As the son of a jazz pioneer, a career in music really was the only choice for Sam Watts, AKA Maxxi Soundsystem. Over the last few years the Brighton-based artist has risen up the ranks to become one of the most sought-after performers on the international circuit, clocking up an impressive list of club and festival appearances that continues to grow by the week. In tandem with his DJ career, his club-focused productions have been signed to a number of influential and highly regarded labels including Defected
, Moda Black
, Maceo Plex's Ellum
and the mighty Nervous
. But his pathway to becoming one of the UK's leading purveyors of gruff yet emotive dance floor artillery was not a smooth one...
Maxxi's father, Trevor Watts, was one of the leading proponents of improvised jazz in the 60s and remains an innovator in his field. But, in an attempt to rebel against his musician father, Sam initially tried to counteract the inevitability of becoming a musician by becoming a business student. However, it was a futile attempt to battle against his destiny and he quickly realised the error of his ways.
He started DJing drum'n'bass in his teens, progressing into house and techno thanks to a trip to Glastonbury with his dad where he heard acts like Orbital
on a real system for the first time. He started up his own party, Schtuum, at Audio in Brighton booking high-profile DJs to play for him while spinning regularly as a resident, too.
Life as a musician was now a reality, Sam started to immerse himself in the world of production – taking a college course in sound engineering and getting accustomed with the inner workings of the studio. From this point onwards there was no going back, in fact, music came so naturally to him that his progression was remarkably swift. Remix work began to flow in, including Parallel Dance Ensemble's 'Shopping Cart' and Kasper Bjorke's 'Lose Yourself To Jenny', which both became ubiquitous hits, finding their way into podcasts and DJ sets around the world. While his superlative remix of Scandal's classic 'Just Let Me Dance' on Nervous was played by everyone from Avicii to DJ Harvey. Maxxi Soundsystem had arrived.
Following those remixes, it was time for some original material which also went down a storm. Techno banger 'Stella's Way' was picked up by Maceo Plex for his Ellum Audio label, while 'Regrets We Have No Use' For landed on Hypercolour. The latter of those tracks helped cement a working relationship with vocalist Name One which has led to follow-up single One In Three, signed by house music titans Defected. Their studio sessions have led to the conception of a brand new, more song-based project which will develop their musical partnership even further. Watch this space...
In 2014 the gigs continue to roll in, a typical Maxxi Soundsystem DJ set encompasses a tough, high energy ethos keeping the dance floor faithful on their toes for the duration of his performances. Strictly no laptops involved, crowd interaction and excitement is his main motivation. As the late Kenny Hawkes once said to him, 'Give them everything they want, but nothing they expect'.
After locking himself away in the studio for a while, more music is pencilled in for release throughout the year and an album project is in its embryonic stages. Best of all though, is Maxxi's musical connection with his father which has resulted in the two working together on material for the very first time. On the advice of Laurent Garnier no less, he knocked heads with his dad and produced a track which has inspired him to get working on a full EP.
Maxxi Soundsystem currently stands at an crucial and exhilarating point in his career, where the possibilities are endless, motivation is at an all-time high and the future is full of opportunity. It's what so many musicians dream of and something he continues to work on maintaining with a humble attitude and a sense of fun throughout. With these qualities, and his musical talent, he's sure to have a long-lasting career no matter what direction he takes...