Ahead of his coming “Day and Night” release, DMC Mag had the pleasure of sitting down with Max Porcelli, to find out what makes him tick, a bit more about his music, and his history and life in general.
Max Porcelli - Nikita (Original Mix)
Can you share a particularly powerful musical moment in your life and discuss how it has influenced your music?
Absolutely. It was in 1990, the first time I went to a club. I was just 14, and I was accompanied by my grandparents to this new club opening. This club has (it’s still open) 2 stages: one with a classic band playing Walzer and popular music, the other, a club. By the way, the first club in Italy equipped with one of the most powerful laser systems. JBL sound system, fog, lights… wow! I was astonished open-mouth, literally.
And there, on a console raised a meter over the dance floor, the DJ.
The engine of everything, the soul of the party.
I remember I passed that night (just a couple of hours of course, I was just 14) trying understand what the DJ was doing on the mixer, why he was moving records that way, why he was starting the record in that moment, what he was doing on the mixer.
I was literally trying to steal as much information as I could.
From that day on, every time I went to the disco, the same routine happened.
My friends seeking girls while I was stealing more info about that mysterious figure able to let the entire machine run.
Finally, I knew a very strange boy in my town with a garage, a couple of Ciare speakers, and technics, mad enough to let me use his equipment more or less every day.
Since then, I never stopped playing music, trying to gain experience, understanding and learning more and more the pure art of DJing.
Which subgenre of electronic music do you believe is underappreciated, and what factors contribute to it being overlooked?
I believe all the downtempo parts of electronic music, which I personally love.
In my humble opinion, probably because it is not as danceable as a song over 122 BPM played in a disco during peak hour.
In fact, I mostly heard this genre in the Afterhours and at the most diverse morning parties so… not exactly that mainstream or mass context reserved for other genres.
Describe an unforgettable performance you’ve given or experienced and explain what set it apart from others in your memory.
It was 2007 in a club in Slovenia that no longer exists and it was the first time I performed a live set.
At the time, live sets weren’t as frequent as they are today and that type of performance in that type of club gave me sensations and emotions that I still remember with great pleasure today.
If you had the opportunity to work with any musician, past or present, who would you choose and why are you drawn to them?
Oh yes, that man is Sam Paganini. It was around 2000 and at the time I had the determination and the immense desire to produce my very first record ever. I’ve known Sam for many years and he was already a great producer at the time. I gave him some funky house demos which he liked. At the time, to make music, I used my first personal computer and an improbable sound card. The tracks didn’t sound good at all, either due to my technical limitations, experience and audio equipment. The EP was entirely rebuilt in Sam’s studio and was later released on vinyl. It was a great experience and I still thank what I was taught at the time and which then gave the right energy in the direction of musical production.
Tell us about a particularly difficult moment in your career and how you managed to overcome it.
It was around 2004. One evening at the disco, I tried to imagine a song that dressed the club, making a difference. A few days later, I thought of a song that was just perfect. In just one afternoon, I made the remix. A bomb.
I sent it to my reference record company, who didn’t reply. After several weeks I sent it to other A&R. Again, no reply. Then personally went to another label, letting them listen to that remix. And that was the mistake. In fact, they copied the idea.
In the meantime, the first record company, realizing the potential of the remix, contacted me. Within a week (never seen that before), I had a contract, 500 promo copies, and a voice for the remix that, with significant inspiration, I edited in just an afternoon. And a new vocal version was born that, on paper, could be a classic 90s house, the ones you play today together with other well-known titles. Too much? Naaa, even today, I humbly think it is really a great track 🙂 Meanwhile, the last label I demoed this track on (and also some close friends I can’t name) stole the idea.
The result: within a few weeks, the market was saturated with remixes of the same idea. The track was the Serenissima from Rondò Veneziano, and at the time, I went out with the name Casanova Traxx. Unfortunately, the poor management of the first A&R and my naivety burned the potential of the track. I had a music crisis that lasted a couple of years, making me hate the whole compartment and the music industry.
I got out of it deciding to start from scratch and open my own record label, 989 Records. Since 2007 then, with a significant investment in time and energy, I now have great freedom (and responsibility) to avoid mistakes and frivolities like the one described above.
What is the most atypical sound you’ve ever used in a track, and how did you successfully integrate it?
A tube of Pringles.
I remember I was eating some chips watching a program on the TV.
Then, with the music from the commercial, I started following the beat at the bottom of the tube.
And I thought. Damn, it sounds!
The next day I recorded some percussions with the same Pringles tube, and “Pringle Tube” (out with one of my alias, Philip Whirlpool) was born. An energetic track, tending towards tech and, if it weren’t for the title, I could even say, a little on the tribal side too.
How has your musical style evolved over time, and what experiences or influences have driven thesechanges?
I’d like to say that, in my humble opinion, everything (or almost) is house music.
With those dirty grooves, sometimes even out of sync, superimposed melodic lines, sustained sounds, and that soul that only the club can make and highlight to the fullest.
From there, I think my style has gradually freed itself from superfluous elements, trying to filter and get to the essence of the sound.
Even if, I admit, sometimes I go back to my original comfort zone, deliberately dirtying the groove, revisiting it in a modern key.
Can you guide us through your approach to creating music, from initial concept to final product, and explain how it has developed over the years?
When I start producing a track, I try to have the dancefloor in front of me, trying to reproduce that sound, tension, and explosion in a track that makes you feel like to be at the club.
Technically, If we’re talking about an instrumental track, I usually start with the groove, then the bass line, synthesizers, and vocal samples.
If we’re talking about a vocal track, I start with the chords with a basic groove, then the bass, and so on.
Sometimes, if inspired, this routine can be reversed entirely.
Other times, I like to escape from the club scene, and I like to produce downtempo, LO-FI, or chillout tracks, where I feel free to do everything I want in a track without, let’s say, the limits that a house track can have due to its final destination, the dancefloor, and what we take for granted to listen from a peak-hour track.
However, answering the question, I think that the way of producing music has profoundly changed over the years because the means of making music have changed.
From studios full of dusty cables, huge mixers, samplers, synths, and effects to a computer, plugins, and virtual instruments.
This is good because the same technological progress is good. But if once it was the hardware that introduced new sounds and new musical trends, today, it is the software.
In your view, what is the most pressing issue facing the electronic music community today, and what steps can be taken to address it?
I would have said club attendance if you asked me this question three years ago.
But after covid, I notice that the desire to go back to living and being between people, living the club scene at the disco, has changed and is more vivid than before.
I also think returning to the small realities where people celebrate and make the party, not vice versa, imposed by commercial directives, is essential.
Although great events are crazy cool, but I believe that the true spirit of the club is outside the big businesses and kept in the small realities that can generate trends and subcultures where the luckiest ones become then trendy phenomena.
I think we are missing this.
How do you imagine electronic music will develop over the next ten years, and where do you see yourself fitting into that landscape?
Ok, to start, I hope to be here in 10 years, hahaha 😁
I don’t know, I have no idea, but I’m excited to experience this evolution.
As mentioned above, I believe that musical development will be intimately linked to technological development.
Who knows, maybe one day we will have a cyborg DJing?
Seriously, I always see myself in the studio producing because there is my world and my outlet.
What can your fans look forward to in the future regarding your music and career?
I would say consistency and expansion of the collaborations already in place with various European producers and labels.
In parallel, we are expanding the syndication of 989 Records Radio Show, currently broadcast every Sunday on Balearica Music Radio (Ibiza) and every 1st of the month on Patchouli Deep Radio (London). So stay tuned.