The beauty of a seven-hour Max Graham set is that any preconceived notions will be quashed almost immediately. Too often you head to a show or festival excited to see a DJ you love only to find their sets filled with cheap bass drops and constant chatter from the DJ. Although he is considered to be a Trance DJ, Max created a set that started with slow and deep bass lines, which eventually grew into a much-appreciated Kylie Minogue remix, and delivered an uplifting Armin tune before sneaking in some air horns and electro for the partiers.
I asked Max how he deals with the pressure to deliver to a certain genre (if you’ve seen him live you’ll know the answer to this already). Max said he pays “no attention to it. I play what I love regardless of the genre other people put it in.” Which makes for a set that is much less about crowd pleasing and more about the journey. This is much more preferable when we’re talking about seriously long sets. And although Max is no stranger to long sets having played for as long at 9 hours, it is clear he consistently puts in a lot of thought, so I asked him:
SH: How do you prepare for long sets like tonight’s?
Max Graham (MG): Well I’m very thorough with learning my music, sometimes you can get a bit snowed under with new tracks and when it comes to looking at a list of songs you can find yourself not knowing what they all sound like. I obsess over listening over and over to really get to know where they will fit best in the sets. I think knowing your music is so key when programming a long night.
SH: What about you as the DJ? Can you explain how you keep both sides of the DJ booth entertained for so long?
MG: I don’t know really, I think if you program a night right you’ll keep people’s interest. There’s no real formula, I just play what I would want to hear at that moment and luckily I’ve had amazing crowds that trust the ride that I’m on!
SH: Speaking of crowds. You have traveled to more than 67 countries in the last 10 years. That’s a lot of dance floors and what has to be millions of people from all walks of life. What is your favorite country to play and why?
MG: Argentina is probably tops for me. The crowd is very trusting and responsive and don’t really face the DJ. They just dance everywhere. It’s great!
Between Max’s seemingly constant touring and producing, he also manages to fit a massively successful radio show in there. Cycles Radio hits the air every Tuesday on Digitally Imported’s “DJ Mixes” channel from 9am PST / 12 EST / 5pm UK / 6pm CET. [www.di.fm/djmixes] Recently, we’ve been hearing a lot about Cycles Radio, mostly due to the release of the Cycles 5 compilation. Max’s website calls Cycles 5 “a true reflection of both his DJ sets and his production style.” So if you trust your DJs then you’ll want to check this out. The album has five stars on iTunes with one reviewer exclaiming that “this album is going to be huge!” I wanted to ask Max how you even begin to create a radio show like Cycles.
SH: What made you decide to start a weekly radio show?
MG: Well I was making trance but playing a much more diverse sound, and that sometimes confused people at shows. They expect to hear only trance. It’s a confusing industry to me when people equate your DJing to your producing as they are completely different art forms, but I realize it’s an inevitable part of the industry these days and because of this I felt starting a radio show would be the best way to advertise what I play. It’s grown far bigger than I expected and it’s pretty incredible.
SH: So how has Cycles changed since you first started?
MG: It’s changed as my taste changes but always keeps the one consistent thing, which is “music Max likes” haha. I understand not everyone’s taste is going to evolve with mine and some people move on to different shows and I gain new fans, but I’m always happy knowing it’s only music that I truly love.
With all that in mind, how do you decide what to play on Cycles?
MG: I search each week for whatever turns me on and try to make it fit. Some weeks it’s more Trance(y) some weeks it’s more Techno. I really just follow what I feel.
Obviously Max Graham is a DJ that follows his heart and his sound, not the pressures of an industry that is only getting bigger. And after that set at SRB in Brooklyn on March 1st I will definitely be watching out for Max in the future.
If you’re curious about that Brooklyn set, listen to the first two hours on his soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/maxgraham/max-graham-cyclesradio-151?in=maxgraham/sets/max-graham-presents-cycles
Click HERE to get Cycles 5 on iTunes.
NEW WEBSITE – http://maxgraham.com
Tour Dates: http://bit.ly/MaxGrahamOnTour
Cycles Radio: https://cyclesradio.com
TRACK Max so you don’t miss a show: http://www.bandsintown.com/MaxGraham
By Siobhán Henry