It is the dream of bedroom DJs all around the world to pack up their belongings, head overseas, and achieve fame in the global music scene. Of all of the possible destinations, few are as coveted as Ibiza. The white isle hosts 7.1 million visitors each year, and for every partygoer, you can be sure there’s a small army of workers labouring behind the scenes to keep the party going.
And it’s not every day that the very same person working on the island later becomes the person you go to the island to see, and in the case of Maxinne—that’s precisely what has happened.
It’s the height of the season here in Ibiza, and I’m sitting on the balcony of Toolroom’s leading lady, Maxinne. She’s renting a swank little pad on Figueretas Beach, and she’s just wrapping up a call with none other than Mark Knight himself. They’re discussing what sounds like plans for this Sunday’s edition of the Toolroom residency at Eden.
I try not to eavesdrop, but it’s getting difficult.
Off in the distance, I see what looks to be a familiar enough place where we’ve all spent plenty of nights and a few more quid than we care to remember.
“Is that Ushuaia?” I asked.
“That’s it right there.” she replies, finishing up her call with Mark.
While this might be the best little gaffe for an after party I’ve ever sat in, I begin to wonder if it’s all work and no play for the young Maxine Garman. Or, is it the other way around? For a DJ, I’d imagine it’s hard to tell at times.
In either case, we’re a long way from Southampton.
Making the unprecedented shift from Ibiza worker to Ibiza resident, Maxinne’s entrance into the music industry couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Helping to inject some much needed diversity into a scene that’s otherwise become a little bit, shall we say, “bro-y,” her presence is just as refreshing as it is unobtrusive, a rarity for any new act.
Never being one to complain about a booking, a set time, or the laundry list of grievances that most DJs fill their Twitter feeds with daily, you can’t help but think that some of today’s hotshots could learn a thing or two from Toolroom’s rising star.
It’s abundantly clear that Maxinne is happy to be here, and we’re happy to have her. With each of her successes further emboldened by Toolroom’s “We Are Listening” campaign, there’s certainly no ceiling, particularly a glass one, on the explosive growth that Maxinne stands to accomplish in the coming years.
Couple that with being handpicked by Mark to represent the label as a signed artist, and you’ll see that Maxinne has positioned herself in a place most artists can only dream of, perched at the rare intersection of natural talent, graft, and sweeping changes in the industry itself.
In April, she released her first single on Toolroom Records, a collaboration with New York City based vocalist Niki Darling, entitled “Something in Our Life.” Not less than two months later, she’s released a full EP on Hot Since 82’s coveted imprint, Knee Deep in Sound. Complete with a remix from none other than Do Not Sleep head honcho Darius Syrossian, the star-studded EP sounds as if it had been written by someone two decades her senior.
And yet, it was not, of course. It was but her first breakthrough record, sure to be one of many in the coming years.
Cynics beware. Maxinne is slowly, but surely proving to the world (yet again), that the cliché holds true: hard work really does pay off.
Though tragic end of the party that October brings is right around the corner, Maxinne’s Instagram feed reveals she’s been well occupied with something far more important than partying, though I’d not hesitate to say there’s been some of that as well.
In fact, with a schedule as manic as hers, I’m beginning to wonder if she ever sleeps.
2018 marked the year where Maxinne played her first show for Toolroom at London’s infamous clubbing institution, EGG. Six months later, she’s emerged from the side room, graduating to the main stage at the label’s biggest party of the year at Studio 338.
And not eight months later, she’s become a resident at the label’s weekly party at Eden Ibiza, supporting the roster’s most decorated names alongside guests such as David Guetta’s most recent side project, Jack Back.
She and fellow Toolroom resident Wheats who were tasked with closing out the night with a fiery back-to-back set. Watching the two play, you can’t help but have a hunch that they’ll soon be the ones headlining this same party in the not-so-distant future.
All in all, it can seem like life is but a dream for Maxinne. While her story seems to be one of overnight success, anybody who knows her is well aware that for half a decade, she’s quietly been grinding away in both the UK and Ibiza.
If you’re only hearing about her now, you’re officially late to the party. But, that’s okay. In Ibiza, it pays to be fashionably late at times, and if anybody knows this, it’s Maxinne, as few have actually lived and breathed the island in the way she has.
As it turns out, the white isle has influenced the blossoming producer in more ways than one, as well as her answers to a few questions that tell the story of her career.
Tell me about the first time you went to Ibiza. How old were you, why did you go, and what was it like?
My first time in Ibiza was when I was 20, and it was for a girl’s holiday.
