The Attack of Max Cooper's Potato
Reported by Alan-Banks
Submitted 20-03-07 08:14
Leaving a trail of VIPís (Very Impressed People) in his wake before notching up a Mixmag Future Hero award, Max Cooper is one name you should be making sure of seeing. 6 decks and 2 mixers can be a sight to behold in itself but weíre talking about one person controlling them all at the same time. Not possible you cry, so come with us and find out about this entertainer touched by the avant-garde!
Of course being a potato aficionado has certainly driven his music to another level. Indeed you might be able to match that level if youíve been blessed with eight arms but until such time that you actually turn into an octopus you might as well make your way down to FUndamental at Party Proactive this Saturday for his set. First though we thought weíd help you brush up on his skills by presenting his thoughts on killing furbyís, Max Hedroom and defrosting chickens.
FU: Max Cooper, Mixmag Future Hero, 4 deck Wizard. Where did it all start for you on your path to becoming a DJ?
It all started back when I was a wee potato living in my potato patch. I had heard rumours of a world outside of the potato patch, but I didnít believe it was true. Then one night DJ Craze and Plus 1 came and minced all the potatoís with their crazy turntablist skills. I was already into electronic potato music at that point, so I decided to combine this with a hiphop turntablist approach to DJing.
FU: Youíve played all over the world in some of the most amazing clubs. Which one will stick in your mind for the rest of your life?
Itís not exactly exotic, but itís my favourite club in the world Ė The Ballroom, otherwise known as the Marcus Garvey in Nottingham. Itís been hosting some of the biggest names in electronic music since back in the 80ís but has somehow managed to stay out of the mainstream, probably because of itís location outside the city centre. Thatís why I like it so much, the people that go to the venue go because of the music, and not because itís a brand. I think a lot of clubs get too famous, and they lose something because of it. The Ballroom is basically like a massive house party with 1000 people in a big room, anything goes.
FU: You run a live act called Max Hedroom. Could you explain the ins and outs to those who have yet to experience it?
Max Hedroom is basically a long term production collaboration between myself, Gaz Williams (aka Raw Hedroom) and Mark Seavers (aka Mr Seavers). The live show is the performance of our productions with all the toys we call our studio equipment. Gaz is the main hardware geek, so he brings out his Moog and Juno synths, working with Ableton live and the Jazzmutant Lemur (an amazing bit of kit). I like to stick to the decks for the show, getting involved with some abstract scratching that feeds back through our MaxMSP patches. The ultimate aim is to use my scratching to control synth patches via Ms. Pinky, which is a Final Scatch type piece of software that can be programmed via MaxMSP. Mark generally runs around on stage making horrible noises and killing Furbyís with drills.
FU: What are the future plans for Max Cooper?
Itís all productions for me at the moment. I have just signed to Evolved records and Firefly records, and have 10 or more tracks (including remixes) out in the next couple of months. Iím planning on keeping up the same intensity on the productions for some time, itís the only way to make an impact these days. The first release on evolved is out in few days on the 15th of March Ė Thrash Jelly presents Max Cooper Ė One Is None. Itís a quite accessible electro-house release which will be followed at the end of April on Evolved records by my more minimal/techno sound.
FU: Youíre headlining the FUndamental room at Party Proactive. What can we expect from Max Cooper on the night?
If I can fit it all in, Iím going to be playing off 4 vinyl decks, 2 cd decks and 2 mixers. This means I can have 2 decks free for juggling while mixing off the rest. I really enjoy these types of sets because I can basically go mental and start trying new things while Iím playing, it should make for an entertaining show, although sometimes I get confused and my head explodes, people arenít too happy when that happens.
FU: Whatís the strangest request youíve had whilst DJing?
Once someone asked if I would help them find their frying pan, because the chicken was defrosted and ready to cook, and if they didnít find it soon Mrs Worthington would be very disappointed. I thought that was quite strange.
FU: Over the last year there has been resurgence in dance music with new nights popping up and new exciting producers breaking through. Who and what have been the highlights for you in the last year?
First off, I agree, I have definitely noticed the numbers and diversity of nights picking up as of recent. The highlight for me has been at my longest standing residency at Firefly, which is expanding at a scary rate. From a Nottingham based night with a loyal following it, has now become a sellout event running the biggest parties in the biggest venues in the biggest cities. And then thereís the ridiculous festival stage (at 070707 festival), with a lineup so silly it made my gran pickle her socks!
FU: Youíre known for your tricks and skills behind the decks. What is your ideal set up and have you embraced the digital generation such as CDJís and Ableton etc?
Definitely, Iím playing a lot off CDJís these days, but Iím still keeping the vinyl alive, itís still the best for scratching and juggling. I find that people donít like it as much when Iím scratching off CDJís for example, because they can never be sure how much Iím really doing, and how much the machine is doing for me. I use Ableton for production, but am yet to incorporate it into my DJ sets. Itís something I may do in future, but only alongside the decks as I find some bloke staring at his laptop for 2 hours a bit of a dull show. Unless of course like Raw Hedroom they have a Lemur Ė a touch screen control surface that brings an Ableton set to life.
FU: It shows that you must practice for hours on end to hone those skills. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become an all round entertainer/DJ?
Work harder than everyone else. Itís the only way to get ahead. Or maybe the all round entertainer would be able to DJ, then do some stand up, and finish off the show with some pole dancing. Thatís the future, you would have to be able to swallow knives as well, and make a pack of cards disappear while doing an upside down levitating elbow scratch.
FU: With the top 100 awards getting bigger and bigger, some would say it widens the gap between the big boys and those trying to make their mark on the scene. What are your thoughts on this?
These things drum up extra interest in the scene which can only be a good thing in my mind, and if youíre talking top 100 then I think thereís enough space for some smaller acts to get press alongside the bigger names.
FU: The internet and technology has transformed the way DJís operate. With MySpace, Pod-casting and laptop performances, how do you think the roll of the DJ has been changed?
I remember when I would spend weeks of my life tracking down an amazing vinyl that would be my most precious possession. These days everyone has access to the same music so it can be harder to define your own sound. And as you mention, all the new communications technology means that DJs have to be on the ball and up to date with their promotional technique. Gone are the days when it was all about who could get the most hammered and break the decks.
FU: What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a train driver, but then my dream was shattered when I grew up and realised it would be shite.
FU: Party Proactive and Fundamental have truly made their mark on London clubbing over the last year. What have you heard about the two parties?
Iíve heard that they smash it every time, say no more.
FU: Cheers for your time. One final question, will you be staying behind for a bit of a party after your set?
I wonít be able to avoid getting involved in the party after my set, my gran and the rest of the bingo team are coming along so will be a mad one. No doubt Ethel and Gretna will be fighting over Steelo again too.
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