While most six-year-olds are busy slaying imaginary creatures and monsters, Bay Area DJ/producer Max Kane was perfecting an act he called "air-scratching." Receiving his first pair of real turntables a few years later in 1994, he began practicing techniques inspired by the late Jam Master Jay, and was soon competing in battles like ITF World DJ Championships. In the late '90s, through his participation in the battle circuit, he met future band members Teeko, PDub, and Colin Brown, who together formed legendary Bay Area funk/jazz band 4OneFunK. These days he is focusing more on solo projects, including his upcoming 7-inch and producing for acts like Los Rakas. We spoke with Max Kane about his upcoming solo record, his love affair with the turntable instrument Controller One, and his top three favorite jams. He DJs this Saturday at Showdown and holds numerous residencies around the Bay.
Back in the early '00s, you won a lot of DJ battles. Do you still compete?
No, I don't compete anymore, but I wouldn't change any of those experiences for the world. DJ battles definitely helped me get to a broader platform and get comfortable performing in front of big crowds.
How has your sound evolved through the years?
I would say my style has evolved from being just a DJ to producing on my own and finishing completed pieces.
In a few weeks, you'll be releasing a 7-inch with all original tracks. Tell us about it.
The A-side of the 7-inch is titled "Out of My Mind." "Out of My Mind" is G-funked out, smooth gangster track with heavy drums, smooth Rhodes, and laced with the amazing vocals of Zacky Force Funk and Teeko on talk box. It's definitely a joint the DJs can play out. The B-side is titled "Ebb & Flow." "Ebb & Flow" is a masterpiece that involved numerous collaborations with different musicians (Coultrain, Nino Maschella, Malaguti, Headnodic, and Adam Theis) and took over a year to make. I would describe it as new jazz.
What made you choose Uncut Records label? What's important to you when choosing a label to release with?
I've been a fan of different records that they have put out. When they asked if I was interested in putting out a record on the label it was automatic for me.
You're known for your work with your Controller One. When did you know this was the instrument for you?
The Controller One is one of the coolest instruments that exist in this world right now. As someone that explores music theory and someone that explores the turntable as a musical instrument, the Controller One allowed me to do all of those things. Inventors Ricci Rucker, Mike Boo, D-Styles, and Teeko created this instrument so that scratch DJs can go beyond the normal range of a turntable.
You've been DJing for awhile in both SF and Oakland. What's the main difference for you in terms of crowds?
Well, first of all there are a lot of S.F. people in Oakland, and vice versa. Right now when I DJ in San Francisco, I notice more of a "bridge and tunnel" crowd, versus Oakland where I feel more of a local "home-cooked" crowd. I notice I can go a little more above and beyond when I play out in Oakland. The crowd wants it. On this side of the Bay, I notice more of a request culture, which is cool but it definitely gives you less freedom as a DJ. I definitely notice a difference and have love for both.
Which do you prefer?
I prefer an open-minded crowd that came to party no matter what and listen to a creative DJ do his or her thing whether it's San Francisco or Oakland.
Who are some of your favorite people to spin with here in the Bay?
Right now I have a couple of residences here in the Bay Area. Bluntclub in Oakland at the Legionnaire Saloon with DJ Saurus and Dion Decibles. Shockwave in Oakland at the Layover with DJ Tim Diesel and Fluid Cut. Luka's taproom in Oakland on first and third Friday's with DJ Mere. Last but not least Laszlo in S.F. with DJ Saurus. Not to exclude anybody, those are the DJ's I'm currently DJing with on a monthly basis.
Lastly, what are the top three jams you're currently playing?
1. Houseshoes - "Castles"
2. Teeko & Rojai - "Make 'em Feel It"
3. Jeedo - "Hood Tech"