Maximono Interview @ MDA Wednesdays

Maximono Shares An Unexpected Passion


With years of experience as drum n bass producers, Nick Hill and Sebastian “Sebi” Wolters joined forces in 2013 as Maximono and have been taking the world by storm ever since. The duo has proven themselves within the house scene, having releases on This Ain’t Bristol, Cuff, Dirtybird, and Confession, to name a few.

Modern Disco Ambassadors has consistently hosted quality house music in Orange County for the past 10 years, so it was only natural that Maximono would eventually make their way to our Wednesday home at La Cave. That day was June 27, 2018, and the rave cave was completely flipped upside with Maximono’s unique brand of funky bass-heavy house music. MDA heavyweights Audiostache and Chef Boyarbeatz provided support and rounded out an amazing night.

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Before Maximono took the stage, I had the chance to sit down with Sebi and ask him some burning questions. Here is what he had to say:

Kagan: What goes into your preparations for a DJ set?
Sebi: First of all I look at where we’re gonna play, is it a festival or a small intimate venue, and how long the set is gonna be which can be anything from 45 minutes to 4 hours. Depending on that and how long ago I played there last, I’ll decide how the structure of the set will be. Then I’ll go through new music see what I can play from the label which is forthcoming or just being released. I try to set up a unique set for every gig I play. I get bored quickly and I couldn’t play the same set twice.
Kagan: How would you say your experiences as drum n bass producers influence your music today?
Sebi: It influences anything we do now because that’s basically where we both started our producing and DJing careers. Everything comes from there somehow. Jungle and drum n bass is such a melting pot of music in itself. You’ve got like hip hop, reggae, dub, whatever, it all goes into jungle and drum n bass. When you produce it, you’re already influenced by so many other styles. Nick and I are both not limited to one sound which I’m pretty sure you can hear in our productions as well, we’re just jumping from influence to influence. It’s just about the good vibe but it has to have funk and bass in it. We’ve both been in the drum n bass scene for about 20 years now which is from the very early days in ‘97 and ‘98 until. He’s more into it still, he’s still doing his Loadstar project. I just quit my drum n bass stuff. I did a drum n bass label so I quit that to just do the house stuff.
Kagan: As producers, who are your biggest inspirations?
Sebi: I would say, there’s a hip hop producer from Detroit named Apollo Brown. Just the art of sampling, like how he recreates music from old funk and soul records, that’s very inspiring. But also so many other electronic producers like stimming, a German guy. He’s a sound design nerd, I would say. Of course you’re always influenced by the people around you doing house music as well, that’s constantly inspiring us. People from the drum n bass scene, producers like Alix Perez who’s been collaborating with Eprom as well. Also guys like SpectraSoul.
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Kagan: What’s the most out of the ordinary thing in your studio?
Sebi: I’ve got a small noise synthesizer called a Thingamagoop 3000. It’s like a small thing that creates sounds from lights. You’ve got a small pocket lamp on top and that creates the noise from the light. It’s handmade somewhere in America and to order it you has to pay I think about $500 and they built it after like 200 people ordered it or something. I waited for it for about a year until it came but it’s really really cool, all these quirky weird noises. The wait was worth it because no one else really has it, at least no one from the scene has it so it’s a pretty unique thing. I’d also add a software tool too as we work so much with software these days. An absolute secret gem for us the Infected Mushroom Pusher by Waves which can be found on Splice.
Kagan: How did your collaboration with Malaa, Arsenic, come about?
Sebi: We were sending tracks back and forth from time to time and he sent me some of his stuff, I think it was before he got really big. Then we just kept going and we had one track almost finished where we thought we had about 20% missing and we were about to skip it and say no we won’t finish it. Then it was my idea to let him hear it and see what he thinks and he was all into it and said he could already hear the last 20% missing and I will add that. It’s funny because everyone in the forums said that’s a Malaa track, why is Maximono’s name on there. In the end it was a 50-50 thing, he edited more than we originally planned but we started the track and he finished it. I wish we could do another one now, we might be working on that.
Kagan: You’re both from Europe originally, but where do you both call home now?
Sebi: Nick is in London and I am in Hanover, Germany. That works really well even though we’re not playing that much in Europe. We’re always flying over here to play shows here. With the label in the background we’re doing more festival takeovers in Europe. Music is actually not my full-time job, I run a company back home in Hanover so I need to stay around the area to be able to still run the company.
Kagan: Could you tell us more about your company?
Sebi: That’s my second world I would say. It’s a constant fight between two worlds, one is the serious business world and the music world. It’s basically two hearts in my chest. It’s an IT security company, we developed a tool for companies to secure smartphones. We provide secure app stores for companies, we have a technology that automatically scans apps and tells you what they’re doing in the background. For example, if you install a new version of an app and it keeps sending your credit card details to a foreign server or whatever, our software will recognize that and tell the company to blacklist that app. Started it 6-7 years ago and it grew quite quickly. I think it’s a big market and is still growing. We’ve got a team of about 30 people back home and it’s going good. It was started by me and two friends who have already left the company so I am the CEO of the company.
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Kagan: How did you first get into cybersecurity?
Sebi: It was at my apprenticeship, I learned at a big German company called Siemens back around ‘99 and ‘00. After that I did a PR study at a university. Both of those worlds came together, IT and PR, and we started that just from a product idea. We never planned to do a cybersecurity company, we were just flicking around with ideas. One friend and I started a company which did sound design for brands, but we moved on from that and did digital consulting for brands. From there we developed a product idea. It wasn’t planned, but now it’s pretty serious and it’s quite a responsibility.
Kagan: What do you think of In N Out Burger?
Sebi: To be totally honest, I was a little disappointed because everyone was hyping it up so much. I have to say I am not really a big junk food fan at all. I try to eat healthy, but of course I tried it because everyone was saying you have to try In N Out Burger. It was a lot better than any fast food I’ve tried before, but it still wouldn’t be my favorite thing to do. There’s so many other good spots like Korean BBQ for example which I would always prefer, especially in LA.
Kagan: What can we look forward to from Maximono in the last half of 2018?
Sebi: We DJ’d a lot in the last six months and now we just started getting back on the production side. We’re working on a lot of new music, we just finished a couple of tracks with MARTEN HØRGER who just had a release on Confession. We don’t know where they’ll come out because they’re a bit different than what we’ve done before. A bit more dancefloor, a bit more straight in your face I would say. I don’t think they’ll necessarily come out on This Ain’t Bristol or Dirtybird, so we’re looking for other labels where they could fit. We’re also working on new original tracks so there will be a lot of new music throughout the year and of course still some great shows to play in the States. We’ve got Shambhala coming up, a few things in July, and then another tour in August around Shambhala. I’m pretty sure there will be another tour in October/November time, that’s usually when we come over to play some Halloween shows and such. It’s gonna be a good year hopefully!
Nick is also going to get married next month. I’ll be going there and celebrating my birthday which is the day of the wedding so it’s going to be an epic night in London. When he gets back from his honeymoon, we’ll be busy in the studio again.
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Immediately after the conclusion of this interview, Sebi headed for the stage, took over the decks, and captivated the MDA cave dwellers with an expert-level two hour set.