We spent the holiday sunbathing, relaxing and visiting beaches. We got to taste a little bit of the clubs, and it made me want to go back and experience it properly.
That’s funny you mention that. Mark’s first trip to Ibiza was a total lad’s holiday. What were your subsequent trips there like?
The next time I went back was 2013, and the first club we went to was Sankeys, followed by Amnesia. The vibe was amazing. The sound systems were something I hadn’t experienced before.
For me, this really got me excited and curious to learn more about the music scene. It was something about the energy of the music that I was and still am drawn to. You can be taken on a journey whilst on the dance floor.
What can I say? I love this stuff.
It sounds like this was a trip that left quite an impression on you if you decided to return. Can you tell us how that transition came about?
So, in 2016 I had just graduated from the University of East London. Whilst finishing my degree I was also gigging and working quite a bit, which helped me to save some money.
So when I left uni, I was out in Ibiza for a holiday and was sitting on Bora Bora beach with friends, talking about my music and one friend who lived on the island said, “Why not come for the winter?” I literally thought about it for 30 seconds and was like, “I’m doing it!” And in that quick moment, the decision was made and it felt like the right thing to do instead of going into a full-time job in something I might not end up enjoying. So a couple of months after, I took my savings and moved to Ibiza in the winter of 2016 to work on my productions and start to make some connections on the island before the season begun.
What was the biggest struggle you faced getting started in Ibiza? Did you find it difficult to meet people? If you had any one piece of advice for someone who wants to get integrated over there, what would it be?
Moving there on my own and leaving friends and family in the UK was the most challenging part for me.
I knew that with the time I now had on my hands, I could really make the most of it. I spent a lot of time in the studio. Also, when I moved there in the winter, it was a lot quieter than the summer, so it as even harder at that point to meet anyone.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that the only way to grow is to come out of your comfort zone and experience real change. This was an amazing period of time for me because I really had plenty of hours in the studio, and I felt it paved the way to what came next for me. My advice would be to go with your gut instinct, if there’s something you want to do. Change can be good and a solid way to grow.
Be open-minded to taking opportunities and putting yourself out there, because you just never know where something can lead, and this is where the magic usually happens. Also, don’t expect things to happen straight away. You have to be dedicated and patient.
When I did my first season on the island, I worked several non-DJ related jobs to get my foot in the door with promoters and venues.
I knew I needed to put in some groundwork first, building connects and getting myself out there, so I just got on and did it.
Wait, wait, wait. You were a worker in Ibiza before becoming a DJ?
Yes! My first job on the island was in PR, promoting events.
The connections made were really valuable and I’ve made some great friends through it.
After doing it a while, I knew I wanted to be working more with a venue or something more music related. Plus, being a redhead in the sun all day wasn’t the best thing for me for the summer. I needed to find some shade, haha!
I enjoyed doing the PR work. It’s a great social environment and a way to meet people. It was actually on the way back from this job one day I came across another job as a host at Tantra in Playa D’en Bossa, the role was to speak to the customers inside the venue and tell them about all the pre parties we had for the following week.
This job really set me up for the summer and was a great environment to work in, as I was surrounded by people in the music industry and getting to meet big DJs week in and week out, like Hot Since 82, Bob Sinclar, Anja Schneider, Nic Fanciulli, Steve Lawler, Darius Syrossian and more.
This was the job I kept the following year and after doing a whole season of hosting, they moved me up to be their resident DJ warming up the pre-parties. The relationships I’ve made at Tantra are lifelong and I’m very grateful for all the opportunities and support they have given me.
How do you feel the music culture on the island has changed in the last 3 years that you have been there? Do you think it is important to stick to your sound, despite a changing environment?
One thing I have noticed in the past few years is there are always changes on the island happening and different parties being launched, or moving venues, whilst some also remaining at their home clubs.
I think this is great for the island, because it keeps things interesting. Sometimes change is good and refreshing, so I have enjoyed experiencing these parts. I think the changes in the noise restrictions have had a bit of a negative impact on the island, with outdoor parties having to reduce noise levels after a certain time now.
When I first came to Ibiza and experienced these outdoor parties, they were some of the best! Moving to Ibiza really helped me to discover the sound that I truly love as well, because there’s no better way than hearing it in a huge club on a big sound system.
What I’ve really learned is it’s good to have a sound that’s accessible so you can adapt to your environments and clubs. Throughout the three seasons I’ve been in Ibiza, I’ve played warm-up sets, headline slots and closing sets…and I love all of them.
To have your own sound that fits into all of these set times is how you can become excellent at your craft. Having a residency with Toolroom this summer has been a dream come true, as well. Playing week in, week out at different times has been amazing for adapting to different crowds at different times.
