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Maas Media: Madonna's New Remixer

By Thomas J. Clarke, Contributing Writer

Timo Maas may be dance music's new Superman, but he seems perpetually stuck as Clark Kent. Polite, soft-spoken, and-dare we say it?-humble, he lacks any trace of the superstar-DJ mentality. Could this really be the man Britain's Mixmag magazine called "the biggest thing to hit dance music since the invention of legs?" But even if his down-to-earth personality doesn't befit a big-name DJ, his music certainly does. His most recent release, Music for the Maases, contains much of his groundbreaking work from the past several years, including releases under the pseudonyms Orinoko and Kinetic A.T.O.M. Also included is the track that sparked his latest rise to global prominence, a groove-laden remix of Azzido Da Bass's "Doom's Night." Flight delays threatened to wreak havoc with the German producer-DJ's recent tour stop in Boston, but we caught up with him after an in-store set at Sound Factory in Allston.

The Harvard Crimson: You've received a lot of praise, and some truly impressive things have been said about you. How do you react to that?

Timo Maas: It's strange, basically. The whole year was strange, and it's sometimes hard to work it out, I must say. Especially with a situation like this here, it's an in-store. Everyone's looking at you; no one's really dancing. Everyone's interested in "What is he doing now? How is he looking? How is he acting?" This is much more intense and hard-core than anything else. How do I work that out? I do my best. I try to keep my feet on the ground. She [points at girlfriend] helps me a lot with that, which is good. There's no school where you can learn to be successful, so you have to work that out for yourself.

THC: Some of the stuff on Music for the Maases didn't get as great a reaction when it came out as it does now. People were saying, "it's not soft enough, it's too percussive, it's too hard." How do you feel now that people are finally appreciating it? Do you feel a little angry that they didn't appreciate it the first time around?

TM: Especially here in America, it's a big learning process which is going through the scene. I saw what we sold in England compared to America, which was amazing. America is now starting. A lot of people know me just from the underground record scene, record stores, clubs I've played for the last 12 months or so. Now the people hear my name more and more, and they try to identify my name with a kind of music. I think I am so successful at the moment because my sound is different. I love it! I can live with that, so I am not under pressure. I didn't say I wanted to reach whatever in one year. I am just doing what I love, and when the people love it, it's good, and if not, whatever.

THC: Are you afraid that too many people think of Timo Maas just as the guy who remixed Azzido Da Bass' "Doom's Night?"

TM: Yes, but thank God I did some other good mixes this year, such as Green Velvet ["Flash"]. I know Azzido is the key to the big success at the moment, but it's good like it is. These are the rules in the music business. One song makes you famous, and then the people just realize, "Oh, there's something new. We are listening from now on to his shit." I have been doing music for six years, producing, putting out records and now the time is right. I just do what I love, and Azzido is very authentic. This is just a good track-we just tried to do something interesting, and this is what happened. What can I say?

THC: When you've been asked to describe your sound, one of the phrases you like to use is "wet, hard funk." Do you feel that maybe the dance music scene is becoming too interested in creating neat little genres? Are you afraid of your music being pigeonholed?

TM: You can't pigeonhole my music, which is for me the most important thing. I don't have any description-the owner of [German record label] MFS was the inventor of this "wet and hard" description. It fits my sound because the people are dancing, they are wet and the sound is quite hard as well. That's one description, but I just call it good music. I give a shit for styles, genres, whatever. I play everything, but it has to be good music.

THC: So what do you see yourself doing five or ten years down the line? You're working hard, doing four, five or six gigs a week on the Music for the Maases tour. Is this still what you want to be doing?

TM: I didn't plan that. You can't plan that. I mean, the year 2000 was definitely the breakthrough year; I saw that just from the booking offers I got from all around the world. My plans for the future? Producing nice records? Producing famous artists from the producer's side? Doing my dance, my techno stuff, as well as more interesting, more work-intensive productions for big artists. This is the plan. This is the dream. I don't know if it's [going to] happen, but I just did a Madonna mix, which is a really good sign, and we will see what the future brings. You can't plan the music business. It comes or it comes not.

THC: At very least, do you think you'll stay Timo Maas, or do you want to another side project-maybe try something different with Orinoko or Kinetic A.T.O.M.?

TM: Definitely. I do still identify myself as Timo Maas, but surely after my album I will do something new, so why not? We've got very crazy ideas and you can't do everything under the name Timo Maas. We've got some really weird things that we want to do next year with some interesting big artists as well. Whatever. I have fun at the moment, my producer as well, and her [gestures at girlfriend] sometimes as well, when she's there with me. [laughs] Basically, we'll see what the future brings.

THC: So you wouldn't be afraid to try something new even if it didn't have the same sort of success?

TM: When I start something new, when I start a new project, I'm really looking out that my name is not on the record. That no one knows I'm behind the whole thing. Because when I want to try something new, I want to try it from the beginning to the end. And when it's successful, it's a good sign for me that it's not just the name that sells-it's the quality of the production. So I can't exactly say how it will be because I don't know what I will do next year. You can't plan creativity. But it will be quite exciting. We plan to do what I said already-a couple of interesting things after my album.

THC: So who really is Timo Maas, anyway?

TM: I give this question back to you. What do you think about me? I don't want to describe myself. Ask other people.

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