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Tim Deluxe | Timo Maas

Artist Profiles :: Timo Maas

Timo MaasOK, so you know the facts. He’s got the royal seal of approval from Madonna. He “swaps” remixes with Fatboy Slim. He sprinkled a little something onto Placebo’s Special K. Oh, and he hangs out with young and fresh Kelis.

But forget the hype for a moment and listen to the debut album. “It will completely kill you!” he chuckles.

Timo Maas sits, toying with his Bloody Mary, in an undistinguished hotel bar in Bayswater, reflecting on the past year. It’s a freezing cold night in November, and there’s something strangely comforting about the floral furnishings, bumbling waiters and discreet guests in their prim suits.

“It’s been a satisfying twelve months,” muses the superstar DJ who even two years ago still struggled with his English. “To see my debut album [released in April next year] progressing over such a long period of time is fantastic. It’s been the most important learning process so far in my career – to see it all coming together.”

And the story doesn’t stop there. “There’s plenty I can tell you about Finlay Quaye,” Timo laughs about one of his two stellar collaborators on the album.
“We got everything ready for him, just the way he likes it. By the end of the day he’d laid down the lyrics and it just worked. And it really was one of the most spiritual days of my life.”

The collaboration with Kelis, on ‘Help Me’, was a similarly memorable occasion: “Initially our request was refused because we weren’t “big enough.” Then I remixed her latest single, met the manager, and the next thing we knew, Kelis was sitting in our studio, really ill with a cold, but singing these haunting lyrics.”

Other highlights on the album, entitled ‘LOUD’ and co-written and produced with his studio partner Martin Buttrich, include debut single ‘To Get Down’, released on January 21st, featuring Phil Barnes on vocal duties. Again, there is a story attached:
“We’d listened to around twenty demos trying to get the sound we wanted for the vocals,” sighs Timo, “and then we’d had three guys in who all sang in this horrible rock way which was not what we wanted at all. Then, we bumped into this guy Phil on the stairs at Time Tools, got talking, and invited him into the studio. He came up with the lyrics in about five minutes.”

He adds, “This just seemed the right single for us to come back with.” Funky, addictive, understated, and brimming with Timo’s trademark energy, ‘To Get Down’ has already been made Essential New Tune by Pete Tong, and is the signature track to the German Dance Awards on Dec 11.

Whilst his recent remixes for Madonna (‘Don’t Tell Me’), Placebo (‘Special K’), Kelis (‘Young, Fresh & New’) and Fatboy Slim (‘Star 69’) have brought Timo to the attention of a mainstream audience, it was his phenomenal re-working of Azzido Da Bass’s Top 10 smash ‘Doom’s Night’ that originally captured music fans’ imagination back in 1999, with its classic straddling of progressive, garage, house and techno genres.

There followed a brace of underground hits that still managed to cross over into the charts: firstly ‘Der Schieber’, Timo’s relentlessly dark debut single for Perfecto in March last year, and secondly Top 40 hit ‘Ubik’, the best track that Beck never made, featuring the husky-voiced German funkster Martin Bettinghaus.

And let’s not forget the success of the two hefty compilations: last year’s retrospective ‘Music For The Maases’ crowned a truly staggering year for Timo, selling 60,000 units and going on to win coveted ‘Album Of the Year’ status in both Ministry and Mixmag.

Demonstrating both Timo’s technical finesse and eclectic sonic style, ‘Maases’ is a virtual handbook to his distinctive sound, termed quite simply by the man himself as "wet ‘n’ hard."

That was followed this year by his first mix album for the Perfecto Presents series. ‘Connected’ shifted a further 50,000 units, and presented a rousing insight into what had been grabbing the Maas psyche in recent months, laden as it was with killer cuts by Satoshi Tomiie, the Fatboy, Pete Heller & Starecase.

So was Timo always a man on a mission? “I’ve always liked the idea of building up a unique sound,” he explains, “of working with different sounds to create something new and fresh. I won’t sell out like some other German acts.”

OK, picture the scene. It’s the early eighties. Flat tops, pirate shirts and bondage trousers abound all over Germany. Timo, born and brought up in Hanover, is just thirteen - but already storming the decks:
“I used to play at my friends’ house parties, whilst they were all too busy snogging each other.”

And as both Timo and the crowds steadily grew over the next few years, he soon found himself playing the biggest commercial clubs in his hometown - yet still managed to drop the odd credible track into the mix.

It was Timo’s residency at The Tunnel in Hamburg, at the time one of the biggest clubs in Germany, that marked his breakthrough.

Teaming up with resident Gary D, the duo produced an “aggressive trance” record that would prove a landmark in his career. ‘Die Herdplatte’ instantly won him acclaim overseas and led to his current involvement with hope recordings.

Soon he was booked everywhere from ‘Lakota’ in Bristol to Energy Parade in Switzerland, Austria, and of course his native Germany. (Lucky he’d quit his nine year long job selling mobile phones for German Telecom by then.)

After the success of ‘Die Herdplatte’, Timo spent his apprenticeship at the renowned Peppermint Jam studios, learning “everything from recording to distribution”, and hooked up with resident producers Andy and Martin to record under the moniker Kinetic A.T.O.M. The track was the irresistibly funky ‘Borg Destroyer’, which sold an amazing 8000 copies - unaided by any marketing, press, or TV campaigns.

Yet it was the genre-defining ‘Mama Konda’, recorded in 1997 under the incarnation ‘Orinoko,’ that caused the biggest stir in the dance fraternity.

A standard in the boxes of every DJ from Morales to Sasha, ‘Mama Konda’ was a percussive floorslayer that cemented Timo’s reputation as the hottest kid on the block, reaching the Top 20 in both UK and US club charts.

Every record since the mighty ‘Mama Konda’ has sold around 10,000 copies, from its sequel ‘Via Nova’ to Bush releases like ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Riding On A Storm.’

Meanwhile Timo’s remixes garnered acclaim from all quarters, from his mixes of Lustral’s ‘Everytime’ (Hooj) and Big Ron’s ‘Let The Freak’ (48K/Perfecto) to the legendary ‘Dooms Night’ by Azzido Da Bass - “the mix that pulls together all the different pigeonholes in the UK scene right now,” said Mixmag at the time.

The productions kept on coming – “I did around 90 recordings in three years”, recalls Timo matter-of-factly, “whereas this year all I’ve done is one remix (Kelis) - besides my own album.”

Besides hope and current label Perfecto, the releases flooded out on labels including Hooj Choons, FFRR and Bush. “I’m lucky now to be at the point where I can choose very carefully about what I want to work,” he says. “Wait till you hear my remix of Roger Sanchez’ new track – it will completely kill you!”

And it’s worth pointing out that Timo’s DJing schedule is now lighter than it has been in previous years. “It got to the point where I was in a different country each day. I’d arrive at the airport and they’d say ‘Good morning Mr Maas, where are you going today?’ Now I still DJ all over the world but it’s just not as intense – although I’ll still have done all the continents this year by the time I’ve been to South Africa next week.”

So with ‘To Get Down’ out in January, new track ‘Shifter’ (featuring garage vocalist Chickaboo) out in March and the album in April, life certainly ain’t about to slow down for world’s coolest decknician.
“By the end of next year (2002) we will be finishing the next album,” Timo asserts quietly. “But I can’t tell you right now what ideas I’ve got,” he laughs. ”But whatever happens, I don’t want to lose out on the fun I’ve had this year.”


Want to know more? check out this CD...
Music for the Maases 2 [CD + DVD]
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