MAKING IT HAPPEN #2 – MARK MAXWELL

Photo Credit – HeyDay Wollongong @kye.williams

For the second edition of the“Making It Happen Interview’ we invite Mark Maxwell to share some cool things about himself and how he’s managed to become so successful as a local DJ and producer.

 

Most recently Mark has topped the ARIA club charts with a remix of Colour Castle, inspired youtube influencers and gotten gigs at the countries best clubs and festivals, not to mention his weekly residency at the legendary Prohibition Nightclub, and new releases on some seriously top notch house music labels.
First of all, can you tell us about the very first moment you realised that you have a love & passion for house music? 
I lived in Mt. Isa and Cairns for the first half of my childhood and each holiday we’d pile into the back of a 4WD with my family and drive west. Sometimes spending 8 or 10 hours a day on the road, I’d listen to my little Sony Walkman and watch the world go by.
If I didn’t want to listen to a“100% Hits” cassetteI’d have to make my own mixtapes to play on the road. Before a big trip, I’d sit down and record songs from the radio, and also hope I’d hear the name of the song so I could know what it was later. I think having these extended hours listening to music really cemented my love for it and shaped the way I now listen to music as well.
Mark Maxwell @ Prohibition
Your sets at Prohibition are becoming the thing of legend in Brisbane! When did you start playing at this hub of house music and how does it feel to be able to play to the same crowd week in, week out?
My first set at Prohibition was to warm up for Yolanda Be Cool back in December of 2016. It’s incredible at Prohibition. The crowd is consistently up for it and the combination of fantastic staff, great room, killer sound and stunning lights makes for an awesome place to play.
Being a resident pushes me to continually up my game as a DJ and put on a better show each time that I play there. You know what worked last time and you can then build on that next time you play. Prohibition is world class, so I know that when I get to play outside of Brisbane I’m ready for it.
‘Free’ Out now on Hot Sunday Records
Your first release was a super nice nu-disco style tune back in 2015 and you have taken each tune since then to the next level. How have you managed to get consistently high quality in yout productions?

 

I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning. I’ve always been a bit of a geek. I love learning, making things and working out how things go together. So for me, pushing myself to be better means always finding new ways of piecing together those familiar sounds.At the moment I’m really trying to improve my drums to get a more intricate and purposeful sound that I can hear in other people’s records. And, of courseI try to listen to lots of other people’s music – you can learn so much from what other people have done and then be inspired by it.
We see that you have been working with Klaus Hill, one of Australias best mastering engineers. How much can a good master make or break a tune?
For me a bad master is one that sounds crushed and has losits dynamic range. I put so much effort into how my mix pushes, pulls and bounces along so I always want the master to retain those features and not just be mega loud. 
Friend Within’s‘TheTruth’ is a track that feels really crushed to me. It’s crunchy but not in a good way. I can’t really play it anymore as it sounds so harsh to my ears. One of mine,‘Free’is definitely a great master – sneaky promoThe way the kick and bass are locked together and bounces along makes me really happy! 
It’s important to remember that mastering engineers aren’t hidden away behind locked doors. Yes, what they do is an art form but if you like the sound of a record’s master, message the artist or label and find out who mastered the record so you can use them too. I think that’s how I heard of Klaus the first time.
You recently announced your Creative Residence at Peregian Digital Hub on the Sunshine Coast with some workshops and office hours sessions. Where can people sign up for these sessions, and come to meet you? 
The Creative Residence has been great this week. I’m actually sitting in my makeshift studio right now. I ran a beginners Ableton Live workshop with a class of Grade 7 kids. They came in from the local school to learn about music production, and I’ve also been meeting with people all week helping them with their music or collaborating. It’s been really fun and a great way to connect and share with other local producers. 
On Saturday we’re running our monthly Sunshine Coast Producer Group meet up too. Heaps of DJs and producers from the coast come together to chat about music, meet others and learn. I got so much value from the Ableton Live User Group that’s run in Brisbane over the last 10 years, I thought it could be good to create something similar up here on the coast. While this Creative Residency is about to finish, I’m hoping I can come back for another in the future – so stay tuned! 

Artist management seems to be a pretty great way to elevate your career. Can you shed some light on how important an emerging artist and how one can go about getting signed?

It’s been great working with One Hit Agency. Not only have they been bringing over some great artists and my dream label, Defected over the last few years, they’ve really helped me get my music around the country. For instance, in my national tour at the moment,I’ve done gigs in Melbourne, Sydney, Wollongong and I’ve got gigs lined up in Adelaide and Perth over the next month or so. One Hit have strong relationships with venues that suit my sound and also really know what I’m worth to that venue. This is so important for emerging or establishing artists I’ve often undervalued myself so having someone who’s got my back and can really push for me to be recognised and remunerated priceless.

In terms of being signed with an agency I really think it’s about making yourself, your music and your brand irresistible. My number one focus has always been to make better and better music. If you’re then playing amazing DJ sets too, the support and the team will build itself around you.
How important is social media promo, and how can newbysmake the most of this to get their names out there? 
I think making great music and promoting it go hand in hand. There’s no point in making great music, dragging a speaker out into the forest and playing it to no one. Definitely share what you’re creating, where you’re playing and the other music that you like. Artists thrive on feedback, and the only way we can do that is if we share what we are making! It can be a slippery slope, however, if you end up spending more time promoting your music than you actually spend creating it. People are going to remember the song you wrote 3 years ago, not the meme you created 3 weeks ago.
Last but not least, whats your signature dance move?
Haha. I’ve always been an awkward 1, 2, step with an inconsistent hand clap.