At just 20 years of age, Max Armata is the man behind the ambient beats under the Yahtzel moniker. In the past few months, he has received a lot of attention for his original tracks ‘Beached’ and ‘Girls’ and there are high expectations for his brand new single titled ‘High With Me’ which is available now as a free download via the link below!
Yahtzel recently completed a national tour which included supports slots alongside What So Not, Branchez, Willow Beats and Lewis McKirdy. I caught up with him to chat about production techniques, touring and his views on the state of the Australian scene.
You’ve been writing music since you were just 14, what styles have you dabbled with in the past?
I started as a Drummer at the age of around 5 – 6 and loved anything with a 4/4 beat. As i got older i wanted to learn other instruments, it was when i was 14 that i began multi-track recording rock instrumentals in my garage on an old 8-track tape recorder, progression led me to swap the 8-track for a computer with FL Studios to record. My music became more and more electronic until i found i only needed a computer instead of a small studio.. The first tracks i made were heavy and very influenced by Justice, Breakbot, Kavinsky and other french producers of the sort. I was around 17 when i started taking a lot of inspiration from classical music and deep dance music. it led me to turn the tempo down and start experimenting with softer sounds and the type of music i make today…
What software do you use to produce and why do you prefer it over other programs?
I use Ableton Live, to me it’s a really well rounded program and the user interface is a breeze.. I’m right into Live’s “Simpler” and use it on most of my tracks, it’s a killer for vocal cuts. Though one of the best things about it is most producers i meet use it.. So i’m always learning new tips and pointers from people on the road.
Where do you find inspiration for your current sound and what producers do you look up to?
I heard Booka Shade and Simian Mobile Disco for the first time when i was around 16 – 17 and i thought about using the same kinds of samples and structures but with a drawn out trip hop beat.. Artists like these opened my eyes to melody and harmony in dance music, prior to that i’d listened to a lot of simplistic heavier stuff.. Hearing Booka Shade for the fist time was like hearing the classical aspect of electronic music and it hooked me.. As for other past influences i’ve looked everywhere from Fatboy Slim, Chemical Brothers, M.A.N.D.Y, Danger, Groove Armada To bands like The Menahan Street Band, Caribou, The XX, Foals, and Tame Impala Etc. Inspiration for me is hearing music quite different from mine. I find if i get too tunnel visioned on one sound type i lose a lot of creativity
Coming from a production background, do you feel the need to incorporate any live elements into your dj sets?
I’m currently working on a full live show, which should be ready for early next year. I’m trying to keep it as live as possible with plans to use synths, drum pads and guitars, and possibly another person on the stage to run the APC 40 (Ableton/Effects) leaving me more time on the instruments.. I’m super excited!
Can you suggest any new strategies that could be put to use in the Australian music industry to help young producers make a name for themselves without the backing of big record companies?
We’re lucky enough to live in a modern time where young artists no longer need the push of big labels to get there music out there, theres so much technology these days that anyone can make a track, upload it and anyone, anywhere in the world can listen. which is awesome! Triple J Unearthed is an awesome program doing great things for unexposed Australian music and producers, It’s great for networking as well. Networking and learning off other producers is really important.
What can we expect from this release?
My next track is a single called “High With Me” It’s coming out as a free download on August 8th. It’s a different structure to my old tracks and its a little more club friendly, but it still keeps the vibes i go for.
What are your top 3 tracks of all time?
Thanks for taking the time to have a chat. Can you tell us where we can catch you playing next?
I have an tour coming up kicking off around late September/early October. Dates will be on my facebook page soon.
Thanks for having me guys!