Berlin-based New Yorker Demetrius has been carving out his sound with MASCHINE since near-enough day one. We recently asked the rising beatmaker to model our special ten-year anniversary edition of MASCHINE Mk3, and he surprised us on the day with an off-the-cuff performance of new track “After You”. Watch him let loose live on set, then read on to find out more about the man behind the music.
Thanks for the impromptu performance, Demetrius – how was it?
It was super fun. I went in there with just a mention on the phone that maybe I should bring one of my songs. But I didn’t want to bring something I’d already made, because then I’d have to bring my whole setup. I’ve always been a super fast songwriter, so I thought why don’t I just make something up? That’s what I do – that’s my thing.
Sometimes I go to make music, and it doesn’t come out. Mentally, I have to be in a very balanced place for it to flow. The mood was great at the shoot – we were joking on the train, having a nice time. It felt pretty relaxed, so the music flowed.
How did the track come together?
I first started putting some sounds together, then my usual thing is to grab whatever melodic loop I can hear, and just start riffing from there. [Sings] “I don’t need to run after you” – it just came out. So I just took that and ran with it.
What’s your secret to creating music quickly?
Some people can start with nothing and get the ball rolling, but then find it hard to finish. Then, some people take three months to create one song, but they will finish it. I’m more of the first – putting words together, chaining hooks and stuff. When your next paycheck depends on it, you just get better and better at doing it.
It’s a big discipline. I remember being a kid and playing songwriting games – someone would give me a subject and then I’d have to create a one-line song from it. So I was always a fast songwriter.
What’s the story of Demetrius?
I was always singing and songwriting, even as a little kid. I was in choirs and sang classical music for a very long time – over 15 years. Then one time, a friend of mine came over to my apartment, and he was like, “Hey, I really want to start making music – can we do this together?”
He showed me this little box. It was a Maschine Mk1, which had just come out. I started jamming with it, and it was so intuitive and immediate for me. So he told me, “You hold on to this.” That’s how I started to make beats.
At the time, I had a band in New York, and I started to write songs using Maschine and then that led to another thing where I got a manager. The manager had me write songs for other artists. I ended up being the lead singer of a band, and then also writing for other artists. But yeah, if it weren’t for Maschine, I probably wouldn’t be making music at all.
What drew you to MASCHINE?
Destiny! [laughs] I guess it didn’t seem overwhelming. And the workflow made sense to me – even as someone who’d never used anything like it before. I could pick out sounds that I like, hit record, and make something that sounded good. I was also getting into electronic music, and Maschine does that sort of thing so well.
Tell us about your latest releases.
I just had a big release called Black Diamonds on a newly created label of the same name from Joyce Muniz and Josh Tennent. We have another release coming up soon called Keep Going. Joyce did a really dope remix of one of my songs, so that’s also coming out. And I’ve also been doing a lot of songwriting for other DJs and producers.
Would you say that you make music for the dancefloor or for chilling at home?
I definitely make music that you can listen to at home, but if you were in the mood, you could dance to it. I try to put powerful meaning into my music. Things that make you think a bit or inspire you. There’s that purpose in my tunes. I am a high-energy guy, so I like to create things that make you feel something or get you running. That’s my thing.
Black Diamonds by Demetrius is out now – take a listen below.
10 years of MASCHINE
From artist stories and engineering tales to hardware makeovers and birthday freebies, join us as we celebrate ten years in style. To see what’s new, head to the ten years of MASCHINE page.