Interview: Max Durante [aufnahme + wiedergabe]
Max Durante is a true pioneer of industrial techno, as well as a real wizard and inventor on the turntables. “His hands are so fast that it is difficult to follow his movements, his scratches are balm for the eyes and for the ears,” as the Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported. He began his professional DJ career 1987 in Rome after he visited London, where he had fallen for the sound of the acid house parties. Returning to England in 1990 he experienced the early raves. Very much inspired by that sound he started experimenting, mixing techno and electro with industrial sounds in his unique way.
TF: Hello Max ... where did you studied and who influenced you to explore musical processes? And what were your influences?
Max: Hi Edgar. I studied in Rome, artistic high school. My first influences were undoubtedly received from my family.
In 1981, my father improvised himself as DJ during my birthday party at home. Obviously he did not have a mixer and he was not a DJ, but he had a marvellous HI-FI system and he had 2 turntables because he was a maniac, a great listener and a fanatic of vinyl. However that day I was fascinated, my eyes were kidnapped by the records that were spinning, I was hypnotised. My father wanted to see me dance, but I remained motionless. In fact this was my first contact with turntables. I was so impressed that I stood there in front of them, while my friends all danced.
After that I accompanied my father often to buy new vinyls. My father was very protective of his vinyls (that he called flying saucers) and no one could touch them. He had different tools, because he did not touch them with his hands, total vinyl maniac ... I thought he was an alien. But he inspired me a lot and gave me the devotion to vinyl. Maybe because he forbid me to touch his records and his turntables, he caused my desire to have my own turntables and the innate desire to use them as I wish.
My two brothers played guitar, they listened to a lot of music and one played in punk and rock bands, he often took me to punk / new wave evenings. These were important experiences, important inputs that were forming a 12-year-old child. Thanks to the Punk music I discovered the use of the distortion and I fell madly in love with it.
The New Wave and Dark music made me fall in love with the synths and dark areas. Industrial music and EBM gave me strong interest in the drum patterns. The possibility of using the drums in the studio of my brother's group gave me my sense of rhythm.
In 1983 one of my cousins took me to a disco for the first time, I refused to dance and headed for the DJ and once again I was fascinated by the turntables. From here I realised, I wanted to use turntables, play the records and not the guitar, the sound that I was passionate was the synthetic one. Drums, synths, turntables, these tools became part of my dreams.
In 1984 I discovered the United States, the jeans and basketball shoes. Influenced by a friend of mine I began to practice American Football. Thanks to American Football I discovered the hip hop culture. In the same period watching cult films of Street Art, like Wild Style and Beat Street, I was fascinated by the art of DJing, graffiti and breakdance.
ome inthe 80's was my little New York. It was my window to the world. A city in full breeze. Big DJs, great technique. I started doing Graffiti then I tried to breakdance, but I left everything right away because what really made me fall in love was the art of scratching, I started practicing scratch in 1985, I began to study the art of DJing by listening to many DJs, I started to train my technique, and in 1987 I have started to play as a DJ in clubs Everything went fast, these were dynamic years.
In 1988 in London I was fascinated by acid parties, I returned to Rome and started to program only acid house but initially it was difficult to program this music in Italian clubs.
In 1989 I returned to London. The English DJs escaped from clubs and events called raves started to take the place of the 'acid party'. I went back to Rome, which was extremely exited because I had discovered the future, the Rave!I started to play techno. I've been part of the musical revolution in the '90s! ‘’The Rage Age’’.
In 1991 I organised one of the most important Italian raves ever together with the D'Arcangelo brothers, PLUS8. In 1992, also together with D’Arcangelo, we produced our first techno / industrial records under the name of Automatic Sound Unlimited.
Techno and the Rave have changed my life! I have always considered myself a DJ more than a producer. As a producer, what has always really influenced me is the theory of the Italian futurist Luigi Russolo, who said in 1917 to search for the sound in noise. And the France avant-garde artist Marcel Duchamp, who said in 1961 that art is not for everyone, we need to be underground. They show me the way, I am still on that way, with the same attitude.
TF: You live in Roma and Berlin. How does these place influence you as an artist?
Max: Rome is where I started, where I was born, at the beginning it was my source of inspiration. Then, as in all of Italy, political problems created a city that represses me, Rome gave me the anger, and for that reason I make sometimes angry music.
Berlin is the city who adopted me, who gave me the freedom and in Berlin my anger turned into energy.
They are two very dark cities, very expansive cities, with some similar aspects. Both have a strong influence on my music, Rome remains my starting point and still influences my productions bringing me back to where I started to my roots. Berlin has the gift of making me live again the 90’s, the same freedom, the same energy, this gives me strength to my music and my mood. Berlin is a Rave that never ends.
In Berlin I can have silence and produce ambient or live chaos and produce industrial! Over here I can dedicate myself to sound research again!
TF: You developed quickly a vast range of techno forms, always remaining strongly coherent but blurring the lines in the same way. How would you describe your musical landscape?
