Max Cooper Interview

Two weeks ago Max Cooper blessed Trade with his 2nd ever appearance in Miami. He just wrapped up a North American tour in support of his newest album Emergence off of Mesh. His performance was live rather than a DJ set and featured absolutely stunning visuals with elements tied into the concepts behind the album. He masterfully blended ambience and dance music and kept the entire crowd mesmerized while also keeping them dancing. I was lucky enough to catch up with Max and talk about some of his philosophies behind his project amongst other topics:

Let’s start by talking about the American club music scene. How’s your experience been with it so far? Where is it lacking? Where is it progressing?

America is a big place so I can’t generalise too much. I’ve had a lot of great shows there though. Similarly to Europe it’s the big hub cities with the most varied populations and cultural influences which are my favourite places to play given the open mindedness of the audiences and the options that opens up musically. I think perhaps there’s some signs that the US scene electronic music scene is younger than that in Europe, with my US shows mainly being club-based, while in Europe I sometimes play sit down shows for older lovers of electronic music who are happy to listen to techno while seated!

What are your thoughts on Miami specifically?

I’ve only visited Miami twice, but I like the feeling there, it’s a lot looser than most other US cities! Later closing times, more relaxed on the rules and well set for a fun party.

Let’s talk about your music now. How do you balance the ambient and club elements of your music without compromising either aspect?
It’s always a compromise, I just try to figure out what sort of people and what sort of event each show is, and cater as best I can musically. Usually that means playing some ambient tracks and playing some glitchy tracks early on and seeing how people respond in comparison to the more club based stuff. I struggle with short sets though as it doesn’t give much chance for testing the waters and pushing a set in the right direction, hence a lot of 6 hour sets in recent years.
Recently Throwing Snow release an interview on hyponik.com (you can read it here) where he listed 11 inspirations for his album Embers. Most of them are not music-related such as Koyaanisquatsi, complexity theory and entropy. Could you explain some abstract influences you had while making Emergence?
The whole album is a score to a visual story about the idea of emergence – that simple building blocks and processes can yield beautiful and unexpected outcomes. Each track was created to fit a specific chapter along that story as applied to a universe timeline narrative, starting from natural laws that existed before the big bang, followed by the formation of the physical universe, stars and planets, early protolife, cellular forms, complex life, humans, civilisation, the digital age and future. There are 25 chapters/concepts in total, each with a video telling the story and the music created in parallel, more than I can summarise here! But we made a website with all the information if you want to have a look – http://emergence.maxcooper.net

Could you also talk about the remixes you had done for the remix album, how did you recruit and decide on who you wanted to feature? (The album features the likes of Rival Consoles, Christian Löffler, Ash Koosha and John Tejada)

That was easy, I just got in touch with all of my favourite artists and asked who was interested, luckily for me a lot of them were, and we managed to create an amazing compilation of 10 remixes which formed it’s own LP – there’s some amazing work on there, and a big variation in styles in fitting with my musical tastes, I’m really happy with how that worked out.

What are some emerging artists or labels that you would like to put people on to?
Rob Clouth – he’s working on a big project for the Mesh label and I’m pretty excited about how that will work out. His approach to making music is totally different from everyone else, and it shows in his musical results. I’m also a big fan of Ben Lukas Boysen, his last two albums are beautiful, and have been on repeat for me during this last US tour.
Finally, what are three desert island discs that you would like to share with us? (In case you need an explanation of what a desert island disc is)
The Flashbulb – Undiscovered Colors
Ben Lukas Boysen – Only in the Dark
Philip Glass – Glassworks Opening

Keep an ear out for Max Cooper and songs off of his remix album on WVUM. Also give Emergence a listen if you haven’t done so already. Keep it locked.

 

INTERVIEW: Minor Victories

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A few months ago, I got the very special privilege to meet and interview Minor Victories at Iceland Airwaves. For those of you who are familiar, they’re a supergroup consisting of members of Slowdive, Mogwai and Editors. They released their debut self-titled album last year on Fat Possum records and have been touring ever since.

Hows it feel to be in Iceland? Is this your first time here?

Rachel Goswell: It’s my second time here. We got in quite late last night. It’s very nice, Reykjavik is very nice. I’m glad it’s not raining today because it was raining when we arrived yesterday. And last time we were in Iceland it rained as well.

