Max Kessler is no stranger to the music business world, his experience and drive have taken him to new heights with each project he embarks upon; known for his passion for music, and his eagerness and vision that takes every artist that comes his way really far, it’s no surprise his record label KESS Records portrays the values and characteristics he’s known for; powerful and increasingly popular releases from the hottest names in the Dance music world like VAVO, TWINSICK, and LZRD, that have already amassed millions of streams on digital platforms and reached the top slots on the most important Electronic music charts like the Billboard Dance charts or the Beatport Top 25, the successful journey of KESS Records as a prominent label in the Dance music world with Max Kessler at the head shows this is just the beginning.
1 — Hello Max, how are you?
I am doing very well, thank you. Glad to be chatting!
2 — Can you walk us through your first steps in the music industry? How did you start?
Absolutely! I would say it really dates back to when I was a student at Tulane University. During my sophomore year, I became very into DJing and my passion for electronic music grew. One day my roommate tells me about this new class called “Intro To The Music Business” and I immediately knew I needed to take it. Of course, the class was already full, so I sent the professor a huge email (people who know me well, know these emails can really be huge) explaining why I would love to be in his class to which he responded by saying I can join the class. He did also say I would need to sit on the floor because there isn’t enough room. Excited by his response, I joined and made sure I arrived early so I didn’t have to sit on the floor.
Following that class, I was still DJing and explored making my own music. One day I came across a music production summer class that would admit about 4-5 kids at a time, was interviewed by phone, and later admitted. In that class, I learned everything about producing, but during the last week, the producer’s manager came in and something clicked. I realized I would rather work with artists and help them achieve their dreams.
Fast forward another year, going into my senior year, I meet some very talented artists at my university and ask them if I could help. I became their “manager” and we just started making things happen. We were going to studio sessions, releasing music on Soundcloud, doing PR pitches, etc. At the same time, I sought out a job working with a promotions company in New Orleans that was putting on EDM events because I figured that would be a great experience as well. This became my every day so when graduation came around it was only natural that I wanted to continue what I was building toward. I graduated school without a “real job,” took the risk of becoming an artist manager, and worked 24/7.
After a few years of working with VAVO, I felt like there was an opportunity to really level them up. I had a few meetings with some of the more well-known labels, but based on our conversations, I felt like what we needed was something different. We needed a label that was focused on development. Plus, who would be more patient and understanding than the artist’s own manager? So, I proposed the idea to the guys, and they gave me their full trust. A couple of months later, we end up releasing our first single and it found its way to the Billboard Dance charts. It was truly an unbelievable moment and proved we were on the right path.
4 — What would you say it’s the most important thing when managing a label?
Personally, I believe the most important thing is knowing what the artist’s goals are and working closely with them to achieve them. As someone who is a manager and as a manager first, I started KESS Records to be a partner to the artists. Whether that is to aid in their development, help them achieve chart-topping releases or execute some unique thorough release campaign, we are here for them. We will always fight to do what’s in the artist’s best interests and will always be looking to create opportunities.
5 — What do you look for when releasing new music with KESS Records?
When it comes to releasing new music, I look at several factors, but the most important is the music itself. I don’t necessarily care if an artist is just starting out or doesn’t have a massive following. If they present a song that I feel is very strong, I will happily support them. Having said that, we have become known for being a label focused on songs that lean into the Dance House and Dance Pop/Electronic Pop Lane, but I take an open approach with everything I do.
6 — And, what do you look for when signing new artists to the label?
It starts with the music of course, but removing that from the equation and it would be synergy. Synergy is key. Synergy, drive, vision, and morals. KESS is the first four letters of my last name, which makes this label very personal to me. When signing new artists, I not only look for great music but also great people who are driven and motivated. These artists are also passionate about their craft and most importantly are good kindhearted people. I hope that the artists we work with are people that can be role models to the next generation of aspiring artists. Those kinds of artists are artists I will always go to bat for and are artists I am proud to either represent or support however best I can.
On a side note, music-wise, we look for artists we can grow long-term with.
7 — Which advice did you receive when you started your career as a label boss that you still carry with you?
