A flourishing duo who integrate stunning musicality and instrumentation into their music, we speak with Germany’s Max + Johann this week – who tell us more about how they work together, and what inspires them creatively.
Do you remember what first got you both into making music? How do you feel your sound and influences have changed along the way?
We have known each other since high school, that’s when we started out making music. For some reason we both naturally gravitated towards dance music. Maybe because you can do it all on your own without a need of a band. Since we can get bored pretty easily, our sound is constantly changing, and it has always been like that. Our first tracks were purely electronic, but we soon learned to appreciate the organic quality of live instruments. So today we play real piano, guitars, bass and percussions on almost every track we are doing. Not everything ends up in the final production, but we think it can improve a song significantly.
What would you say your style encompasses?
Everything, haha. No, seriously, it is difficult to narrow it down. We are always trying to do something that is a bit outside the mainstream but still feels relevant to a bigger audience and to us, of course. We like outstanding voices and elements in songs that trigger an emotional response. Maybe that is why our tracks are rather mellow in most cases.
Which artists do you particularly dig right now?
Just too many to mention, but there are a few that spontaneously come to mind. We like Petit Biscuit for his collage-like way of creating moods you can dance to. ARIZONA is always an inspiration for us when it comes to interesting, minimalistic ways of using guitars. Gryffin combines live instruments, producing and DJ-ing perfectly and, by the way, has some great tunes out there!
What did you enjoy about making ‘Bette Davis Eyes’? Was it daunting taking on such a famous single?
‘Bette Davis Eyes’ is a fantastic gem from the 80s and we really enjoyed giving it a modern spin. We love 80s sounds and you can hear a lot of updated 80s synths and stuff these days, so everything we did while working on our version felt right and relevant to us. It only got tricky because of the complex structure of the original. There are so many cool parts in the song, and we didn’t want to cut out anything, but we had to make sure the track didn’t feel bloated at the end.
How would you describe your musical partnership?
We know each other inside out. When we are working on a track and something feels wrong, we both know exactly what to change instantly. And when a song clicks, it clicks for both of us in that very moment. So we are pretty much on the same page most of the time. But in those rare moments where we don’t agree, the mood can quickly change for the worse, haha.
Most memorable part of 2017 so far?
We had the chance to do remixes and collaborations for and with big German artists such as Bosse, Vincent Weiss, Johannes Oerding and Gestört aber geiL and we are really thankful for that. But this year has also been a shift in perspective for us. After our remix of Dua Lipa’s ‘Be The One’ last year, we are now fully concentrating on international tracks. ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ is our first own track in English and we couldn’t be happier with all the great feedbacks and responses we receive every day.
Do you have any more originals or remixes on the horizon right now?
Oh yeah, we are constantly working on new stuff but we don’t want to give it away before it is ready for a release. And when it’s time, we like to let the music speak for itself.
How was your summer? What else are you looking forward to in the coming months?
Summer was great, but most of the time we had to watch it from inside our studio while putting sweat and blood into our new music. We are really excited what 2018 holds in store for us. We hope we will be on the road a lot more and meet all the great people who like and support our music.
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