It was a true pleasure to host Sebi at La Cave. We have a lot to look forward to from Maximono!

Until next time Ambassadors.

Kagan Richardson

AKA DJ Moose Trax

All photos included in this article were taken by Modern Paparazzo Photography.

Lost in Los Angeles Interview

Lost in Los Angeles Re-Imagines Their Sound with In the Dark


Two months ago at MDA's first edition of Summer Home 2018 with Télépopmusik, I had the chance to sit down with Christoph Hetier after his amazing set to ask him some questions. Before his set, however, I met Christoph to discuss the interview and he introduced me to his friends Danny Klein and Tara Zepeda who came along to check out Summer Home.

The pair proceeded to tell me about their band, Lost in Los Angeles, and how they were gearing up for a single release in a couple of months. Well a couple of months have passed and In the Dark, a single marking the re-imagining of LiLA, was released on Friday, May 4th (may the fourth be with you).


Here’s a little background about Lost in Los Angeles. The group formed in 2006 out of Los Angeles as an indie and alternative band. Their self-titled LP, LiLA, was released in 2010 and was followed with a number of singles and EPs. Over the years, LiLA’s personnel and sound has evolved and arrived at an electronic dreamwave sound with Tara now taking vocal duties. Danny takes on synth, piano, and vocal duties as the pair discovers their true voices through music.

