Maurice West has had a rather rapid ascent in the EDM world, at the age of just twenty-two years old he has played at some of the worlds most renowned festivals and super clubs. Within three years of making a name within the music world he has played to crowds consisting of tens of thousands of fans. On the eve of his return to London’s famous Ministry of Sound venue we were lucky enough to sit down with the Dutch music producer to learn more about how he managed to secure his dream, ahead of what is sure to be a huge year for the artist.
Not only is Maurice’s story particularly unique, so is his personality, full of warmth and with a great sense of humour, he is a breath of fresh air within the EDM scene. His hour long set to a packed-out Ministry of Sound, consisting purely of his own productions showed us exactly why he has become so popular. Highlights included Dance edits of Eminem and Queen alongside West’s ability to consistently engage with the crowd, hyping up the atmosphere. Maurice showed me a side to dance music that I hadn’t seen before, the rest of the world will be next.
How old were you when you started making music?
That’s a hard one, it’s felt as if I’ve always been making music. I think I started making music when I knew what I wanted to do, when I knew I wanted to be a DJ around the age of fourteen. Before that I was just messing around with all the different effects on garage band. Although it was always electronic music that I was making.
You rose to prominence very fast within the EDM world, around what time did you come to prominence?
I hard to word this without sounding big-headed but I think I got to a point where I thought, this could really work for me, when I was about nineteen. That was the time when I started doing serious shows, before that I was playing at soccer clubs and weddings. I got to a point where I could show what I was about musically and like as an artist at that age.
Would you class yourself more as a Music Producer or as DJ?
I think I started out as just a producer of music but knew that DJing was an essential part of the whole act. I was really interested in it, it wasn’t like I didn’t want to DJ, I loved it a lot and I loved watching others DJ. It was something that I wanted to be good at, so I just started playing wherever I could, random parties and stuff. I think I’m a musician or a music producer at heart, I play the piano so that side is a real passion of mine. But I love DJing as well. For me the songs are the most important part, all the music I play during my sets are all pieces I made, that’s the basis of what I do.
You must make a lot of music in that case.
Yeah, I’m constantly producing. I think it’s an important part, you want to showcase your own sound and I need the festivals and the clubs to want me and book me, why would they want me if I played other people’s music.
The EDM world is big, is there a genre you define your music style as?
I think bigroom would be the most suitable genre for the music that I make. Overall, it’s really energetic, euphoric, fast paced dance music. I always try to incorporate certain aspects into the song to make it interesting to listen to when you’re at home, for example, vocal samples, real instruments and nice harmonic breakdowns with catchy melodies. That’s how I try to find a balance between both of those things.
Being so young in the industry is there anyone out there you particularly look up to?
It’s so hard to say, there are so many people that have inspired me along the way inside of the dance world. Outside of dance music there’s a lot of music I listen to that has nothing to do with the music I make. I used to listen to a lot of Stevie Wonder, jazz music, I still listen to The Doobie Brothers and super random stuff. Sister Sledge, a lot of soul music, Hip Hop.
I guess it’s a way of escaping electronic music as well…
Yeah exactly, it’s important, If I was just listening to dance music and what’s happening there, I’d only be making music that applies to their rules. I’m just looking for new stuff outside of this world, so I can take that and apply to my own sounds.
I’m usually a lot more involved within the house and techno scene, this side of the world has grown rapidly over the last couple of year.
How would you compare the EDM world to this? Is it growing at the same pace?
I feel like house music is huge right now, especially tech house. Techno has been on the rise for a long time now, for example in Holland where I’m from in the summer every week there’s five techno festivals, its crazy. My style of music isn’t represented as well over there compared to that. I do feel like at every festival you go to you will hear my kind of music. The kind of dance music where people are jumping up and down, I think a lot of people visit a festival for that feeling. Bigroom has become less popular, but people still crave that hard dance music sound and that’s what I try and bring it in a new refreshing way.
You say that your style of music isn’t so popular in your homeland of Holland, whereabouts in the world are you most popular?
Asia is a great area for my kind of music, but also Europe; Spain and Portugal for example still really like bigroom and progressive house. In Holland we have this day called Kings Day, where we celebrate the King’s birthday, that’s literally the only time of the year where my music will be represented.
Is there an event or festival that has stood with you as a significant memory?
I don’t like to think about what has happened in the past too much as everything moves so fast and I don’t want to stand still at all. I like to capture memories in pictures and look back and think ‘that was a great festival!’ Last weekend I played in Myanmar, it was my first time playing there. The weather was crazy, it was super-hot and there was no rain whatsoever. It was rain season and the moment I started playing my one-hour set, a thunderstorm arrived and there was torrential rain. The weirdest thing was that the eight thousand people in the crowd at the festival, all stayed and danced even harder, despite the LED screens, fireworks and everything else not working. That was a memorable moment, seeing people enjoy that music in such strange circumstances.
Are you working on any exciting projects now, that your allowed to say?
I’ve done a lot of collaborative projects in the past but I’m currently working on a lot of singles of my own right now. This year I really want to show what Maurice West is about and what I’m trying to do musically. So I’m holding off on collabs for this year and putting all my work and effort into songs that I make. There’s a lot of them to come!
Is an album off limits right now then?
Doing an album right now for myself wouldn’t be smart. I want to spread out all of the songs and the separate stories each one has. Also, not all the songs I have share the same vibe to be on an album together. It is something that I want to do in my career at some stage.
How do you cope mentally and physically as a DJ with all the travelling that you have to do?
Its different for every person but for me I’m easy going and I don’t stress out about many things, I really love the life that I’m living and all of the travelling that I get to do. I’m lucky, when I get on the plane, I sleep and then I’m there. I never get jet lag either, I have no idea how! The only thing I worry about when travelling is the weather.
With your music career starting so young, were your parents supportive of your dreams?
Both of my parents are musicians as well, my dad used to play the saxophone a lot and he used to conduct an orchestra, so he had to turn a song into sheet music for the team. So, growing up the bottom floor of the house was a studio and I could just walk downstairs and play the guitar or the piano, so that’s what I did all my life until I started making dance music. My parents were always fine with the idea of me making music, it was when I left school I told them to let me try this for one year and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll go to college. They told me I had to go to college first and work on music in the meantime. They just wanted me to have a plan B, which is smart. They don’t understand the DJ world though as its so new, which scares them a little. I told them I had a number one single on Beatport and they didn’t know what that was. Once I started making money I decided to leave college and pursue this journey, they understood that.
Words: Jake Wright