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Max Menaged:Revealing his Creative Universe

by HQ

Max Menaged's journey from budding DJ to event planner extraordinaire is a testament to the power of passion and perseverance in the world of music and nightlife. But who is Max Menaged?

In his own words, he is a creative force that immerses himself in the world of DJing and event production, from intimate gatherings to large-scale parties in unconventional venues like graffiti tunnels.

Max’s foray into mixing and production began during his stay in Leeds, UK, in 2016, where he honed his skills in the vibrant underground music scene. His musical journey eventually led him to venture into other types of sounds. This later paved the way for the creation of MAX Presents.

MAX Presents came about organically, sparked by a transformative night at a London venue called Isabel. This pivotal moment marked the beginning of MAX Presents, a platform where music, people, and aesthetics converge to create unforgettable experiences.

From his beginnings in Isabel Mayfair to international concerts in places like St. Tropez, Max’s journey is defined by resilience and commitment to authenticity. As he continues to balance his DJ career with a growing interest in music production, Max remains rooted in his passion for creating memorable experiences for music lovers around the world.

Before diving into the musical aspect, we’d like to hear from your own voice, who is Max Menaged? 

I’ll let you know when I have the answer… haha. In a sentence? I’m a creative who spends most of my time DJing or producing some sort of event, whether it’s an intimate invite-only party or a 1200-person show in a graffiti tunnel. 

When did you start mixing and producing? 

I learned to play properly when I was living in Leeds (UK) in 2016, something that not many of my friends even know about. I used to play a completely different genre from what I play now — Drum & Bass and other open-format stuff. I was playing at house parties. They’d go on for a couple of days or so, but I never made it past the afternoon. You wouldn’t believe the sound systems these parties had, it wasn’t a joke. I’m relatively new to production, in comparison. For now, I still prefer DJing, but I’m enjoying exploring music production.

Can you explain to us what MAX Presents is, when and why it emerged, and how it led to PALOMA? 

MAX Presents began organically a couple of years ago at a spot called Isabel. It has this amazing interior with a crazy VOID sound system. Luciano and &ME even played a private event there at the time. Through one of my older sister’s friends, I got to know the guy running it, Ben. We got on well, so he introduced me to the music director, who was initially quite frosty, but eventually let me play a few times. 

One night in January 2022, he booked me, and I decided to go against the music brief of Disco and play more afro-melodic and deep house, which wasn’t getting much love in London at the time. Usually, January is the dead season, but the room was packed, and people were vibing. It was crazy. It ended up being one of their best nights. People still mention that party to me today. 

After that, things changed. I started getting contacted by London bookers after they saw the videos on Instagram. I noticed that these bookers didn’t care about the music; they just wanted people to come to their club. A lightbulb kind of went off in my head, and I realized that if I create my own party, I can actually throw something that’s about the music as well as the people, instead of just caring about the number of bodies in the room. So I came up with the logo, fleshed out the concept, and MAX Presents was born. 

I wanted everything to be over the top to the MAX, hence the name. Obviously, it helps that my name is also MAX, but that was only an additional reason to name it that. It became a party where only three things mattered: the people, the music (including the sound system), and the interior design. It sounds obvious, but people overlook these and don’t care about the small details. Paying attention to the small details is what allowed MAX Presents to grow into what it is. Seven months after that January party, I quit my day job. 

After growing from 80-person parties to events with over 500 people, it became clear that a distinction was needed between the larger events and the smaller ones. I was frequently playing for an event called CASA, and after developing a relationship with them, we decided that it made sense to collaborate and create PALOMA. PALOMA will focus on hosting bigger parties centered around creating a unique sensory experience, featuring international talent, while MAX Presents will maintain its intimate, small-room house party vibe without compromising on the quality of music and sound system. 

What specific lessons have you learned from your beginnings at Isabel Mayfair and being a BEAT London resident to your expansion to places like St. Tropez, and even the creation of PALOMA? 

From an artist’s point of view: Do what is true to yourself and don’t listen to others too much. If you want to play commercial, play commercial; if you want to play underground, play underground; if you want to play every genre, play every genre. 

As an events organizer: The crazier the idea you want to bring to reality, the more obstacles there are. But if you love what you do, you’ll see them more as fun challenges rather than problems. If it was easy, everyone would do it. 

With 130 sets in 10 countries, 15 cities, and 3 continents last year, what were some standout moments or experiences that left a lasting impact on you? 

First off, not all of these were crazy sets or ‘shows’ as a lot of people say now, also these figures are rookie numbers for a lot of my peers. 

