I think it was close to two years ago I stumbled across a split single on the record label Foreign Sounds. It was a split between Slasher Film Festival Strategy and Antoni Maiovvi. I hadn’t heard either artist before but I was in the moment it started playing. I’m sort of into that whole horror/electronic/synth gumbo that these two were throwing my way on that 12″ vinyl so I was a fan immediately. I was especially struck by Maiovvi’s track “Psychic Driver”. Hypnotic melodies and a driving, electro disco beat gave you the feel of cruising down some desolate stretch of highway where you may never find your way back from.
I started digging into Maiovvi’s musical past and it seemed to be an endless list of albums, EPs, remixes, in varied degrees of Giallo, heavy synth, and Italio Disco for every day, mood, and psychic trauma. But who was this Antoni Maiovvi, really? I imagined a cross between Giorgio Moroder and Abel Ferrara, this music composer and producer who would only come out at night in a blaze of leather jackets, analog synthesizers, mysterious women in lanky dresses, and possible concealed weapons. Turns out that’s not the case. Antoni Maiovvi is the nom de plume of musician Anton Maiof. He’s not Italian, but a Brit raised in Bristol. Though, throw one of his records on and you’ll think you were in the midst of some serious Italian groove fest.
Maiof recently released an imagined film score called Cuckoo. It’s brilliant and seedy and all those things you want out of an imagined horror film score. I sat down and asked Anton a few questions. He was kind enough to answer them.
J. Hubner: Thanks for taking the time to talk. Let’s start at the beginning, where did you grow up? Was music a big part of your life even as a young boy growing up?
Anton Maiof: I was born and raised in Bristol in the South West of the UK. To be honest I wasn’t really interested in music until I was a teenager. I thought music was for pretty people and I thought music was pretty boring. Then I heard The Jesus Lizard and I realised that maybe things could be weird and I was very interested in it.
J. Hubner: With your music being very cinematic, has film and cinema always been a big part of your life? Were you a horror film fan growing up? Who were some of your favorite directors?
Anton Maiof: I’d say I was more interested in movies than music growing up. Horror movies were something I had to become acclimatised to. But once the nightmares stopped I was hooked. Favourite directors would be Stanley Kubrick, William Friedkin, Paul Verhoeven, Robert Altman, Ken Russell, David Cronenberg, Shinya Tsukamoto, Karyn Kusama, and Shane Carruth.
J. Hubner: What was the first album you bought with your own money?
Anton Maiof: It was Kick by INXS on tape.
J. Hubner: When did you become interested in making music? What instrument did you start out playing? Did the synth music come later?
Anton Maiof: I started with guitar and piano, I would borrow things later. At a friend’s house his father had an old 4 track reel to reel so I taught myself to multitrack with that. Then eventually someone showed me how to record on a computer. By this point I could play guitar, keys and drums. The computer offered more possibilities, I got into sampling and eventually when soft synths started coming along I would mess around with them. Then I went to University to study music and that’s where I learned synthesis and some more advanced digital music techniques. It’s not that exciting a story.
J. Hubner: What were some bands you were in before stepping out on your own?
Anton Maiof: I played in the noise rock group Geisha, we released 2 albums on the Maryland based freak metal label Crucial Blast and 1 on the great UK label Super-Fi. I had a solo project called My Ambulance Is On Fire which I made some weird CDRs. I played in a improv duo called Defibrillators with the very talented Seth Cooke. I played bass in a country band called Papa Molasses & The Dane County Paragons with Dan from Sex Swing. I also played guitar for my friend Rose Kemp. I played bass for Bronnt Industries Kapital and I played guitar in a Goblin cover band called Il Goblini. I also played in the noise group Menschenfliesch with Greg Godwin and Nick Talbot. Once in Europe I played in the noise groups Ultraspiecer, The Superusers and Kottbusserdamm Terror Corpse. I also played in the folk group The Cold Hand. I also play in a duo with Umberto called Law Unit.
J. Hubner: Before I knew that Antoni Maiovvi was a nom de plume I really did think you were a 50 year-old Italian music producer. A cross between Giorgio Moroder and Abel Ferrara. How did you come up with the name? Who or what was the inspiration behind the alter ego? Why not make music as Anton Maiof?
