One of my purposes of this blog was to have an outlet to put up my interviews with artist, local and national acts. As a music journalist at KTSW I have learned a LOT in just one semester. One of those being that Texas State and the San Marcos area has so much unrecognized talent in the area. These guys aren’t getting the shine they deserve so I decided to start getting in contact with multiple people since January to talk to these artists as regular people first. These regular people just happen to be ridiculously talented!
I wanted Maxwell to be the first interview I roll out because we actually share very similar taste in electronic music and the genre he works with happens to be one of my favorites at the moment. Future Bass is a difficult genre to describe but I would describe it as something you would expect to hear from a retro Nintendo game that fuses the core elements from Kawaii, Trap, Chiptune, and even Jersey Club. The most notable artists from this genre to me are San Holo, Wave Racer, and Pusher.
Maxwell Yi aka AznInvazn. Photo taken from his Facebook
While his background story may sound like most young musicians. Maxwell has this “glow” around him that makes him unique is his passion for the music. Something a lot of newcomers lose either once they find out it’s not as easy as just making that one hit or as they start to gain some sort of notoriety. A touchy subject we delve into during our interview portion. From programing robots to being on his high-school dance scene, AznInvazn wants to bring you into his world of booming 808’s and sidechained synths, a genre of music that has been characterized as future bass. An ever-evolving genre that has breached into the “pop” spectrum of music in the past two to three years. He is a resident DJ at Bad Habit’s Hookah Lounge in San Marcos and also a consistent closing act for events hosted by the Electronic Music Association of Texas State.
I reached out to Maxwell a few days before CAMPUS DJ came to Texas State. He placed 2nd but that place doesn’t matter. He decided to just live in the moment and treat the Contest like any other show. When asked about his set from Campus DJ, “Dude I had a hell of a time at the (Campus DJ) event! Frankly, I could care less about where I place in that. Sure the exposure would have been cool had I won that round, but I’d rather be critiqued on my music, not how well I can push play, jump around the stage, slide a few faders, and turn a couple of knobs. I brought my keyboard out so i could actually perform some! I take the music i produce to heart and I’d rather place first for putting on an amazing show/performance, not be confined to 8 or 5 minute sets just to win a title and free Chipotle.” Wise words from a young talent.
APRIL 29th! Taken from EMA Summerfest FB Page
Maxwell will no longer be performing under AZNINVAZN after April 29th. His last gig under the moniker will be April 29th at the local Summerfest Showcase hosted by Electronic Music Association at Texas State.
His Independently released EP “Gray Matter”, what Maxwell describes as “an exploration of your mind and the beauty that lies within…” is available on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pandora, and more! (linked below)
Also, Check out Maxwell’s music below and be sure to give him a “like” on Facebook as well!
What is your real name, and what name do you perform under?
My name is Maxwell Yi, and I perform under AznInvazn (pronounced Asian Invasion). I was born in Los Angeles. I currently reside in Houston, TX and attend college in San Marcos at Texas State University
How did you decide on your name?
My friend came up with my name for me. In high school, he’d always bring up Asian Invasion or Asian Persuasion or Asian Domination, and when I was creating my Facebook Page, he kept suggesting it to me and I just went with it! XD So here I am about 5-6 years later playing as AznInvazn.
If you weren’t pursuing music right now what would you be doing?
If I weren’t doing music right now, I’d probably be pursuing something in biomedical engineering or something relating to robotics. I’ve always loved building and designing and programming robots since middle school, and honestly that’s what I wanted to do with my life at the time!
Could you describe what a typical day in the studio is to you? I’ll usually have a bag of hot fries, an orange Fanta (MUST BE ORANGE!!!!), some crispy or regular M&Ms, and Ramen. In the mornings, I’ll have maybe 2 cups of coffee instead of Fanta. Also, If there’s no more Fanta, Coke will suffice (To anybody who’s reading this interview right now….*cough*…..I’m running low on these….)
If you could be any animal what would it be?
Dude, I’d be a freakin’ Panda. They look so freaking cute and you just wanna cuddle them, but piss them off and they’ll rip you apart.
Being a musician can be a challenging career; when things aren’t looking up it’s easy to give up but hard to stick with until you’ve finally “made it”. But we all have those experiences and encounters that keeps pushing us to create art for the benefit of others or just for the love of music. Can you share something that has impacted you personally as an artist?
One of the most fondest musical memories occurred this past year actually. I was walking down the street after a gig in San Marcos and came across this teenager with her guitar and her mom. I sat down and listened and supported her through her set. Eventually, a scruffy, older looking dude came up and listened as well. We offered him the guitar and all four of us jammed out to “Sweet Home Alabama!” I think that has had the most impact on me as a musician because it reminded me why I do what I do and why I love music so much. It’s such a powerful force that no matter where you come from or how you look or how old you are, all discrimination goes away and everyone comes together. It’s a beautiful thing. The mother gave me one of those friendship bracelets, and I haven’t taken it off since
What Production (DAW) software do you use?
I use a couple DAWs. I primarily use Ableton Live 9, but I’m open to using Pro Tools and sometimes Logic.
Do you like to mix and bounce your audio from one DAW then master the track on the other?
Occasionally I’ll bounce out the track from Ableton and master it in Pro Tools, but for the most part, whenever I master it myself, I’ll just run everything in Ableton. Even then, mastering is a fine art, so I’ll usually just send it to a mastering engineer and leave it at that.
