DJ/Producer Max Graham Legendary DJ on Producing Music Until He Dies


Born in London but raised in Canada, Max Graham is one of the world’s top DJs and he’ll be playing at The W Hong Kong on March 3. He began his career at the Atomic nightclub in Ottawa but is currently knee deep in a world tour spanning 65 countries. He's left a lasting impression on the music industry thanks to his prog-trance classic “Airtight” (2001) nominated for a Juno; his monster 80s hit “Owner of a lonely heart” (2005) and his diverse album “Radio” (2010). He’s shown time and again that he has a knack for driving a night, winning the highest new entry in DJMag’s 2001 poll at #23. We sat down to find out if his job is as enviable as it looks.

How did you start?

In the late 80s I fell in love with the scratch DJs in rap groups and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

What was the first piece of music you bought with your own cash?

Shannon "Give me Tonight" on vinyl. Wish I still had it.

Do you think the art of the DJ is dying at the hands of the digital age? Now there are programs that offer perfect beat matching and BPMs are displayed in front of you.

No, because the delivery medium has nothing to do with DJing. Anyone who thinks beat matching well makes you a successful DJ clearly has never DJ'd. It’s about what you play and when you play it: programming a night properly with ebbs and flows to get the person on to the dance floor and take them to another place. It doesn't matter if the music comes from vinyl or a laptop.

Do you produce your own tracks?

100%. I sometimes have help for the last bit to clean things up as the mastering process is an art form unto itself but the songs are all mine.

Do you party and drink every night you spin?

I would be dead if I did.

Are there ever nights you just don't feel like playing music?


Is it more of a job or a love for you?


As an energy demanding industry aimed at a younger crowd, how long do you think you have behind the decks?

I’m not sure how long I have left behind the decks, but the notion that the music is aimed at a younger crowd and how long I have left aren’t connected. Legends like Tiesto, Oakenfold, Sasha and Digweed are all over 40 yet still cater to tonnes of young fans. I don't see myself quitting anytime soon as I love what I do and don't see that changing.


What do you see yourself doing after the DJ career?

Not sure at this point - I will be writing music until I die.

What’s your favorite track right now?

Too many to name, guys like Protoculture and Orjan Nilsen are making amazing stuff, as well as Johan Malmgren.

What do you think of the growth and competition of headphone industry? What do you use and why?

Always used Sony. I haven't paid attention to the rivalries in the headphone industry so I can't really comment on that.

Do you have a crew that travels with you? Some best mates or ladies?

Yes, sometimes friends join but I mostly travel alone. With USB sticks and a pair of headphones a tour manager is not crucial any more.

Do you get lonely on the road?

Not really thanks to Whats App, Skype, iChat etc. With WiFi everywhere I can keep in touch.

What is the biggest difference between parties in Asia compared with the West?

Music affects people the same way the world over. I would say in Asia, however, clubbers are slightly more reserved but they feel music in the same way.

How many times have you been to Hong Kong?

Too many to count - it's a good hub for me whenever I'm touring Asia as Air Canada flies direct from Toronto to Hong Kong. Also the city and the shopping are lovely so it's been a tourist destination for me as well.

Where’s your favorite place to play in the world?

My current favourite place to play is Marquee in Vegas. Amazing sound, well run, really up for it crowd.

What’s one thing you could not do without?

My iPhone. When traveling the apps, games and communication are essential. I would be lost without it.

Favorite drink?

Water - drink tonnes of it.

Tell us one attribute you would like to pass on to your kids?

Not to take advantage of other people.

What’s one thing nobody knows about you?

Haha - nothing I’m going to say here.

You can catch Max playing at the W Hong Kong on March 3 and thanks to R n R Asia we’ve got a pair of tickets to give away. To throw your hat in the ring, tell us your favourite place to have a drink in HK. Email or phone in your answers to 2542 2533 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The W
Living Room
6/F, W Hong Kong,
1 Austin Rd. West, Tsim Sha Tsui
Phone: 3717-2222
$480 from or at door


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