Here at NEST HQ, we feel a connection between the foods we eat and our life experiences: the foods we enjoy reflect our past, and the foods we choose reflect who we are. As an act of expression, food touches many of the same cultural cornerstones as other lifestyle expressions such as art and music. With projects like the NEST Eats Cookbook, we try to explore the connections between different planes of artistry. For the latest in the NEST Eats series, we’re inviting artists to join us at restaurants that honor their heritages, where we share mealtime conversations with them. We also asked the artists to share their restaurant food picks as a reflection of their own personalities: they even took the photos themselves!
For our first artist, we’ve chosen Maximono. Maximono’s been making waves on the house front for the past few years, emerging as a duo of ex-drum n bass heads who turned their skills towards innovating with their own strain of tech-house that’s both contemplative and relentless. Nick, the London-based half of the duo, is also half of dnb outfit Loadstar, while Seb, his Hanover-based counterpart, also co-owns and runs the This Ain’t Bristol label with Billy Kenny. They’re currently on a US tour supporting their recent Non Sense EP on Dirtybird: that tour’s wrapping up this weekend in Mississippi and Texas.
Catch our Q&A below and find a gallery of photos from our time at Wurstkuche past the break.
Nick’s pick: Louisiana Hot, with onions and hot peppers
Seb’s pick: Austin Blues, with sweet and hot peppers
Which one is the traditional bratwurst?
Seb: This one [on the left], but the traditional would be without bread and without sauerkraut, when you order a bratwurst in Germany, you’d get just a wurst on a small plate with mustard, that’s it.
Before anything else, let me get started by asking, what did you guys order?
Nick: We thought we would split the traditional bratwurst. I’ve gone for the Louisiana, the hot one, I love all that smoky, good flavor, down South on the rich meats. And Sebby has gone for the Austin Blues, cause he just was in Austin the other night.
You played solo?
Nick: He played on his own, yeah.
Seb: We try to divide some of the shows, the smaller shows, just one of us traveling because it’s expensive.
Nick: It’s one of those things where we’d love to do the whole thing together, but at this stage just making a name for ourselves, it’s not always viable to do that financially. A lot of these shows are really small too, so it’s not crucial to be always together, but obviously for the biggest shows like Vegas we had to do them together, that was kind of the highlight of the whole tour.
I feel that, it’s tough to tour everyone, we all have our other hustles. Seb, you’ve got your side hustle with the app security company (in addition to his work as half of Maximono, he runs Appvisory, an IT security company): Nick, what’s yours?
Nick: I have another act as well called Loadstar, which is a drum’n’bass act, RAM Records…
We did the Paper Planes release.
Nick: Yeah, that was the other guy, Gav.
Seb: What’s that?
Nick: We played one of their tunes last year. But everyone’s doing other stuff, I mean we were doing drum ’n bass for a long time, me and Gav, and…
Seb: It was how we met as well.
Nick: Yeah, we met through the drum ’n bass connection as well…
What was the label called?
Nick: Phunkfiction, that was Sebby’s label, and we met through playing a few shows together, and we struck up a friendship through that. I used to go out to Germany loads to play.
Seb: Drum ’n bass has already been a big part of our journey.
I listened to some of the stuff on that old label, and I feel like you guys had some deep influence on the liquid side of things. Was it mainly liquid all the time?
Seb: It was mainly liquid, it wasn’t any harder stuff.
Nick: Yeah, I guess it was just fun to do, we were all just having fun, I didn’t think the music was going to ‘change the world’ or anything like that.
But you enjoyed it!
Nick: Yeah, we had a good time, and it just evolved over the years. Anything melodic we really liked, anything that was good to DJ out, so a mixture of musical stuff and stuff that would work DJing.
When I first started getting into electronic music, mid to late 2000s, liquid labels like Hospital Records, that was my freaking jam.
Nick: Definitely, they’re also big influences for us, I think, especially the early Hospital stuff like 2000-2005, that was a really good era…
Seb: …London [Elektricity], Logistics…
Nick: …yeah, and early Cyantifics stuff. I used to think house was just boring and not interesting, a bit too not cool enough, it didn’t appeal to me in the slightest thing. There was something about the energy and the subculture behind [drum ’n bass] and the artists, I was really drawn to that. So I guess eventually, I always felt I wanted to do something outside of that, and I think Sebby did as well, eventually it became let’s just try something else.
