Max Tannone x FatKidOnFire - Interview #92

Max Tannone x FatKidOnFire

Interview #92

A few weeks back, when the first non-MakeItGood x FatKidOnFire feature of 2012 (with Shaka Clothing) dropped on FKOF, I promised I’d try get my non-dubstep/ bass music game and try start posting at least one FKOF feature a week. So far, I’ve kind of failed. But that’s not through lack of trying. Luckily tonight will see both types types of interviews; the previous one with young dubstep producer Gutcha and the following…

[It appears Max likes cats]

I’ve not found too many mashup/ refix/ remix albums of real worth in the past few years. There are a few – but not many. But it seems New York’s ‘remix artist’ Max Tannone can be credited with a solid percentage of them.

What with 2009’s seminal ‘Jaydiohead‘ project, where he mashed Radiohead and Jay-Z together (to significant critical acclaim, even from Jay-Z himself); or 2010’s ‘Mos Dub‘ or ‘Dub Kweli‘ albums (where Mos Def and Talib Kweli got dub refixes). If that’s not enough evidence of Max’s talent, how many artists havve been asked by the Beastie Boys to remix for them? Max has! Some of my favourite Max Tannone albums are embedded throughout the interview – but you can find all of his music available for download on his SoundCloud account.

I emailed Max a few weeks last year to say how much I loved his work, and we got chatting. I raised the idea of an interview and thankfully, Max had a bit of free time so I could bounce some questions off him. He’s also produced a 30m mix (it’s more of sample of what’s on his iPod at the moment) – which is available as a free download below…

Who is Max Tannone? I don’t know. This question really makes me feel neurotic. How do I really answer that question? I fiddle around on the computer, doing music and beats. I also did a few remix projects, the last one being “Ghostfunk” which mixes Ghostface Killah and African funk music.

Who or what influences you in your work? Everything I listen to, which ranges a lot. The mix I included is pretty random. There is so much new music nowadays that its hard to keep up. I recently got into ‘House of Balloons[.zip] by The Weeknd. Also Big Baby Gandhi, he’s a rapper and producer from Queens. He just put out an awesome release called ‘Big Fucking Baby[.zip]. Worth checking out.

I’m influenced by anyone who just has a real vision or a unique sound and just goes after it. I respect that. And there is a lot of that in hip-hop right now. There are more characters, it’s become more interesting than its been in many years.

Your projects have featured remixes/ mashups of the Beastie Boys, Jay-Z & Radiohead and the soundtrack to the British thriller ‘Moon‘ (and many more). How did your passion for remixing come about? I’ve always been interested in music, hip-hop and electronic/ dance music especially. I could understand hip-hop, making rock or orchestral music or something else seemed so difficult, but creating hip-hop and dance music felt attainable.

Once I learned how to use a few different computer programs, and began collecting sounds and plug-ins, it was just about experimentation and having fun. This combined with my interest in computers. I had milk crates of random computer parts in my bedroom, old modems, hard drives, video cards, whatever. Once I learned I could hook a computer up to a stereo, I started DJing in my home town, and wanted to create music soon thereafter.

Can you explain the creative process behind each project? Of your back catalogue, which is your favourite – and why? I like to start with an interesting idea, something that will challenge me. I then begin to collect source material, say dub music. I will just listen to tons of different tracks, and keep notes on what catches my ear. If I am using rap vocals, I will search out acapella tracks of that artist. Once I have enough viable source material, I just start mixing the two. Usually I have ideas of what tracks I think will work together, based on tempo, mood, instrumentation, etc. If I find the tracks will work together, I begin fitting them together, cutting audio apart, moving it around, whatever I need to make it sound cool. Then I begin to add whatever additional elements will add to the finished track. In summary, its just a lot of experimentation. There isn’t too much of a process. As far as a favorite? Don’t really have one. Whatever I am working on at the moment.

What does or will make your music stand out and distinguish itself from the rest of the hip-hop being dropped these days? I have no idea. I just make stuff and put it out there. If someone likes it, that’s great. If they don’t not, that’s fine too. I like to pose an interesting idea or a unique combination of music, maybe introduce something new to someone, or inspire someone else to play with remixing music.

How does the UK music scene compare to what’s going on in the U.S.? Can British artists compete on an international stage? I don’t think competition is really a question. Adele had the highest selling album of 2011. You have Jamie XX doing amazing stuff, James Blake releasing a really interesting album. At this point I don’t think geography really matters. Of course your environment influences your art, but business wise, just because someone is from England doesn’t mean they have less of a chance succeeding in America. I think the internet has pretty much removed those barriers. Soundcloud, Tumblr, and Twitter are the music scene now.

What’s your take on the global hip-hop scene at the moment? Who do you rate as artists/ producers? I can’t really speak globally, but the U.S. hip-hop scene is great right now. There are a lot of independent and upcoming artists and groups putting out great music. New hip-hop/rap wise, I’ve been into Das Racist, Big Baby Gandhi, Danny Brown, A$AP Rocky too.

Where do you see you and your music being in 5 years time? I just want to stay creative, continuing to release music and maybe some film projects. Going forward I would like to collaborate more with other people.

Where can people expect to catch your music? Are there any upcoming releases we can look forward to? My site is the best place to find everything [that’s not embedded in this interview]. I am in the beginning stages of a new music project, so to be honest I’m not sure. Hopefully by the summer of 2012. I will have to see how it progresses.

If you could say something to your fans, what would it be? Likewise to your haters? Fans: Thank you.

Haters: Take that, take that, take that (diddy laugh)

Top 5 favourite brands – and why?

  1. Tabasco,
  2. Rold Gold,
  3. Salvation Army,
  4. The MTA and
  5. Anything counterfeit.

Shoutouts Shoutout to the people responsible for the TV show Breaking Bad. Thanks for taking up all my free time.

I had a lot of fun interviewing Max and was pretty intrigued to hear what he’d been listening to recently. His mix is an odd (but in a good way) blend of old, new and downright awesome music spanning multiple genres – it even features a bit of Burial. Who knows, maybe we’ll hear a Max Tannone dubstep album one day?! Grab the free download and hit Max up on Twitter or Facebook if you enjoyed his interview and/ or mix – or even to just say hi!


Track list:

  1. Beck – Debra
  2. Big Baby Gandhi – Supposed To Change
  3. Beastie Boys – Posse In Effect
  4. John Lennon – One Day At A Time
  5. Jay Electronica feat. Mos Def – Exhibit B
  6. Black Star – You Already Knew
  7. Madvillian feat. Stacy Epps – Eye
  8. Beastie Boys – 20 Questions Version
  9. Sublime – Steady B Loop Dub
  10. Q-Tip – Let’s Ride
  11. Little Brother – Speed
  12. Rolling Stones – In Another Land
  13. Yesterday’s New Quintet – Broken Dreams
  14. Burial – NYC
  15. Africa Hi-Tech – Cyclic Sun

If you have any thoughts on what Max Tannone has had to say, or want to recommend us a new brand you’ve discovered or just want a chat about something you’ve seen on FatKidOnFire, fire us a comment below or get in touch via emailTwitterFacebook or the FKOF TakesQuestions page.