EDMSauce spoke with MARO MUSIC (real name, Marek Walaszek), Poland’s biggest and most accomplished music producer. Maro Music also does post-production for the world famous TV show, “The Voice (Poland),” one of his many clients for studio production. MARO MUSIC has worked with numerous electronic music and hip-hop luminaries including members of the Wu Tang Clan. As a wizard in the studio, MARO MUSIC is also the founder and president of the hardware company, Bettermaker, respected and used by leading studio producers. Bettermaker has a presence at annual music industry conventions around the world, including AES (Audio Engineering Society) in New York City and The NAMM Show (National Association of Music Merchants) in Anaheim, California.
Check out the full interview and guest mix below!
What got you into making music, specifically electronic dance music?
MARO MUSIC (Marek Walaszek): I’ve been long influenced by two genres, electronic and hip-hop. I grew up in a community where these two genres coexisted quite naturally. Hip-hop was more a way for youth to express themselves and all you needed was a Mic and a beat. Many people were into rapping. I was always interested in Music Production and sound engineering. Since I was 14, I was collecting all kinds of gear and learning electronics because many times, I had to fix gear myself. For the first years, hip-hop dominated my music journey. But, I always was interested in synthesizers and many times I went off on a personal journey of implementing electronic elements into hip-hop beats, which was not as popular in the ‘90’s as it is now. As I developed my own style and gained more confidence, I started to move more into up-tempo areas and these two genres went with me along the way. Today, you can hear a lot of hip-hop influences in my music. In the early 2000’s, dubstep started to show up and after that, the Euro-trap scene started booming and this was exactly what I always felt, to blend the downtempo vibe with cutting-edge technology.
Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?
MARO MUSIC: I listen to quite a wide range of music, so my inspirations go way back to the ‘70’s. Some of my first inspirations were The Residents, Aphex Twin, Primus, Wu Tang Clan with all the sprouts, Westside Connection, Sizzla, Bounty Killa, John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Atari Teenage Riot, Kraftwerk, Notorious B.I.G., all the way to current acts like Skrillex, Noisia, Snails, Joyryde, Diplo, Wiwek, Moksi, Pusha T, Yellow Claw, Henry Fong…I could go on.
Most of our readers in the U.S. will not be familiar with you, since you're based in Poland and you don't seem to have a big touring/gigging/festival/club presence here in the States. How would you best describe your sound/style to our readers?
MARO MUSIC: Because of my wide musical background, my style is quite eclectic, so it mostly depends on how I wake up. My sets are always energetic, hyped-up with a sprinkle of dark matter. I like huge drops, big changes, surprises and blending many genres into one. You can find trap, house, hip-hop, dancehall and pop in my music and find somehow a common ground. As for my own music, it’s quite similar. I can start off a day with a dark trap/hardstyle tune and after lunch I can go back to the studio and make a radio pop song for some Polish celebrity. My songs express my current mood as I’m normally a bit introverted. This is the way I talk to people, with my sets and my music.
Who are some artists you are listening to now?
MARO MUSIC: Besides the influences I mentioned above, I listen mostly to people that inspire me as I look at my Spotify daily mix I find : Valentino Khan, Chocolate Puma, Don Diablo, GTA, Raekwon, I Am Legion, Jauz, Moksi, Redman, Slushii, Topi, Zomboy, Gigi d’Agostino, Anthrax, Motorhead, Die Antwoort…
You're mixing and mastering magician! What would be one or two key tips to young producers out there trying to figure out how to mix/master tracks? (Be as technical as you'd like!)
MARO MUSIC: As a professional mixing/mastering engineer and the CEO of Bettermaker, I often am asked for advice or to give lectures for young and upcoming producers. First of all, listen to your inspirations, analyze them, listen to the balance. Is the kick over the bass? What is the lowest element in the mix? Compare a lot while you work. I know that most young guys do not have the perfect listening conditions, so you can get closer to your idols by comparing more than by trusting blindly your monitors. Speaking of monitors, always invest in your monitoring environment! I would rather have a great acoustically treated room and a Laptop with Logic than a ton of gear on racks in some basement. It's like painting in the dark, if you do not see the true colors and shapes, how can you express yourself the way you want to? A painter with only one color of paint in full light will paint a better picture than a painter with a full palette of colors in the dark.
Thanks for the mix! What goes into making a mix like this, and what are some songs in this mix that stand out to you? This one really made us shake our booties here in the office. We don't automatically air every guestmix we get. We screen everything for quality.
MARO MUSIC: Thanks a lot! I’m very happy that you followed my story. I always take great care in the content and quality of mixes. I’d rather listen to my mix one time more than be unsure of what I deliver. Normally I go through my playlists and pick 100 to 120 tracks I love. Then I think of the harmonic consequences and the vibe I want to have. I play them on and on until I cut that number in half. Then I do the first mix and take it to the gym the next day. Then I edit it more and more, add some new tracks, throw out the ones that I do not like anymore and normally end up around 30 tracks per 1- hour mix. Then I’ll do a new mix and edit it technically. It’s the same way I prepare for my live sets. I need to know the tracks very well but always give myself space for spontaneous journeys.
What are some things you like to do in spare time when not making music?
MARO MUSIC: Music and sound are what I love, so I normally do not have much time besides this. I’m a happy workaholic. But when I really get free-free time I love to travel and dive. I even have a rescue-diver license, but it’s been a while since I dived as the demand for what I do is kinda crazy. I’m a quite good cook, too…
What do the fall/winter have in store for you?
MARO MUSIC: As always, a lot will happen. New mixes are coming. I’m waiting to pick up my next Platinum record. I have a new twerk single called, “Shake Di Bom,” with an amazing video that’s coming up. I just launched my new website, and on top of that I’m working on my new EP and producing an amazing album that I can’t talk about just yet.
Favorite home-cooked meal?
MARO MUSIC: Medium-rare tenderloin with garlic butter and home fries, free-range chicken de volaille with baked potatoes and sauerkraut.
Favorite junk food?
MARO MUSIC: Real-real Italian pizza with thin dough using only premium Italian ingredients, but I do not consider it as junk food. For junk food, I’d say, KFC Double Zinger with cheese and bacon.