so you know the facts. Hes got the royal seal of approval
from Madonna. He swaps remixes with Fatboy Slim. He
sprinkled a little something onto Placebos 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. Its a
freezing cold night in November, and theres something strangely
comforting about the floral furnishings, bumbling waiters and discreet
guests in their prim suits.
Its 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. Its been the
most important learning process so far in my career to see
it all coming together.
And the story doesnt stop there. Theres 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 hed 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 werent 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
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:
Wed listened to around twenty demos trying to get the
sound we wanted for the vocals, sighs Timo, and then
wed 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
Timos 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 (Dont 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 Basss Top 10 smash Dooms
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, Timos
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 lets not forget the success of the two hefty compilations:
last years 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 Timos 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
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? Ive always liked
the idea of building up a unique sound, he explains, of
working with different sounds to create something new and fresh.
I wont sell out like some other German acts.
OK, picture the scene. Its 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
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 Timos 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 hed 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 Timos
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 Timos remixes garnered acclaim from all quarters,
from his mixes of Lustrals Everytime (Hooj) and
Big Rons 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 Ive done is one remix (Kelis) - besides my own
Besides hope and current label Perfecto, the releases flooded out
on labels including Hooj Choons, FFRR and Bush. Im 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
And its worth pointing out that Timos 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. Id
arrive at the airport and theyd say Good morning Mr
Maas, where are you going today? Now I still DJ all over the
world but its just not as intense although Ill
still have done all the continents this year by the time Ive
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 aint about to slow down for worlds
By the end of next year (2002) we will be finishing the next
album, Timo asserts quietly. But I cant tell you
right now what ideas Ive got, he laughs. But whatever
happens, I dont want to lose out on the fun Ive had