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Timo Maas: Expect The Unexpected

Jordan Smith gives Timo Maas a surprise interview for breakfast.

When will management learn? Rule number one – don't organise a DJ interview in the AM. A cordial but slightly baffled Timo Maas answered my 10am call from his home in Germany, having only just flown in late the night before and most definitely not remembering that he had an interview that day. “Sure I'm up for it, I'll just roll myself a cigarette and go outside,” he assured me. “I just came back from a weekend in Italy and Mallorca so I'm like ‘er - er – er' … But I've had my coffee it's all good.” Praising the caffeine gods I rolled on with the interview of the long-time eclectic producer, house and techno DJ, Rockets and Ponies label head, Ibiza lover, DC10 loyalist and extremely nice fellow.

You played Used + Abused at Ushuaia Ibiza in July and the line-up that week was very strong, so I was wondering how does the company that you keep on the line-up affect your night, if it all?

"Only a little bit. I'm DJing so many years already and it always depends what kind of venue I'm playing, what kind of party I'm playing... at Used + Abused I pretty much played my normal set, in fact I was just listening to parts of the set just before you called and I think this is pretty much reflecting what I'm doing. Obviously I played a bit earlier, so everything was slower and deeper and more intense. But yeah - great event, I had a really, really good night. To make a long story short, I really enjoyed myself there!"

How does a Loco Dice party at Ushuaia compare to an Ants party at Ushuaia?

"Yeah it's a complete difference because the majority of the ANTS party is in the back part of Ushuaia in the garden area. When you play there it definitely has a more [hesitantly] underground feel – I mean obviously what the fuck is underground – but it has a more intimate feeling, you know the people are close. It's a great sound system there and it has for me a bit of a beach character, even though the beach is a few metres away. Playing at the back end of Ushuaïa is intimate, whilst playing the stage is intense - it has the feeling of a festival, something like that. It's more pushing, with the dry ice cannons, the big walls of speakers and this is a little bit more right in your face. But both - I love to play both."

There has been a lot of overlap on line-ups this season, and with every DJ making guest appearances all over the island you often see the same names on many different lists… Do you think there is any value in DJs maintaining a loyalty to one specific club in Ibiza?

"Playing Ushuaia this year is for me quite a big thing, because I have been loyal for many of the past years in just playing only DC10. I would only play three gigs a year or so and I would only play DC10. But I played Ushuaïa twice already and I'll do another one towards the end of the season. So I guess this is what the market is there at the moment. I realised in the end of the day when you overlook the line-ups many DJs play six or seven different venues over the whole season; they play every week and the crowds change every week due to the fact that this is a holiday resort."

"I still like a little exclusivity, it just makes the focus a bit stronger, but then on the other hand like I said the crowds are changing every week and the very successful DJs try to serve as many as they can for the business. The season is only about 16 or 18 weeks on the island so everybody wants to have a little piece of the cake basically. As the island has changed so drastically in the past years I somehow understand it, because besides the artistic approach it's a business too and Ibiza is in certain places a pretty good summer business for everyone."

Have you felt a change this season at DC10, or is it business as usual?

"It's business as usual but the business is stronger. I attended the opening party and it was nuts - DC10 is going from highlight to absolute highlight. For me it's still the club on the island. The most original, unique experience you can have when you go to Ibiza. When you want the underground, the fresh sounds, new talent and this special feeling - there is no other place like DC10. Obviously Ushuaïa is extremely good, undoubtedly, but it's a different approach, even though the line-ups on certain parties can be quite similar… But DC10 is DC10, it's such an institution on such a high level, I think they don't have to worry about anything."

"In fact you know the Asterix comics? Asterix comics are the old school comics from France and in the Asterix comics there is this little village in the big country of France and this village is completely indestructible, completely independent and the revolutionary guys are living there and this is like DC10 basically for Ibiza. For me it's like in the Asterix comics: they are strong, they do their own thing, they follow their own way and I think it's the right concept. They have such a good sense of what they are making – all the big guys of today they all went through DC10 and there's a good reason for that, because they're really great at discovering what could be the music of tomorrow. Big respect."

You've obviously seen Ibiza change a lot in the ten years you've held a residency, that's a given, but how do you think your work in Ibiza has changed and influenced you?

"First of all I love the island, I just love this spot. It's a perfect climate; it's great in the summer and even better in the winter when it's a bit quiet. It's a beautiful island and it's the melting point for electronic music worldwide. What's going on here in the 18 weeks of the season is going to control the global electronic scene until the next summer. This is what's going on in the past fifteen years and this is what will go on in the future, it's just such an important place. And the environment here, the sun and people from everywhere in the world coming to this island… it has a very strong influence on everyone, not just me. Everyone who loves music, and electronic music, surely tries to get to Ibiza. It's just ridiculously expensive! I really have to say the past four years the prices are really going up. We play the underground, but we play 5000 people clubs; we play the underground, but we also get big zeros from it. Anyway, the environment is unique, I've been in nearly 90 countries all around the world so far in my career but there's nothing like Ibiza."

I read that you and Santos want to give complete creative freedom to any artists on your Rockets and Ponies label – have you always had the same freedom in your experience with labels?

"I would say, yeah. I mean I always took the freedom - let's say it like that! There were times when I would get a remix request and people push me in certain directions on how to produce this remix, so I deny those remixes. I don't want to be artistically pushed into a frame which I don't belong to. A few months ago I released my album Lifer and if you listen to it it's very diverse. I'm just trying new things out. After more than thirty years being a DJ and producing for nearly twenty years I think I'm in that age now where I probably experiment more than used to in the past. I just do my thing together with Santos and what we are up for, what we are really keen on is quality music, something that is different – however you describe different. Something with a different vibe, a different approach and maybe pushing boundaries."

"With the Katie Cruel release we are having right now, we are releasing an artist more into the alternative field. We just love her music, we think the artist is amazing and we just want to give the right platform to someone who has the open musical mind that we do. So there's some very interesting stuff coming out in the future, we have some very cool things in the pipeline that some people would definitely not expect from us. But this is the thing - with me anyways – expect the unexpected. This is the only thing you should expect."

Are those unexpected productions coming from yourself, or are you hinting at other artists you'll be releasing on your label?

"It's other artists this time, the next release is a guy called Wolfgang Haffner. he's a jazz drummer based on Ibiza. We come with remixes for his jazz project, we have Nightmares on Wax and Ricardo Villalobos on remix duties over there. Then we have another very strong Santos record also in the pipeline and in fact before we started the interview I was chatting with santos and he's finally back from his Italian two month holiday."

Two months! Alright for some…

"Yeah Italians don't work in July and August, it's impossible [to make them]. I tried so often but it's impossible. However he's back from holidays and next week we're going to go back to the studio, we have a lot of remixes to do for several artists. On the other hand I was collecting loads of ideas and I'm pretty sure Santos did the same thing over the summer regarding new songs and new tracks and I'm very clearly working and thinking about new album projects at the moment, so I'm very much looking forward to seeing him and to go back to the studio and do some new shit that is going to be again quite surprising. Because in my mind I want to do something strange again, I like strange music [chuckles]."

Words by Jordan Smith

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