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Making It: Getting Max Graef Jazzed Up

Max Graef is a musician, producer and DJ in Berlin known for infusing electronic music with hip-hop and jazz. Hear how he melds his eclectic influences in the final episode of MAKING IT, a four-part multimedia series from Shure and Mixcloud.
September, 18 2018 |

Why do people create and how do they do it? Shure has partnered with Mixcloud, an online platform dedicated to long-form audio, to speak with innovative emerging artists from around the globe for the new multimedia series MAKING IT.

For the fourth and final episode, Mixcloud spoke with the musician, producer and DJ Max Graef in Berlin.

Always charting his own artistic course, the 27-year-old made a name for himself by infusing electronic music with hip-hop and jazz elements. But these days, he's just as likely to be spending his days jamming with his experimental live band Torben Unit.

In the podcast, Graef talks about finding inspiration, breaking mainstream norms and ignoring the pressure to meet people's musical expectations.

"As long as I like the sounds, I don't care where it's coming from. What's creating it." he says. "That's the basic thing. You want to experiment with stuff to create something original."

Graef got his break five years ago when clubs in his hometown of Berlin began booking him regularly. Though still known for his first few records, he now bristles at labels like deep house and jazzy house.

"If I would describe my music, I would usually just say electronic music," he says. "I haven't done a house or proper techno track in three years. It's a little bit annoying."

Short Shelf Life

In fact, Graef admits that his musical creations have a fairly short shelf life for him. Anything older than three months he finds difficult to appreciate. Instead, he's always pushing forward with the next thing.

"I'm impulsive," he says. "There's a moment I really like stuff. And then two weeks later I don't want to do it anymore."

Still, it was the popular reception of his initial recordings that enabled him to pursue a full-time career in music. Over the years, he has been released on respected record labels including Ninja Tune and Tartelet.

"When I think about the perceptions,I mostly do it for myself," Graef says. "I don't think about the impact or if it's gonna sell or not. But obviously it's important. In the end, if you do a record, you want people to listen to it."

His changing musical interests mean that his creative process is also in a constant state of flux.


Endless Possibilities

"Everything I do is self-taught," Graef says. "For me, it was always a very intuitive thing to make music. I usually know what I want."

So how exactly does he do it?

"Technology plays a big role. I do so much with MIDI," he says. "I love to use cheap mini instruments – note by note for a saxophone solo. I think you can easily get lost in all the possibilities available now."

Listen to the full podcast below.

MAKING IT explores the creative process of emerging artists in LA, Tokyo, Berlin and London. The four-part series can be found in its entirety on Mixcloud.

MAKING IT was recorded exclusively with Shure MOTIV microphones. This range of digital mics enables content creators to capture professional-quality audio using iOS and USB devices.


Marc Young
With a background in journalism, Marc is an editor for Shure covering anything and everything that has to do with sound. He tries to compensate for his mediocre guitar-playing skills with his writing. He is based in Portland, Oregon.