Maher Daniel [Bedrock Records, Get Physical]
As EDM continues to flourish, the craving for talented musicians and quality music has started to overwhelm the world. As more cities start to open their doors to the EDM invasion, more and more talented DJ/producers are getting the recognition they deserve. Maher Daniel most certainly falls into that category. Aside from playing an important role in the operations of the superclub Stereo in Montreal, Daniel has also been making a name for himself in the production world. Following his many releases with labels like Bedrock Records, Get Physical and Kling Klong, Maher has just recently signed with massive boutique agency, Bullitt. Joining a roster packed with talent featuring the likes of Dubfire, Lee Burridge, Stefano Noferini, David Squillace as well as many more, it is a clear sign that there is much to be seen and heard from Daniel. During this hectic Summer season, Maher was kind enough to interview with me so that we can provide our readers proper insight into what’s next in his skyrocketing career.
Daniel’s ‘Europe On My Mind’ mix
Datilly: Thanks for interviewing with us Maher. For our readers how old are you and where are you originally from?
Maher Daniel: Im 29 years old. Originally Palestinian, born in San Francisco and I was raised between Dubai and Montreal all my life.
Datilly: So let’s talk a little bit about the beginning of your career. In the past few years your career has skyrocketed. Can you tell us how you really got started? Who were some people who influenced you and started you on your way into the industry?
Maher Daniel: Hehe, thanks for noticing. It has definitely been a roller coaster ride. It all started with my older brother Michael Daniel and his crew. They were running Montreal’s progressive scene at the time. They were highly influenced by Sasha, John Digweed, Rabit In The Moon, Orbital amongst many others. That’s where I really gained my interest in dance music. As DJs they were really pushing that sound and I started picking up the pieces from there. It’s a funny story actually. I remember messing around on their turntables and every time I messed up a mix they would smack me on the back of the head and kick me off. So I really got to thank my big brother Mike and his boys, Ali Ajami and Genie (Nabih Bouery). Without them I would not be where I am today.
Datilly: You have released on a number of notable labels such as Get Physical Music, Bedrock Records and Monique Speciale just to name a few. What is it like having your tracks chosen by John Digweed (Bedrock) and Patrick Bodmer & Philipp Jung (Get Physical/M.A.N.D.Y) to be released on their imprints alongside some of the industry’s biggest names? Aside from your prior releases, what are some that you have coming up which your excited about?
Maher Daniel: It truly is an honor being recognized by all the above mentioned names. I mean these are the guys that I was going out to listen to and dance the night away too, never would I have thought to be apart of there influential imprints. As for up and coming releases, I have a whole boat load of stuff coming out on a mix and match of various labels. Nothing I can really discuss at the moment but I am extremely happy with the way things are going production wise and I am really looking forward to the new material coming out.
One of Maher’s recent productions that he did with Sideburn out now on Kling Klong
Datilly: You recently announced that you have joined the monstrous boutique agency Bullitt. First, let me congratulate you on this massive achievement. What is it like for you joining a roster alongside names like Lee Burridge, Dubfire, and Martin Buttrich (Just to name a few)? Where do you see you career going now that you have the support of a giant agency like Bullitt? With the artist roster being so packed with talent, who is someone in your new ‘family’ that you would love to play and collaborate with?
Maher Daniel: Thanks for the kind words. It truly is great to be a part of such a solid family and it’s a little overwhelming to say the least. As for my career it really all depends on myself to be honest. I have to keep up the same hard work and dedication I have put in for the last 7 years for the agency to be capable of getting me tours and booking me. They are the platform and I have to perform with my production and DJing as it goes hand in hand with each other. Honestly the whole roster is packed with talent, who wouldn’t you want to collaborate with and play with?
Datilly: You also hold a residency at what is considered to be one of the best clubs in the world, Stereo (Montreal). This has enabled you to open for some of the biggest names in the world like Ricardo Villalobos, Jamie Jones, and Sasha (again only naming a few). How did being able to play alongside these titans effect your career development? What is your favorite part about Stereo? Boasting an incredible sound system with an analog feel, it has gained praise from just about every visiting DJ. What would you say differs most about this club from others?
Maher Daniel: It really is something special warming up for all the above mentioned names. With so much pressure it really has helped my career as it put me in a position to learn and focus on what these artists play, having to adjust and really take control of the warm up and giving them off the right way as they are the stars of the show. Honestly the best thing about the club is the vibe and sound system. I have not had the chance to party in many clubs where the sound is so crisp and clean and walk out without a ring in my ear.
