Based out of San Francisco, DJ Max Vangeli has made quite a name for himself since his breakthrough to the DJ scene in 2008. Signed to Swedish House Mafia’s Steve Angello’s record label, Size Records, Vangelli is currently touring the world and collaborating with production partner, AN21 (Antoine Angello). In only a few years, the young 25 year old has shared the stage with world-renowned DJs, Swedish House Mafia and Tiesto. His monthly podcast is among the most popular podcasts in the UK and he’s heavily supported on BBC Radio 1 by Peter Tong. Named ‘Producer of The Year’ by house legendaries, Sebastian Ingrosso, Kaskade and Dirty South, Max Vangeli is becoming quite popular and his career has barley even begun.
This past Friday, I talked with Max Vangeli via phone. Chatting about his past and current adventures, Vangeli’s Eastern European accent and relaxed tone of voice made a great conversation.
Read the transcript below:
You’re opening for Tiesto, one of the top DJs in the world for New Years Eve at the fanciest club in Miami, The Fontainebleau. How does it feel?
It feels great. It’s surreal to me because I use to look up to Tiesto and now we’re friends and I play with him. I’m coming out with a new album; hopefully it’ll be ready for NYE.
How does it feel to drop an album for the first time?
Well, you know, as a DJ you work so hard in the studio and you really don’t know how it’s going to go down when played at a club or festival. I mean, you have an idea but you can’t really anticipate how the audience will react. It’s the best feeling though when I play something that the crowd’s never heard and I look out and it’s clear they’re having the best time. I’m producing this album with AN21 (Steve Angello’s brother).
I hear you and AN21 are pretty close and consider each other partners within the DJ scene, how’d that all start?
Ha, well we met through a mutual friend and kind’ve started talking through MySpace. I didn’t really know where it was going to go but we both had experience and we were both heavily involved with production. Eventually, we met at the Winter Music Conference in Miami and have been friends since.
Being only virtual friends, was it awkward meeting in-person for the first time?
Oh yeah. I mean, we were both pretty nervous but we had a few drinks, started talking and then started playing together.
And then the rest is history?
Totally. We now do so much together. We both are very talkative which is great and enjoy touring together and keeping each other company.
So tell me a bit about this new album you guys are producing together.
Well it hasn’t been released yet so I can’t expose too much.
Any hints at least?
Well, it’s pretty progressive. The main focus is BIG club music and Tiesto has a lot of influence on our album.
So you’re partners with AN21 and you’re considered a Swedish House Mafia ‘prodigy’…
Yeah, it’s still so weird too me. I mean, when I first started DJ-ing SHM seemed untouchable to me and now we’re all friends. We go out to dinner and when I think about it’s still kind’ve crazy… like, I’m out to dinner with my heroes! When I was first starting out, I dreamed for this to happen and now it is! The three of them really help me out and have taught me a lot about producing.
Tell me a bit about that, your past, and when you first started DJ-ing
I’ve always been into music. I love rock n’ roll; Queen is my favorite. I started playing guitar in a rock band in high school and then DJing in college at UCSB.
So being from ‘Nor-Cal’, do you say ‘hella’ a lot?
We say hella ALL the time. Not ‘gnarley’, like the ‘So-Cal’ kids.
During college were you trying to get big in the DJ scene or were you just playing for fun?
I come from a family of doctors so my family was pushing me towards a ‘successful’ career. I graduated with a degree in business/economics and launched a few businesses with friends while at UCSB.
It was based out of Sillicon Valley and we resold and installed networking equipment. There were also a few other side businesses I was involved with during college.
What attracted you to start businesses in college?
Before graduating I knew I wasn’t going to work in a cubicle. To me, that’s the worst thing that can ever happen. So working for myself seemed the only way to avoid working in a cubicle.
But luckily for you, your hobby picked up…
Yeah, you know, it’s great. I’m now getting paid to do what I love and travel the world. It’s funny because I remember going to Ibizia and seeing DJs play and thinking that must be the best feeling ever. And this past summer, I played in Ibizia. And it WAS the best feeling ever. I can’t even explain. I use to play for a few hundred kids at college parties and now I’m playing for millions of people.
You mentioned how you come from a family of doctors and that you’re parents wanted you to have a ‘career’, how have they reacted to your choice of being a DJ?
It was difficult to explain this to my parents at first but now that I’m getting successful, they’re more at ease with the fact that they’re son is a DJ/producer.
As you move forward with your career, where do you hope to take it?
I want to produce at my own free will and have free inspiration. I hope to grow within the club scene and then move into producing and expand as a musician. I want to be as unique as possible.
Any DJ/producers or artists you’d like to collaborate with or share the stage with in the future?
No one in particular right now but I hope to work with really good songwriters in the future.
Do you have any songwriters of interest?
Not at the top of my head. Since songwriters aren’t as promoted it’s hard to find them. Like, it’s easy to find someone who has good vocals, but to find someone who is good at writing is much more difficult and much more attractive to me.
I’ve read in the past that you tremendously take to heart what critics say about you but you were trying to stop, have you?
Funny you ask, I had an interview with MTV right before this and they asked the same question. I’ve definitely calmed down about it. I just get pissed off at kids who sit at home and they act like they have the knowledge to talk crap about music they don’t know about; I guess they’re just jealous. It’s just funny to me that people are saying I’m a sh*t DJ when they’ve never even seen me live! You know, it’s a constant battle. I currently have enough’ support in my career that I don’t care about what they say. But it really sucks for people who are up and coming. You know, these critics, or whatever you want to talk call them, are so harsh and just a few words can break someone’s future career, and that ‘someone’ can have good potential. They need to stop!
Yeah, some people are such let downs! Have you stopped reading them?
Kind’ve… haha, they definitely don’t bother me as much now though.
Well that’s good, because after hearing ‘Starry Eyed’ and ‘Melancholy’ I’d say you have nothing to worry about talent wise.
Why thank you!
So as I conclude this interview, can Knight News and the UCF community hope to see you at either The Winter Music Conference or Ultra Music Festival 2011?
I may be playing at The Swedish House Mafia Masquerade Motel on Saturday, March 26, but that’s still in the works.
Well, Max, I hope to see you there. If not, it’s been a pleasure. Good luck at the Fontainebleau NYE.