Max: I mainly love techno, I love to express myself through industrial sounds, repetitive patterns, claustrophobic drone sounds … I like the idea of a music that is like a ritual, we can say a form of hypnotism. My musical panorama is very vast because of my different influences. Maybe my musical landscape represents a utopian future inspired by cult movies like Blade Runner or Mad Max. My music represents a bit of this world made of robots, replicants and humans who live together in a dystopian, grey and claustrophobic world made of cement.
TF: Can you describe from beginning to end how your 'Order And Chaos' album - were made
Max: As in all my productions the formula is the research that meets instinct.
I don't like the idea of creating a product to put on the market, I don't care about. Usually I create a concept a theme to follow but I leave my state of mind to give shape to the music!
I'm a DJ and techno is born from the DJ, a completely different approach from a musician, who thinks about sound to composition. A DJ thinks to the strength of the beat, the groove and to the communicative force that the song must spring from!
I love to create every record as a weapon, I create it to make people dance!
I have produced "Order And Chaos" EP together with the next EP that will come out this winter also on the Aufnahme und Wiederegabe that will be called "Fear And Desire". Initially it was supposed to be an LP then we decided to create or better Philipp Strobel told me let's do two EP and it was the best choice because like that came out two hand grenades!
Every record must have a story for me, you have to live it and suffer it at the same time!
I produced Order and Chaos about two years ago! It went a long way because the Aufhname is the super listed label and with an incredible schedule, therefore between delays and waiting times we did it! I'm happy because it is the right time and my sound does not follow the hype, my sound does not fear the changes, my sound speaks of the present and I do not follow the trends, then my sound does not fear time! And I'm not afraid to express my ideas through my music!
For create this EP I used analogue instruments, I created many sounds in filed recordings and the 80% of the sounds are created with a small electro acoustic instrument that I purchased two years ago from Massimo Olla which is a Italian master in the creation of innovative electro-acoustic instruments, I produced two eps entirely with this instrument, which in fact now I threw away, I took full advantage of it!
I was looking for a rude, distorted but at the same time crystal and dynamic sound. As always I love to go to the opposite side where the mass is headed and in a moment where everyone follows the current EBM I once again show a new way (I already predicted two years ago that the best formula was to redesign the sound and not to simulate the 80s for ebm and the 90s for Techno and Industrial Techno). Order and Chaos has a completely innovative attitude where it breaks the classic EBM construction by breaking the patterns like I did in "Religion Agaist Religion" my music you can't classify it as a genre! It is a fusion that creates my own unique sound! I don't like making EBM because today the EBM goes and do industrial because tomorrow the industrial goes ... bullshit!
I created this record just for the aufnahme I don't like doing random songs and then sending them to the labels wouldn't have a story. I started thinking about what I wanted to talk about through this record! Then according to the moods I began to pull down ideas.
I started to set the rhythms until I reached the groove and from there I started to shape the record! I started having the idea of creating vocal parts so I started to create with a software for reads and repeats text simulating the human voice, a friend of mine advised me a software and obviously with a great work between editing and effects, I reached that soft and warm voice that says ... "religion against religion". I like to create everything from my own, I spend days only for create sounds I use a lot of field recordings! I had initially used a lot of synth sounds but in post production I deleted most of them! The spirit of industrial music is the Noise and in EBM the body so mine is an exasperation in the use of the body and noise and as in a tribal ritual everything is born and dies in the rhythm!
Then in the post production I gave strength to the sound once I drew the rhythm and trod the groove I started like in a painting to give color!
My intension was to create a record that was a bullet, that spoke of modern days and that reflected my personality and I'm happy because once again I succeeded I'm very critical if I don't like something I throw it I don't think twice!
What I love is the essential but it must be exceptional and not approximate I like to use few elements but they must create a groove otherwise noise remains noise and everyone is capable like that! the moment I began to complete a track a great energy was born to close and finish the next one was a hard job but the result is phenomenal like the mastering of Thomas Hechmann who optimized and enhanced the release even more every track had to be a reason for protest, like a scream where people can't talk!
TF: What new hardwares did you apply to make new album? Do you have a particular method while working in the studio?
Max: I use to produce this EP as I said before with an electro acoustic instrument for generate noise, and the 80% of the sounds are made with this instrument. I buy and resell immediately My tools I don't do like to do as in the past where I had the studio with 20 synthesizers now I just want what I really use and I change it often to obtain new inputs, new sound forms. Now what I love to integrate into my sound is the sound of life, tired of machines I use the sound that generates the world, through the field recordings.
Among the last machines I purchased is a small toy of moog the dfam that is serious. I created patterns on this ep with the dfam. But now to build a tool based on your needs without a doubt modular system!
TF: I think it is very important to understand the musical idea of the album, you use the title 'Order and Chaos' ... what is the cultural-social-political manifesto behind this album?
Max: I'm totally against this system that creates a fake order and vomits us into the most total disorder.
The modern society is a slave of the system and dominated by consumerism! The greatest violent form in our modern society is ignorance that meets indifference! Modern politics hides behind religion, fueling anger and racism! All this generates the children of disorder! A fake order in pure chaos! Welcome to the: Order And Chaos! In fact the track I titled New Order represents a protest: where a system is obsolete you have to break the rules and New Order suggests us to go back to the undergound! STAY TRUE STAY UNDERGROUND! ...
TF: Thanks Max!