Staying Upbeat: Max Hammur

Adam Murdoch


Vol II: Max Hammur

For the second piece in my Staying Upbeat collection, I spoke to Max Murray aka Max Hammur, a previous resident of Glasgow’s infamous Arlington Bar and a recent addition to the Project Radio roster, about starting up, finding a style and the parties to come.

I know you’ve been at it for some time now, but when did you start getting involved in the scene and what was it that pushed you to start mixing?

Honestly, it came from just going out clubbing, experiencing subby [Sub Club] for the first time – it totally blew my mind, and I remember thinking: this is mental. When you go to these places – subby, SWG3 etc – it’s not music you would really hear on the radio, and so those first times, I’d never heard anything like it. I bought a wee controller when I was 18, so it wasn’t long after those early experiences that I began trying it out myself.

Your sets and mixes are high energy and definitely lots of fun, but I think part of what makes them special is that infusion of certain sounds that we maybe don’t come across too often – what’s been the biggest influence on your style and how did you develop that?

Initially, I taught myself to mix techno, but I got bored of it quite quickly. I knew I had to find my niche, but it wasn’t until I started listening to the likes of Antal and Hunee and had another “mind-blown” moment that I started figuring out what I wanted to do. The way the two of them seem to play every style and genre in the space of like five or ten minutes it seems, it’s unbelievable. Around that time, I began collecting records too. My uncle gave me a bunch and they were all like 90s Chicago House and American producers like DJ Pierre, Roy Davis Jr; so that massive wad of records helped open my eyes, and they’re still tunes that you’ll hear played today - they still go off! My cousin, he plays in Cologne out in Germany, and he donated a bunch to my collection when he found out I was into it: Italo stuff, electronic disco stuff, a lot of the weirder sounding music, so blending those influences with what I already enjoyed…  aye, you can see how my selection was already getting a bit eclectic.

Was it quite a smooth transition over to mixing vinyl from there, and do you prefer playing records that way over digitally at all?

I mean, you have to have a proper collection before you can start mixing records – you definitely can’t do it with ten or fifteen – so I properly started playing vinyl about two years ago. By that point I had about a hundred records, with maybe four tunes on each, so that’s around four hundred to pick from off the bat. To me though, playing vinyl is much more like learning and playing an instrument in a way: it’s more hands on, it’s all analogue and it just has that extra sound. Let’s be honest, it’s also where all of these scenes originated from, and if you can do it on vinyl you can do it on any platform. I did struggle for a while to get to grips with it. I ended up getting two of the same record, this mad disco funk record, and spent a full day trying to beat match that into itself – I had that drum beat in my head for weeks after, going to sleep with it, making dinner to it, tapping that BPM wherever I was! It took a couple of years and a fair bit of effort, but I guess I could say I’ve found my niche and I know what I’m doing now.

You keep mentioning that word niche – would you say you’ve found that now, or are you still searching? 

I definitely think that I have, although there’s always room to keep developing that. That’s something that stopped me from playing sets for a long time. I always felt you know, I can’t just go out and play Radio One tunes, or the tunes everyone else was playing – you need to be doing something a bit different to stand out. As I said, the likes of Hunee and Antal just showed me that sound that I love. Their sets are so fun and enjoyable, and that’s what DJing should be about. I try to select uplifting tracks – afro disco, Italo, funk – music that people don’t know they like, maybe that they’ve never even heard before, but when you play it they absolutely love it. I’m always seeking that “oh, that’s a belter, that’s a banger!” from the folk I play to.

And have you ever thought of taking those next steps and making or producing your own music?

I do have a bit of a plan: I don’t want to actually make songs as such, but I’d really like to make edits of older style tracks – 80s South African music particularly. I wouldn’t want the credit myself, but it would be class to bring them into the spotlight again, and make them a bit DJ friendly, or make some extended versions. I bought one and started editing it last summer, and actually thought it was starting to sound quite good; then by absolute chance someone beat me to it and released an edit of the exact same track. I’ll be quicker off the mark next time. I definitely think that’s the goal though, to start reviving these older tracks and keep folk dancing to them.

Do you have anything else in the pipeline for the next few months?

Definitely. I hope The Arly bring me back for one, with everything opening up again! And I’d like to do Tiki Bar again, but really, I’d play anywhere to anyone at this point – I’m sick of playing to my flatmate and I’m sure he’s sick of listening to me. I’m also in the process of partnering up with someone and bringing some new parties to Glasgow, which I can’t talk about in too much detail for now – but watch this space!

Catch Max in rotation on Project Radio and via his Soundcloud, follow him on the socials and keep an eye out for the man playing events around Glasgow soon!

Max Hammur – Instagram / Soundcloud / Facebook

Project Radio Soundcloud