The Tab meets: Max Cooper

‘So you’re from Belfast? My dog is from Belfast’. The Tab has a friendly chat with DJ and producer Max Cooper.

beatport interview max cooper Parklife

Max Cooper is a Northern Irish electronica and techno producer based in London. Releasing music since 2007 after completing a PHD in genetics, he has established himself as a unique and highly respected DJ and producer. In 2012, he was named one of Beatport’s top 10 artist of the year.

Cooper’s music has frequently been described as ‘haunting’ and ‘hypnotic’ by music critics, who applaud his blend of scientific precision and feeling that give the tracks a powerful quality. Frequently, they seem to evoke both melancholy and mischief in tandem, like the soundtrack to a haunted house that cannot quite decide if it should mourn or meddle.

After playing a great set to a rapturous Parklife audience, Max Cooper and I sheltered our  Celtic skin from the sun inside the marquee and had a lovely little chat about dogs, music and science. He was modest, self-deprecating, and really nice.

Cat: Hi Max! Hows it going?

Max: Hi! Good thanks.

C: How are you finding Parklife so far?

M: Its been great so far. I’ve played at Warehouse Project before so it’s the same team,  professional and running smoothly. The crowd are great.

C: Good to hear. So where about in Northern Ireland are you from?

M: I’m from Belfast

C: That’s cool, I went to Belfast once. My dog was from Belfast.

M: Was it called Max?

C: Unfortunately not, she was called Chaka.

M: Apparently Max is a very popular dog’s name.

C: Really? Do you think that is a compliment or an insult?

M: Well, people love their dogs.

C: Yeah thats true. I think there are lots of positive connotations. Dogs are very loyal.

M: Maybe it suggests that I’m a bit thick but very loyal then?

C: Ah well, nothing wrong with that really. So how did you get into music?

M: I studied at Nottingham and DJ’d throughout my degree. I loved studying and ended up staying on for eight years and doing a post-grad in genetics. As a result, I had spare time to spend on DJing and producing music. Essentially, I was doing both and seeing which one worked out. I would have been happy to be a scientist if things had gone differently.

C: That’s amazing! Do you think you would ever go back to science?

M: Maybe one day, although genetics advances pretty quickly so I might be too far behind now.

C: Musically, do you prefer gigs or festivals?

M: I like the variety really. Variety is the spice of life, after all, so it’s good to have a bit of everything. Inevitably doing just one type gets boring after a while

C: What do you think of Manchester?

M: I love it, it’s such a great city. People here love a party. When  studied in Nottingham we used to come up to Manchester a lot to go out.There is a really vibrant scene.

C: Yeah, they definitely do. Finally, as a student paper a lot of our readers are graduating or thinking about the future. A lot of students want to get into really competitive industries, and it can seem completely hopeless at times. As a successful act, what advice would you give to someone wanting to get into music?

For me, studying was a good route, as it gives you time to do music. That way you also have a back up, as if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t matter as much.

As for the competition, you basically have to be prepared to work harder than everyone else. It looks really easy, but it’s not. The act of Djing is easy, but getting gigs and building up a profile and writing music is hard . But at the same time, you always have to enjoy the process. Otherwise there is no point

On the other hand, if you were really rich you could just pay some producers to make the music for you and you could bypass all the tricky stuff.

C: Thanks Max, it was lovely to meet you!

Later that night, Max Cooper helped to finish Parklife 2013 on a high as played to a packed room of fans at the South Afterparty. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it as I accidentally fell asleep on the sofa at 9.30pm and woke up confused, dehydrated and fully dressed at 4am. Sorry Max, I’ll definitely make it next time!