Sam Spiegel is a busy man, to say the least. The New York-based producer/DJ/composer has produced albums for the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Crystal Castles, scored movies (including Jackass 2.5 and Jackass 3D) and video games, and seems to be constantly working on a new musical venture. His latest project is Maximum Hedrum, a group that describes itself as “Future Funk.”
Where Spiegel’s last project, NASA, explored extroversion, MH is more introverted, examining the ways our lives are constantly changing with advancements in technology, namely a lack of intimacy. The band’s upcoming self-titled debut (out March 19) juxtaposes human emotions with icy synths and vocoders, creating robotic tracks while still maintaining catchy pop beats. Spiegel was kind enough to chat with me about the origins of Maximum Hedrum, the future of NASA, and what other project’s he’s currently got cookin’.
Katrina Nattress: Maximum Hedrum is quite the varied group. How did you get together with Derrick Green and Harold Faltermeyer?
Sam Spiegel: I scored a Kevin Smith movie called Cop Out with Harold Faltermeyer. Working with him I realized how much of a genius he is. He hasn't been working on much new music in the past few years, so I decided it would be fun to collaborate with him on Maximum Hedrum. We got together and he brought over his wall of synthesizers to my house. We spent a lot of time writing, recording, and learning about synths. It was a blast!
I came up with the concept for Maximum Headrum when I was in Brazil hanging out and working on NASA stuff. I was hanging out with Derrick, and we decided to record a song. We were joking around a lot by doing a slow jam where I asked him if he had ever done one. He had not and neither had I. So the next day he came by the studio where I was working at and we rocked one out!
That first song we did was “Robosexual”. It turned out dope and we had so much fun that I knew right then that Derrick was going to be the main vocalist for Maximum Hedrum.
KN: I’ve read that you founded Maximum Hedrum to examine the way our lives are changing through advancements in technology and the Internet. Can you expand on that a little?
SS: Yeah. It’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. We are exponentially more connected with more people in more ways than we’ve ever been in the past, but there is a real lack of intimacy. I wanted to explore that.
KN: The lyrics of the songs definitely parallel this statement; how would you say the music expresses it?
SS: It’s very synth and technology based. There’s lots of love, loss, sexuality, real human emotions in there, but they are expressed through vocoder, synths, glitches, programmed circuit bent drums. It feels electronic; it feels robotic.
KN: You began NASA to prove it is possible to ignore divisions and that we’re all one race of human beings. Why do you feel it’s important to create projects with particular over-arching themes?
SS: It’s fun for me to create a framework in which a project exists. I can be pretty all over the place; it’s just the way I’m programmed. Having a framework in which I’m inspired and in which I can operate, it is really good for me because I can explore every crevice of what it means to me but still have the focus and cohesion of a concept that it fits under.
KN: With NASA you featured a number of collaborations, will there be any on the Maximum Hedrum album?
SS: NASA is all about reaching outside your immediate vicinity creatively—exploration, and space travel—reaching to outer Space. Maximum Hedrum is much more about Inner-space, going within ourselves and exploring our introversions. So for this record I didn't want to have a lot of collaborations, I wanted to keep it very insular. Still there are a few collaborations such as George Clinton and Telli from Ninjasonik.
KN: Would you say Maximum Hedrum is your primary project currently?
SS: I wouldn't say that but I'd say that I’m super excited about it right now.
KN: Can we expect any new material from NASA?
SS: Yes, there is a new NASA record and it's about a third of the way finished right now and I'm expecting it to be released before the year is over.
KN: Are you currently working on any other projects?
SS: One ongoing project I have is called Stop The Virgins. It's a record I did with Karen O and it's also a show. The last show we did was at the Sydney Opera House. It's hard to describe but the show is somewhere between a rock opera and a Kubrick film while being on LSD.
KN: You recently played a residency at L.A.’s Los Globos. Are you planning on touring behind the album?
SS: Yes, we're doing lots of touring are starting with SXSW!
KN: What are your musical goals for 2013?
SS: I want to keep growing keep expanding and to keep challenging myself trying new things.