Top 5 

  1. KOKO with Camelphat, London UK 
  2. Bastille Party, St. Tropez FR 
  3. Secret Events with Guy Gerber, Marrakesh MR 
  4. Windmill with RAMPA, London UK 
  5. ECLIPTIC at Market33, Dornbirn AT 

KOKO is my favourite place to play. Every time I perform there, it feels like a dream. It’s the perfect blend of decadence meeting music; I don’t think anywhere else in the world manages that crossover as well as they do. This particular KOKO show stands out because I was surrounded by people who supported me back in small 30-person clubs, and now we were vibing with thousands of other music lovers. Everyone was in the booth and there was this euphoric feeling that matched perfectly to the music I played. Even Camelphat, the headliner, came back out to boogie with us, which was cool of them. It was just a contagious happy vibe right up until the very end, with hundreds of people still left. Thanks, Marwan for that. 

In Saint Tropez, I am an outsider, but I love that and am slowly getting accepted by the locals there. I’m not here to compete; I just want to have fun, and playing there is magical. With tropical backdrops and a feeling in the air you can’t really describe, there’s nowhere else like it. It’s my standout moment because the main act before me had played an insane set, and the booker came up to me and jokingly said, “Good luck mate…” But it ended up being one of the best sets I’ve ever played. People stayed until the sun came out, and watching the videos back makes me smile every time. 

You mentioned a growing interest in music production, despite a preference for being a DJ. How do you envision balancing these two aspects of your musical career in the future? 

I was looking at production wrong. I saw it more as a necessity, rather than something I wanted to do, which was tripping me up. Now, I focus more on producing tracks at my own pace with artist friends of mine. The music we make now is way better; I actually want to play it, and that’s how it should be, instead of trying to make music for other DJs. 

I think I prefer DJing because it’s quick and dynamic. You can find a song on a flight to a set and play it out to a crowd that same day. You don’t really get that with production, or at least I don’t yet. 

As for balance, I’m sure I’ll find a healthy middle ground. 

With all this, it’s very clear that you’re an artist, but you’re also an entrepreneur, Max. How do you manage marketing to grow your brand and expand your presence to reach more people? We ask this because social media is essential for visibility nowadays. 

To me, an entrepreneur is an artist. Figuring out how to do something or the journey itself is just as much art as the creative output itself, and I think that’s often overlooked. 

From a DJ point of view, I don’t worry too much about the numbers on socials. Being true to myself seems to be the best and most enjoyable approach. Social media is important, but word of mouth trumps any social media. I would rather people tell their friends, ‘I saw this guy play, you need to check him out’, versus being tagged in a video alongside the millions of other DJs out there. If you are making noise in real life, then socials don’t really matter. There are artists with more followers than me who haven’t been fortunate enough to play in some of the places I’ve been lucky enough to perform at, which says it all. The MAX Presents Instagram follows the same mantra: if it looks cool to me, I upload it. Simple. 

For PALOMA, it’s a bit different. We are at a stage where we plan productions close to a year in advance, and our Instagram reflects this careful planning. Oliver, my partner, focuses on the performance marketing side, while I ensure everything looks good. What sets us apart is that we only undertake projects that genuinely excite us, making marketing easier. After all, how can someone else be interested in something if you’re not interested in it? 

You’ve just signed as a partner of CASA.fm, what excites you most about this venture and how do you see it complementing your work as a DJ and event organizer? 

Oli will love this cheeky PR. 

Seeing ourselves among every type of genre or event didn’t really make sense to us. Think of a grocery shop; you don’t see cars for sale in Whole Foods. That would be weird, but that’s kind of how it is on other ticketing platforms. We want to support smaller independent promoters within similar genres and create an echo chamber where it makes sense to see their events. I think that’s what makes it exciting for us and other event organisers: creating a platform that is consistent and fun for people to scroll through, which in turn helps the organizers. 

For artists, it’s exciting because we want to approach content pieces differently. Currently, articles on other platforms feel quite underground and ‘gatekeeper-y’. We want to challenge that. How can we create content that is fun and digestible when welcoming people who are just getting into electronic music? 

What are your goals for the future in terms of both your DJ career and PALOMA? 

I would love to play at EXIT Festival in Serbia and Circoloco at DC10. They are completely different parties, but both are amazing. 

Putting out an EP this year is also a goal of mine. I’m working on this with a talented artist friend of mine, Matteo, so fingers crossed. 

As for PALOMA, we have some big projects in Saint Tropez that we are about to announce. Less of a goal, but something in the near future that I am excited about, that was once a goal. 

With all the work you do on a daily basis, how do you relax? What activities do you prefer to unwind? 

What work? Joking… 

When I am trying to relax, it would be walking in the park with my partner Kat and our dogs. It’s clichéd but any progress I’ve seen wouldn’t have been possible without them. Mundane housework keeps me grounded, especially after traveling. It’s good to foster some sort of connection to your home, which ultimately is a safe space and serves as inspiration for me. That’s why I wanted to do the shoot here. 

Photography: Sophia Leon @sophiia.leon 

Lighting Assistant: Aastha Patel @_aastha.p

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