DJ Macks Wolf Interview (2015)
TCD has the honour to interview one of the fastest rising stars in the UK Hardcore industry. His name is Macks Wolf, and it’s a name that should be written down in your ‘dear’ diary, because it’s going to be the hottest name very soon, and you want to remind yourself of when he was just an upcoming producer/DJ. Already having released his music on the mighty Futureworld Records label and his Soundcloud is filled with promo mixes, it’s about time to find out who this man is, and why he’s the next best thing in our well beloved music industry. Ladies and gentlemen: Macks Wolf!
Hi mr Wolf, how are you?
“Very well thanks Martin, hope you’re good!”
First things first, the name. Macks Wolf. Where does it come from?
“Basically I was trying to come up with a ‘cool DJ name’ a few years ago. I was looking through random topics on Wikipedia one day and I came across a German Astronomer called Max Wolf. I decided to use it, but had to spell it slightly differently as there was already a ‘Max Wolf’ on MySpace ha. I later found out that my real surname (McCann) comes from the word ‘Cana’ which means Wolf Cub!”.
As I’ve said in the intro section, you are a UK Hardcore producer/DJ. But what got you into UK Hardcore? Can you remember the first UK Hardcore track that took you by surprise, and made you explore the scene?
“I suppose Scooter was my introduction haha. I was about 10 when ‘Move Your Ass’ came out, and when you’re a kid, any song with a swear word is a good song!
I really got into UK (or Happy) Hardcore in 98 when I seen the advert for Bonkers 4. I was 12 at the time and all the bright colours and fast music had an obvious appeal. I didn’t fully understand it, but I knew I needed it, so I got it for my birthday that year along with Get Smashed and Hardcore Heaven 4. It’s hard to pin point a specific track, but I can safely say it was Hixxy as a DJ that really made me stick around. I loved the variety in his Bonkers 4 disc, and actually the first few tracks aren’t even Hardcore technically. I’ve followed Hixxy ever since, and when it came to tape packs, his was always the first I’d go to.
I wasn’t old enough to go to any raves but fortunately I discovered USH.NET. This really helped me explore the scene, find new music and even talk to some of the producers and DJs. I was a bit of a lurker but eventually started to post a bit under the name ‘Dre’ or ‘AnDrE’. My DJ name at the time was Meccano! I sent out a few mix CDs and uploaded a few tracks to Acid Planet (They’re still there i think), but nothing ever released.”
You are from a place called Blackpool. Some might know the name due to the yearly event where they have wonderful lights everywhere, but some might know absolutely nothing about this city. Is there a huge UK Hardcore scene over there? It the Blackpool Hardcore scene ‘massive’?
“I’m not actually sure as I’ve lived in Huddersfield for the last few years. When I first got into Hardcore, I was quite young and shy, so I never actually went to any raves. I just practiced DJing and producing at home and shared tapes with the select few mates that were into hardcore. I’ve only been to one rave in Blackpool which was the HTID Weekender on the pier a few years ago. It was wicked, and got a picture with Dougal!”
As many do, you start creating a new record collection. I started with ‘Bonkers’, and bought everything, and my bank account wasn’t pleased to go red every month. Which collection did inspire you to dance a little bit harder on the dancefloor, or in your living room?
“Same, it was Bonkers that started it. I also collected the Hardcore Heaven CDs, Absolute Hardcore, and pretty much every Dreamscape and Slammin’ Vinyl tape pack I could find. The Bonkers series is still special to me, got most of the discs on my phone. Bonkers 4 is still my favourite :)”
Favourite artists, we all have them. I can write a huge list of artists who are my favourite, but who are yours? Who inspired you to eventually become a producer/DJ?
“As previously mentioned, Hixxy was a big part in me wanting to become a DJ. I was just fascinated by the tracks that he played and also produced, along with UFO. He was always playing obscure European stuff before anyone else and that really excited me. I still to this day try and seek out tracks that are a bit different or otherwise overlooked. Brisk was another favourite DJ, his technical skills were unrivalled and his sets were always really bouncy and hard.
Production wise, and no surprises here, it was Scott Brown that really inspired me to produce. The quality of his tracks was always second to none. You always felt like you were in good hands with a Scott Brown track. ‘Brain Basher’ was the first vinyl I ever bought. Gotta mention UFO here too, I always liked the musicality of his tracks. He’s created some really beautiful pieces of music, that just happen to be Hardcore. Darren Styles kind of goes without saying. Again, he brought a very ‘musical’ element to Hardcore. He just wrote great songs, which is why they have ended up in the mainstream charts.