I love a challenge, and this has been such a great experience for me.
Describe your creative process when working on ‘Something in Our Life’ with Niki Darling. With so many producers grabbing samples straight from YouTube, did you find it refreshing to work with a live vocalist?
When I played my debut show for Toolroom at EGG, the music being played gave me ideas then for that track. I was thinking about the style of the bass and the percussion and the type of vocals that would suit the idea. I kept all the ideas in mind and a few weeks later, I pretty much had the idea laid down. I think going to clubs and hearing the music is always the best source of inspiration.
I started looking for vocalists. I got in touch with Niki Darling through Instagram, by searching hashtags such as “#vocalist” and “#singer.” I was scrolling for a few hours one night and came across her profile. I knew straight away her voice would sound amazing on the style of music I’m making.
I got in touch with her and we worked remotely on the idea.
After a few takes, it was done.
It was totally refreshing working with Niki, because I love her vibe and it’s just so cool to bounce ideas off someone else on a project.
It sounds like a match made in Instagram heaven. How did it feel to perform the track live with her for the first time at Toolroom’s party at Studio 338?
It was amazing to hear Niki’s voice live on the PA. She’s a real performer and absolutely smashed it that night.
Rumour has it that she even hopped on with Mark for a little bit?
She did! There was an impromptu live PA with Mark Knight to a packed garden as the sun was setting, and it was amazing to see the two perform.
This was her first time ever in London and she said it was definitely one night she’ll never forget. When working with her in the studio, I honestly didn’t expect the live performance to happen, as she’s been living in China and New York.
But it’s amazing how some things just work out and come together, and this was a special moment.
That’s crazy. They had never met before that?
So not only is Mark a big fan of your work, but Hot Since 82 has been a longtime champion of your music too. You’ve just released an EP on Knee Deep in Sound. How did that relationship come about?
I first met Hot Since 82 about 2 years ago in Ibiza, of all places.
At the time, I was doing some freelance work for a Spanish magazine, which was great because it led to gigs on the island and abroad, and because they knew I was into music.
On one occasion, they asked if I wanted to do an interview with Hot Since 82 the day before his set at Pacha. It was also super handy that I spoke English, thank God.
I’ve been a huge fan of his music since I first started listening to House and Techno, so obviously straight away I said yes. After the interview was recorded at Pacha, we spoke a little bit. I mentioned that I’m a producer and would love to send him my music, although at the time, I felt my productions were still developing and not quite there yet with the sound I was trying to achieve.
So, I actually waited until the following year to send him music.
So what happened from there?
The following year, I had also been working at Tantra in Playa D’en Bossa, who put on a fair amount of pre-parties, and they were doing the Labyrinth pre-party for Hot Since 82.
Things came full circle, and they asked me to warm up for him each week before the main event at Pacha. Through this, our relationship built and then the winter after this Ibiza season, I was finally happy with my music.
Of course, I sent him some demos for Knee Deep in Sound.
I think I know what happens next, but tell us anyway.
It was surreal.
I was watching one of his live streams for DJ Mag and saw him playing both tracks I sent him.
I couldn’t believe it, and then I saw all the live comments coming in from people asking for Track IDs, and all this cool stuff.
Next thing I knew, he emailed me the following week saying he loves the tracks and wants to sign them to the label. I was so happy!
Wow. You’ve clearly come a long way in a short period of time. For everyone at home who wants to be where you are, what has been the secret to your success?
Ah, well thank you very much.
You say a short time, and that’s what people who have been following me might have been seeing—my name popping up over the last 12-18 months.
But to be honest, I got into the music industry a long time before this. I started DJ’ing back in 2014, and producing in 2015. The one bit of advice that I strongly think anybody can apply is to put a lot of time and dedication into this on a daily basis.
If it’s really something you love and are passionate about, this will come naturally.
When I got into the music industry, I was always curious how I could keep getting better. After learning DJ’ing, I knew I wanted to become an artist and release my own music, so I started learning about production, something I immediately loved.
Hard work, dedication, passion and also knowing the direction you want to go in with your music is the best advice I can give.
While I’m sure you’re still basking in the glory of releasing not one, but two EPs in the past few months, SO: What’s up next for you?
In September, I’ve got my second EP coming out on Toolroom, which I’m very excited about.
I’ve been playing these tracks in my sets, and they’ve been doing bits so I’m excited for the release. I really enjoyed making these tracks and they both have a slightly different style while staying true to my sound.
Other than that, I soon will announce some exciting gigs which are happening once I return home from Ibiza.