In celebration of the release of In the Dark, I had the opportunity to pick the brains of the Los Angeles based duo. Here is what they had to say:

Kagan: How did you and Tara first start working together?
Danny: We were working on an album a few years ago and we were looking for an amazing female vocalist. Tara and I had connected through some other stuff so she came in and started laying down some vocals. The producer at the time and I looked at each other and were like wow this woman is special. We had several people come through and I knew right away when I heard her voice that it was the voice I was looking for I feel like all my life. That production lasted quite a while and Tara came into the fold and helped with a ton of writing. We started writing and singing together, and it all came toward what we’re doing today which is a fresh re-imagined version of Lost in Los Angeles. It’s the version I’ve been trying to get to for so long and finally with Tara it makes sense.
Kagan: How would you say Lost in Los Angeles’s sound has evolved over the years?
Tara: When I first joined the band it was an alternative pop rock synth band and then about a year and a half ago we left that producer and some band members decided to leave so Danny had the opportunity to write on his own. He started writing all this electronic stuff and like he said before he’s wanted to do it for a long time but with other band members and producers in the mix it was kind of discouraging and not working. I came in and would collaborate on it. It kind of went from one genre to a whole different one, but to the one that he’s been wanting to do.
Danny: I personally had always been a fan of beats and electronic beats versus live drums. We had incorporated a lot of that in our prior stuff so it had electronic hints and shadows here and there. It wasn’t until we were able to isolate ourselves that the true sound came out. We owe a lot to our new producer, Vaski. He takes the tracks that we feel are pretty good tracks, we do a lot of production on our side, and he polishes them into diamonds. He’s really amazing, it’s a good collaboration.
Kagan: What was it like to work with Vaski on this project?
Danny: It came about through our manager, Kyle Emerson-Brown. Vaski had been working with one of our management mates, Ninth Child, who’s an amazing DJ in Los Angeles. Tara and I had been looking at a lot of electronic music producers and Vaski stood out, he just had the best vibe.
Tara: We really liked one of his tracks and we thought it fit with our sound. We didn’t want to see another producer that would take our music and change it to another genre. We had done that before and it was devastating. It was like someone taking your painting that you just finished and then painting over it. A big part of collaborating with someone is everyone has to vibe well and get along. He’s really great.
Kagan: Can you tell us about In the Dark’s meaning to both of you?
Tara: Danny and I work a lot at night because it’s quiet and we’re just night owls. Sometimes it’s the best time to work because you’re not being texted or called or on social media as much. It’s great to be able to focus at night. “We’re only alive in the dark” is also a reflection of society. During the day we work and do boring stuff, at night is when we really come alive in the dark.
Danny: This song is a great symbol of the collaboration between Tara and I. We kinda went from an instrumental track then to her chorus and I hopped back in and I was super inspired by her lyrics and her melody too. When I was writing my vocal parts and my lyrics, it was great because I used her as the inspiration. It was a metaphor for me because we finally found this place where we can create what we wanted to create. It’s one thing to hear something in your head but it’s next level to get it into the computer and out someone’s speakers. The lyric that stands out for me is “the universe is ours and it never ends”. It makes total sense as to where that’s all coming from.
Kagan: What was the original inspiration behind the name Lost in Los Angeles?
Danny: It came from an unreleased EP from a former project. There was something about it, the alliteration of it and the feel of it kinda stuck. For me personally it stand for the concept of never giving up and persevering. The name has travelled through some periods but when Tara got here she was able to put meaning to it. The name has always represented something deeper in getting lost in something bigger than yourself.
Tara: When I first started collaborating with the band four years ago, I was kinda taking a leap of faith. I never really put myself out there, I never really shared with people that I did music. I was also going through a huge transition in my life, I was breaking up with someone I was married to. I came from Simi Valley and ended up in Los Angeles and was kind of lost in a way so the irony is funny. I felt like I had no friends and that I was committing some terrible crime by leaving my husband. Escaping and being able to be in the studio with Danny at that time was really cool because he opened up this whole word and gave me a huge confidence boost, the producer at the time as well.
