[INTERVIEW] MAHER DANIEL
(all photos cred: axel guerfal)
"If there is one thing I constantly preach and push to young kids that want to learn how to DJ, it’s learning with vinyl, learning with the building blocks. Learning the history and the roots from where it all started will make you evolve and become an overall better artist."
What initially inspired you to get into clubbing and dance music, and how did that progress into producing and DJing?
When I was younger, I always wanted to do something in music. I studied music in high school, reading it, writing it, I played in the school band and was actually in a lot of my high school plays. So, being an artist of some sort was always in the menu of my life. It wasn’t until I moved back to Montreal from Dubai where I got immersed into dance music, thanks to my older brother. He was Djing, producing and taking me out with them. His rule was, I would rather you were with me than anyone else (laughter). From there it was really a natural progression. I learned how to play records, and wanted to make music and it evolved to where I am right now. The love for the music and art is what keeps me inspired and what I really want to keep doing.
Did you have a mentor for DJing and/or production?
I didn’t have one specific mentor, so to speak, I had a few of them. My brother was in a collective called LSM Productions. It was Ali Ajami (Resident at Avalon and Axis in Boston), Genie (Stereo and LSM Resident) and my brother Michael Daniel. This is back in the early days of Montreal rave culture along side 514 Productions, Playground and the early clubbing scene - so I really had a serious upbringing in the culture, and they really did shape my skills as a DJ. In regards to production, I took what I learned from the dance floor and translated it into making music.
What would your advice be to up and coming DJs and producers? And/or advice about creating success overall in the industry?
Be humble and respectful of your surroundings and the people around you. This life can get into peoples heads really, really quickly and egos start to come out of nowhere. What they seem to forget is that you’re exactly the same as everyone else - you started on that dance floor, you’re just in a different place in this industry now. But the key thing is the people on the dance floor are the ones who got you there - by supporting you, buying your music and buying tickets to your shows. So.. leave the attitude at home do what you do with a smile on your face and respect everyone the same way you’d like to be respected. This is a blessing! So be happy you’re not behind a desk from 9-5.
Who are some of your favourite producers these days?
Well.. My all time favorite is Ricardo Villalobos.. Other producers like Barac, Zendid, Priku, Dubtil, the whole ARPIAR crew, Dana Ruh, Varhat, Mandar, Argenis Brito, all make my list, and there are way, way more.
What’s been the greatest challenge generally as you navigate this career and lifestyle?
Staying positive. This industry has moved its focus from the art of DJing and production to the number of fans you have and social media. It seems like the more and more you have of that, the more you get successful and this becomes frustrating and hard. There are guys out there who are truly passionate about what they do, spending countless hours digging for music, learning how to produce properly and work with gear to really provide quality music, and this usually gets overshadowed.
That being said, the most important thing is to stay positive and throw those frustrations out the door. You can be in the limelight and have as many fans on social media as you want, but that’s just momentary. The music speaks for itself and that’s what will last down the line.
What are the greatest aspects about this career and lifestyle?
Seeing and meeting different people around the world, experiencing different cultures and seeing what this kind of music means to different people around the world.
Can you talk about your perspective on the art of DJing and what that is for you?
Everyone has their own way of looking at DJing, but at the end of the day it comes down to how you put it all together. Beat matching, track selection and programming the story you end up telling the audience is important and translates your feelings on the dance floor. Anyone can buy the biggest peak time banging records and play them, but then you’re like every other DJ out there.
If there is one thing I constantly preach and push to young kids that want to learn how to DJ, it’s learning with vinyl, learning with the building blocks. Learning the history and the roots from where it all started will make you evolve and become an overall better artist.
What’s next for you in terms of production or touring?
Well, I’ve just finished my album which will get released on my own label, it's called The Other Side. The first single will be released in September, which is the official launch of the label with a showcase happening in Beirut on the 17th with Petre Inspirescu at Uberhaus. Then, the second single is in October, and full album in November. With regards to touring, I’m currently sorting out my album tour for the fall and plenty of shows from now until then throughout Europe. Over all keeping really busy and focusing on the music!
Thank you so much for taking this time!