Nick: I think at one point, we tried writing some drum ’n bass tunes together, but it was only when we both decided to do something completely different. And it wasn’t even house, like we didn’t call it house. It was like, hip-hop samples and breakbeats and yeah, we just kind of threw all these things together and all of a sudden we started something.
Seb: Didn’t sound like house, like any other house around.
Nick: And we did write some more straightforward house-sounding stuff that we did release on other labels, but it was only later when this whole Dirtybird thing happened. That’s when we got on the radar, since then things have picked up, and it’s all happening in America, really…
…wait, you think it’s only happening in America? Not Europe?
Nick: To be totally real, a massive percentage of it is happening out here, yeah. It doesn’t quite translate, unless you’re Claude [vonStroke] or Justin [Martin], those acts who are bigger, they can play in Europe, play at those festivals and the big shows, but I think that what we do, at the moment it’s much more restricted to America. I don’t think what we do has quite caught on yet, but it may do in the future.
That’s fascinating, because people call This Ain’t Bristol the European Dirtybird, I’m sure you’ve heard it.
Seb: Yeah, yeah, that’s true. It’s funny.
Why, is it just because you’re German?
Seb: I don’t know how it happened, actually, I really don’t know how it happened. Maybe it was because we were working with some acts that also released on Dirtybird, like ourselves…
Nick: Billy [Kenny], obviously,…
Seb: Billy as well, he’s from Leeds.
Maybe that’s why they say it, he’s from Leeds, you’re from Germany.
Seb: Yeah, we really have no idea how it got big in America. Now it’s funny, even last week we gave a couple of those T-shirts to our management guys, they took it to a festival and were wearing them at EDC, and they told me, “I will never wear that again,” because people kept hitting them up like, “can I get that T-shirt?” and “sick label.” Meanwhile, we’re sitting there in Germany, in small Hanover, running the label and we have no idea how it happened in America, or why? It’s just cool, it’s cool to see, because the Americans are so enthusiastic about music, and they’re all into this supporting thing, wearing the merch and stuff, that isn’t too big in Germany, wearing label T-shirts.
Is that an attitude thing or a culture thing?
Seb: I think it’s a mixture of both. Especially in Berlin, it’s cool to be as minimal as possible. No logos, all black. It’s not cool to say, ‘this is my jam, my label, whatever,’ that’s not cool enough. So it’s basically cultural. Nick, did you try the original bratwurst?
Nick: I’m about to give it a go.
Seb: It’s pretty close to the real German bratwurst, actually. I’m surprised, I’m really surprised.
Nick: This is good, I really like it, the original bratwurst is good.
I think people are really going to like this, because we realized, all these things go together, art and music, food and dance and culture.
Seb: And that’s another thing about This Ain’t Bristol: it wasn’t the idea of doing a record label or an event. We just said, there were like six of us who had the idea that we all like the same music, same clothes and same lifestyles, so we said, ‘this has to be a brand, this is not about running a label’. Then we started doing these nights and we called it This Ain’t Bristol. We booked Billy for one of our first nights and that’s how the label idea started. He then moved to Hanover because he liked us, and the city, and a girl, so then he moved to Hanover, and I knew how to run a label because of Phunkfiction, so I hit up all my old distribution contacts and we got it running.
With the Dirtybird EP, you guys killed it. Is this the second one, the third one?
Seb: We had one free release, because they couldn’t clear the sample, it was “Don’t Give A Fuck Style”. That was actually the track that got us on Dirtybird.
Wasn’t that the one that blew you up?
Seb: I think so, kind of.
Nick: I wouldn’t say necessarily blew us up, but it definitely put us on the map for sure, there’s an interesting story behind it as well. In short, it was 2015 and one day Sebby received tons of messages about this tune, suddenly loads of random messages, and basically it turns out that Justin Martin had dropped it at Dirtybird, and it happened to be the tune of the set, and actually some people decided it the track of the festival.