I honestly didn’t really get much advice when starting. I didn’t begin my career well connected or have real guidance. Were there people who gave me opportunities early on? Absolutely! And, I remain very close with them to this day. Having said that, I would say I received a lot of advice indirectly through being a student of the business. The legends that have made such a positive impact are people I pick from. I learned everything along the way. I studied what the greats did and put my own flare on it.
8 — Whose input is the most important to you before making a new move with the label?
This is dependent on what moves we’re talking about. I typically have a grasp on the moves I want to make, but I always value the input from people on my team. I also like to get input from my fiancé. She’s incredibly smart and always has good insight.
9 — What are you currently working on with KESS Records?
I’m honestly working on a ton of exciting projects for KESS Records right now. We have amazing new releases on the way that will easily be the biggest and best releases yet. We also have a lot of new concepts and ideas we’re developing. These will be focused on the fan experience and the relationship between artist, label, and fan. For those interested in that, connect with us on social media because that’s where we share most of the updates.
10 — What would you like to achieve with the label in the near future?
That’s a tough one because there is so much, I’d like to achieve in the near future. For one, I’d love for one of our artists to win their first Grammy. I feel very strongly about the quality of music we’re releasing, so I don’t think it’s too crazy to hope for that. I’d also love to build out a strong roster of incredibly talented artists I can champion. KESS was built on a family-oriented mindset. I hope to have a group of artists that are not only connected with the label, but also with each other.
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The Reactivitz Shares Thoughts On Techno And “Todo En La Vida”
“Todo En La Vida” is one of the latest club bangers from French Producer The Reactivitz. He has releases on Suara, Filth On Acid, Octopus Recordings, and more. In this exclusive interview, he shares his thoughts on Techno and, of course, the new single.
1 — What’s the story behind your artistic name?
Hey Guys, thanks for having me on your interview series. My name is Jonathan, a 29-year-old French DJ, and producer living in Lyon, France. I started producing and playing music under the name of ‘The Reactivitz’ about 10 years ago. At the start, I was producing different sounding music, more like Deep House, House, and Electro. Therefore, it took time to find my own style as I have always enjoyed many genres of music. The underground scene always gave me a buzz and I felt a strong connection with Techno in particular. For years now I have been releasing and playing Techno and Tech House. I love creating dark and powerful tracks with melodic elements, peak time energy, and cool vocal samples.
2 — How do you genuinely feel about the current state of the Techno scene as a whole?
Besides COVID-19 which put the whole scene at a standstill for 2 years, in my opinion, the Techno scene is at the same time full of opportunities yet really closed.
Indeed, we hear more and more amazing music from upcoming talented Techno artists. Every week, I listen to music on different platforms, and I am always amazed by all the new tracks I find from artists I never heard before. With social media, streaming platforms, and Beatport, we have now the opportunity to discover more music than before and it’s a really good point as we have a lot of choices. These ways of communication are helping a lot of the artists to showcase their tracks, even if sometimes DJs and producers spend more time on social media taking off their image than music.
Regarding festivals and parties, we are seeing more and more big Techno events worldwide. Many people enjoy Techno and it’s a good thing for the future of underground music. Nevertheless, I would deplore the fact that we can’t see new names on lines-up. We have so many talents out there, but I am always disappointed to always see the same names when I go to a party. I really think that a lot of truly talented producers and DJs would have their places at the top of the scene, but politics and connections are blocking them. As an artist, even if you are talented, you will need patience and a lot of hard work to get to the top.
3 — Where do you get inspiration for your Techno tracks?
Most of my inspiration comes from what I listen to every day. I listen to many artists in different genres and it’s helpful to give me some ideas for my tracks. I can spend days listening to house, techno, rap or even pop music to find interesting new sonorities. I really like to see how artists structure their tracks and how they make them sound, whatever the genre is. When I am producing, I am trying to mix elements from different genres to have a unique sound. It means that I am not putting up barriers, I produce what I feel when I am in the studio as I love to explore new things. Sometimes producing outside the box allows getting amazing results.
4 — As a producer, does it matter if music is commercial or underground?
In my opinion, it doesn’t matter as long as the music is good. Personally, commercial music is not something that I really enjoy as I prefer producing and playing underground music, but I am not against adding a bit of commercial sonorities into my tracks from time to time. Today, we can see a trend in both genres: a lot of the former commercial artists are getting into the underground scene and also underground artists are adding more commercial elements into their tracks. Is underground becoming the new commercial? The future will speak.
