01-02-2014 | 15.27
Maxi Mill resides in a new studio since this year. Together with Voyage Direct colleague Overlast he has a whole floor to himself on the Geldersekade, in-between Central Station and the Nieuwmarkt. They have a couple of workshops next door and the gallery Vriend van Bavink residing under them. You can look into a couple of these workshops through a glass wall in the hall. But Maxim (Maxi Mill) and Jan (Overlast) don’t see the artists working there often.
Jan: ‘I know the guys from the gallery downstairs, but I have no idea who work in those studios. Often there’s nobody around, no clue what actually happens there.’
The studio of Jan en Maxim is quite the opposite: there’s always someone present. No matter what time you ring the doorbell – except possibly the morning – it’s likely that one of the two guys will answer the door. They’re in the studio seven days a week and they often succeed each other.
Maxim: ‘Jan likes to work at night while I like being here in the afternoon. In the evening I go to my girl and my daughter. We don’t exactly change shifts: when Jan comes over I often stay a bit longer and we’ll have each other listen to our new shit. Some awesome things can happen on that meeting point, a couple of fresh listens really do wonders for the music process. Jan had me listen to a track he’s been working on for quite some time now a couple of days ago; I immediately played some synths over his track when I came in.’
Jan plays a track in the corner of his room. There is a old laptop and an even older MPC set up – you have to look closely to notice a worn-down sampler. A couple of old synths lean against the desk and across from Jan are Maxims stuff in the other corner of the room. Two synths, a laptop, a MPC and recently a mixing desk, so the layers can be mixed in an analog way. The entirety looks like a boys’ room; an attic with a small window, a rickety couch, a fridge for half liter cans, red curtains, some lost ashtrays and two sets of old speakers across the couch. ‘There are for the live feel, according to Maxim. ‘Those monitor speakers get inside your head some of the time. They make you focus solely on the details and you’ll just be sitting there analyzing the sound. On the couch you can chill out and listen to the real sound of it all.’
Their studio first belonged to Steven de Peven (Awanto3), who will release his album Opel Mantra on Rush Hour next month. Because Steven would rather work on his album in Bergen op Zee (as this mini documentary shows quite nicely), Jan and Maxim could have the studio. The common denominator between these three men is that they all have released a record on Tom Trago’s sublabel Voyage Direct. Tom Trago only signs Dutch artists on this label; artists like William Kouam Djoko, Makam and Interstellar Funk have also released records there. A kind of crew is beginning to emerge from the label, consisting of the musicians who play together, remix each other, plays pieces of music for each other and take care of radio shows. This includes producers like Young Marco, San Proper and Elias Mazian. Earlier the night, Maxim showed us one of his new tracks, with live bass of San. Up until a couple of months ago the Voyagers often shacked up in Tom Trago’s studio in the old Volkskrantgebouw, which also housed Canvas.
Jan: ‘That was a real hotbed, a breeding place like a breeding place ought to be. Back then it happened often that I came out of the studio in the morning and Tom would come back from Trouw with a couple of friends. Often I went back into studio with them once more to hang with them whilst listening to the music I just made.’
Maxim: ‘My second release on Voyage Direct (Lost & Found red.) was also created on an after party. We were hanging with some guys at my place and I put on a playlist containing only my unreleased music. When Lost & Found came on, Tom jumped up and said: i need this track. The track was really ‘lost and found’: I totally forgot that I made that track and rediscovered it when it came by in the playlist.’
Lost & Found is the A-side of Maxims second record on Voyage Direct. Overlast is also dishing out his second release for the label. The records of both Maxim and Jan revolve around the use of samples, modified on the MPC. On Range Rover Overlast used an edited vocal to make it sound like a woman is whispering excitedly. Oh my god, cream colored, leather seats, should I take of my panties? I want to fuck my Lamborghini. Oh my god. Mercedes-Benz. B.M.W. Range Rover. Maxim used a 80’s disco sample to make Lost & Found, but doesn’t remember the name of the artist or record. Possibly for the better. Some of the time, the bad records are very suited for well done sampling.’
A notable difference with the other Voyagers is that Maxim and Jan aren’t really working on their profile. They release a record and that’s it. On to the next record. Rather that hanging in the dj booth or facebooking endlessly, they are here, in the studio. Day and night. But when Maxim saw that the B-side of his new record was played on the BBC, he was a very proud man. ‘Erol Alkan, a DJ of that stature, played Speed Balance Weight in his 6 Mix. I immediately put a cassette in my recorder to record it. Pretty cool to have for later.’
Text: Luc Mastenbroek