Outside of Hardcore, Ferry Corsten was a really big influence. I think 1999 will always be my favourite year in music, partly down to the now classic Trance sound that he pioneered. I was also a big fan of Mauro Picotto. He really carved out his own sound at the time, and his ability to knock out main room trance and hard techno simultaneously was impressive.”
What happened first, producing or DJing?
“DJing came first for me. I was about 13 when I started using old record players to switch between songs and I’d record it on an old Phillips voice recorder ha. Eventually I got a Numark ‘DJ IN A BOX’, which consisted of two belt drive turntables, a very basic mixer and speakers. It was marginally better than my previous set up, but it was a start. I then made the move to Technics 1210’s (Thanks mum) and that’s when it really started to click.”
Nowadays we have many DJ schools all over the world, and if you have a few pennies left on your account, you can learn how to mix like the professionals. How did you teach yourself the skills, and was it difficult?
“I’m basically self taught, although I do recall having an VHS called ‘So You Wanna Be A DJ?’. It came quite naturally to be honest. I just listened intently to what other DJs were doing and copied them basically. I’d always try and get the tracks from my favourite CD and tape pack mixes, then recreate the mix. I found this interesting as you could discover exactly where the DJs were mixing the tracks in. It was especially interesting listening to Brisk. He’d always do really long mixes, sometimes with tracks playing virtually on top of each other. Back then it was a valued skill to keep tracks in time, and Brisk was really the best at it.”
The ongoing debate about ‘real’ DJs and their equipment: if you are put in front of two turntables and a mixer, would you be able to impress the listeners?
“I’m still vinyl at heart so I’m happy to be put in front of two turntables and a mixer any day. I think being a ‘real’ DJ is a mentality. It’s not so much about the equipment, but remembering what it is to be a DJ, which is to select great music for your audience and play it in an entertaining way. Nowadays there are a lot of producers that use DJing purely as a platform to play their own productions. There’s nothing wrong with that, and some of my favourite DJs do play largely their own material, but I’d say they are performing more as an artist than a DJ. The confusion between a DJ and a producer is at an all time high at the moment, as clearly illustrated in the DJ Mag top 100 ‘DJs’. Where was Eddie Halliwell? EZ? Jaguar Skills? A good Producer does not necessarily make a good DJ, and vice versa. Occasionally you will get someone like Gammer who is outstanding at both.”
What’s your own set up? What kind of equipment do you have?
“I have 2 Pioneer CDJ 900s, 2 Technics 1210 decks, and a Pioneer DJM 850. I’m pretty old skool when it comes to DJing. I don’t imagine ever using a laptop to DJ, I just don’t trust it. Rekord Box is as far as I’ll go I think.”
You have recently played alongside Mizel & Wilson and Jakka-B at HTID Sound Wave – Show Two. Many upcoming artists were jealous, because to play at an HTID event is a dream coming true, and many hope that one day they might play there, but you already have. First of all, how did you get booked for this amazing event?
“It was an absolute honour to be asked to play at HTID. 15 years ago it was me and my mates in the school yard that were dreaming of one day playing at this event. A couple of those very same mates actually came to the Sound Wave show, despite not really listening to hardcore for the last 10 years ha. Really meant a lot. It was great to play along side Mizel & Wilson and Jakka-B too. I was already a fan of both of them, so it was awesome not only to perform with them on the night, but also to collaborate on a track for the event. Imaginatively, we called it Soundwave.
The booking did come as a bit of a surprise, as I am a relative newcomer to the scene, but it was welcome surprise for sure. I’m just thankful that HTID are willing to support new artists and break the boundaries, not just in terms of line ups, but with their concepts in general. They really put on an amazing night and I was glad to be a part of it.”
Jakka-B, Mizel & Wilson & Macks Wolf
How did the crowd react to the madness? Were they ready for Macks Wolf, and were you ready for them?
“Haha, definitely. It’s the first time I’ve played an event like that, so it was a real buzz. The crowd were amazing, really up for it. Of course everyone wants to see the big guys at an event but I’m glad they were happy to watch the support acts too.”
If you could do a B2B with any other DJ, who would it be, and why?
