"I never thought that my music would be listened to in other countries or played by famous DJs" - Maksim Dark talks with Guestlist

House | Friday 25th June 2021 | Arren

As he releases his sixth studio album, 'Insomnia' we talk with premier Russian techno staward Maksim Dark.

Over the last decade Maksim Dark has propelled himself to the forefront of the modern techno scene. Counting pioneering artists such as Richie Hawtin, Dubfire and Oliver Huntemann as fans and tutors - his brooding, mysterious sound has seeped into every corner of the global techno scene. He has just released his sixth studio album, and it’s his most prolific works we’ve heard yet!

The album, entitled 'Insomnia' is 13 tracks of the Russians beloved signature sound. Rugged techno grooves with well crafted sounds and vocals that suspend themselves eerily for some real head spinning moments. Every track is as dramatic as the last, culminating in an album perfectly embodying the last decade of music from Maksim Dark.

Landing on Senso Sounds, a label Maksim is no stranger to having several releases with them in the past. The ominous sounds of the album fits with the Hamburg label so well. He ain’t no one trick pony though, his sound is well developed and has graced many labels over the years including SCI+TEC, Octopus and DENSE Audio. Following his steady rise and his latest album being absolute fire, we chatted with Maksim Dark on the album and beyond.

What’s got you motivated right now?
My motivation comes from the close people in my life who believe in me and give me love, as well music gives me a lot of love and motivation.

You surfaced into the scene in 2011, since you’ve not stopped producing. Counting 6 studio albums, and too many to count singles and remixes. Describe the last 10 years for you?
The last 10 years have been very different, like endless waves in the sea. There were sad moments as well as good ones. In the first years I was producing a lot, I gained experience to understand in detail how it works and to find my sound, then I studied a live set. It was very cool to study and I fell in love with it. Then there were some calls to play in Germany, it was hard to work on visas since I was still young but there were people who helped me and I am very grateful. I’ve managed to see the world, visit many countries and see different cultures. It's been amazing and I’ve started to love the world even more after that and have continued to work even harder.

What was one major obstacle you had to overcome?
I lost my father, older brother and older sister. It was hard to go through this. I think this is the most difficult obstacle in my life.

That must have been so hard, sending love your way. You’ve kept your head on though and enjoyed many years in the music biz, what has been a standout year for you?
At first, writing music was just a hobby, I never thought that my music would be listened to in other countries or played by famous DJs. When I first saw on video how my track was played by Richie Hawtin at Time Warp, I could not believe it for a long time. It became a great motivation for me and I began to look at many things differently!

Over the years you’ve honed in your sound and created your own style, how would you describe this sound to people who might now know you and your music?
Woah! To be honest, I don't know! I would call it minimal groove, with elements of techno melodies. But it's enough for me that people just know my style, sometimes people send a video and ask if this your track - I answer yes, how did you know? - they say it right away just by hearing it.

It’s a catchy sound that’s unique to you. And you’ve got it on full display in your latest album, ‘Insomnia’. A fantastic body of work, how long did it take you to write the album?
I already had 5 finished tracks and I asked Oliver Huntemann how he'd feel if I made an album for Senso Sounds. He replied that it was a good idea and it took me about 2 and a half months to finish the album, but then I waited for a while and produced more tracks to select the best.

Is there a track on there that particularly stands out to you?
I would highlight all the tracks, but 'Globalize' gives me a lot of emotions, a smile and drive in my soul. I just feel it and I don't know what it’s connected with!!!

The album is a masterclass in dark, brooding techno - what would be the ideal backdrop to listen to the album?
It's best to listen to it at a club or a festival, but we also listened to this album with a friend for his birthday - it was a lot of fun! I think this album will be suitable as a background for many situations.

The album is coming out on Senso Sounds, an imprint you’re no stranger to. How did you first start working with them?
I was lucky Oliver contacted me on Facebook, praised me for good music and he said if I would be happy to release on the label Senso Sounds. Of course I agreed, because Oliver was one of my motivators when I first heard minimal techno in 2007.

What do you like about the label’s sound and ethos?
I like the sound quality, I like the promotion, the design, the team. Each release complements each other.

Senso Sounds is just a part of your story though - you’ve also had releases across the board, including other heavyweight labels such as SCI+TEC and Octopus. You must have strong connections in the scene, are there particular people who’ve helped build you and your reputation?
I sent a promo to Dubfire and he contacted me on Facebook, I was very lucky as it was the first time! I wrote several releases for SCI+TEC and Dubfire played my track 'Basserwiser' all over the world. He really influenced the listeners to get to know my music, I am very grateful to Dubfire. He also made several posts about me on his Facebook. Of course, it all started with Richie Hawtin when he played a lot of my tracks, before I tried to get on the Minus label but I failed. Then Oliver started supporting my music, these DJs have influenced me from the very beginning! I am infinitely grateful to them!!!

Following from your album's release, do you have anything else planned for this year?
Of course now is a difficult time and it's hard to say something about tours! Regarding releases, I plan to release on Senso Sounds again at the end of the year and really want to come back with a release on SCI+TEC, I hope I will succeed!!!

When did you first discover techno?
I first heard minimal techno at school in 2007, my friend had several snippets of such artists as Oliver Huntemann, Dubfire, Maetrik, Stephan Bodzin, Boris Brejcha. At that time, it was difficult to find such music in our city, since it only began to appear on phones.

What events/DJs were important to molding your path?
I was motivated by Time Warp, I always imagined how I would play there, I hope it will happen someday. Also, when Dubfire played in Moscow he asked the promoters to book me to play alongside him - it was very nice to play with Dubfire on the same stage. I also liked underground clubs in Germany, it was cool to play there. Then the showcases from Senso Sounds started, it was just as amazing to be with the guys from the label and to play with them on the same stage.

You’ve played across the world, on all five continents… but if there was anywhere you could play where would that be and why?
I cannot single out a country that I like best as it's an amazing experience and journey to play in all countries - getting to know different cultures and attitudes to this style of music is fascinating. I will be happy to play wherever people are happy to see me - any country. If people love my music in this or that country, I will be happy to come there.

Is there anything you would want to tell your younger self?
I would say to myself - be ready for the most unexpected events in your life, because it often happened to me for which I was not ready.

What can’t you live without?
I cannot live without humour, family, close friends and music! And I want to thank you for the interesting questions, I wish you all the best guys!

Maksim Dark’s newest album 'Insomnia' is out now via Senso Sounds - Buy/stream

Maksim Dark
Facebook - Twitter - SoundCloud - Instagram - Spotify