Meet Mat Maksim
By Anita Anandarajah (New Sunday Times, 9/12/04), Donated by Christina.
MAKSIM Mrvica is one proper person. He usually sits upright, a result of years of
classical music training, which sent him into immerse discomfort when we asked him to
lean back on the settee and stretch out his long legs. It is unusual, one supposes, for a
classical pianist to flaunt his pins. This is a "I wear black only" kinda guy, with "one red
tee, one green tee and a pair of blue jeans" being the exception. After the cajoling
however -to put on the kain sampin- to celebrate with us the Shawal month with us in
Genting Highlands, he obliged. We thought it would be an excellent opportunity to see
another facet of this very decorous man, as he's just launched his latest album,
Variations I & II. With a sarong in his outstretched hands, New Straits Times
photographer Mohd Sairien Nafis invited the 29-year-old Croatian pianist to step in. So,
here he is, giving another variation of himself, just for you. Here's to out very own Mat
YQ (Youthquake): You are constantly referred to as a "crossover artiste". Are you tired
of this label?
M (Maksim): No, because I am a crossover artiste. Basically I'm a classical musician
playing crossover music but I'm also a classical musician. So I have two jobs.
YQ: What else would you like to be known as?
M: That I'm a good musician (laughs).
YQ: What was it like having your music selected for the Olympics classical album?
M: I was really proud because his album featured accomplished artists like Maria Callas
and Placido Domingo. I mean, these are word-renowned artistes.
YQ: You are huge in Japan. What do your fans call you there?
M: Ma-ka-shim-san. No, Mak-shim-san.
YQ: Of all the Asian countries you've played in, which is your favourite?
M: It's tough to say, because they're different. Everybody reacts in different ways. I
remember my last concert here was really exciting because it had to do with the venue.
It was an Olympics sport venue and the audience was more relaxed.
YQ: Do you prefer playing serious classical concerts or the more casual outdoor
M: Well, both...because I'm in these two different careers. Once, I was on a tour with
the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra and we played pure classical as my audience
comprised older classical music people. I really enjoy them both.
YQ: What do you like most about your new album, Variations I & II?
M: I'm really excited about the second part because it has pieces that I have not played
in a long time, and I'm excited as I got to work with Youth, who's one of the best
produces in the world today.
YQ: What are you wearing today? You seem to favour Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier.
M: No, it's not Dior. My top's an Italian brand while my jeans are by a British designer.
YQ: Has your stylist convinced you to wear anything else apart from black?
M: No, because she likes the colour just as I do (laughs). She's always in black. I do
have a green T-shirt and a red one, though. And a pair of blue jeans too. But not for
concerts. Always black.
YQ: Have your hands been insured yet? You indicted you wanted to do so in April.
M: No, they haven't been insured. I plan to. Never been in sports as a result.
YQ: Do you pamper your hands?
M: I'm very careful with my hands, especially before a concert. I use a special hand
cream for massage.
YQ: You're now based in London. Do you hit the club scene there?
M: Sometimes, because I travel so much. I'm not in London very often. My friends and I
do private parties.
YQ: Do you pay attention to the trends in the club music scene and incorporate them
into your music?
M: Yeah, not just clubs but I always watch MTV (laughs) because I want to know what's
happening in the world. What people are playing, what they are wearing...
YQ: What they're wearing?! But you seem to stick with the same look!
M: Yeah, yeah, but I like to get ideas.
YQ: Do you foresee collaborations with singers?
M: It's difficult to combine my music with a voice, especially a pop voice. I hope to
collaborate with an instrumental artist. There is a Russian cellist, who I think is the best
artiste in the world!
YQ: Any plans to start a family soon after 10 years of marriage?
M: My wife and love children but because I live such a hectic life, we have to postpone
YQ: We hear you have three pianos...
M: Four now actually. I have three in Croatia and one in London. I bought the latest one
last month. One is an upright Petrov, from when I was younger, another is a concert
grand, the third is an electric and acoustic upright combination called Yamaha Silent.
YQ: Which do you practise on?
M: Having the electric piano means I can record my music on my computer. I can do
more stuff with it than the acoustic piano.
YQ: On which was Pag Rag composed?
M: A fifth piano. It was a rented one because I lived in Paris at the time, so...(laughs)
YQ: It is said your fingers can hit 14 notes per second. Have you broken that record?
M: I don't think it can be improved! I have never measured how fast I can play though.
That what my producer's count.
YQ: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
M: Well, I hope they'll accept my Variations I & II. I look forward to my next concert
here, which will hopefully be next year.