“That’s a tough one, but seeing as Clarkey’s fresh out of retirement I’d choose him. He’s a sound guy and a great DJ, and he’s been really supportive from early on. He’s very tall though, which isn’t good for my Napoleon complex.”
Not only a fine DJ, but also a wicked producer. What inspired you to become a producer?
“Again, I gotta blame Scott Brown here ha. I just became obsessed with his tracks and desperately wanted to make music like that. My first taste of music production was actually ‘Music’ for Playstation. It was just a game, but it was a great introduction to sequencing music. I then got a cracked version of Fruity Loops 3 from a friend to try out. (I have a licensed version now if you’re watching Image-Line!). It felt like a natural progression, the interface was totally intuitive and I still use Fruity Loops (Or FL Studio) to this day.”
You have two tracks released on the mighty label ‘Futureworld Records’, which you can buy right now from Beatport (click here and here!!!!!!). How did you get your music released on their label, and how’s the response so far from the listeners?
“The response has been great so far, especially to ‘You Ain’t Ready’. I guess they were ready. Really grateful to everyone who’s supported the tracks, and especially to Mark Breeze who gave me the opportunity to put them out in the first place. It all started with Dark Sky, which was the first hardcore track I’d finished in about 5 years. I seen Breeze was doing mastering, and considering how bloody loud the Breeze & Styles tracks used to be, I thought I’d send it to him. I was also aware that he owned Futureworld Records so I was secretly hoping he’d hear it and maybe like it. Fortunately he did and it was released in March 2015. ‘You Ain’t Ready’ then followed, and I’m currently finishing off the difficult 3rd single!”
As a producer you work with a lot of equipment, soft- and hardware. What’s necessary to make a Macks Wolf track?
“It’s all software for me. FL Studio and a handful of plugins. It’s the way I learnt, so I can’t imagine it changing really. Also, I enjoy the fact I can take my ‘studio’ anywhere and just plug in some headphones. I get inspired by different rooms/spaces etc. I’ve had to travel a lot in recent years so it’s also been incredibly practical.”
I’ve got to ask this: what’s up with you and your hat? Every picture I’ve seen you wear this hat! Is it part of you, like Angerfist’s mask or Daft Punk’s helmets?
“Haha, I suppose it’s become a bit of a ‘thing’ now. There’s really not much under the hat, other than a vague attempt at a hairline. I’ve always liked hats though, and living in West Yorkshire, my weapon of choice is the flatcap!”
The mix that made me a fan of you was the one called ‘Fire And Blood’, which was a nicely mixed Hardstyle/Hardcore mix, and even though it was only 31 minutes long, it was and still is an impressive mix. Are you going to explore other genres and see if you are able to expand your capabilities as a producer, or are you going to stick to one genre?
“The fact is, not all track ideas work at the same BPM and so inevitably you venture into different genres. I have a backlog of track ideas ranging from Hardcore to more downtempo Hip Hop stuff that will hopefully see the light of day at some point. I think that mix accurately represents who I am not only as a DJ, but as a producer as well. The tracks I play are the kind of tracks I like to produce too. I just haven’t cracked Hardstyle kicks yet.”
Any other future plans you want to share with us all? New tracks, new mixes, new hats?
“Haha, actually I tend to stick with the same couple of hats to be honest. There’s a new mix in the oven, which should be ready by mid November. They’ll be an exclusive play of a new track in there! Also my remix of ‘Love Tonight’ by JDM & Subliminal will feature on The Ballistik Hardcore Album which is due for release soon. There’s a couple of other remixes and collaborations I’m working on too. Basically stay tuned!”
Final and random question: if you could look into the future,where would you be in ten years time? On the DJ Mag Top 100 list?
“Hopefully in ten years time, the DJ Mag Top 100 list will actually recognize real DJ talent and not just producers with great promotion. Of course I’d love to be on the list, being in any chart naturally helps your career as an artist, but it’d be nice to be on it for the right reasons.
In the future, I just hope to be doing the same thing I am now, but having gained some wisdom, and air miles!”
We would like to say thank you to one of the fastest rising artists in the UK Hardcore scene, mr Macks Wolf. A true gentleman who took the time to answer these rather difficult questions, but hopefully you will find the answers as interesting as the artist himself. Go check him out on these pages, and make sure you give him a follow.
To showcase his strength as a DJ he has uploaded a mix for all you UK Hardcore fans out there who love a bit of Hardcore and Halloween! Listen and enjoy!