Like all the best producers, Maher Daniel is a tough man to nail down to one sound. A native of Canada but now based in Barcelona, he’s turned his hand to everything from tech house to minimal to house and techno: more often than not with more-than-satisfactory results. It’s this reason why Daniel is such a respected name amongst fellow DJs and producers especially, so it’s no surprise that he’s won endorsements and worked alongside some of the scene’s main movers and shakers. The owner of the fast-rising The Other Side label (which has recently hosted collabs between Maher and the likes of Ricardo Villalobos), Daniel is a creative force who’s really bit hitting his stride of late. We dialled him up in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic to find out how he’s been adapting to it all…
What was your initial reaction to the coronavirus pandemic? And when did it start to feel serious for you?
My initial reaction was, fuck this is going to be really really bad and get worse, things really started to worry me while I was at SXM Festival, watching the news and seeing countries shut down to try and contain the virus really had me freaking out, I live in Barcelona, and during this whole period of uncertainty I did not know if I could fly back . Seeing how I’ve been on tour for a month and a half, all i wanted was to be back home with my dog, (which mind you is still not the case) due to the travel ban in Spain for non Spanish nationals.
Naturally, everyone is worried about their finances now. Have you looked at any more creative ways to make money?
I am worried about my finances, luckily I manage a few labels on the side, so I have a steady income, but enough to clear my expenses, my main income is from gigs which are obviously all canceled for the time being. I’m always looking at creative ways to support myself and I’m taking on some remixes to help keep me afloat. I’m also doing engineering for other artists.
Overall, how have you found the isolation period? Have you found it a good time to be creative?
I’m lucky to be in Isolation with two of my close friends, we were all together at the festival so it made sense to just be all under the same roof and quarantine together, it’s been a little tough for me as I mentioned before, since I’ve been on the road for such a long time, all I really want is to be in my own home with my dog, But I’ve been channeling that energy, working on my second album and other projects, at times its tough cuz all I can think about is getting home, but then I look at what’s to come after all of this is over so It makes things a little easier.
Are you someone whose mood (or indeed, the mood of the world) affects how you approach making music?
Honestly everything has a trigger towards my musical direction , (its always in the same realm but the emotions are affected ) I think the energy in the room the energy I get from listening to the news and just the general populous affects my musical approach.
Have you helped out with charity during this time? Are there any causes particularly close to your heart who you think deserve a shout out right now?
Not just yet, I think the W.H.O and all those doctors and nurses on the front line are the most important now, they are the ones that are facing things head on, and those are folks I will donate too, of course there are many other charities to donate too, but we can’t reach out to all, my cousins and few of my friends are doctors and nurses so I’m hearing the stories and its not easy to take in, so those would be my top picks for donations
Has working out been an important part of your routine? If so, how have you adapted to working out at home?
Absolutely since November I’ve really taking a big step towards my healthy eating well and working out daily, so with no gym access I’ve been doing HITT workouts along with Running up and down my friends stairwell as my cardio. I think it’s really important for everyone to adopt a work out routine to keep the mind focused and healthy during this difficult time.
Do you think the electronic music industry (and the world in general) should take lessons from all this? What do you think those lessons are?
I think the biggest thing is to not take things for granted, and appreciate what we have, cuz for anyone out there whether it’s the music industry or restaurant industry, A virus or pandemic of this sort can end careers, jobs and business. The smarter we act when situations like this occur the better and safer it will be for everyone.
Are you a politically-minded individual? What’s been your take on how the government where you are has adapted to the pandemic?
I’m not really that political, I do have my 2 cents about the politics around me as it obviously affects me in many ways, certain countries and states have really done the best they can to cut / flatten the curve by imposing quarantines and curfews, but the people who do not listen these quarantines and curfews are really playing with fire, this is going to escalate and elongate the process for our medical teams and health care systems. Not to mention industries that are counting on summer !!
Do you think humanity will emerge better from all of this?
I sure as hell hope so, If this is not a wakeup call for humanity I don’t know what is, I read something funny today, when government says it cannot shut down certain industry to fight climate change, Mother Nature just came in and threw a virus that has crippled us, now we are seeing all these small changes happen as a cause of this. This is all a test, to learn and appreciate what we have, to reorganise and live better as a society as human beings, as equals.
Can you provide us with three pieces of music (from any genre) that you feel best sum up (for you) the current situation?
The First song I would choose is Floating Points – Anasickmodular. I mean this tune is just pure inspiration as to the direction I’m currently working on with my album, not only that it captures the beauty and chaos that we are all living in right now.
The second tune would be CJ Fly feat Kirk Knight’s Block Party. This tune puts me in a great place, as it talks about summer time and better times. I’m a big fan of hip hop and I think this new album Rudebwoy. This tune puts me in a good mood during these times.
The Third Tune would be Caribou – You And I from his new album, Suddenly Again. It’s a special song has a lot of meaning in the lyrics and touches me in a way that very personal to me, the chord structure and key changes really vibrate with me and put me in a good place.
Maher Daniel & Ricardo Villalobos’ Changes Part 2 is out now via The Other Side. Buy/listen to the release here and keep up with Maher on Resident Advisor, Facebook and Instagram.