No I did not interview the magazine, though I wouldn’t have minded that. Maxim the frontman of The Prodigy has had an illustrious career as part of arguably the most influential dance trio in history, but he has not stopped there, creating an impressive solo career alongside The Prodigy that includes 2 albums and a host of EPs. Maxim DJ has taken off for him as we wait for news about the impending Prodigy album and whatever twisted, genius work will come from the trio.
A couple weeks back I had the pleasure of sitting down with Maxim, the rowdy frontman of The Prodigy. Meeting up with him mid day at a studio, Mophonics in the West Village, Maxim was in the midst of a bender of a week, mixing it up with old friends on the town, while here to work on music and talk music. Sitting very calmly, sporting large black sunglasses and potentially a hangover, one can never tell with these guys, he cooly answered my questions and undoubtedly the ones that preceded mine and those which were to follow. Listen to his most recent tunes below and read on for the interview.
<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/163292061&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe>
FNT: Since we are in New York, what’s you first memory of New York?
Maxim: First memory here in New York professionally was when we [The Prodigy] played here. I justinstagramed a picture of it, The Limelight club. It’s not actually a club anymore, its an exhibition hall or something. We played there in ’91, I just drove past it and was like “wow that’s the Limelight”. My best memory of New York. It was a really odd night. It was one of our first times in America and it was a challenging time for us, it was new, it was exciting, it was fresh.
FNT: Was it packed?
Maxim: Yeah it was packed. It was a weird night because there were a lot of transvestites in there. People were all dressed up. Yeah it was a good party, we hung out at the bars chatting to people, yeah it was a good time. Then actually we came back and recorded the video for “Everybody In The Place” here. I think that was in ’92 as well. Kind of the video I look back at and think a bit cringey, but everyone has moments in their life where think, what am I doing there?
FNT: Since we are in one of these studios, what is the first thing you go for when you walk into one?
Maxim: The first thing I always look at are the speakers. That is the first thing I always look at, because you want to know what kind of weight and sound it is going to be pushing out. You can always judge a studio on its speakers.
FNT: Turning to your music, do you see any similarities in that and what you do / did with The Prodigy?
Maxim: Only the fact that it is me. That’s it. My personality doesn’t change. My personality is going to be the same when I am in The Prodigy as it is when I do my solo stuff. But obviously doing solo stuff it is going to be 100% me. It is like a parent dressing a child, the child has a little bit of input, the parent has a bit of input. That’s The Prodigy. I am the child and I have gone on and dressed myself. I have put on these odd clothes and I am quite comfortable in them.
I used to wear some odd outfits even when I was in The Prodigy. If you look back at old photos I used to wear kilts and skirts and stuff. I actually made a skirt it was covered in pins to the front and it was made out of black material and people used to say “Where did you get that? It looks like Jean Paul Gaultier”. I wore it for years on stage. I made a jacket out of bras. It was made of 50 bras.
FNT: Where did you get the bras?
I went to the store and bought 50 bras. It was probably an odd moment for the store. What’s this guy coming in and buying 50 bras? They were satin bras, so when you see it on stage it almost looks like a parachute kind of jacket because I cut the bra straps and the bra straps are hanging all over. I cut the cups in half and layered them, so it has satin cups all over this jakcet. Then the straps are hanging all over.
FNT: How long did it take you to make that?
Maxim: A couple of days. I wore it for 6 months and then I threw it in the crowd, so somebody has that coat.
FNT: How would you compare the experience between the two, musically, live etc?
Maxim: Playing music live is the ultimate thing. DJing comes in a close second because I am writing my own music and playing it but I am behind the decks and I am not a behind the decks guys, I am a stage guy. However, it is good to take a back seat where I can put Ciana Blaze out front. She is the energy of me, she is the performance of me. In some respects I enjoy it a bit because it puts her in the limelight and puts me in the shadows and she deserves to be there as a good MC and performer. It is more about her than it is about me really.
FNT: So I guess would this be taking We Are Noize on the road?
Maxim: Yes and no. I have changed the approach to the whole We Are Noize thing because it became a bit confusing for people. “You are Maxim DJ, what’s We Are Noize?” Well I am part of a collective We Are Noize, we are just producers.
<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/163291806&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe>
FNT: But do you perform as We Are Noize?
Maxim: No just as Maxim DJ, so I had to reevaluate the whole We Are Noize as the label which I put the music out. So predominantly it is just Maxim DJ for my music and the producers are writing music with me, but it all comes through as Maxim DJ featuring Ciana Blaze and eventually it may become just Ciana Blaze on We Are Noize. I just simplified the whole approach. It is just DJing during Prodigy shows and performances, I slot the DJing in between it and just keep on writing tracks and Ciana performs her tunes. Eventually Ciana will be able to do her own show without me because that is her goal, so let’s see.
<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/169856649&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe>
FNT: Do you ever see a point where you might retire?
Maxim: Never. For what? People who retire, don’t enjoy what they are doing. A footballer retires because he isn’t capable of playing anymore. Music is a totally different thing. You can always create, you can always write music, your brain doesn’t slow down. You take on different inspirations, but your whole ethic, your belief in music, it always stays the same. You don’t start writing metal at 21 and as you get older you start writing orchestral music or country. No, no, no. You just have to stay on top of what you are doing and have the same belief. You have to stay on top of what people are putting out there and be current and original. This is what I love, what I like to do, I like to write music. The performance side will change. I still have energy, I am still fit, I still perform in the Prodigy. Who knows how long that will last. As soon as my knees start to give away then I think I will call it a day. Djing ::chuckles:: I think I will be performing forever. Retire, to do what? Gardening? Potting plants? Flower arranging? Go and work in the library? No I just write music and that is what I like to do.
FNT: What is something people might not know about you?
Maxim: I am an artist as well. Check out my website mm-gallery.com.
FNT: Do you sell your art?
Maxim: Yeah, but I have stopped selling my art for a while now until I start painting again. Another point I think many people don’t know about me is that I grew up through reggae music. A lot of people think The Prodigy started and that was the first thing I ever did musically. No when I was 13, 14 I used to MC on sound systems and that’s where I honed my skills as a MC. A lot of people think that “Firestarter” was the first Prodigy tune. The young kids they don’t really look back 10 years, “The Prodigy who are they, who are The Prodigy”?
We tried to bring the party scene from the UK over to the US and they weren’t interested. Now you have the “EDM” scene. It’s a start. As time goes on it will fragment.
It’s like a flower that is starting to bud. Eventually it will grow into a tree and have many branches on it.
FNT: … And everybody will have a place.
Maxim: Exactly. That is a good note to end on.