In-Conversation-Timo-Maas-James-Teej

In Conversation: Timo Mass & James Teej

Published On 26/05/2017 | Interviews

One of the industry’s most interesting and fruitful creative collaborations must be the duo of Timo Maas and James Teej.

Mass – being a long time Techno titan and Teej – the Grammy nominated Canadian artist – have worked to great effect over recent years with a string of collaborations including the huge reworking of Paul McCartney. The latest from Maas & Teej is a very special remix package of none other than Moby.

See also: DHA Mix #224 By Timo Maas & James Teej

The track being reworked from the electronic music figurehead is his seminal “Play” album – ‘Porcelain,’ in which Timo Maas & James Teej turn in a trippy nine minute symphony of rubbery drums and synthetic synth sounds all run through with the smeared and heartbroken chords of the iconic original. The vocal cries and one finger piano notes also bring real emotion to the supple, rubbery groove and, as a result, this one is sure to make for plenty of teary-eyed moments on dancefloors, beaches, boat parties and terraces this summer.

With that track doing what it needs to do around the world, we thought it would be fun to get Timo Maas & James Teej together “In Conversation”…let’s see where the convo leads shall we

“I think it has been nice to approach these collaborative opportunities with confidence and clear creative direction together.”

(Timo) Yo Teej, how you doing? I was wondering, thinking back to very beginning of your music love as a young bloke… what were the 3 most influential songs/albums for you, like the ones, that “changed it all“?
Teej: How’s it going my brother. In absolutely no particular order I would have to start off with Orbital’s “Halcyon”, which is still an all time favorite of mine. Then Josh Wink’s higher state of consciousness, which again is still an all time favorite for me and was one of the early tracks that started my love affair with acid music. And finally probably Thomas Bangalter’s Trax On Da Rocks EP on Roulé… I was a massive fan of the Roulé/Scratché french house/techno sound, and ultimately I still hear that influence come out in some of the percussion preferences/choices in my productions today.

(Teej) Heading from the past to the present, what would you say are three newer tracks right now that grab you in the same way some of the music you first started listening to grabbed you?
Timo: …very good question, and I have to admit, that the “What the fuck is that“moment is a very rare thing these days. I really like the new Jamiroquai album, but can I really say, it is causing the same sort of feeling in me like for example the THRILLER album did for me back in the 80`s? I don`t think so… so I guess it`s more the feeling of finding something very solid, touching my senses and probably also that fits into my typical listening behaviour.

(Timo) How does it feel to you touching true timeless hits like Mobys”Porcelain“ or Paul McCartney & Wings “1985“? Were you nervous, or starstruck? Explain how you handle that, and what is the ideal approach working on classics like that?
James: To be honest, the opportunities have come at an interesting time in my music career. Obviously working with you on these has been a pleasure, and I think it has been nice to approach these collaborative opportunities with confidence and clear creative direction together. It is always difficult to touch a classic, as it can be polarizing for many, but my belief is that if you are totally honest in your music and the writing process in whatever you are doing, that this honesty will inevitably come across through the music. A genuine creative effort. Ultimately I don’t think there is anything that causes any nerves throughout the process, and certainly not starstruck, more of a deep commitment and determination that absolutely needs to be present to do such classic pieces of music justice when remixing them.

(James) Given that so many of the World’s music legends have passed away over the last few years, what artists from our generation do you think future generations will be talking about or inspired by?
Timo: There is obviously plenty, I don`t wanna say, “back in the days, everything was ‘better’ and ‘real’, and nowadays, it`s all ‘fake’ “. Artists like Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, to people like Floating Points, Jon Hopkins etc. etc. all have a huge influence nowadays upon the listeners and also other artists of the “now“ generation… their influence will only multiply in the future, as the influence on artists from the past like Pink Floyd, Leftfield, Björk, Kraftwerk etc etc still do today.

(Timo) Not many artists talk about it, but also due to my own experience, I know that a lot of (especially traveling) artists in fact do suffer from various forms of depressions. Why do you think, this is happening…what influence has the music business/rules of today have on this (if at all)?
(James) Having battled with depression myself throughout my career, I think that it is much more widespread than what people outside the industry may think. I also think this is something that people may be openly discussing slightly more in recent years, but there is still a stigma attached to really dealing with the issues behind it. I think some of the factors that contribute to these kinds of depressive feelings range from the constant exposure to drugs and alcohol, the financial ups and downs of being a full time touring musician/DJ (especially these days with the absolute massive influx of upcoming “artists” around the world that are simply wanting to tour and be “famous”), the loneliness and isolation of being on the road, the physical challenges of the traveling itself (days and days without proper sleep), and I think one of the biggest issues of all that perhaps leads to feelings of depression is by being surrounded by so many fake people, people that ultimately have their own agendas deep down and are willing to do anything while disregarding consequences. It all compounds to a lot of heavy emotions. The artist struggle is certainly not new or unique, but it definitely paints a different picture than what perhaps the general perception is of this life.

(James) On a related note, seeing that there is such an influx of new “DJs/artists” that are emerging, probably more now than ever before, how do you see this all ending up? As someone who has maintained a solid career for so many years, what do you feel is going to be necessary to stay relevant? And do you feel that there is much hope for the younger generations of being able to genuinely pursue electronic music as a career in the same way you did starting out?
(Timo) A career is surely not a “forever given thing“. Lets say it’s “easier“ (talking on high level) these days to have a career, as there is an existing scene, market worldwide and sometimes it`s this one track that opens all doors for you. When i started early 80`s, the DJ`s were not even cool, and careers were not there in that business really. The intention was and is a different one. While nowadays you can simply buy yourself a “name“ and “relevance“ back in the days it was ALL about the music, about the tracks, essentially your DJ and selector skills and later then too the production and even a unique style, that you created. As for quite a lot of people it`s more important to create a certain image instead of creating a certain sound, careers come up quickly but also go quickly again. To maintain, it’s a lot of work, essentially the will to stay hungry for exploring new things, the ultimate love of music, the ability to change, and continue to grow as an artist.

“Porcelain Remixes” is Out TODAY (digital) on Rockets & Ponies

Soundcloud – Timo Maas Artist Page – Timo Maas Soundcloud – James Teej Artist Page – James Teej

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About The Author

Steve comes to Amsterdam by way of Brooklyn, Connecticut, Mumbai, and Tokyo. He researches media culture at UvA, while already holding degrees from UCONN (CT) and The New School (NYC). Aside from DHA, Steve is the Senior Editor for cinema platform IndieNYC.com, and writes on issues relating to film, culture, politics & electronic music. Every so often he also dabbles in photography and filmmaking.