Seb: And there’s also the story of how Justin got the track, you were sharing a studio-
Nick: Yeah, I was sharing a studio with Pedestrian, really sick producer, and we’d written a bunch of music. I think, I really didn’t think it was necessarily good enough at the time, we were just going off on a bit of a wave and I sent him the tracks, he was with Ardalan, one thing led to another, the track got passed around a few times…
Seb: Because Ardalan was living with Justin, and he played it for him. So that’s how it got to Justin, long way from a small studio in London to Justin Martin’s house.
Nick: And that’s what I love around this whole scene, the connectivity and how we’re so lucky, we take it for granted but quickly your music, your art can get in the hands of the right people on the other side of the globe.
Seb: And we never took it too seriously. For us, as Nick said, it was something that grew out of our friendship. We sat down because we wanted to have fun in the studio and that’s what happened, and it’s still like that.
Nick: It’s amazing how it’s happened, really, and we’re certainly not an overnight success story or anything like that, but I think if nothing had ever happened, if there hadn’t ever been a Dirtybird track, we’d still just be having fun inside the studio and writing tunes. We’ve never taken it that seriously, we’ve had success in the past with other projects and we were never desperate for anything to happen, and I think that’s a big part of it. When you’re young and you’re super hungry for it, it’s a bit of a different thing. We’re not necessarily at that stage anymore.
Seb: We don’t have to force it though, when you’re trying to achieve it with all our power, and suddenly you aren’t creative anymore. If it doesn’t work, we still had fun in the studio, so fuck it.
Nick: But it is nice that people do like our stuff.
I mean, you were persevering for a long time, and the fact that you’re not an overnight success story, that you wear your history on your sleeves, it’s not hidden like so many people. It’s relatable and inspirational to young producers, to see producers like you, people like Sonny, people like Billy, in this vein of telling their story through their releases and their work, people really fuck with it.
Seb: For this tour, for example, they asked us if we could come up with a nice story for the whole marketing around it, but that wasn’t our thing, just let the music speak and let people make something out of it.
Nick: Also, there’s a lot of fakeness in the scene, like what you’re seeing isn’t the real picture, and I think that we’re just about being real and associating ourselves with other people who are real as well. I think, for example Claude vonStroke, I really respect that guy because not only for what he’s built and created out of nothing, but also because he’s a totally real person, he won’t bullshit you or sugarcoat anything. If you send him music and he doesn’t like it, he’ll tell you straight up. The Dirtybird thing is an amazing challenge for us. If we get a release on Dirtybird, it’s very hard to get a tune out, you know? So we definitely feel really fortunate, it’s nice to be accepted.
Seb: Yeah, you can see how cool they are, in the fact that you say people say This Ain’t Bristol is like the second Dirtybird, the Dirtybird of Europe, and they don’t even care about it. They could be like, ‘oh that’s competition, that’s competition coming up,’ but they are not like that, they are really supportive and we even share the same artists sometimes, that’s how cool it is.
Oh yeah, it’s an ecosystem. I think you guys are creating, with Dirtybird, This Ain’t Bristol, probably
Seb: Night Bass, I guess?
Yeah, there’s a core of labels where the DJs spin out each other’s tunes.
You mentioned earlier that drum ’n bass became limiting, but also, in terms of it being your training grounds, I believe drum ’n bass is freeing. Like those searing pads you can do in liquid dnb, the gnarly hits, all of that translates so well into creating atmosphere around house, which I think goes a long way towards making your music iconic and timeless.
Nick: That’s cool that you say that. I’m not biased towards drum ’n bass, but it’s up there as one of the hardest things to technically get right.
Seb: So it helps a lot.
Nick: I think that translates when you’re trying to do other stuff, you slow the tempo right down, you go, ‘oh this is incredible freedom, so much more space, not so crowded and hectic’. As soon as you turn your head towards something else, it’s liberating, it’s a totally different thing.
Seb: We’re having fun, and we’re very blessed to be able to come out here and play, still a bit unreal.
Any wild tour stories?
Seb: There weren’t any super wild stories, I would say, because we try to be pretty straightforward on the tour as well.
