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Max Graham: DJs Are the New Conductors

Author: Skrufff
Sunday, July 22, 2001
Paul Oakenfold's Canadian protege Max Graham is these days travelling the world spinning hard progressive trance and house to an ever-growing audience of international clubbers. Born in London and raised in Spain, his family moved to New York when he was 12, uprooting to LA three years later. At 19, he ended up in Ottawa, Canada, where he finally settled to make it his home. Attending a local rave in 1995, he experienced a classic dancefloor epiphany (ie a sudden intuitive understanding through an ordinary but striking occurrence), which prompted him to devote himself to serious electronic dance music.6 year's later he's well on his way to premier league DJ status and is a priority acts on Oakenfold's Perfecto label, with an album due out in September.

"People give conductors so much credit. They are the kings but they are always conducting something that was written by someone else." While the role of the classical conductor increasingly fades into obsolescence, its modern day equivalent (DJing) has never been more robust. Canadian based Max Graham is just one of a new wave of jocks to find himself globally recognised, as the worldwide scene continues to grow. Skrufff's person-in-Manila Twinky Lagdameo met up with him at the poolside terrace of his five star Manila Hotel, the day after he rocked the Wherelse Club.

Skrufff (Twinky Lagdameo): The Philippines have recently been attracting bad international press for kidnappings and violence, what's been your impression of Manila so far-
Max Graham: "That's so unfortunate, it's like the situation with Israel. When I go to Israel it's beautiful but the only news you hear beforehand is the bad stuff so you always have this impression that there's going to be fighting everywhere and bombs. That's not the case at all. And here, of course, CNN only cover the negative stuff. They do that everywhere but I grew up in Spain loving the Mediterranean and Manila has that kind of feel (atmosphere). I love the way it's very dense and how cities are packed and buzzing and those crazy jeep-taxi things! I love your Jeepneys."

Skrufff: Your biog says you found your true DJing vocation at your first ever rave what was so special about that rave-
Max Graham: "It was in Montreal. I got there at six in the morning and stayed 'til noon and it was a party called Horizons. At the time I was working in a Top 40 club trying to get a reaction out of the crowd but Top 40 clubs are such that everyone is there to meet the opposite sex and get drunk and do whatever. So I wasn't getting that reaction or any interaction. When I went to this party, I basically sat there and realized that this interaction was possible. I saw the crowd responding to the DJ's movements and music and the DJ getting excited about the crowd giving him energy. That was such an inspiration for me. I realized there and then that what I was looking for did exist."

Skrufff: How quickly did you leave behind the Top 40 gig-
Max Graham: "I left three weeks later. I'd been playing the music that was big in `95 like "Whoop There It Is" and "Wiggle It" and I just couldn't play it anymore. Within a month, I'd changed my whole music policy and it wasn't fair for me to stay at the club because they wanted someone who was willing to play cheesy stuff. So despite being only 23 I quit a job where I was making good money and I had to change everything. I started playing after-parties for fifty bucks a pop and I didn't make any money for years but slowly I've worked myself back up."

Skrufff: How does the Canadian club vibe differ from elsewhere-
Max Graham: "It's very different; the Canadian vibe is very good and very innocent. It's European in the way people appreciate the music but it's got its own Canadian touch. The crowd really respect good music, they're less picky about whether it's this kind of progressive or that kind of trance. They just love good music and they want to go out. A