Interview: Max Dean Talks neXup, Music Writing, Career Advice and Much More

Born and bred in London, Max Dean is an artist on an undeniably impressive trajectory. Whilst still relatively juvenile in his tenure, his seasoned knowledge of the House music space and homage to the culture it stands upon have already shown an excitingly mature side to one of the industry’s most sought-after rising talents.

After a successful summer of international touring and lauded releases, including several Beatport #1s, Max recently unveiled the final piece of the puzzle in his rapidly rising neXup brand vision – the launch of its label arm, neXup recz. You can listen to the first release on the label here:

To mark this milestone in his career, we caught up with Max for an all-encompassing chat about music, his rise, aspirations, advice and much more:

Welcome, Max! To get us started, tell us what first got you into playing and ultimately making House music.

I’ve always been into music since I was young. I learned how to play the drums and guitar when I was in primary school. Then, as I grew older, I was intrigued by how to produce my own music. My neighbour owned a label and downloaded FL Studio onto my laptop. I was about 12 years old at this time. Obviously, because I was so young, the music I was making was far below average. However, I’m convinced as I started learning how to use FL Studio at such a young age, it definitely gave me an advantage as I grew older. At first, I was making dubstep, then moved to EDM, and then started listening to house music, and here we are!

Your latest release, ‘KILLERZ’, did pretty well. What can you tell us about that?

After doing my first Ibiza season last year, I came home very inspired. At the time, I was listening to a lot of old-school hip hop & rap from artists such as Mob Deep, etc., and I decided I wanted to sample a short snippet from one of their most famous tracks. Then I built the track around that. The track is very hard hitting & big room. I think I really get my sound across in this record and after playing it out a few times and poking it to a few of my favourite DJs, we organically created a nice hype behind the record. My good friend WHEATS put it out on his label BOX RED. We hit number 1 in the Deep Tech/ minimal charts. Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

What is your favourite part of writing music?

I think the best thing about writing music is the excitement of testing a new record you’ve made at my next gig. And seeing the response. See, it makes people dance and gets people wondering whose track it is!

What advice can you give artists to avoid getting sucked into the saturation of making stuff that sounds the same as everyone else?

Listen to all genres. Find what influences you. Don’t pigeonhole yourself. Explore different sounds. Be open to trying new things, and make sure ur always updating your plugins/sample packs. Don’t become complacent when making music. Try new things & be versatile when creating a new track. Think of what you’d like to hear if you was in the crowd at a rave.

You’re about to unleash a VA to launch your neXup label. What can you tell us about that?

I have never been so excited to see a project come to life. From start to finish. Hunting for the tracks from the artists. Testing them in clubs. They all work. Building the NEXUP community and family. Everything that comes in between has been a real joy. I’m so excited to get this VA out there for the world. I’ve been playing them all year & it feels good to be able to say they’re coming on my label’s first release. We will be celebrating the following day, that’s for sure. My first doubleheader showcase for NEXUP in London! With all the artists who released on the VA!

What has been your favourite gig over the last 12 months and why?

Definitely without a doubt opening the DC10 garden for solid grooves closing party. The vibe was next level. I have personally never experienced anything like it. Seeing Michael Bibi doing his thing again was the icing on the cake. After that, the club was thriving with energy. Every DJ killed their sets. It was an absolute pleasure to be a part of such an incredible day.

If you could collaborate with any artist, past or present, who would it be, and why?

For me, it has to be EAST END DUBS. His sound and influence of my music goes way back. From earliest I can remember. Releasing on his label and playing for his party this year has been a dream ticked off the bucket list. So to one day be able to make a record with him would make me a very happy man!

What up-and-coming talents are you enjoying at the moment?

There’s a few that come to mind! My cousin Luke Dean is absolutely smashing it right now. He’s making such incredible music, and he’s only 20 years old. It’s crazy to think where he will be in the next few years. I’m so excited to see him grow! A few others come to mind, the likes of LOCKY, MAD.AGAIN & CANDIDATE. All making forward-thinking music, which are flooding DJs USBs at the moment!

What are your top three bucket list venues to play at?

Space Miami, Pacha Ibiza, Pikes!

What can we expect from Max Dean over the next 6-12 months?

Lots of fresh new music is being made. I’m going down under to Australia for my first tour down there! North America tour as well! And a lot more NEXUP shows are coming next year 🙂

Max Dean