THE INTERVIEW: DJ/Producer Max Tannone

Dance music, DJ’s and mash-ups have once again edged their way into public eye and popularity. One up-and-coming DJ/producer known as Max Tannone has perfected this skill within projects like “Jaydiohead” and “Double Check Your Head;” two mash-ups that will find their way onto your iPod very soon, if not already. Here, I speak with Tannone about how he got into the music business, the unexpected success of Jaydiohead and what fans can expect from him in the future.

Do you still go by Minty Fresh Beats, or do you prefer Max Tannone?

I go by my name, Max Tannone. There was a legal issue involving the name “Minty Fresh Beats,” and I can no longer use it.

What or who first influenced you to want to make music? Has being a DJ/Producer always been a dream of yours, or did it evolve over time?

It evolved over time. I was always interested in computers, and I got a few pieces of music software and just started playing around. I ended up spending a lot of time at it, and it just kind of became a thing that I did. Before getting into computer-based music, I started playing the drums, which I still enjoy doing. Now that I think about it, much of my musical proficiency was very rhythm driven and so is hip-hop music, coincidentally. Playing the drums definitely helped me understand how to build a beat.

Definitely. So have you lived in New York your whole life? How has this city affected your work, if at all?

I haven’t. I used to live in Manhattan, and then I moved away to upstate NY for most of my life…I just moved back about a year ago. Since I moved to the city I’ve put more sirens in my songs…and started using less chirping birds (laughs.) The city is just so full of energy, and the people have seen so much that you can be as weird as you want and it doesn’t matter. I like to make my music a little weird.

Weird is always good in these times. So for those unfamiliar with the term, what exactly is a mash-up, and what attracted you to this concept?

A mash-up is basically combining music that was never “intended” to go together. With Jaydiohead, it was the challenge of making two artists from different worlds sound cohesive and sound like they were in the studio together. With my Beastie Boys project, I combined the Beastie Boys with themselves, but essentially it’s the same… re-contextualizing something.

What is your thought process when coming up with new ideas for mash-ups? (Are you a fan of all the music you use, or do you seek out music that is unknown to you? Does genre play a factor?)

I find that it helps to be a fan of the music you use. If I’m planning a project, I already have a rough idea of what would sound good with what. Furthermore, you are already familiar with the fan bases of the artist, who generally likes them, etc. I have Jay-Z’s and Radiohead’s entire discography on my iPod.

And who would’ve known they’d work so well together! So how exactly did the concept of Jaydiohead come about? Were you surprised at its success? And will there be a third installation of Jaydiohead in the future?

The first track I made was “Wrong Prayer,” which I actually made about a year before the bulk of Jaydiohead. I had thought about doing the project for a long time – and I finally did it. Again, it was the challenge to see if I could do it and satisfy my own requirements for it sounding “good.” When I was done, I liked it and decided to make a quick site for it. I did not expect it to take off like it did. For now, I’m not planning on doing anymore Jaydiohead…I mean if I get inspired I could do some more…but for now I want to focus on other stuff.

Awesome… anything in specific?

I mentioned this quickly earlier – but I just finished a project with the Beastie Boys called Doublecheck Your Head. I made the project in support of the Beastie Boys recent reissue of their Check Your Head album (one of my personal favorites.) The concept is that the Beastie Boys are mashed up with themselves, rapping over tracks and sampling their own instrumentals, with all vocals and sampled elements coming from Check Your Head.

You can listen or download it for free here: www.doublecheckyourhead.com.

Who has been your favorite artist/musician to work with thus far? What bands or musicians would you love to collaborate with in the future?

Well with these projects I haven’t worked with the artists directly – instead just working with their acapellas or pre-existing tracks. So I haven’t had a lot of experience physically working with other musicians. As far as the future, there are so many people I’d love to work with, I couldn’t begin to list them…I think Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John is a dope producer – he would be cool to work with.

Interesting! For fans of yours that live in the area, are there any hotspots or places that you frequent where people can hear you mix?

Not yet. I’m in the process of further developing my DJ sets. So far, everything I’ve done is “in-studio”… production stuff. I’m looking to get more into live stuff, but my heart will always be production; behind the scenes, so to speak.

Besides being a DJ and producer, is there anything else in your career musically that you’d like to try?

I used to play the guitar quite a bit; I want to get back into it. I want to take piano lessons too…the piano is so bad-ass, and every time I see someone play I wish I could do it! Someday.

For more info on Max Tannone, check out his MySpace page.

Lucy Tonic

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