MAAHEZ Talks Steve Aoki, Growing Up In Cuba and Wanting To Collab With Travis Scott
Latin artists have taken the music industry by storm including names such as Farruko, Tainy, Bad Bunny, Bella Dose, Myke Towers and countless more. Among these incredible talent is MAAHEZ; a Latin EDM artist/producer/songwriter.
Growing up in Havana, Cuba, MAAHEZ had musical influences all around including his family. “I’m actually a fourth-generation musician. My grandfather plays in an Afro-Cuban jazz band. I would go to Cuba every summer to visit my family, and in one of those summers, I made a whole album produced and rapped by me,” he said. At the age of 14, he moved to Miami to pursue music and began DJing and producing. “It was cool to grow from making little beats in Cuba to learning from some of the biggest legends in Latin music in Miami.”
MAAHEZ has worked with a long list of amazing artist, from J Quiles and Anitta to Farruko and Steve Aoki just to name a few.
Check out the full interview below and follow @MAAHEZ on all platforms.
Tell me more about yourself and your upbringing. What is the story behind how you immigrated here? It’s actually a strange Cuban situation. My grandfather was born in Oakland, California, and moved to Cuba when he was 14. He stayed there for the rest of my life, but that’s why I was born in Cuba. I moved to Miami when I was 14 years old and that’s when I started getting into music. I got into DJing and producing. From there, it took off as a domino effect. One thing led to another, and I started networking in Miami and going to studios. Miami is a hub for music. I worked my way up until I started working with some big names.
The first electronic music festival I went to was Ultra Music Festival in Miami. That’s what really sparked my journey of becoming a DJ and a brand, and also producing my own music, and playing it live for people. That’s when I really got more into that scene. I started spinning at clubs in Miami, and I met Paul Campbell who put me on my first main stage at a festival back in 2014.
How does your upbringing impact the music you make? I’m actually a fourth-generation musician. My grandfather plays in an Afro-Cuban jazz band. I would go to Cuba every summer to visit my family, and in one of those summers, I made a whole album produced and rapped by me. I used the first edition of the GarageBand app, and my grandfather was one of the few people who had an Apple computer in Cuba. Nobody had those back in the day. He had a little rehearsal studio. My first production was when I was 13. I made a little reggaeton project and burnt CDs and gave them around to my friends on the block.
One of the main things that still impact me today is the cultural diversity from Miami – being able to work with people from different countries, cultures, and views. I love working with people from Peurto Rica and Colombia. It really opened my mind to creating music, and it affected my creative process in a very positive way because I got to learn from everyone around me.
What were some similarities you noticed in the music scene after moving from Cuba to Miami? Miami is so much like Cuba. There were a lot of Cuban music influences in Miami already because of the population. Even though that wasn’t what I was trying to do, going back to Cuba and learning what was hot out there always reflected back. The Cuban reggaeton style was different than the others. It’s an interesting transition because as a producer, I do a lot of work with Latin artists. It was cool to grow from making little beats in Cuba to learning from some of the biggest legends in Latin music in Miami.
You are described as a versatile yet unique artist. Can you go more into detail on what your style is? How would you describe Moombahton to someone who usually doesn’t listen to electronic music? Moombahton is an electronic music subgenre that is basically the middle point between reggaeton and house music. It was created by Dave Nada, who happens to be a really good friend of mine now. He’s considered a legend in the electronic music scene. He was at a party back in 2008, and he took a house record and slowed it down to 180 BPM, and that’s how moombahton was created. That’s how my style was born. We actually started the first moombahton parties in Miami. We used to get these warehouses and invite everybody in.
That’s how my style came. I was producing for reggaeton artists, and then I wanted to DJ. I was able to mix between both, but I feel that has always been the main style for me. Electronic music is always evolving, and it evolves pretty fast. It’s about growing as a creative. I’m doing a lot of house music right now and integrating a bit of moombahton elements to stick to my roots.
Your fanbase is referred to as #AlienGang. What was the inspiration for this? Growing up, I had a thing for aliens and UFOs. I actually got to experience some pretty life-changing sightings of UFOs. Since I was a little, it always intrigued me. That’s how the whole branding thing came about because people would tell me, ‘Man, you go from producing reggaeton to Ultra Music Festival.’ I think people thought I was like an alien because people usually stick to one thing. I’m all over the place because you can catch me with a lot of rappers too. Because of that, I started doing a lot of crossovers before I even got into DJing, and I also used to do a lot of A&R. I connected a lot of electronic DJs with Latin Artists. I connected Steve Aoki with Farruko and Valentino Khan with Justin Quiles. I was like a bridge when all these crossover projects started emerging. A lot of the things that were massive hit records of DJs with Latin artists, most likely I was involved on the A&R side of it.
Do you have a favorite project you have worked on at this point in your career? Steve Aoki is coming out with a Latin album. It’s all a crossover, exactly like what I talked about. I produced one of the songs on the album. I can’t say who the artists are, but it was a pretty interesting experience for me and one of my favorites. I am obviously used to working with Steve Aoki as an electronic artist, but this time I found myself in the studio making a reggaeton record with him. That’s one of my favorite projects so far.
Do you have any dream collaborations/projects? Travis Scott, even though he is not a Latin artist or an EDM artist. He’s one of my favorite artists, and that collab would be pretty crazy.
Where do you see yourself a year from now? Any goals or aspirations you have planned to achieve in the next year? Hopefully, I’m playing the main stage of festivals around the world and getting some big songs out there charting on billboards.
What’s an upcoming project that you are excited about? Working and partnering up with friends’ and colleagues’ companies has always been a big part of my growth as an artist. I am currently collaborating with Humble Hustler, a unique fashion brand. It helps me interact with fans and show them more than just music. They get to know me and learn about what I like, the day-to-day lifestyle and it creates that bond and genuine connection with them.
Photography by Celia Al-Sharif/444 Studios.
Production by Burgerrock Media.
Wardrobe & Styling by Paola Estefania Linares
Custom one of one Louis Vuitton x SUPREME Bomber Jacket
Hoodie: Poala Estefania and Humble Hustler.
Location: NRG Recording Studio
Assisted by Alex Meza