Anton Maiof: Maiovvi was the italianised version of Maiof. I was performing as Anton Maiof all over Berlin doing improvised guitar performances. It was fun.
J. Hubner: You have quite an extensive discography with a wide range of styles ranging from electro disco to more ambient, darker tones. What’s your writing process like? Do you go into the process with a definite idea, or do you let the muse take you where she may?
Anton Maiof: Sometimes I have an idea I want to try out. Sometimes I’m just messing around. The other day a chord pattern came to me in a dream and then I wrote a song about when David Bowie said the lord’s prayer at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert with it.
J. Hubner: I first came across your work on the split you did with Slasher Film Festival Strategy. I absolutely loved “Psychic Driver”. Jumped into your world from there. Do you enjoy collaborations? Do you prefer working alone to working with other artists?
Anton Maiof: Yes I enjoy collaborations. I just like making music.
J. Hubner: Speaking of collaborations, how do they work normally, using the Law Unit and SFFS collaborations for example. Is it strictly file sharing online or did you actually get together in the studio with Matt or Christopher respectively?
Anton Maiof: With SFFS we didn’t collaborate it was a split. Two tracks of his and one if mine. With Matt it was a little more complex. We started sharing files but then he came to stay with me in Madrid and we worked together in my living room in between movies and cocktails.
J. Hubner: You released two film scores this year, one for a real film and for one imagined. Can you tell me about the “Karakura Orchestra” on ‘Abdullah’? What was the writing and composing process like on that project?
Anton Maiof: Technically three as Thug also came out this year. But that is an aside. Abdullah’s music existed before the film, it was my attempt at making a sort of techno out of Turkish folk music that I recorded with this radio that Milo Smee AKA Bintus who runs Power Vacuum gave me for my birthday. The radio I named “The Karakura Orchestra”. Karakura being a Turkish sleep demon. So they edited the picture to those tracks and then I edited the tracks to make the soundtrack more graceful.
J. Hubner: Your most recent release was the imagined film score ‘Cuckoo’. What was the concept behind that album? Who or what were inspirations for this album? It’s a great record, btw.
Anton Maiof: Thank you. I was living in Berlin and it had been a few years since I worked on a film soundtrack, I was a little bit frustrated by that, so I thought I’d do another record of the kind of soundtrack that I like. So there are shades of Giallo, Maniac and Nightmare On Elm Street. I tried to arrange the album so there is a narrative. The title I had for many years. I was supposed to do it as a record for Seed who released three of my albums before, Bruce really does believe in me and I appreciate it. I failed him by not making it sooner.
J. Hubner: Is film scoring something you’d like to do on a more full time basis? You seem to have a knack for creating cinematic music. Yellow is one that I revisit quite often.
Anton Maiof: Yes these days I’m more interested in making film scores, I find it the most rewarding part of my career. I recently did the score for Can Evrenol’s Housewife. Though I have started enjoying DJing a bit more recently, but I am playing mostly italo and “fun” music these days.
J. Hubner: Are there any recent records, films, books, or shows that you’ve been getting into? Anything inspiring?
Anton Maiof: I saw an amazing film recently called ‘Valerie & Her Week Of Wonders’ which has an amazing score also. I also enjoyed the last Com Truise album and the recent Drab Majesty album and the last Boy Harsher album.
J. Hubner: Are you doing any touring to promote ‘Cuckoo’?
Anton Maiof: No traditional touring, but I have a band now. We will perform some it live.
J. Hubner: What are you working on next? Anything you can share?
Anton Maiof: At the moment I have found myself writing songs again and I am close to finishing an album.
J. Hubner: What is one album that you think everyone should own? And why?
Anton Maiof: Scott Walker’s The Drift because it is a tough listen but rewards those who are willing to put time to invest and revisit. It is also a wonderful piece of work.
Head over to Data Airline’s Bandcamp page and give Cuckoo a listen. It’s brilliant heavy synth electronica. And check out Antoni Maiovvi’s Bandcamp page and clear about a day to indulge in those heady tunes.