Keith Palmer is better known as Maxim, the MC for Britain’s punky, fire-starting electronic music group, The Prodigy. On Sunday he appears in a new role, as DJ Maxim, at Voodoo Experience.
Even as The Prodigy — featuring producer Liam Howlett and the famously spiky-haired Keith Flint — crafts a new album for 2014, Maxim is on his first U.S. DJ tour. Most of the trek is on the West Coast, but he appears Sunday at the New Orleans music festival.
Maxim has been DJing backstage at The Prodigy shows for 15 years. He began doing open-to-the-public DJ gigs 18 months ago.
“The whole DJing thing started off with me playing music in dressing rooms,” Maxim said earlier this month from the outskirts of London. “People liked what I was doing backstage. So I was like, ‘Wow. Let me take this out to the masses.’ ”
A member of The Prodigy since its early ’90s start in Braintree, England, Maxim suddenly has a new career.
“I don’t like to go through the day or through life being complacent,” he said. “So I got an offer to do a DJ show, and I just went for it. I really enjoyed it, and it made me look at music in a different way.”
Maxim is launching his DJ career at a time of increased interest in electronic dance music in the U.S. Electronic dance music has been big in the U.K. and Europe for years, and the United States has finally come around to it, he said.
“We came in the early ’90s and the late ’90s, trying to ignite the party scene in America,” he recalled. “But it never took off. There weren’t any party festivals in America at that time. They had rock festivals and that was it.”
U.S. music festivals, unlike the U.K.’s Glastonbury and Reading festivals, were not eclectic. But there’s more opportunity for electronic dance music at U.S. festivals now, including Voodoo Experience.
“Everybody has opened their eyes and can just listen to music,” Maxim said. “Rock over there, dance music over there, reggae over there, all under one roof. That’s the beauty of music.”
Maxim’s musical roots include reggae, hip-hop and some rock. Hard beats distinguish his DJ selections, which include tracks he creates himself.
“DJing is an outlet to play my own music without going through the regular channels of actually pressing it, releasing it, promoting it,” he said. “I can write something and play it for an audience the same night on my laptop. I like that spontaneity.”
When he’s DJing, Maxim relinquishes the MC role he plays in The Prodigy to Cianna Blaze.
“The original idea was for her to MC and hype the tracks,” he said. “But it evolved with us writing tracks together and her performing the tracks. Now it’s almost like she’s got her own little show going on within my show. I brought her into it, so I can feel proud of that.”