last tour still intact, ITM’s i_have_ADD managed to tie the man down for a chat.

In his 20 years of DJing Timo has played a rather diverse array of gigs, everything from headlining sets at massive European festivals and dance parties through to his uncle’s fiftieth birthday party, “I played my first DJ set in front of a crowd that was mainly friends, that was 20 years ago in September, so I’m more or less pretty old-school!” Through the 80s and early 90s Maas toiled away in German clubs, eventually hooking up with Gary D, a fellow resident at The Tunnel in Hamburg (at the time one of the biggest clubs in Germany). The pair produced Die Herdplatte, an ‘aggressive trance’ track that won Timo fans around Europe. Maas soon found himself in demand around Germany and greater Europe, fortunately by this stage he’d quit his 9-year long job as a mobile phone salesman, choosing to throw it all in for the enviable career of world renowned producer and DJ. Maas went on to produce tracks under his real name as well as various aliases including Orinoko and Kinetic A.T.O.M., on the way releasing a string of clearly recognisable club hits such as Borg Destroyer, Mama Konda, Via Nova, Der Schieber and Ubik. Maas consolidated his various productions and remixes on 2000’s retrospective mix CD Music for the Maases, winning Album of the Year in both Mixmag and Minsitry, as well as selling 60,000 copies. He followed it up with Connected in 2001, the first in the Perfecto Presents… series of mix CDs, shifting a healthy 50,000 units. I was interested to hear Maas’ opinion on his long-time coming rise to the top, “I’m doing everything the long way! It’s really only in the last couple of years that I’ve had my unexpected break through. When you’ve been doing this for as long as I have you don’t really expect too much more from life, you become used to what’s going on. But 1999/2000, well it changed everything, it changed the whole direction!”

Much to the lament of music journalists and record company executives the world over, Maas has managed to achieve something many producers and DJs spend their lives working towards: a sound that truly defies genre classification, “There are millions of DJs and producers out there, so I think the most important thing is to have your own style and be different.” In the past Maas has termed his style as “wet n’ hard”, and his straddling of various diverse genres is no more visible than his 1999 remix of Azzido Da Bass’ top 10 hit Dooms Night, arguably his most renowned work to date. Mixmag credited it as “the mix that pulls together all the different pigeonholes in the UK scene right now”, with Maas effectively covering everything from house, techno, progressive and garage, all in the one remix. Maas has also completed successful remixes for artists as diverse as Fatboy Slim, Placebo and Kelis, with his output being rather prolific in the past, “I’m pretty tuff on what I do and don’t remix now. At its peak around a year or two years ago we were offered up to 80 tracks a month, it’s now down to about 10-25. I would say now I refuse about 90-95% of all tracks we’re offered.” Considering the wide variety of styles Maas throws into his productions and DJ sets, I was interested to hear who Timo cited as musical influences, “Over time there have been many people who have influenced me musically, even if it was just my brother buying Pink Floyd or Dire Straits records, I shared a room with him so I had to listen to it! Today, I would have to say my biggest musical influence is my production partner Martin (Buttrich), because we share every musical idea. When we are sitting in the studio Martin is the only person who I know that can surprise me day after day with his talent and genius.”

Maas considers his crowning achievement a relatively recent one, the release of his debut album Loud, unleashed on an unsuspecting public early this year. It has spawned several dance floor monsters, including To Get Down and Shifter. Now, almost a year on from the albums release, I was interested to hear Timo’s opinion on the record, “Loud was about 14 months in the making. It was a fairly long process, but for me it was something very different to what I had done in the past. For an album you have to consider the whole project, this is different to just doing a single or a remix which can be done in a couple of days or weeks. Loud brings together all the musical ideas we had over a year, it reflects what we were thinking and reflects our life. It was a pretty intense process, and I’m looking forward to the next one!” I asked Timo if he had felt any pressure or expectation when working on the album to fit into a specific set of genres or styles, “Not really, I’m not a person to worry about fitting into the expectations of critics. I would say nearly everyone who first listened to the album were pretty surprised because the expectation wasn’t fulfilled. I’ve done at least 700 interviews this year, so I’ve got a pretty good idea what journalists are thinking and saying, most of them were surprised saying they’d expected the album to sound different, and that is what I like!”

After touring the globe rather extensively, I was interested to hear if Timo had anything interesting planned for his upcoming New Years tour, “I never plan my sets, which is the most important thing as every crowd is different. I just follow the vibe that I feel when I come into the room, it doesn’t matter if it’s for 30, 3,000 or 30,000 people.”

Timo Maas tour dates:

December 30th, The Falls Festival, Lorne
December 31st, Sublime NYE, Sydney
December 31st, Welcome 2003, Melbourne
January 4th, Summafieldayze, Gold Coast