Born and raised in Berlin, this twenty something's jazz, blues, rock, rare groove and hip hop influences have given his music a mature and broad minded edge, switching between and combining, house, inventive sampling and more downtempo hip hop infiltrated flavours. After a string of diversified twelve inches that he releases solo or in collaboration with good friends on labels like Heist or The Gym. Last year he released his world-wide critically acclaimed debut album Rivers Of The Red Planet on the Danish label Tartelet Records. Since then Max Graef has kept himself busy, playing stylistically wide-ranging DJ sets all over the world. When he is back in his hometown he works at Berlin’s great-equipped Oye record store and hangs out in his studio, producing music for labels like Box aus Holz and Money $ex Records, that he runs with a close group of friends. Shortly before leaving on his next US tour, Max Graef found the time to put together a mix for Carhartt WIP Radio full of his own work including some new unreleased material, complemented by a selection of tracks from his friends. Additionally we talked to him about his musical background, his approach to music making and his plans for the future.
Hello Max, can you introduce yourself shortly to our readers?
Max Graef: Hello, I'm funky M, Boogiemax20 (not 20 anymore, but still my username for certain websites) Human or Machine and Reverend G and I “will fuck this club in the pussy”. (Swedish House Mafia quote)
What is your musical background and what are your biggest musical infuences?
Max Graef: I grew up with Jimi Hendrix, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Led Zeppelin, Free and stuff like that and always a little bit of jazz. Later on jazz became my main source of inspiration and wellbeing, with playing in a shitty jazz band also. I became a huge Oscar Peterson fan and started to get a little bit deeper into jazz, funk, fusion and related with Herbie Hancock, Return to Forever, Roy Ayers and similar artists. Kind of the obvious artists but there is always a starting point I guess. Than hip hop came and a love for “rare grooves” (trying to fnd a right name and don't like the one I found) and in general records from the 1960's and 1970's. My main infuences are too many to list. All kind of artists and musicians of all kind of genres have inspired me. I like moods of certain records for example Hau Ruk by Xhol - one of my favorite records at the moment. It is jazz and blues in a very psychedelic and hypnotizing way or Blues by Breakout - I've been talking about this record in every interview I think haha.
On what future projects are you working on right now?
Max Graef: I'm working on a band project right now, which is much more complicated than I thought it would be, and an album with the concept of a very band-like feeling. These are my main concerns at the moment but we are also planning a lot of upcoming stuff for Money $ex Records which I started with Glenn Astro and Delfonic and our other labels Box aus Holz and Torben...
What are currently your main compositional- and production-challenges?
Max Graef: Currently I am trying to get better at playing the piano and the arrangement of songs. It's a big challenge for me to create a band atmosphere with the gear that I have but I guess the limitation makes it interesting. I'm putting together a lot of drum beats out of thousands of little sounds to make it sound more organic and stuff like that. As mentioned before, The Max Graef Band is my goal release - and gigwise.
Your debut album Rivers Of The Red Planet features house, hip hop and downtempo. Will you continue releasing an unclassifed mix of sound or are you planning to go more straight to one genre?
Max Graef: Genrewise I really want to explore my borders right now but I also want to focus on disco and jazz with future projects. I have no idea where that brings me but I'm excited to try it out.
(Max Graef spinning in Melbourne)
In general: Are you cautious about being put into a box?
Max Graef: I guess it's not really up to me who puts me in what box but I certainly hate it a lot. I don't feel comfortable being called a “deephouse” producer or something like that. But I can't change much so I guess I can live with it.
What kind of music would you make in a world without electricity?
Max Graef: Libanese Gamelan Music (I hope that's the correct name).
How did you select the tracks for your Carhartt WIP Radio show?
Max Graef: The mix includes only tracks by me and friends on labels by friends and myself with a couple of unreleased tracks.
Any new releases in the pipeline?
Max Graef: I did a few remixes, one for Gilles Peterson's Brazil project which just came out via Brownswood, one for Hubert Daviz on Melting Pot which is dropping soon and a couple more I am still working on. I have a track on the next Uncanny Valley various artist release and a couple of tracks for the next Torben and Box aus Holz releases...
What was your biggest hit so far?
Max Graef: Haha...hm, it's hard to say from my perspective but I consider Kaese Schinken Floete and Itzehoe my biggest hits, not necessarily my personal favorites but definitely hits in a way.
Can you remember where you first started DJing and the kind of music you were playing?
Max Graef: Yeah, we used to be into electro (not the cool electro) and tech-house for a little while haha. Me and my friends used traktor and played horrible sets at horrible parties. I am really glad we had the urge to get real at some point. Better later then never. Now we are supercool DJ's yoyo. #vinylonly . Not really haha...
Max Graef discography