DJ Timo Maas is all set to follow up his first artist album, 2002’s Loud, with Pictures. Ahead of the new record’s release we caught up with him to hear about the new work – and his unlikely other life…
Surely 11:30am in the morning is too early to even think of talking to a DJ? But then this is a Thursday, and the jock in question is the boundlessly enthusiastic Timo Maas, over to promote his new record. Loud was an impressive debut that spawned the hit singles To Get Down and Shifter. So as Maas undertakes this next part of “my interview marathon”, he considers the reaction to the new record.
“The reaction’s been brilliant. It’s been an odd time as I’ve lived in a kind of microcosmos for two years! Me and my recording partner Martin (Freedberg) have just stepped out of a cocoon after two years in the studio. It feels odd to be back in the real world again!”
Life’s not all been a hermit like existence in that time, however, as Timo has continued to find the time to DJ, recently completing a couple of sets as part of the Miami Music Conference. As we talk he is preparing for his longest set to date, a seven-hour epic at the Ministry Of Sound.
“It was great to work with him, to get into his world – we had a fantastic time.”
– Timo Maas on Brian Molko.
“I’ve been sorting out the record boxes for this one and basically I’ve been preparing on and off for two months, labelling records and stuff. Mind you, I still don’t know the first record in the set will be, and I won’t until five minutes before I go on, when I know what the crowd’s like. It’s going to be a long night, but I can’t wait!”
And what are his tunes of choice? “The new single, mate!” he responds immediately. The new record being a collaboration with Placebo‘s Brian Molko, one of three on the album. He takes up the story. “We were coming to the end of the summer and Michael and me were kind of stuck. We’d finished the instrumentals and were looking for our dream collaborators but they weren’t easy to get. Then we sent something to Brian and he was totally up for it, came over to Hanover and recorded two of the three tracks in a day, then we met up in London to do the third. It was great to work with him, to get into his world – we had a fantastic time.”
“He’s the best producer in dance music at the moment.”
– Timo Maas on producer Martin Freeberg.
Also on the record is the comparatively unknown vocalist Jo Kate, a friend and singer in Bristol with connections to Timo’s label Four:Twenty. In the DJ’s words, the two vocalists “made the album what it is now”, but the real praise is reserved for Freedberg. “I’m extremely proud of Martin and what we’ve done. In my view he’s the best producer in dance music at the moment. Quite often I would go into the studio with a bunch of records, put them on and say “this is how I don’t want it to sound” and we’d take it from there!”
The duo reclaimed a track originally intended for Puff Daddy as part of his seemingly redundant house music album, and brought in Neneh Cherry. to add vocals. “We originally called it “Feedback Welcome” as we kept sending him emails to ask him what he wanted to do with it, and when we didn’t hear back we sent him another to say ‘we’re gonna use this on the album’, and it became High Drama. The same happened with Tori Amos, she was definitely up for working with us after the remix (the Grammy award winning take on Don’t Make Me Come To Vegas) but we didn’t hear back and left it as an instrumental, Enter My World.”
One artist all too happy to renew acquaintances was Kelis. “She’s simply amazing!” enthuses Timo. “I think Kelis is for R&B what we are for dance, difficult to pin down into any category. Help Me (her contribution to Loud) wasn’t a big hit but it was one of the coolest things we’ve done. She’s so cool. And so dirty!”
“I couldn’t be happier.”
– the infectiously cheerful Timo Maas on life in 2005.
When Timo’s not working, his retreat is on a farm half an hour’s drive west of Hanover. “I am a farmer, yes!” he crows. “It’s always been a dream of mine to live on a farm, and now I am married with a daughter and getting to make all this music. I couldn’t be happier.”
He even confesses to loving the album’s promotional work, seeing it as “a chance to talk about the music”. It’s a refreshing approach, and as we sign off his thoughts turn to Ibiza. “I’m DJing at DC10 again this year,” he says, “Wednesdays from August 3rd. I can’t wait!”