Photo: Julie Montel (Maxime Iko)
Maxime Iko has become an important figure in Paris’s techno scene, organising gay parties like Cockorico and DJing regularly at institutions like Concrete or its successor Dehors Brut. As a solo producer however, he has only recently started picking up speed again after mostly dedicating himself to collaborations and remix work. His new EP Pray For Us is his second for Ellen Allien‘s BPitch Berlin and feature four tracks that are dystopian in mood but playful on a musical level. Much like his stunning, two-hour long mix for our Groove podcast, a cosmic trip that starts in outer space and ends on Earth with a surprise finale.
First off, how are you doing and what have you been up to lately?
I am fine, thanks. I’ve just came back from vacation with my family it was peaceful and quiet.
Besides your work as a producer and DJ, you have also actively been organising gay parties like Cockorico in Paris. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the city’s club scene had its problems with local authorities and just recently, 170 musicians and DJs signed the letter “La musique électronique en danger d’extinction”. Is there any initiative from the French state to help out the movers and shakers of the regional scenes?
Electronic music is more than DJs and live acts. It exists since 1950! So maybe DJs are in danger, but certainly not electronic music. For me nothing can stop the music. It exists since prehistoric times and lived through the ages, some dark ages worse than COVID times. Help for culture in France is 22 millions and in Germany it’s 50 billions. The numbers speak for themselves.
At the same time, despite a growing number of cases, there have been quite a few well documented open-air events, some of which saw internationally popular DJs step up to the decks. What’s your stance on this and what do you think this may lead to long-term?
I think nothing can stop people to meet and dance. Meeting, sharing experiences and touching each other is in our DNA. It’s a human need. We have to educate people and supervise the most we can. I support these initiatives but in respect of the sanitary regulations. Who can know where this may lead in the long term? We just have met the pandemic and It still too early to have an accurate opinion on that.
You yourself cut your teeth in clubs like Rex or Le Pulp, both long-standing and crucial for the Parisian music scene in the past decades. What drew you to electronic music in the first place and how did you experience the club scene in Paris at that time?
I was born in 1982, so I’m a new wave child. I was raised with the sounds of the Jupiter and the DX-7, so I think that’s within me since then. In my teenage time, I start to listen to gothic music and go to parties, and I was into electronica and industrial. Following my path of a little gay boy, I discovered the gay clubs: Le Queen and Le Scorp, amongst many others . Scorp was in the same building as the legendary Pulp. Pulp was for girls. Every time the door was opening, I was feeling totally fascinated by the sound, which was much better than in the gay scene. One day I came in and I had a big crush on the sets played by Chloé and Jennifer Cardini. I think that kind of changed my life. At the same time, my boyfriend introduced me to Rex. And I think that it all started at that moment.
In 2008, you kicked off your DJing career along DJ W!ld at the legendary Les Bains Douches. How did that come about?
Before becoming a DJ, I was a sales associate at Dior. One day I decided to quit everything and concentrate on my passion for DJing. It was an obsession. I found a job as a barman at Les Bains Douches . The schedule gave me some extra time to practice my DJ technique during the day and work at night. One day I gave a CD demo to Bruno Peguy, a promoter of the gay electro parties Eyes Need Sugar, and he booked me along DJ W!ld at the YES SIR party at Les Bains Douches
As a producer, you’ve recently released your second EP for BPitch Berlin after 2018’s Concilium. Before that, you’ve only rarely released solo material, collaborating instead with Markus Gibb under the name IKO&GIBB. What made you pick up on your earlier solo work after almost half a decade?
I started releasing my music in 2011. My first EP Voiture Pullman came out on Viva Music. I was producing deep house at that time. Then there was a few remixes and my second EP in 2013, MOTHER, on Days Of Being Wild. And in 2015 I released my third EP Coven on the Rework label Loveyeah. I have made some other few remixes as well as collaborating with Markus Gibb and in the same time I met Ellen Allien.
Your latest was called Pray For Us and, somewhat fittingly regarding the state of things, centers around “various visions of the apocalypse.” What exactly inspired it and how did you seek to translate that into music?
I produced this EP one year and a half before COVID-19. I was simply inspired by the world and how we destroy everthing, the human regression, the apocalypse. You just have to read or watch the news. I was also very inspired by painters like William Blake, Nicolas Poussin or Gustave Doré’s engravings and Lars von Trier, who is my favourite director.
You are also involved in the project ISOLA sound. What’s its concept?
Isola is a multi-disciplinary collective. A synergy of artists and friends – Corbeille Dallas, Minor Black, Foltz, Chaco, Dimitri Rivière and more – from different cultures and musical backgrounds. We have people who are into techno, disco, industrial, EBM, dark wave, house… We will soon organise parties and also other stuff but that’s a secret for now!
What was the idea behind your contribution to the Groove podcast?
A cosmic and interstellar journey starting in other peaceful galaxies and finishing on earth when the mix is accelerating as much as our planet is. Melancholy is ubiquitous. I wanted to include some of my favourite artists like PTU or Marc Acardipane.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
I have a new track on Ellen Allien’s compilation We Are Not Alone and there’ll be a remix for the German producer Alma Marter. I am also working hard with my team on our FAWA project, an alternative living space that we will open in Paris.
Stream: Maxime Iko – Groove Podcast 269
01. Stephan Eicher – Ping Pong Lied
02. Dario Sorano – System failed
03. Stanislav Tolkachev – Everything Ends
04. Hector Oaks – Forwarded state of evidence (Dj Stingray Remix)
05. Schwefelgelb – Auf Die Erde
06. CTSD – Forbidden Intervals
07. U.r.trax – Folge Mir
08. Ian Axide – Timeless (Vil remix)
09. Minimum Syndicat – Dx Renegade
10. Regis – Artillery
11. Overmind – God stepped out on Space (Bjarki Pandemix)
12. RX-101 – Serenity
13. Wave Corner – Even Mike (Dissolver remix)
14. Endlec – Heavy Hitter
15. Marc Acardipane – C.S.W.K
16. Dean Rodell – Cold Hand
17. Maxime Iko – CURE+
18. Isaiah – Isaj
19. Yves Deruyter – Back To Earth (Rave remix)
20. D.Dan – Mutant Future
21. Viper Diva – Born to be Slytherin (Tbilisi mix)
22. Alpha Tracks – Gunmetal
23. Bjarki – Hellfire
24. PTU – Red Green Blue Communications
25. Zion Linguist – Resurrection
26. Marc Acardipane feat 6-Pack – Drunken Piece of Shit (Mix1)
27. Silent Humanity – Slave (Gabberfucker remix)
28. Jason Little vs Withecker – Hide and Seek Motherfucker
29. MAJKI – Nib NiB Whuaaa
30. Gigi D’Agostino – Bla Bla Bla (D.Carbone Remix)
31. Ellen Allien – Walking in the Dark
32. Umwelt – Planet of desolation
33. Beyoncé – I Been On