INTERVIEW: Max Graham (2013)

Max Graham is quite the maverick, letting his tastes in music dictate what he plays and produces rather than being tied to any one specific subgenre.  Even his record label Re*Brand is named for the way he reinvents himself over the years.  With a loyal following and a popular weekly radio show, Cycles (which often trends on Twitter), Max Graham is busy in the studio working on his upcoming artist album due for release in 2013.  I caught up with Max backstage at the Armada showcase during the Amsterdam Dance Event to find out more about his varied music career.

RS: Max, are you singed to Armada right now?
Max Graham: In 2008, I combined my own label ReBrand with one of Armada’s labels. Technically, I am signed to Armada, but through my own label because I only release on Re*Brand Records.

RS: Does the name Re*Brand have anything to do with how you have changed your sound over the years?
Max Graham: Actually in 2007, I was talking about rebranding myself and at the same time trying to figure out a name for the label. One of my friends, Alex K, who owns a club in Montreal called New City Gas, said to me “call it rebrand, it is something that you keep running into whether you are trying to rebrand yourself or not, it is kind of a word that fits you.” From there I had a good friend in Ottawa design the logo and he came up with the red star above the “re,” separating the two words so it fit perfectly. All of this happened over the course of 10 days, so I went from having nothing to having a label with a beautiful logo, it all came together and I was super happy.

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REVIEW: Jaytech and James Grant – ‘Anjunadeep 04’

While many music fans have become accustomed to the uplifting, big-room trance that Above & Beyond and their Anjunabeats label specialize in, we are also beginning to see the evolution and rise of the Anjunadeep label and its imprint on progressive trance and house music. Leading the charge is their eponymous compilation series, mixed by the talented duo of James Grant and Jaytehc, who’ve helped to give the Anjunadeep label an identity all its own. Their previous three releases have set the standard for great music and fortunately for us, Anjunadeep Volume 4 is no different- even setting the standard higher for progressive trance and house music.

Anjunadeep Volume 4 is no different than its predecessors with each DJ taking a disc and mixing a wide variety of amazing tracks. The first disc, by James Grant, brings out the deeper, more house-influenced end of Anjunadeep’s spectrum with heavy-hitting low bass grooves like Macro Plex’s mix of Laura Jones “Love in Me” and Vincenzo’s “Get to Know You.” Other standout tracks are Martin Roth’s “Beautiful Life,” which swells with life and takes no prisoners, and Andrew Bayer’s “You” energizes the party with an underlying dark bass beat, some high hats, and a few jazzy elements for flair. James Grant’s remix (with Andrew Bayer) of Above & Beyond’s “Prelude” is another highlight and elevates it from one of the less memorable tracks from the Group Therapy album to something altogether more compelling and more accessible to the dance floor with its understated, filtered breakdowns.

Jaytech, by contrast, almost verges on trance in some parts on the second disc. His selection of tracks tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end, culminating with his own “Atlantic,” which can be seen as an embodiment of the sounds that comprise this mix. One of the best tracks on this disc, though, is “Boundless Energy” by Soundprank with its perfect mix of beats, melody, and bass grooves. Other tracks that enhance the listening experience of this set are Kobana & Yane3dot’s “Woosh,” which has a complex bassline driven by progressive sounds layered with feel good trance and Dirty South’s remix of Kaskade “Sorry,” which has an extremely unique spin put on it by Jaytech with a catapulting deep house rhythm underlying it. To have the ability and talent to transform the sounds of Kaskade and Dirty South into a format that works with Anjunadeep is truly spectacular and illustrates one of the many reasons why this compilation series works so well on so many levels.

Summary

Anjunadeep Volume 4 is another classy and unique offering that offers a spellbinding journey through deep house, immersive melodic grooves, and modern progressive music. This release also continues to elevate not only the compilation series but the label as a whole, and I have to admit I am in awe at some of the talent that James Grant and Jaytech have dug out for us on this release. Both individuals have created a listening experience that is worth buying and even sets the standard higher for progressive trance and house music in general.

Released March 2012 on Anjunabeats Records.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the record label.

REVIEW: Above and Beyond – ‘Anjuna Beats Volume 9’

By: Jax Spike

Originality, quality, creativity, and innovation are terms one could use in describing the Anjunabeats compilation series from the famed trio of Above & Beyond (and the other musicians, producers, and record label owners that have been involved over the years). Previous Anjunabeats releases have had some really epic, uplifting moments and have set the standard in which most other compilation series should emulate and strive to be like. I personally count the sixth and seventh volumes of this amazing series as some of my all-time favorites and always look forward to each new release. With that being said, sometimes when you set the standard so high, you eventually fall short at times; that can be said, to a certain degree, with Anjunabeats Volume 9.

Now don’t get me wrong, this newest Anjunabeats release is chock full of great tracks, and Above & Beyond have provided a superbly-mixed listening experience. This album seem to have less epic moments than the previous releases. I am sure many of you remember the first time you heard such tracks like “Battery Life,” “Aurora,” “Madness,” or “Air for Life” from previous releases. Volume 9, though, still provides a very enjoyable experience from beginning to end, and you’ll never be tempted to skip forward to the next track.

Volume 9 comprises two discs; the first is the more laid back of the two, utilizing modern, melodic, and emotive sounds. It opens with the ambient track “Tokyo,” by Above & Beyond, which sets the progressive tone for the next few songs, including Breakfast’s “Median” and Andrew Bayer and Matt Lange’s “In and Out of Phase.” The set starts to pick up intensity and energy with another Above & Beyond-inspired track with the inclusion of the futuristic anthem “Formula Rossa,” before sliding into the electro-infused trancestep sound of “On Our Own” by Maor Levi and Bluestone. Toward the closing of the first set, we are introduced to the big room thunder of Genix’s “Higher State,” while Above and Beyond’s “You Got to Go” is remixed by Kyau and Albert into a lush, atmospheric trance opus that helps usher the end of the first set.

Disc two is the star in this set, filled with many high energy tracks made for the dance floor- especially the tracks from Mat Zo and Arty. The set starts with the techy electro drop of Zo’s “Electrified,” followed by the rock-like synths of “Bipolar.” The set continues to progress with the hypnotic sounds of Jaytech’s “Overdrive” and synth-frenzy of Nitrous Oxide’s “iPeople,” even though I do miss the more epic, uplifting style from “Aurora.” Andrew Bayer and Molly Bancroft’s “Secrets” is the best vocal track on this compilation, while Arty’s piano-driven “Kate” follows up nicely afterwards. What is arguably the defining moment of Anjunabeats 9 is the collaborative effort between Mat Zo and Arty on “Mozart.” This track picks up where “Rebound” and “Around the World” left off, with rattling percussion and staccato big room synths that creates an explosive funk-charged house fusion sound that cannot be denied. Genix makes a final appearance with Mike Koglin on the wobbly trance outro track “Dyno” that signals the end to this release.

While Anjunabeats Volume 9 may lack some of the luster of earlier volumes in the series, the mix and transitions between tracks are masterful and absolutely seamless, harmonious, and at times completely unnoticeable and very well thought-out from a technical and track selection standpoint. If you are looking for a more vocal-heavy and uplifting trance release, then get Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy from last year. Every track on this compilation series is really good and absolutely enjoyable; it’s a great addition to any trance and progressive lover’s collection.

 

 

Review copy provided by the record label.  

CD released October 2011 on Anjuna Beats Records.