5 — What prompted you to take this Latin-influenced approach for your new single “Todo En La Vida”?
“Todo En La Vida” has a special meaning to me. It’s been a while since I have wanted to produce a track with some Latin vocals because my family is born in the south of Spain, so I wanted to do something related to my origins. Also, as I said before, I wanted to explore new things and I thought that the summertime was the best time to offer something different, more groovy and housey.
6 — “Todo En La Vida” is translated into English as “Everything In Life,” that being said, what’s the most important thing in your life?
The most important thing in my life is my family and my friends. I spent a lot of time with them. They give me advice and support me every day with what I am doing. I am happy knowing that I have their support whatever happens.
7 — Would you consider remixing this track? If so, what producers come to mind?
At the moment, I don’t think that it would be necessary to have another remix done on this track as Luke Andy made a stunning remix already. But maybe it could be a good idea to have some more remixes in the future. I am always interested to hear what other artists can do with my tracks.
8 — What do you think about this collaboration with Luke Andy as a remixer?
After having sent “Todo En La Vida” to There Is A Light, they suggested me to have Luke Andy as a remixer. I thought that it was a good idea as his style perfectly matches the vibe of the track. He did something different with his own vision and I really love it. Can’t wait to play his remix at my next few shows.
9 — What’s next in your schedule?
After “Todo En La Vida,” I will release a new collaboration track with djseanEboy on my label Immersion called “Strange,” followed by a two-tracker EP on Unity in August. I have also planned to release some tracks on Immersion further this year. This week, a new EP with Mauro Somm has been confirmed on FORM which will be released on September 2nd. During the next weeks, I plan to keep producing a lot of new songs and I have many tracks that I’m excited to release.
10 — How do you plan to keep your music style so innovative?
Listening to more music helps me to keep my music style innovative. As I said before, I love to hear many genres to get inspired for my next tracks. Traveling and discovering new amazing places is also a good opportunity to innovate. When I come back to the studio, I have a head full of new ideas and it’s always a good thing! Another important thing is to collaborate with other artists. I love sending and receiving new projects, so we can both share our visions and come up with something completely different from what we did at the beginning.
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Niko The Kid Talks Career + EDM-Driven Single “Fine” — Interview
Niko The Kid dove into 2022 with rapid fire. Upcoming releases on Toolroom, At Night, Sony, UMG, and more were all scheduled for this year. With this interview, you can learn more about his career and his recent EDM-driven single “Fine.”
1 – How would you describe your sound to someone listening to you for the very first time?
I’d say my sound is pretty versatile. It’s definitely very synth-driven. I love pulling inspiration from older dance records, Disco, Hip-Hop, and combining them with these modern sounds. I think I land somewhere between House and EDM.
2 – What do you enjoy the most about your artistic career?
I think my favorite part is DJing. There’s no better feeling than playing music out live and seeing people enjoying themselves to music you created yourself.
I would say Throttle, Oliver Heldens, and CID. I love these guys and they’ve been a tremendous help to me coming up.
4 – Did you ever imagine yourself creating beats for Akon, Young Thug, and Gucci Mane, among other heavyweight talents?
Never in a million years. It’s been a wild journey so far. Coming up in Atlanta and spending 6 years or so in LA, I found myself in these situations to be able to work with some incredible people. I’m super grateful.
5 – What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in your career?
I would say navigating the ever-changing landscape of social media and streaming. It’s definitely a challenge getting new people to hear about you and grinding to create content while also making music. It’s definitely tough juggling all these things without losing your mind.
6 – Where did you get the inspiration to drop your single “Fine”?
I’ve been listening to a lot of melodic stuff like Rufus Du Sol and Camelphat. I’ve always loved these dark brooding synths and melodies. When we wrote the original demo I had these inspirations in the back of my mind.
7 – With this new release do you think your music has grown since you first started?
Absolutely. When I first started releasing music, I think I was still figuring things out. One of the hardest things about being an artist is honing in on a direction. It’s easy to get lost when you have such a passion for many types of music.
8 – What do you hope your listeners take from “Fine”?
The idea of the song is that we all tend to have self-destructive tendencies; big or small and that it’s okay to acknowledge that and move on.