Maher playing the closing set at Stereo
Datilly: Most people may not know this, but you are also in charge of the bookings for Stereo. You are one of the main people responsible for the club’s massive success as you have consistently brought in quality talent. How would you say your mindset as a booking manager differentiates from your solo production career? What were some of your goals starting out when you took the job? How do you plan on taking Stereo to even greater heights?
Maher Daniel: Well I can’t take all the credit for this, Tommy Piscardeli is a big factor with the bookings as well. But we really just wanted to give something different to Montreal, mixing it up and giving a little something that is not repetitive on a weekly basis. I think the next step is to take the brand outside of Montreal and bring it to different cities around the world like Pacha and Space have done.
Datilly: You have played all over the globe at festivals and venues such as Creamfields, Watergate, Bar25 and Piknik Electronik. Out of all the places you’ve been able to play what event or venue is your favorite? What are some upcoming gigs you have in your schedule?
Maher Daniel: Piknic and Igloo fest are probably two of my favorite events in Montreal. Outside of Montreal, I would have to say playing the Beekman Beer Garden with Verboten out in NYC was one of my highlights. Such an amazing space run by some truly amazing organizers.
Maher playing at Beekman Beer Garden during the Verboten event
Datilly: Who would you say influenced your sound and career most? Who were your influences before you became a producer? Who was more of an influence once you joined the industry and has helped you develop more and more?
Maher Daniel: Biggest influences before I became a producer were my brother and his crew. Musically, Sasha and John Digweed were always rocking it and I wanted to make music like them. But there are so many to list, as its always a hard question to answer haha! I mean I don’t like to pigeon hole myself in one genre so when I produce it comes from the heart and what I’m really feeling at the moment.
Datilly: What is your setup while spinning? What is your production program of choice?
Maher Daniel: At the moment I’m still using CDJs and turntables. I recently acquired Traktor but I am really waiting to get myself a new laptop so that I can fully dive into the software, but I would never use it with controllers. I would keep the turntables in my setup and use vinyl control. I love the feeling of pitch bending and getting the records nice and tight.
Daniel’s ‘WMC Creamsicle’ mix
Datilly: As promised, here are a few hot seat questions for you to get a bit silly.
Datilly: Blonde Or Brunette?
Maher Daniel: Blondes. I have a girlfriend who has been by my side through thick and thin for the last 6 years, so sorry ladies this man is taken!!!
Datilly: Power Rangers or Ninja Turtles?
Maher Daniel: Ninja Turtles all the way. How can anyone compete with mutated turtles trained by Master Splinter?
Datilly: Favorite sports team?
Maher Daniel: I’m a huge hockey fan so, HABS ALL THE WAY!!!
Datilly: Favorite Alcohol?
Maher Daniel: Vodka and Jager
Datilly: Favorite non-EDM music act?
Maher Daniel: Sublime
Datilly: Do Canadians really say ‘Eh’ at the end of everything?
Maher Daniel: HAHA! No, not really. I mean, maybe the ones out west but I would have no clue as I have never ventured off to those parts.
Datilly: Last question Maher. EDM as a whole is certainly going through what some would consider a ‘golden period’. Some people think it is a good thing, others not at all. With this global surge in popularity (In specific the US), where do you see this industry going? Do you think it is a good or bad thing that now the scene has become saturated with so many ‘newbies’? Do you think that the so called ’sanctity’ of the underground can remain unscathed as more and more people funnel into the club scene? What would be the perfect scenario in your eyes as EDM moves forward?
Maher Daniel: I’m really on the fence to be honest. In one way yes, it’s a good way because it introduces a lot of the new generation EDM fans to dance music and eventually allows them to breach the underground. On the other hand it’s being infiltrated so hard by the commercial aspect, that the underground is being drowned by it. This does not let or allow people to explore the different genres and really explore what dance music is about. I think my biggest pet peeve with the whole situation is the people who call commercial dance music, house music. House music has nothing to do, or sounds nothing like that stuff. This is a big reason why I’m on the fence with it. Genres are getting crossed and people are not being allowed to know or hear about the true essence of what house music is all about. I don’t mind people coming into the clubs to hear something new and different that is more underground. Just don’t try to change it and expect to hear commercial dance music. Embrace it, learn from it and maybe it will be a little more to their tastes.
Maher playing at Piknik Electronik