by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Hyan

by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Hyan

Tāmaki Makaurau electronica artist Max Robinson, aka Hyan, works as DJ and hype man for the acclaimed Who Shot Scott, who’s garnering some impressive international success. Being active within this scene, Hyan is already well-connected and set up with both management and a booking agent. His most recent release is a collab with another local high-flyer, MC Deadforest. NZ On Air Music featured Runners on their NewTracks compilation in May.

What’s your name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

My full name is Maximillius Robinson. I am from Te Tairawhiti, but I live in Auckland. I play the laptop! Ableton to be specific.

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

In 2016 I studied electronic music production at MAINZ. Frank Booker was my teacher and that was an absolute game changer. I fell even more in love with writing music and DJing after that year. Booker is the coolest teacher one could ask for.

Any other projects that we might we know you from?

I am the DJ and hype man for Who Shot Scott! I’ve been working with him for a couple of years now, and I absolutely love it!

What’s the background story of how Hyan came to be? 

The background story is a kid who fell in love with electronic music (dubstep mainly) in high school and decided that making music and DJing full-time would be the coolest thing ever. That kid didn’t really realise how long it would take to actually find traction lol but that’s the Hyan backstory, I’m someone who genuinely loves this music, the community, and the lifestyle that surrounds it.

It’s just me as far as this project goes. I have had a lot of help and involvement from my amazing manager Rachel Le Roux (who is based in Melbourne) and my booking agent Mike from Forte Touring in Christchurch. These two legends have really helped get things off the ground!

How has your music evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

I used to be very bound to a genre like, “I make this kind of music so all I make is this kind of music.” I understand now that it’s really not that deep, and just making what makes you happy is going to always deliver the best results (duh). Collaborating with others and exploring new sounds has made me enjoy being a musician so much more.

How and when did you come up with the name for the new project?

I came up with the name Hyan in 2015, I had a song coming out on a small Soundcloud label and was using this release to re-brand from the old DJ name I went by in high school. I basically had a week to lock in this new name because of the release deadline. I was in a strange Facebook marketplace-last-resort type flatting arrangement, with a family who’s 2-year-old son’s name was Ayyan. He was really cute and would come and dance to my beats. I also really liked the way his name sounded. I had written a bunch of variations of Ayyan’s name, as well as a bunch of other random names on a whiteboard, and at the end of the deciding week I just chose Hyan. It looked cool, was easy to remember and spell and most importantly wasn’t already taken by another DJ!

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date?

Hitting one million streams on my song Final Credits Flowdan Dub last year was pretty amazing. That song also got played at some huge festivals like Coachella. Getting tagged in the Instagram story was mental!

What makes Runners stand out for you as a single?

One word – Deadforest. The dude killed it! I’m such a fan and as soon as I got his demo back I was like, “Yup, this the first song off the EP I’m dropping.”

What’s the story behind Runners?

I wanted to make a catchy house track but with synths similar to a Yeat or Ken Carson beat. I wasn’t exactly making this beat for Deadforest to rap on, I was just making lots of demos to go towards my EP. When I made the drums for Runners I just knew they would work beautifully with DF’s flow, so I flicked the beat off to him and left the lyrics and song themes completely up to him. He came back with a really fun rap with lots of references to leaving the 9-5 grind and cutting ties with people who hinder your full potential. It really resonated with me because we were on a similar journey at the same time.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the track?

Deadforest says, “One night, shut it down and get paid. I’m about that! Ain’t about the hard labour.” I like that line cause it’s steezy and we both used to work retail and now get to do cool shit like perform for a living, but also I find it funny because we have to work 10x harder as full-time musicians, and this line makes it sound super easy, lol.

Did you composee the single with anyone else?

I made the beat while I was hiding away from distractions writing music at my girlfriend’s parents’ house in Cambridge. I had a Deadforest a cappella track that I chucked on the beat to see how it would sound, and it slapped! I finished the beat while I was in Europe, sent it to him and he sent me back a demo almost straight away. So once I landed back in NZ we had the whole track done in a couple of days. It took literally 12 minutes to record everything. Once DF left the session me and Dera Meelan, whose studio we recorded in, got to making beats and ended up writing the single I dropped before Runners called Like Dat. Those dudes work so quick!

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

Like Deadforest says – drop the clutch on people that move shifty. If people are dulling your shine don’t be afraid to put yourself first. Remove yourself from the BS and you’ll start catching wins 🙂 But also, if all people take away is a catchy tune that makes them wanna dance, I’m stoked on that too!

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

Because I make a lot of music without lyrics, most time if it has a feature I’ll run it as a single. Otherwise, if it’s a song that gets a good reaction during a DJ set, or one I’m particularly excited to play during a DJ set, then that’s a good sign for a single too.

Is there any other music you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for?

My debut EP is dropping this year! 2024 I’ll be doing a lot more shows in Aotearoa and abroad too. I also have a remix for Who Shot Scott coming soon that I am very excited about.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song. 

  • Dera Meelan –Peak (Ft. Deadforest)
  • Emilie & Young Gho$tWay That I Roll
  • CaruTrillary Dub

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others?

I’m really lucky and this was my first time applying for funding. I hadn’t even thought about it until Connor Pritchard told me I should go for it. So my advice would be, just go for it! You never know.

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

It’s not a musical blog but I really love Redline Records, they’re a label/collective from Christchurch that release heaps of really cool stuff, especially from upcoming producers in Aotearoa. I’m always being put onto new thing from them. I love the George FM nights residencies too. Beccie B does an amazing job curating shows that showcase Aotearoa’s underground electronic scene.

Who did you make the video with?

I made the video with Connor Pritchard. As well as lots of help from my flatmates, homies and girlfriend Chelsea.

Any last words?

Thank you heaps for sharing my music! And I really hope everyone has as much fun listening to it as I do making it!
Free Palestine!

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