It took me a while to get used to the name and I thought about wanting to change it. The shortened acronym of our band name is LiLA so people pronounce it as ‘Lyla’ but a month ago I was visiting my friend in Oakland and she called us ‘leela’. She said it means something in Hinduism and means the energetic play between one person and someone else or the absolute. That is how Danny and I are when we write music, we have this energetic play and it exudes happiness. Now that I have this new meaning that I relate to more, I feel good about it. I didn’t come up with it but I can make it my own in some ways. I was waiting for the light bulb to turn on and my friend did that.
Kagan: If you could spend a day with any musician in the world, past or present, who would it be and why?
Tara: Bianca Casady from Coco Rosie. I have no idea what her personality is like but I really like her poetry and her lyrics. Her sister as well, they’re a band. I’d love to sit there and watch them write a song.
Danny: I could easily insert a million bands and artists but I guess I’ll go with one of my favorites called Boards of Canada. It’s two guys, no vocals, it’s all just beats and atmospherics. The way they construct their albums is one track to the twelfth or however many are on there, it feels like one complete journey. It would be somewhere in the desert and it would be perfect.
Kagan: Could you see yourselves ever playing a DJ set?
Tara: Our set right now is pretty much that. Danny has a controller and his keyboard and I have a mic. I may or may not be contributing instrumentally as far as drums when we play live. Maybe I’ll have a drum pad and do some beats but I’m thinking for live I just want to focus on singing. If we get asked to DJ we would definitely jump on it because we love music and we love performing for people. If it means us DJing and not actually performing our songs, that’s cool too. It’s definitely a route I would love to do because I love showing people songs and playing music for people when we’re talking about music.
Danny: It’s weird, it’s kind of come full circle. I’ve always had vinyl at home and spun vinyl. I played a few parties with vinyl but haven’t gotten into using CDJ’s. Recently we decided to consolidate our live rig. We were collaborating with Kyle and some other people and said let’s just get a DJ controller and have our tracks run through that. In the process I’ve been diving into how to best interact with CDJs. I think what’s gonna make it fun for us doing DJ stuff in the future is incorporating stuff that we’re writing. We’ll probably have a keyboard or a synth or two around so it might not be the traditional loading tracks and mixing them with effects onboard but rather doing that with stuff that we’ve already written. We’re looking forward to that because any opportunity to get in front of people and share our passion with fans, we’re all about it. We realize that sometimes just bring a USB and a keyboard is much easier than bringing the whole rig so we see that in the future.
Kagan: What is your favorite synth in your studio?
Danny: I’ll go one analog and one digital. I’m kind of a synth and keyboard freak, I have a collection that I love. We have an ARP Omni 2 which was used in a lot of the 80s new wave stuff like Pet Shop Boys. You can enter into these different synthesizer sections. One is more bass and one is more strings and you can blend them. It just has this sound when you press the keys, the world is in another place.
That’s on the analog side and then on the digital side it was always a struggle because I didn’t want to leave behind the Juno-60 which is a legendary Roland. I came across Revealed Sound who makes a soft synth called Spire. The cool thing about it is it’s somewhat open-sourced so that other developers and contributors can create different voicings for it. Through Spire, I’ve been able to amass a great library of sounds from basses to plucks to leads to effects to beats, you name it we’re able to develop it in Spire. That’s our go-to regarding sound design.
Kagan: Do you have plans for upcoming shows or perhaps a tour?
Danny: We’re still working on more collaborations and more tracks but next week we’re having our rehearsal studio back out of the form it was in before which was more about writing and now we’re gonna start rehearsing. I’d say give us about 60 days and we’ll be ready for prime time and ready to share the new music. Tours? Absolutely.
Tara: Over the next month we’ll be rehearsing. Once we start getting our set dialed in, we’re gonna have some people over because we want to playing mini-rehearsal shows here. I’m gonna try to incorporate some performance art and/or art installations into our show. I don’t want to be on stage and have us just play and sing, we’re gonna be giving more in a way. It’s another way for us to express ourselves so we’ll gonna be testing ideas on people here and getting feedback. Sooner than 60 days, I feel like we just need to get stuff dialed in for about a month.

It definitely sounds like a lucky group of people close to Tara and Danny will have the opportunity to see the duo displaying their passion before they hit the road on tour. Make sure to pay attention for new LiLA releases and shows coming to a city near you.

Until next time Ambassadors.

Kagan Richardson

AKA DJ Moose Trax