Timo Maas has been a kingpin on the clubbing circuit for many a year. His productions and remixes have smashed up dancefloors all over the world. Known for his work with American superstar Kelis as well as UK songstress Neneh Cherry, he has been a regular chart topper. His remix of Azzido Da Bass’ 'Doom's Night' has been credited as one of the defining dancefloor moments. DJ Mag grabbed some time to talk to Timo about his love for the dance music scene and his great respect for his studio and production partner Santos...
How has your sound developed as an artist during your production and DJing career?
“Quite naturally, after all those years loving music and being in the biz. I don’t just take any easy routes anymore. I like to experiment and discover things I would probably never have recognised 10 or 15 years ago. I feel very confident in [my] production, with the lovely Santos and the sound that we are producing.”
When did you start working with Santos?
“We met about 12 years ago for the first time in Ibiza, said hello, had a chat and forgot about each other. Then a few years back we met again playing at a gig together in Rome. When I showed Sante the top vinyl in my record box, I realised he produced it all under many different names.
That was quite a surprise, and the basis for the idea that we might try to work together. The first track we ever did together was ‘Subtellite’, and that was a very good start for a long-lasting partnership, five years now. I really like working with Santos, as we both inspire each other a lot and we are trying to push boundaries on a constant basis. The album ‘Lifer’ is one of the results of this vibe.”
Tell us about your current studio set-up together…
“We’re using two computers, a PC running Cubase and Ableton, and a Mac running Logic for creating different ideas and sounds, plus an analogue summing unit by Dangerous Audio, an Apogee converter and some analogue EQ, TLA, Manley and various compressors as well, and some pedal FX. For generating grooves we use analogue machines like Elektron
Machinedrum, Novation Drum Station and Emu Orbit, and when it comes to the digital point of view, we’re using Native Instruments Maschine, Reaktor, or just a few virtual samplers with our own sound library. Synth-wise and for our sounds, we’ve got a Moog Voyager, Yamaha CS10, Korg MS20, Access Virus, Roland Juno106, JD 800, JV2080, Novation Supernova and a Korg MS2000.”
A nice collection — what bits are your favourites?
“Maschine from Native Instruments is a killer toy, then the Roland JD 800, which has the right sound for us at the moment. We are also using a lot of freeware plug-ins, the community is full at the moment and there are some very weird things like Third Harmonic Studios' EXD-80, which is a cool drum machine plus granular FX unit. DEEP MONO is easy and powerful, and also a lot of FX... if you search a little bit, you can find some very strange stuff!”
How do you guys go about producing a track?
“It always starts differently... sometimes it's just a sound, a loop, a bassline or simply anything, that with a little bit of work will be the basis for a new track or song. With ‘Articulation’ it was that magic bassline, where we created everything else around it. I am not programming anything, that’s Sante, but I am very particular in how I want the things to be sounding, feeling.”
What defines the Timo Maas sound?
“I don`t know really but it all has a certain feeling of funkiness, sometimes also simplicity, with old school influences made in a very new school kind of way.”
Tell us a little bit about your label Rockets and Ponies?
“We started the label a few years back, it’s always great to have a platform for releasing great music, not just ours, it's good to have full control for experiments. We had a break for about one year to reorganise it all and refocus on the most important thing, outstanding music. With the new singles coming up by Katie Cruel and Wolfgang Haffner, and also brilliant new Santos material, we are again trying to make our very own personal statement about what we think is great electronic music.”
What’s next for you?
“New music, new remixes, more touring, a new album project coming up in the next few months, busy busy and it feels good!”
Copyright Thrust Publishing Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.djmag.com as the source.