Head to Head: Max Graham & Protoculture

Head to Head: Max Graham & Protoculture

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Max & Nat in the Grill!

So you guys have never met each other yet, still we’ve heard the best of remixes from your stable, how do you do it? What’s the process? How much does technology help you?

Max: Without technology it wouldn’t be possible. Would be nice to give you some super high-tech way of working but it’s actually pretty simple. We work on a file back and forth, usually me starting and Nate finishing as he has the mixdown skills I don’t. I will lay a track out then sync it with a DropBox folder we share, by the time Nate wakes up in South Africa it’s there ready for him to work on. Then by the time I get up and into the studio it’s back there waiting for me. We communicate over Skype and with WhatsApp on the iPhone.

Nate: Yep, pretty much just a lot of back and forth between us on Skype. We often work in different software as well, Max does a lot in Ableton and I’m always in Cubase, so DropBox works wonders for syncing the audio files between our computers with ease.

You never thought of an alias. Do you think the era of aliases is long gone/not in fashion anymore?

Max: We’ve joked about it but personally I don’t like confusing people with many different names. Branding is so important these days, why start with a new name when using our own already has meaning with regard to music style.

Nate: I had a similar dilemma with my ‘Protoculture’ alias when I shifted from writing psy to trance. I thought about creating new aliases but the truth is, when you’ve been working under a name for 10 years like I had been, the name becomes synonymous with yourself rather than just the genre you’re working in, hence I kept it. It was the same story with Max and I, we both had established profiles and the music pretty much sounds like Max Graham and Protoculture so there was no reason to create a new name for it.

Godskitchen Armada Night in October will be the first time you will ever play together, have you planned anything?

Max: First time yeah, nothing planned yet. Still two weeks away though.

Nate: Nevermind first time we play together… it’s actually the first time we get to meet face to face! Haha. We’ll probably discuss what to do before the set, but personally I don’t like to plan too much of a DJ set… I prefer it when things are more dynamic. You never know what the crowd is gonna want or respond to so it helps to be flexible.

So what’s the one thing you like about each other, one thing you hate?

Max: Haha I like that Nate doesn’t get phased by things, takes everything in stride. What do I hate? That he’s so good at mixdowns! #jealous :)

Nate: Love the fact that we’ve got so much in common and see eye to eye a lot of the time. Very similar taste as well.

Off topic: how have you imagined each other to be when you guys meet up in real!

Max: Not sure how to answer that, the same as our many conversations I guess?

What’s cooking in the studios? Together and separately?

Max: I’m working on more originals, ‘Cycles Three’ is in the works also. Remix offers have been coming in but we’re really waiting for the right projects.

Nate: From my side I’m also taking time off to work on originals, possibly an exclusive for ‘Cycles’ as well. I’m keen to stop remixing for a bit and perhaps start work on an album at some point. I’m also working on a mix comp for Armada and Rebrand that you’ll see more info on soon.

On to Max!

You are a veteran in this industry. You’ve been there when the industry has changed – a producer, a spectator, what do you love about EDM as a whole?

That it changes, to be honest. If it stayed the same I would be very bored. I love the passion that new fans have and the expression in new producers. Never a dull moment.

You’re called a ‘twitterwhore’ like a case study for other artists when it comes to interaction with your fans, is there a technique you use, any weird tweeting experiences?

I don’t know if it’s a case study or if it’s even right or wrong. It’s just the way I like to do it, interacting with like-minded music lovers is very powerful for inspiration. There’s no technique, the iPhone makes it very easy to check Twitter while traveling or waiting for a file to transfer in the studio, almost too easy :)

One of the oldest trance philosophies is that some non-vocal trance tracks are more powerful than lyrical wonders. "Does She Know Yet" is one such classic that encapsulates various moods that even vocal tunes fail to provide. How did the inspiration to write this song come to you?

I really just play around with ideas until that emotion pops out. It really is affected by mood though, I wrote that in 2003 so I can’t honestly tell you what was going through my mind at the time :)

Would you like to share your experience working with Ana Criado and Neev Kennedy?

Both masters of their craft, voice aside both are super pro.

Over to Nate!

So how has been the jump from Psy-trance to Progressive? Do people still come and ask you, "Hey I was expecting a Psy set, what did you play today o.O"?

Actually pretty smooth. People have been very supportive of the new stuff. Some people are still getting used to the fact that I’m not really into the psy stuff anymore but they can’t complain as I’ve been very open and honest about the fact that what I’m doing now is what’s really inspiring me.

You come from South Africa, how’s the trance scene buzzing there? Any handicap on coming from such a Non-EDM background?

I wouldn’t say South Africa is a Non-EDM country at all… in fact it’s really booming here at the moment. There’s a lot of great artists scoring international acclaim coming out of SA at the moment like Goldfish, Black Coffee, Tasha Baxter (whose been working a lot with Feed Me and Skrillex) and more. The trance scene here has got some way to go but we’ve had pretty much all the heavy hitters such as Armin, Markus, Ferry and Above & Beyond down recently so it’s definitely growing here.

Your track "Sun Goes Down" is truly one of the best tracks of 2011, tell us how was the experience back in the studio?

Max introduced me to Raz Nitzan who I co-wrote the track along with Adrian Broekhuys and Aruna Mattews. They’d written the lyrics with Shannon and when I got the vocal parts I totally fell in love with the song. It took me a day to put together a demo and we knew immediately we had a hit.

Going Rapid Fire!

Influential Track of 2011

Max: Too many to list, been a great year

Nate: Tons of stuff, but I did play Stoneface & Terminal’s "Here To Stay" to death this year

Idol Producer

Max: Andrew Bayer, BT and Nate of course :)

Nate: BT cause the guy’s production skills are just legendary. I’m also a big fan of Sasha and Charlie May

Last Dream You Remember

Max: Running through an airport holding a baby carrier with a dog inside, something I’ve never done

Nate: I don’t dream very often. I’m a bit of an insomniac so when I sleep I’m basically in coma… Haha

iOS or Android

Max: iOS

Nate: +1! iOS… duh! ;)

Best Compliment Received

Max: Indirect ones :)

Nate: A fan in Japan once told me I looked like a slightly fat Tom Cruise. Ha! I took it as a compliment ;)

Best Gadget

Max: iPhone

Nate: +1 iPhone without a doubt

Favourite Country To Play

Max: No fair, different ones for different reasons

Nate: Everyplace has its charm, but I do love playing back home as well as in Japan

The Radio Show You Prefer

Max: GDJB when Markus goes dark and hard

Nate: Couldn’t say… I often tune into ASOT, GDJB and TATW though


Max: Little from column a, little from column b Haha

Nate: Taken ;)

Message For Your Fans

Come say hi on Twitter and Facebook :)

For more info related to Max Graham check out the following links:

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Written by: Apoorv & Nikhil
Compiled by: Priyank

One reply to this article

  1. fathima chocpie says:
    17th October, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    i love nate.. he is my favorite :) i am a south african and love EDM .. Nate we are proud of you and it makes me happy to be part of the trance scene. I have been growing up with trance music from them days lol

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