Dip your toes into the musical water of Max Graef and you’re bound to come out drenched in frequencies that could murder any Berlin dancefloor. Through his clap-heavy releases with Copenhagen’s experimental house label Tartelet and ongoing affiliation with Melbourne Deepcast, the 20-year-old Berliner has showcased a hybrid style of production that spans harmoniously over house, hip-hop, garage, jazz and disco. Via his own label Box Aus Holz, the offbeat teenage producer has really cemented his worth in electronic music with a love of jazz sampling and organic sounds. His past releases have been distributed by the prestigious Oye Records shop in Berlin, a serious feat for any producer. As excitement rapidly grows around him, Max put together a hugely varied, but infectiously dance worthy mix for us and answered a few questions before his London show (Oct 4th) and the release of Broken Keyboard EP (on Heist Recordings) next month.
1. The Monn Keys – Senor Blues – “Dreamsville” (Omega Records)
2. Henri Gruel, Andrée Huet & Pierre Chêne – Demarche d’un Personnage Majestueux – “Imaginations/3” (Unidisc)
3. Extra Ball Taniec Na Line – “Polish Jazz vol.59: Go Ahead” (Muza)
4. Brother Jack McDuff & David Newman – Duffin’ ‘Round – “Double Barrelled Soul” (Atlantic)
5. Karriem Riggins – Esperanza – “Alone” (Stones Throw)
6. A Tribe Called Quest – Ham ‘N’ Eggs – “People’s Instinctive Travels an the Paths of Rhythm” (Jive)
7. Herbie Mann – Killian – “Sunbelt” (Atlantic)
8. Remi Kabaka – Slave March – “Black Goddess OST” (Soundway)
10. Ebolo – Bell’ A Njoh – “Sofrito international soundclash” (Strut)
11. Quincy Jones – Boogie Joe, The Grinder – “Body Heat” (A&M)
12. Mr. Tophat & Art Alfie – No Holdings (Radio Edit) – “KVK200” (Karlovak)
13. Delroy Edwards – Feelings – “American Noise” Sampler (L.I.E.S.)
14. Art Alfie – Easy to Love – “Back Yard Impressions” (Junk Yard Connections)
15. Pepe Bradock – Mandragore – “Les Aventures De Pepe Bradock / Pistes Insolites Vol. 3” (Atavisme)
16. Al Kent – Down to Me – “MDD1001” (Million Dollar Disco)
What made you want to start your own label?
Nobody wanted to sign my music so I, and some friends with the same problem, decided to release our own stuff.
Out of interest, what does Box Aus Holz actually mean?
What are your favourite type of records to sample?
There are no favourite type of records, there are amazing recordings around from every genre really. I think it’s fun to try sampling the rather uncommon stuff like old blues band records like Blues by the Polish band Breakout from 1971, or something orchestral like some of the Theme Recordings stuff.
We know you’re trying to move away from sampling to more real sounds. Have you ever run into trouble with samples or do you just enjoy creating music more organically?
I’m very happy that I never got into any sort of trouble for sampling yet. I often feel really bad sampling ideas from bands that spent ages in the studio to create and record these amazing records and all you have to do is press play and record, but then it’s obviously a very interesting thing to do to take little existing parts and make them into something new. However, I’m enjoying the process of creating my own samples and sounds, more and more. Sometimes I record a “jazz” attempt with guitar, synth, bass and drums and then sample my own recording. I enjoy creating music organically a lot actually. I think it’s just a far funner process than putting stuff into a sampler and trying to find something cool for hours.
You’ve done a lot of collabs with other super-talented producers. Can you give us an insight into the dynamic of producing with someone else as opposed to producing by yourself?
It’s a bit like remixing. You can work with ideas someone else had and fiddle around with them ’till it works and then again the other way around until the final track features ideas of both individuals. It’s fun but I find producing by myself just as enjoyable.
How did your affiliation with Melbourne Deepcast come about?
It’s very easy actually. I sent them demos, a few month later Andy wrote: “hey I like the tracks but they are probably gone now.” They actually weren’t signed so that’s how my EP for them came about. When the guys came to Berlin last summer we became friends and so on.
You’ve put out records on some amazing labels already (as well as your own!), but are there any big electronic labels you would love to put out some tracks on?
I got asked by Retreat to do a track and that is something I look forward to a lot.
Is there an album in the works?
There actually is and it’s almost finished. I’ve been working on for the last three month and I can’t wait to hear the tracks on a record! It actually features only three house tracks which is quite a little for a (at least) 15-track album by someone who has pretty much only put out house music so far.
What’s your favourite track of yours and why?
I usually don’t like my own stuff once it’s out because by then I’ve listened to it too much. I usually still like one track per record after a while though. Life On Mars is a track I still enjoy playing and also BAH007 sometimes.
Can you tell us about some forthcoming tracks from you?
After my release on Heist I wanna stop releasing for a while. I have some sideprojects with some EP releases though. Next year I have an EP coming out on The Gym, which I am looking forward to a lot. And then there’s the album.
Can you tell us a bit more about the mix you’ve done for us?
The mix is just some of my favourite records put together. Artists I admire and songs I love.
Do you have any plans to come to the UK soon?
Im playing in London the 4th of october together with Tornado Wallace at the Basing House and I’m also playing in Birmingham the 19th I think.