Max Cooper: Genetically Enhanced
He has remixed the likes of Hot Chip and Sasha, DJ'd all round the globe, produced some stunning EPs and his latest remix is sitting at the top of Beatport’s electronica chart. We spoke to Max Cooper ahead of a set at Chambre 69
Who and what are your main influences?
I pretty much listen to ambient sort of electronica and modern classical crossover stuff at home. My main influences are people like Helios, Ólafur Arnalds, Sigur Rós and Jon Hopkins, mainly electronica more than techno. There are some people who I may loosely sound like, such as Stephan Bodzin and Extrawelt who make really amazing melodic techno.
How has your music evolved since you first started out?
I started off doing dodgy hard house and trance back in ‘95 or so when I was a kid. Then I got really into drum ‘n’ bass for years, and hip-hop. Then 2002 to 2005 or so were my nuskool breaks days! I expect in five years time I’ll look back on what I’m doing now and not like it either. I’m always trying to bring elements of lots of different genres into my music, even the seemingly worst of genres have something to offer.
What inspires the artwork for your LPs and covers?
Generally the same thing that inspires my videos; my personal interests like science, maths, nature, and biology. I live with a graphic designer so sometimes I just pilfer through his work computer and go ‘can I take that?’. I think my favourite piece of artwork I’ve had was for Expressions. My flatmate dried out flowers and scanned them. When you zoom in high definition you get this crazy, abstract image. You can see it’s really natural but quite weird.
I wanted to compare your approach to writing original work and remixing other people’s music. Effectively I imagine both involve similar technical processes but how does it differ at the creative level?
As you say the main difference is at a creative level. Technically you are doing similar stuff but when you are remixing someone else you are using ideas from the original track, so you don’t have to create those ideas yourself. It takes longer with my own stuff as I have to sit down and play with lots of ideas to develop until I’ve got something I’m happy with. With the remixes, I can listen to the original track and pick out an element or certain part of the track that I know I can work with that fits into my vibe.
You have a PHD in genetics so obviously you have spent many hours at the books, no doubt long into the night. Do you listen to music when you do that?
No never, I can’t study and listen to music at the same time. I’m the worst multi-tasker, especially with music. I’ll get distracted, so to study I need to cut off anything and focus solely on what I need to do.
What city have you played that is not on the familiar DJ circuit that has blown you away?
I played in Siberia in Eastern Russia, which was pretty far off. Parties are amazing, very disorganised mayhem. If you get away from the main cities where major acts are playing all the time, you get to a city that is disconnected in some way from the global electronic music scene. So it is more of a big deal for them to have an international act playing, people are more excited which makes for a good party, and you get treated like royalty which isn't bad either!
Hot Chip once said ‘The joy of repetition really is in you’. From a genetics point of view, does this theory hold water, is it innate? And can we cite their record in a paper? It’s not necessarily genetic but it’s proposed to be ingrained because when a baby is in the womb, it can hear the mother’s heartbeat. I guess it's a hard theory to prove though, until we have some babies developed externally who we can test for rhythmical musicality! But yes, it seems rhythm may be ingrained in us before we are born, so it could be said to be innate in that sense.