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Maelstrom - The Man With Two Faces

Author: 3D
Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Joan Mael Peneau is a man with many personalities – in one hand we have the electro and breaks spinning Maelstrom and in the other, the funk n’ hip hop bangers of Mr. Strom. 3D chats to the French chameleon before he touches down in Sydney.

You’ve got a pretty eclectic taste in music; how difficult has that made finding a direction that suits you as a producer and a DJ-
Not that difficult, to be honest. I’ve always been into many forms of dance music, be it funk, hip hop, electro, house or techno. As a producer, I try to incorporate these eclectic tastes into my productions without thinking about genres or styles, but [rather] about how the tune is gonna work and sound at the end of the process. As a DJ, that’s the same; my main purpose is to keep the crowd moving and dancing, while getting them to enjoy some music they wouldn’t have thought they’d like beforehand. I really like when I see a breaks crowd getting mad at a techno or a minimal tune in the middle of a set. Or a techno crowd enjoying a breaks set. The difficult thing is to keep it coherent, but I tend to think that as a producer, there’s a specific sound and vibe to my tunes, no matter their style... same for my sets.

With two aliases each designated for different genres (Maelstrom being more electro and breaks, Mr Strom being funk), you’ve been able to split your output easier it seems. How do you go about organising this split personality-
I began producing breaks in 2005, and after 20+ releases, it appeared that there were two distinct areas in my productions; one being mostly sample-based and funky, the other more based on electronic sounds. So I decided to keep my ‘bootleg’ alias, Mr Strom, for the funky stuff and my original alias, Maelstrom, for the electro tunes and sets. In Europe, and I guess everywhere else, new school breaks is slowly being incorporated into the electro sound, in people minds, with labels like Lot49 or Finger Lickin releasing a various range of music now, and not focusing strictly on broken beat based tunes – whereas funky breaks has got a strong identity and a solid base of fans around the world. I never really decide to make a Mr Strom or a Maelstrom tune when I sit in the studio, so I’m not suffering from a dissociative identity disorder if that’s what you mean...

You’ve got a couple of nights on this Australia tour where you are playing twice, dividing your time between Maelstrom and Mr Strom, is it fun to be able to throw down both styles in one night, and how much do they crossover-
It’s much fun indeed, and I enjoy it very much, in my home town of Nantes in France I’ve got a monthly night where I play from 11pm to 4am – it enables me to play both sides of my music in the same night. Here I’m going to play two different sets in one night, so that’s a bit different, but still nice because there’s not exactly the same vibe in these two different sets, and I’m not exactly playing the same way.

What should clubbers expect when they come to hear either Maelstrom or Mr Strom-

My funk sets are around 100/125 BPM, I’ve got a lot of loops and sounds that I trigger with my remote controller, and the main aspect is the groove. I play funk-based breaks tunes mainly. My electro sets are around 125/135 BPM, and I think it’s a bit more about getting people mental about the music, so I tend to use FX, modulations and filters more, to create an atmosphere.

WHO: Maelstrom / Mr Strom
WHAT: Plays Dust Tones at Beach Rd (as Mr Strom) / Moulin Rouge (as Maelstrom)
WHEN: Friday 20 February