May 28, 2021
7 min read
Everyone discovers electronic music in a different way. Whether it’s a close friend showing you music at a young age, the radio playing in the car, or a chance encounter at a club, each story is unique. The first time Max Chapman fully understood that he loved electronic music was after a night out in Sydney. “[i saw] Art Department on a boat in Sydney Harbor. After I was getting in a cab and they were sitting on a curb waiting for their driver. I offered them a lift to the afterparty and I ended up spending the night with them. I played 4-5 gigs the whole time I was in Australia. I didn’t know anything about DJing but I loved it and wanted to hone my craft.”
Growing up in Essex on the South East coast of the UK, Max has been a self-proclaimed beach boy his whole life. Although there was not much of a music scene in Essex, Max still found himself immersed in the sounds of electronic music at an early age. “I was about 13 and I wanted to learn how to mix. I worked at a fish and chips shop to save money, bought some decks early on, and learned how… about 4-5 years later I got into electro.” Max didn’t think too much of music as a career until hanging out with a friend who produced music. After learning the ropes and buying some basic equipment, Max’s career as a producer began. His love for DJing quickly followed. Traveling to Southeast Asia and Australia exposed him to new sounds and when he returned to Essex, he secured a residency at a local bar on the beach.
The journey from local resident to international headliner was a lengthy one. Max was attending an event at the legendary club Sankey’s in Manchester and had a demo CD which contained what would become his first ever release. “I lost the CD. A guy found them who owned a label and he called me and said he wanted to sign all the tracks. Two weeks later it [‘Don’t Go’] got played on Radio 1 and two weeks after that I got my first gig at Sankeys. I was playing Manchester every month, slowly crept into London after that. The promoter who ran Paradise and Circoloco started putting me on lineups for Sankeys Ibiza… they still book me to this day.”
Max Chapman’s progression as a music producer has been filled with self-reflection and an ever-evolving sound. His early work had a consistent deep/minimal sound, inspired by the likes of Hot Natured, Jamie Jones, and Art Department. “I’d create a very simple bassline and then try and jack the melody in it up and down. It was a very very fun time making music then but when I look back, it sounds awful to me.”
Although his early music did not translate to a quick breakout, Max decided to start a label of his own. A bold move for an up and coming artist, Max describes it less as a business decision, and more as a gut feeling it was the right move. “If it fails it fails. So many people told me not to do that because I hadn’t put anything out yet. It’s so much more common now to do. When you have that platform and a little bit of backing, it enables you to utilize promo and distribution and work harder on the track rather than putting it into someone else’s hands.”
After a few years of consistent output, Max started to break through in 2016 with a handful of high-impact tracks and rare live show opportunities. Although it was a period of great success for Max, looking back on the era is not always fun for him. He released ‘Get Freaky’ with Elrow music, and quickly followed it with his biggest track to date, ‘La Fiesta.’ Max’s tech-house era had arrived, inspired by the sounds of Ibiza and Latin house.
“Around that time it was more about what was going on when I was out DJing. Honestly, it was one of the worst times for me in the clubs. When I go back now and listen to that music it feels boring to me and soulless but at the time I loved it and the crowds loved it. Personally, that tech house phase is the least favorite of my work. Things changed for me when I started going to Ibiza. [Club] Amnesia specifically. I heard a Spanish vocal over a tech-house tune at the club and it was influential for me. I went and made ‘La Fiesta’ in 3 hours and Jamie Jones signed it. Since then I’ve taken more time on my music. Focusing on quality over quantity.”
Although the music no longer speaks to Max, the energy and experiences remain influential. When discussing Ibiza, Max was at a loss for words. “It starts with the air that you breathe when you walk in off the plane. I know it sounds cliche… but you feel the music, you feel the moment so much better than any other place.” Around this time, Max had the opportunity to take his newfound Latin-inspired tech house sound to South America.
Max’s favorite type of set spans 2-3 hours and takes place in a large club. This reality came to life when he was booked to play Lost Beach in Ecuador, headlining the first-ever Boiler Room set at the venue. “People traveled from all over South America to come to this place. Moneteninto is a tiny town. Little surfer town in Ecuador. People came from all over the place, I don’t even know where people slept to be honest… It was amazing. It’s brilliant to be on a beach in warm temperatures. As long as it’s got a huge sound system, good lights, I’m happy.”
Despite a storied and lengthy career, Max is just now finding his groove on the production side, finally in a place where he feels he can create the kind of music he really wants to. “All I listen to when I’m not working is more melodic music… Bicep is a hero for me… When I was making tech house, I slowly started to mature and evolve and realized my music was soulless and dead. There was no feeling to it. Now I use more melody and chords and I’ve never been more in love with my own sound.” Max has even started a new alias which he has yet to unveil. He plans on releasing more melodic, emotion-filled music under that project.
For Max, a sense of direction has him feeling like the future is promising and will bring new and exciting things. “I found a new love for making music. You can hear in the ‘Dusk EP’ there’s quite a lot of emotion. I loved making that, I used a Roland 303 for the man lead. It’s such a raw clubby sound... When I make music I want to do it as if I’m playing live. Going forward I’d love to have a live piece of the show… I’d love to find someone that had a similar love for that kind of music and someone who was in tune with me.”
Although 2021 has been a quiet year so far on the release front, Max has stayed busy. He is almost finished building a home studio where he hopes to continue to hone in on his favorite sounds. He remains focused on building out his label, Resonance Records, and just released a track called ‘Together’ with George Smeddles. Max will be touring the US this fall and we cannot wait.