Nick: I think maybe, last year in Miami….(both burst out laughing)…we just went wild there, every day playing at these different venues, and it got swiftly out of control, but that was a great time. But we aren’t people who are wildly-
Seb: And we still got our stuff going on at home.
So you have to go back soon.
Seb: And also, while we’re here, we have to do our calls, our meetings…
Oh yeah, you have your full work thing, that’s crazy! While you’re here, do you run the company?
Seb: Yeah, I run it.
How many employees do you have?
Dude, you’re running a thirty-employee company while on tour! I’m sure your employees are at home, they’re looking up the YouTube videos, and they’re showing their friends, like ‘this is our boss right now!’
Seb: Some of them love it, some don’t really get it. I just had an interview with a German IT magazine, a small lifestyle one called Business Punk, they’re trying to show both sides of my life, which is pretty scary.
Nick: It’s difficult to balance it all out, sometimes you feel like there’s not enough hours in the day to get everything done. I wonder sometimes, if we would just be concentrating on Maximono full-time and put all our efforts into that, how much different would things be, or would things be different at all? I mean, I’m glad we don’t do that, because I think –
Seb: That’s what makes it special.
Nick: – yeah, that’s too much pressure on us to have to succeed. The nice thing is that we don’t have that pressure, we’re just going along with the ride, really.
Last question, what would you eat as kids?
Nick: For me, I grew up in a big family. I’ve got four sisters, so it was always a situation where you’re served up a big home-cooked meal and you eat everything that’s on the plate, and there was a bit of scramble for the food,. People say I eat fast, and I think that comes from being a kid and knowing that food’s not going to last very long. My mum was amazing, cooking for a big family, all home-cooked stuff, all really healthy.
Any favorite dishes?
Nick: Mainly, I’m a big carbs fan. Spaghettis, all kinds of pastas. Rice is probably my favorite food, I could eat that stuff all day. But also traditional British stuff as well, like nice rice dinners on a Sunday and we’d always invite loads of friends and family, and it was always a complete thing. Also, we weren’t allowed to be fussy either, so that’s kind of cool that I can go anywhere and eat anything, because there’s not really anything I wouldn’t want to eat. Well, I’m not a massive seafood fan…
Nick: …but, actually, some of the dishes I’ve had that are seafood have been the best I’ve ever had. Like sushi, I actually love that and think that’s probably one of the best things you could eat in terms of flavor.
Seb: For me, it was much the same in that we had the traditional food on the weekends beacuse my mom was cooking. In the week, we were all busy, it was three kids, with me it was three and we were all coming from school, so she had to do something really quick. Mondays to Fridays, different stuff like spaghetti, maybe fish and chips, all these different things. Then, on the weekends when she had time, she would cook really nice traditional German meat stuff, like beef, brown sauce, lots of potatoes, stuff that’s famous in Germany. Mashed potatoes, or Kartoffel, that’s the German word.
Seb: He’s actually quite good at German.
Nick: No, I’m not, that’s a terrible failure.
You learning over time?
Nick: Well, I used to spend so much time over there. I always liked the language, I found it way better than Spanish or French. I just connected with it better and it made more sense to me. So, when I used to go to Germany, I used to try to pick up as much as possible.
Seb: I told him some ‘shut up’ lines.
Nick: Yeah, a few ‘shut up’ lines turned into actually being able to like, order a bratwurst.
Seb: But yeah, getting back to the food. It was Monday to Friday, everything, and then the weekend the German food. Also, my grandma, both grandmas were doing great German food. We’re still eating their food even though one of them isn’t alive anymore. They’re still living through their recipes, and my mom’s cooking their recipes. Probably my favorite thing was a German apple pie, my grandma did a German apple pie.
Nick: Apple streusel.
Seb: Apple streudel, yes! That’s probably my favorite dish. I don’t eat seafood, no fish, but apart from that –
Nick: Really? No sushi?
Seb: Yeah, no sushi, no seafood, but everything else I would eat. I tried it a lot of times because people are saying how nice it is, building it up, and I’m still trying it because I don’t want to be like “oh I don’t eat it,” but I don’t like it, I don’t like the taste of it.
Thank you guys.
Find photos from our time at Wurstkuche below, and check out Maximono while they continue their US tour and beyond.