That's right Kandies...there's only one Max Cooper! And take it from us, one is all you need to help make an incredible record. We managed to track him down and force him to hand over the secrets behind his breathtaking remix of Hiatus' 'Third' as featured on our latest release Winter Chill. Not only that, but we also managed to quiz him on all things life; from his typical day-to-day routine through to the social-neccessity of parsnips...we proudly present to you, Max Cooper.
1. Tell us about Max Cooper and where it all began?
It's a can of worms. Did I begin when I was conceived or at some hard to define point when I first had a certain level of brain function? I don't want to offend anyone here. I'll just stick to the beginning of the music making thing, but I can't bring myself to talk about my first record and early days in Belfast, so I'll just provide the fictitious DJ fairytale story that seemed to have happened to everyone in the 90’s – I was at this massive 20,000 people festival stage waiting to see Carl Oakenfold (the biggest DJ of the time), and he didn’t turn up. Someone shouted “oi you there, with the bag of records, get on here quick because there’s no one else to play!” I smashed it even though I’d only ever used a belt drive turntable before, and within a week’s time I was touring the world in a private jet with 10 Swedish supermodels…
2. Walk us through a typical day in your life?
Get up late (I'm completely not a morning person), work all day in the studio between short eating breaks, work all night in the studio and go to bed sometime the next morning with ringing in my ears (beware the tinnitus!).
3. Do you prefer remixing or producing records?
I think there's a deeper satisfaction in creating your own record from scratch, but remixes can be more fun on a pure enjoyment level when you have some amazing parts to work with - you basically just get to cut out part of the initial ideas phase which can sometimes be laborious, and jump straight to the fun part where you want to dance around in the studio with a slight paranoia in the back of your mind that someone might be able to see you.
4. What equipment do you use when you are remixing/producing tracks?
I use Genelec 8040 monitors, some controllers (midi keyboard, Akai APC40 and Kapture and Lemur apps for iPad from Liine), a focusrite audio interface and then just lots of software (no analogue gear for me) - Ableton live plus it's synths, mainly operator, NI stuff like Absynth, Reaktor, Guitar Rig, Razor and Massive, Synthogy Grands, Ableton's orchestral strings, Synplant, and Max for Live.
5. Describe your remix of ‘Hiatus – Third’ on the new Hed Kandi Winter Chill Album
This track was a good example of how inspiration is key to good remixing for me. I was at the last ever Firefly at the Garvey in Nottingham last year, an 11 year running techno night in the city which myself and a lot of my friends had been involved in over the years. For the event some of us rented a country house nearby to make the most of the last regular weekend in the city, and at the afterparty I put on a modern classical mix a friend (JamBon) had given me at a gig in Dublin. The original Hiatus track came on and it really grabbed me, I couldn't get it out of my head for the next couple of days, until I finally realised that it sounded very much like something by a another friend of mine. I did a quick search and discovered that it was indeed by my friend Hiatus, so I immediately got in touch asking for the parts, and stayed up for the next two days making the remix in almost a single extended sitting - I think when I'm so into a track like, catching the inspiration just at the right time, it's much easier to see what to do with a remix, and the whole process seems to flow much better. Also the original melodic parts were so strong I didn't want to change them much, all I wanted to do was try and enhance the feel and add some of my own flavour, which is always a much easier remix job than doing something where you have to change the original drastically. So I changed the structure, added a strings section midway, my drums, effects and processing, and it was almost there.
6. What’s been your proudest moment in your music career?
I think it was probably when I first got signed to Traum back at the end of 2008. I had been struggling for so long to learn to produce and to make my tracks of a good enough standard, and that was when I finally achieved my goal of getting good enough technically, and finding a strong label I could express myself on. From that point on I knew I could make it all work if I just put the effort in, but before then it was always a maybe.
7. What’s in the diary for you in 2012?
I've got a US/Canada tour starting this week, then back home to work on an album, lots of great looking dates and some awesome festivals booked in for the summer which I get in trouble for talking about before they release their official lineups. I've also just finished my next EP for Traum to go out in spring, plus I have my collaboration with Michael Nyman coming soon.
8. When all the partying is over, How do you like to chill out?
I come home and hang out with my housemates, eat good food, good wine, good craic.
9. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out the industry?
It's very easy to have your efforts lead astray in unfruitful directions by other people’s agendas, especially early on, so I find it best to work towards clearly defined goals, and put your efforts into things with tangible measures of progress if possible.
5 Quick Fire Questions
1. Top Track on your iPod at the moment?
Vaetxh – List of lists
2. Favourite winter activity?
3. If you weren’t in the music industry and had to choose one of the following career paths, which would you follow and why? Penguin Carer, Professional snowboard manufacturer, Elf in Santa’s workshop?
The Elf gig would be the one as it’s the biggest mystery, who knows what goes on in the grotto when eyes are looking elsewhere for most of the year.
4. What would be in your winter survival kit?
5. What is something most people don’t know about you?
I write parsnips when I can’t think of a funny or interesting answer.
Listen to the Winter Chill Mini-Mix now!
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