Did you have any experience with music before you started working with Abelton?
Yeeeee, I’ve been playing classical piano for about 13 years and picked up DJing and Producing a little bit later in the game. I attended a performing arts high school in Houston as well, so you could say I’ve had a fair experience with music studies and performance
How did you switch from using hardware to using software for making music – and maybe back again? Has that changed the way you write music?
It was really just sitting down and fiddling with the program and understanding how everything worked and how everything could work. When I was introduced to Ableton, it was more of an integration rather than a switch since I was familiar-ish with the keyboard roll. I had never really had any songwriting experience prior to learning the software, however, and even while I was studying classical piano, I had never composed anything of my own, so songwriting was totally new to me when I was first introduced to production and DJing and all that jazz. MIDI has definitely made my songwriting more efficient now, but I can’t really say that the way I go about writing music is all that different
Now let’s talk about your live performances..what can I expect to hear from one of your sets? Also what equipment do you use for your sets?
I’ll run both Traktor and Ableton, mainly because I run a Traktor Controller and am too lazy to map my controller to Ableton. Ableton runs my keyboard patches with some sample loops.Don’t expect a set! Expect a performance! I’ll play what i have to to create an experience, whether it’s my own production or a top 40 remix, but that is the goal when i perform live. I want to give the audience an experience they won’t find with another DJ. That is also why i like to refer to myself as a musical artist more than a dj. My main concern with any live performance is the performance and the show aspect. My main goal throughout the entire thing was to make sure the people could experience something they normally wouldn’t experience at The Marc or at Vulcan or at EDM nights at Nephew’s, and from what I saw that night and from all the compliments, i achieved that goal for the amount of time i was given
Maxwell at this past Campus DJ in San Marcos. Photo taken by: Ivy Augusta
I actually found out about you because of Campus DJ, I heard you made music from people on campus but could never find your page! Could you share your experience at the Campus DJ competition this semester? You placed 2nd but I’m sure someone as driven as you was not phased.
Dude I had a hell of a time at the Campus DJ event! Frankly, I could care less about where I place in that. Sure the exposure would have been cool had I won that round, but I’d rather be critiqued on my music, not how well I can push play, jump around the stage, slide a few faders, and turn a couple of knobs. I brought my keyboard out so i could actually perform some hahaha i take the music i produce to heart and I’d rather place first for putting on an amazing show/performance, not be confined to 8 or 5 minute sets just to win a title and free Chipotle. Sure i gained some motivation, but regardless i would’ve continued producing with the same amount or similar amount of motivation i had before because I’m so driven to set this as my career. Again I’m super glad i had the chance to do campus dj and I’d probably do it again if i could.
CDJ’s seem to be the industry standards nowadays and as a DJ you’re now expected to know how to mix with them. Some people have difficulty with this or dislike them and never make the switch. It usually takes some sort of pre-show planning and prep Could you describe your transition from controllers to CDJ’s for live gigs? Was there a learning curve?
haha I don’t mind the CDJ’s at all! I feel more like a pro with them then with a controller.
There was a bit of a learning curve when I first learned how to mix with them because I could completely focus on the decks rather than having to look at a computer screen here and there. None of my tracks had been analyzed with rekordbox either, so that was a pain.
I guess not being able to clearly see where I was in a given track was a bother to me at first, but now it’s just a matter of practice and maybe rekordbox analysis. Still, I prefer using my controller and keyboard and (traktor) F1 and other gadgets because I love adding that performance aspect to the mix.
What is something that bugs you about the DJ scene? You may know what I’m trying to ask…sometimes it seems like our industry has turned into marketing monopoly rather than supporting the REAL artist that want to curate and build upon the culture. Do you agree or disagree with this?
What bugs me the most about the DJ scene is the fact that it’s become this big ass popularity contest. A lot of DJs that are popular may tell you they DJ because they love what they do and they love the vibes of the crowd and they love the energy and they just LOVE MUSIC; however, there are the people that say that and the people that are truly passionate about music. I know people that will lock themselves in their room, myself included, just trying to refine their sound and practice their skills while there are promoters and what-have-you that land these opening spots for big names just because of their ticket sales. Not to mention that the passionate DJs are usually ignored to the DJs that are in it for the popularity and fancy ass lifestyle. I’m not trying to put the blame on those kinds of DJs since some of the fault does lie in those that are passionate, but still…bugs the hell outta me that those kinds of DJs are recognized because they’re in it for the wrong reason.***
Well you did mention you attended an Arts school. Do you have any other interest, hobbies, or hidden talents you’d like to share?
I love dancing, especially Hip Hop and popping and tutting and all that fun stuff! I use to be on a dance team in High School! XD
How long did it take you roughly to a jump-start to your career and achieve some sort of notoriety in your area?
Well I didn’t take AznInvazn seriously until I attended Grammy Camp in 2013. (Grammy camp is a camp where attendees learn the business of their desired profession)
I learned the basic In’s and Out’s of the music industry and learned what I needed to do to protect my music and get myself out there. I was able to network with a bunch of great people there including the other campers. I attended again in 2014, and that experience really solidified my decision in wanting to pursue music as my career. Summer of 2015 onward was when things really started to escalate and become more serious for me after working so hard the previous year. It’s crazy how much has happened in such little time!