Stuart Braithwate: It’s my third time here and I’m really happy to be back. I really love it here. there are a lot of similarities between Iceland and the highlands of Scotland. It’s obviously a very unique culture, great music scene, very nice people and a bunch of very expensive restaurants.

Yeah! This morning I had breakfast (with Frankie Cosmos) and all I had was juice and piece of bread with cream cheese and it cost me 1900 kronos (approx. $17).

R: I know, last time I was here was in ATP Iceland which wasn’t in Reykjavik so everything was catered and I didn’t have to spend any money on anything. and then coming here last night I was just slightly flabbergasted.

Are you guys going to have time to see any bands here? Or are you guys just in and out?

R: We’ve only got today.

Justin Lockley: Yeah back out in first thing in the morning.

R: We have a lobby call at 20 to 5.

S: I am going to see Múm, they’re one of my favorite sets of musicians so I’m really excited about that.

J: I did want to see the Sonics last night but I was far too tired so I couldn’t make it.

R: I wanted to see Dream Wives. They’re a UK band and they’re like 17 or 18 and they’re 3 girls and I think they’re pretty good actually.

Do you guys have any particularly interesting or exotic places you guys have played shows before?

R: Never exotic.

Well, to me I think Iceland is pretty exotic.

R: I always thought of exotic as being hot a tropical

(She’s right, poor choice of word on my part)

S: Mogwai played a gig in a school in a jungle in Taiwan.

R: I played in Tawian too but it was in a city, a city jungle. That wasn’t very exotic.

S: We went to India last year that was pretty exotic.

How was the turn out?

S: It was a festival so I don’t know popular we are. We weren’t as popular as Mark Ronson who was on at the same time as us. But people were there and they seemed to know the music.

How was SO36 in Berlin on Halloween?

R: We were the only ones who dressed up. None of the audience dressed up, I was a bit disappointed about that, but it was a good night.

J: It was a good night.

That’s one of my favorite venues. I studied abroad in Berlin and really enjoyed SO36.

S: Barry from Mogwai lives there and had never been there before.

R: It’s a nice venue. It’s got a lot of history and heritage.

Could you guys talk a little about the Orchestral Variations you’re putting out and how it differs from the original.

J: I think we’ve been wanting to do something like that for a long time. Originally, we did something for rough trade as a bit of an extra . we did a couple of tracks for that and it just didn’t stop we just kind of did the whole record.

S: It’s totally different. theres only a few elements from the original record. it’s really just a rearrangement.

J: It’s just a stripped down arrangement. You can really hear the strings on this project more.

It’s not yet, right? When’s it coming out?

J: It’s getting released in North America Nov 25th and then everywhere Jan 27th.

Is there anything else you guys are working on? Any side-side-projects or is it only Minor Victories for now?

R: I don’t think I’ve got time for any more side-side projects.

S: Well you’ve got the Slowdive record coming out next.

R: Well, that’s not a side-side project.

Main Projects too, just anything cool you guys are working on.

S: Mogwai are going to start a record in a couple of weeks.

R: Slowdives will be finished in a weeks time. The announcement will be coming soon and hopefully will be out in May.

Me: [screaming internally]

Mogwai just made a film score for Atomic earlier in the year. If you had to make a soundtrack as Minor Victories, what time of movie do you think it would be?

R: Slasher film.

J: Well-paid.

S: A Blockbuster (laughs). But I don’t know just something good, something we’re all interested in.

J: We’re open to offers, contact us.

Being a super-group comprised of three other groups. What’re some of your guys’ favorite super-groups?

S: I like the bad the Sisterhood which Andre Eldritch from the Sisters of Mercy did with Alan Vega from Suicide.

R: I like The Creatures but that’s not really a super-group, that’s just half of Siouxse and the Banshees.

S: I also like The Glove with Robert Smith and Steven Severin. I also like that Jay-Z and Kanye West album, that’s a super-group.

Last question, since you guys all come from really influential bands. Are they any bands that have cited you guys as influences that you enjoy?

S: A lot of bands that I grew up listening to have said nice stuff about my music, including The Cure.

R: Me included.

S: Yes, Rach is #1. As far as new music bands, I don’t really know. There’s tons of bands that say nice things about music and it’s always surprising.

R: I don’t know. It’s tough for me to say because I don’t really listen to shoegaze.

J: Vengaboys.

Listen to Give Up The Ghost off of their new Orchestral Variations album here and also check out Slowdive’s NEW track here. Wanna read more about my Iceland trip? Then check out my Iceland Airwaves Recap here!