You’ve spent hours travelling across the city taking three trains, four buses and a 20-minute walk in the rain to reach your destination. You feel like your arms may drop off after lugging two record bags 10 miles, but it doesn’t matter now, because you’re in the DJ booth and you’ve never been sounding better. You load up a record you’ve been dying to play all week, your secret weapon that time after time gets the crowd moving. You look up to drench yourself in the adulation of the crowd and…nothing. It’s your first gig, nobody knows who you are and you’re playing in a pub to a crowd of 3 pensioners and a tired, old dog.
First gigs aren’t always the best yet they’re to be cherished all the same. However, Max Chapman hasn’t had the experience I speak about above for a while now. He’s a Hot Creations family member, is spoken of in the same breath as Loco Dice and Jamie Jones and prefers to play his gigs in the White Isle over Wetherspoons. But it wasn’t always that way. As Max Chapman joins the Gorgon City duo, Shadow Child, Klose One and MANT on 10th November we find out the facts behind his first ever gig, his ecstasy for electro and why he’s been winging it since the beginning.
Where was your first gig?
The first played I ever played was at a little cocktail bar called Rasputins, which is in Clacton-on-Sea. It only had 50 capacity and when I first started playing I was playing really crap music. It was mainly electro, sometimes even a bit cheesier than that, but the place was mint. It used to be full every night, which wasn’t hard at a 50 capacity, but it was a good little vibe in there and I used to love it. I used to play Friday and Saturday nights and get 10% of the bar, and sometimes they took about 3 grand so I had £300 quid a night which at the age was amazing. But I was DJing for about 7 hours each night, playing the same tunes three times and spreading it out.
If it’s nice, play it twice. How old would you have been then?
I was about 20. I remember hearing Laidback Luke’s ‘Break The House Down’, which was some mad electro tune that came out in 2008, and I got into electro from that tune…but back then, my musical knowledge was crap. I was getting my musical knowledge from playlists, or from lists of what Pete Tong was playing. It was just mainstream music, really, but I never thought it would take me anywhere. I was just doing it for a bit of fun and money at the time. I moved on to house music shortly after, but when I got into production that took me more underground.
Was Clacton-on-Sea where you grew up?
Yeah, I didn’t really go anywhere until I was about 21. I spent a few years at Rasputins then went to Australia travelling, and that’s where I focussed on production. I’d get home from work every night and make tunes, then after that I moved back home to try and make it in music. I was tossing it up at the time but it was the best choice to make as in three months I had music signed.
Were you nervous before going on stage that first time?
I was. It was the first time I ever experienced anxiety, that weird, nervous, horrible feeling. Even though sometimes you get it when you’re excited…but it was all pretty fun, and I realised you could actually earn a little money for it. Shortly after though the love of it took over of course.
You said it was mainstream music you were playing at the start, but did that experience hone your skills? Perhaps teaching you how to read a crowd, or keep a room…
Definitely. Over that amount of time, playing seven hour warm-ups, it teaches you a lot of stuff. When you start playing you usually play for an hour or two, or get chucked into a warm-up slot, and that’s easy because you choose your best 10 or 12 tracks and turn it into a power hour. But playing for that amount of time all night is a real learning curve.
Obviously that first gig didn’t put you off then?
Not at all. I just love it, I don’t think I’ll ever be put off by anything.
Do you have any advice for yourself before that set?
Well, I just wish I had studied production when I was younger, or at college. I wish I could write and read music, not just because of DJing, but I wish I had paid more attention when I was younger. Other than that everything’s gone to plan really.