A Sit Down With DJ Timo Maas

14:10 Nov/17/2017

Timo Maas has been on a 30-year quest to deliver his musical wizardry to the world. In fact, music is such an intrinsic part of his DNA that it’s one of his main modes of communication. From a residency at the groundbreaking Circoloco at DC10 in Ibiza, where he has been entrenched for over 15 years, to tours around Europe and the rest of the world, Timo Maas maintains a high level of performance.

Piety may not be a distinctive feature of Timo, but what can not be taken away from it is the insight, ambitiousness, originality, the rare qualities that clubbers need so much. These qualities and carried him into the whirlpool of the world of dance music. But, despite the fact that he maintains a good relationship with Fatboy Slim and Sven Vath, conceit really does not belong to him. Of course, Timo likes to talk about music, but, which is unusual for a DJ, he is also interested in what is happening around. He is pleased that he manages to visit the places he sees in the news.

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How did you start to produce?

It was a natural process I‘d say. At the end of the 80s, I did the first try-outs with some friends on an old Atari computer, four-track recording, sampling something from records, etc… It was really difficult back then, usable equipment was not affordable – I remember times in the early 90s where you‘d have to spend over 6000 Deutsche Marks  on sampler units with a sampling time of four or eight seconds. It was ridiculously expensive. And you could basically do with it, what you are doing today with your iPhone, while waiting for the bus. So I was always trying things out, and then I released my first and very, very bad cheesy record, in 1994, just because I wanted my own vinyl in my hands.


"I've always been a country boy, I have to work hard, at least twice as hard, if you do not live in a big city and you do not have connections."


You have worked with artists such as Neneh Cherry, Kelis and Placebo’s Brian Molko. What is your take on collaborating: what does it give and what does it take?

It is ideally the clash of different experiences and characters and the output can be extremely diverse, which I like a lot. It always gives you a new view of things, which you have not seen before. What does it take? Time though, but it’s fun.

You have played everywhere from Pasha in Ibiza, Chicago's Karma, and L.A.'s Viper Room, to Hamburg's Tunnel and Twilo in NYC, as well as London's Turnmills and the Love Parade in Germany — compare some of these festivals and clubs.

Had a great time on the Area:One Festival last summer. I do enjoy playing clubs better... each place has its own vibes — I played at Pacha in Buenos Aires a few months back and that was really crazy.

How many gigs do you think you have played?

I never thought of that, but surely several thousands on every kind of level. And it’s many gigs that really stand out: some for the vibes & energy, some for the craziness or uniqueness, some for the people i met, some for the trip i had. I love this all.

Do you like to travel and wake up at odd hours of the day?

Ask my management. You never get used to it... it's the worst part of the job.

What have been some of the most memorable spots you have visited? 

I went to every continent apart from Antarctica... Unfortunately, I don't get a lot of opportunity to see much... the Pyramids in Mexico were pretty amazing. 

What has been the biggest changes for you individually during your career?

The „rules“ of the scene have obviously drastically changed. Many years ago, as a DJ you were some kind of „exotic“ type of character, spending loads of time and even more money in the thing you love so much, against everyone and everything. These days, everyone who downloads a free mixing software onto his phone considers himself a DJ. The market, the sales, simply everything has changed. I see it as a challenge, and I can really say, that the over 30 years of DJ experience helps me day by day. 

Tell us why your DJ sets are so diverse.

This comes from the experience of my very early DJing days when I was playing in “farmer‘s clubs” in villages near where I‘m still living. I had to play for the whole night, from nine o‘clock in the evening to four or five in the morning. So you had to do a bit of warm-up, touch different kinds of music styles, whichever there were. One of those guys who was kind of my teacher in the 80s, he told me “always play three to four tracks into one music direction and then change, because you always have to keep the whole club entertained”. And somehow this is in my blood until today: I touch micro-styles in the electronic field to build moments up, but then change, go a bit techier, or a bit trippier, so it won‘t be too boring. This is what I do with my albums also; and because they are not DJ sets but albums, I can do even stranger mixtures if I want to.

Did you want your whole career to be about DJing then?

I started collecting records at the age of seven or eight, I started playing them at the age of 12 or 13. I come from an era when being a DJ was not cool, and travelling DJs were non-existent. So I naturally hesitated a lot before I decided to become a professional DJ. I kept my daytime job as a telecommunication advisor until 1994, back then I wasn‘t sure if becoming a self-employed DJ was the right decision, but I would go to the telecom store and see the very frustrated faces of my ex-colleagues, that always cheered me up and comforted me in my choice. And I was very shy as a kid and a young teenager, playing music is my way of communicating with people.


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