9 – What’s your philosophy towards work while being at the recording studio?
My thing is to just always be creating, whether it’s music or visuals. Just making something. I also found a passion for 3D art during the beginning of the pandemic. It’s nice having another outlet. I find it helps recharge my creative juices for music to sit and create artwork or animations.
10 – Can we expect more songs to be released soon?
For sure! I’ve got a ton of new music on the way. I’m considering dropping an EP by the end of the year so definitely stay tuned for that.
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VON BUOYAGE Discusses New Song “You Ain’t Close” — Interview
VON BUOYAGE is a young artist making a name for himself in the electronic music world. This interview explores all the details about his recent collaboration with Australian rapper Honey-B-Sweet on “You Ain’t Close.”
1 – First of all, how did you come up with your artist name?
A lot of people call me “Bui” (pronounced like BUOY) so I wanted to stick to my family & cultural roots and incorporate that into my name. I also love traveling and the original word “Bon Voyage” means “have a nice trip”, so I thought it’d be cool to turn that into VON BUOYAGE.
2 – How did your approach in making “You Ain’t Close” differ from your debut single “Baddy”?
“Baddy” was a collaboration that took months of bouncing ideas back and forth before we were happy with the finished product. “You Ain’t Close” was a lightning strike inspiration moment, where everything came to life in the same night. I remember it was a late night because I don’t stop when it’s flowing. “You Ain’t Close” is a song that’ll always be special to me because it helped define my sound and what to expect from my music in the future.
3 – What are your thoughts on Honey-B-Sweet’s vocals?
I love her vocal performance and lyrics. I actually started this song with a recording of my own vocals on my iPhone – my first time writing lyrics and recording my voice on a song. But I wanted to take the song to the next level, so I sent Honey my lyrics to work off and the rest was history. She completely smashed her part out of the park, and I think she brings a new level of depth to the song.
4 – Where do you see yourself playing “You Ain’t Close”? Clubs or festivals?
I can definitely see people getting down to this song at large-capacity events and clubs. Depends on the vibe of the night 😉
5 – Who would you love to see do a remix of this song? Why?
Taiki Nulight – I think he’s got a diverse range in his production and I’d be super curious to see how he’d flip this one.
6 – How much importance do you give to the number of streams, views, or likes towards your music?
That’s a tough question that I’ve been reflecting on a lot lately. At the end of the day, the value of the artist and their body of work isn’t based on streams and likes. Unfortunately, numbers talk in this industry for better or for worse. Followers, likes, and streams, they’re all looked at, and I noticed that people will treat you differently based on your numbers. I hate it, and I hope it changes.
I started back in 2017 after I started working a full-time corporate job. I was on the search for more, and thankfully music found me. I self-learned on and off for a few years then decided to dive fully into the world of music at ICON Collective for their Music Production program.
8 – What’s the most fucked up thing that ever happened to you at the studio or performing live on stage?
Fucked up? Other than the typical producer horror stories of writers’ block and frozen computers, I don’t think anything crazy happened to me. Maybe a spilled beer on my keyboard haha
9 – Some artists are unhappy with the state of music right now. How about you?
I think there’s a lot to be unhappy about with the current state of music, but I also think there’s a lot to be grateful for. There’s always something to improve on, but the biggest change I’d like to see is platforms and opportunities for rising artists on lineups. I want to see fresh faces in music – talented people that treat everyone equally and with respect.
I would also love social media platforms like IG and TikTok to focus more on good music rather than virality. Eventually, music is going to sound very different with artists and labels pushing agendas around “good” content vs good music. Of course, great content will always be important, but platforms are starting to stray away from artistic creativity and freedom.
10 – What are your hopes for VON BOUYAGE’s future?
First and foremost, I want to influence positive change in music, both within the industry and in the stands. There’s too much negativity towards each other because of “reputation”, jealousy, and selfishness. I want to forge this mindset into crafting fun and memorable live sets for people who come to see me perform. My first goal is to tour within the US, but I’d love to take my music overseas to Vietnam, other Asian countries, Europe, and really anywhere people will connect with my music.
Otherwise, expect to see a lot of unique music coming from me in the near future. I’m collaborating with a lot of people who I think are pushing the envelope in the House & Bass community, and I can’t wait to show the world what I’ve been working on behind the scenes.