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The Comedy of Errors

Max Cooper Talks Playing All Night Long for Wigflex at The Brickworks

2 March 17 interview: Bridie Squires

Having been active on the electronic music scene for over ten years, Max Cooper is bringing his refined musical experience to The Brickworks this weekend as part of Wigflex. We put a few questions to the absolute don ahead of his all-night-long set on Saturday…

How did you first get into music and what were your early influences?
My interests in electronic music started when I was in my early teens, listening to my sister’s synth-pop and rave tracks. Then I got into clubs in the late nineties and arrived in Notts to go to my first drum ‘n’ bass and broken-beat events, as everything in Belfast had been very evenly spaced as far as kick drums went.

The electronic music scene has seen many changes over the years – what has been most notable to you?

I like how electronic music has changed from what was only something for clubs, to a much wider ranging musical form now. Some of my favourite gigs are sit-down events where I play all my weirder music to an old techno audience with bad backs who can't stay up until 5am on a dancefloor because they're going to get woken up at 6.30am by their kids. But they still like techno. And that's ok – the scene caters to a much bigger range of people now, which also opens options creatively from the musical side of things.

What does your creative process consist of and where do you draw your inspirations from?

I often turn to science and visuals. The Emergence show is built around those two things primarily, with the music created as a score to the visual story, which I control along with the music. The science part comes in because a lot of science is visually beautiful, so it's great content to draw on for a live show. And the wider concept of emergence allows me to tell a story, it's not just a collection of things which look nice, every chapter has a meaning within a larger narrative – how simple building blocks, natural laws, give rise to the physical universe, and subsequently stars, planets, biochemistry, early life and evolution, complex life, humans, civilisation, the capitalist machine, the digital age, the future – it's all in there. I won't try and explain any more here, but if you want to see what I'm talking about it's online here: emergence.maxcooper.net. And here’s a little example: https://vimeo.com/196269431

If you weren’t a producer/DJ, what would you have ended up doing?

I was working in genetics before I went full-time with music. I always assumed that was going to be my real job, but that's not how things worked out in the end.

The range of music you drop is pretty eclectic. Are there any genres you find yourself most drawn towards?
I generally listen to ambient, post-classical and electronica in various combinations. Club music is usually just for listening to in clubs for me.

What kind of things do you consider when it comes to track selection?
I'm usually trying to challenge myself to do something new, challenge the audience to experience something new, and also make a good party happen. It's not always possible to achieve them all at once, but that's the aim with the track selection.

What artists should we be paying attention to at the moment?
Kimyan Law, Rival Consoles, Ash Koosha, Vessels.

You’re based in London – where’s the best place for us to experience the best music down there at the moment?
Printworks is a pretty amazing new venue – a huge industrial space with a 70 meter high roof, but not too wide so it's not difficult to get to where you need, and massive printing press machinery around. Plus lights which seem to lower the roof right down to the audience and then open it up. And that's just the main room, there's a whole load more which I hope they'll be opening up in future. It has massive potential, and London needed something new like that after the recent years of venue closures.

What mood are you aiming to create with All Night Long at Wigflex?
I love playing all night because it means I can explore my ambient and weirder stuff early on, and dip into all the genres I love, while still keeping a musical flow, which just needs a lot of time – like 8 hours perhaps! Plus I'm bringing the Emergence live AV show into the set as well, which adds a whole lot more potential for exploring.

What future plans do you have coming up?
It will be fairly hectic with European, Australian and US visits over the next couple of months, then there's a new EP out in May with the Babraham Institute. We used data from their experiments on chromosomal structure to create a beautiful music video and VR experience. It's another example of how science can be presented in a different light, and how music can be part of wider arts and sciences projects – that's exactly the theme of the new label, Mesh. Then there's a collaborative project with Dolby on the way, and another with a well-known British artist, mapping their sculptures to musical forms.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to LeftLion readers?
I'm just happy to get back to Nottingham really, I have a lot of good memories of the city after seven years there at uni. So it's always a pleasure to get to visit, and to get to be involved with all the amazing things the Wigflex guys are doing in the city.

Wigflex presents Max Cooper All Night Long, The Brickworks, Saturday 4 March, 10pm, £19.60. Get tickets here.

Wigflex on Facebook

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