Feature image: Maux is a Venezuelan self-taught Grammy and Latin Grammy award-winning music producer. Courtesy of Maux.
Maux Creates Life’s Soundtracks Through His Art of Music Production
Maux is a Venezuelan self-taught Grammy and Latin Grammy award-winning music producer. He’s a legendary music producer and artist who’s in constant pursuit of creating people’s soundtracks of life. His most renowned production, “EL MUNDO ES MÍO,” which is the first track from Bad Bunny’s album “El Último Tour Del Mundo,” takes you on a journey through Maux’s dark melodies and beats.
Mauricio Andrés Quijada Zamora – better known as Maux – is a Venezuelan self-taught Grammy and Latin Grammy award-winning music producer currently based in Miami, Florida. He describes himself as a melómano or music lover who was born and raised in Anaco, Anzoátegui, Venezuela. Ever since he can remember, he’s been deeply immersed in the music world, whether that was taking piano lessons at 8 years old, his mother gifting him a drum set, or discovering Fruity Loops (FL Studio) when he was 12 years old. Maux has always been in the constant pursuit and chase of music.
“Little by little, I was immersing myself in music, but I was not noticing it. When I was 12, I downloaded FL Studio to learn to create music, but I found it very difficult. I opened the program, and it was like: what’s this? What are all of these things? I don’t understand anything,” Maux said. “I stopped using it, and when I was 16, I stumbled upon the program again thanks to a friend.”
That was the time that Maux was embarking on a new musical journey where he’d discover his passion for the art of music production. He began watching tutorials on how to use FL Studio while attending high school. His first encounter with music production was that of producing electronica, and as time went by, Maux started noticing that to produce music, he needed to dive deep into carefully listening to music from a more curiosity-driven perspective.
“I’ve always been a very curious person. When I listen to songs, it’s like: ok, I listen to the elements. I detail them. They’re like this or that. Why does this sound like this? Why does the voice sound like this? Why does it have these effects?” Maux said. “Little by little, that curiosity in wanting to understand how all of that is done was rising.”
The Soundtrack of Life
That curiosity led Maux to understand music as a language and a form of self-expression for both the creators and listeners. Music is also about a feeling – or multiple feelings – that is born in him when listening to it.
“I feel music is the soundtrack of life for many people. Obviously, there are many songs and artists, but each person has a defined soundtrack in their lives. And when I say that they have a soundtrack, it’s various songs and different artists that they listen to. That defines their day-to-day and the things they’re doing,” Maux said. “Music is everything for me. Music makes me feel a lot, and it makes me feel in different ways. It can make me dance. It can make me reflect [about life].”
In that soundtrack of life or the creation of it, he’s found a world of possibilities in music production. It’s a discipline and craft that Maux considers a space of endless knowledge where he sees no limitations from the creative and artistic perspectives and processes. But it was not until he was 18 years old that he began understanding his crafting of life’s soundtrack from a professional perspective.
At that time, he had already been deep into music production for two years. It was also a time when people in the Latin American music industry started noticing him. He recalls that in Venezuela, the first artist to open a door for him was Big Soto, a Venezuelan rapper, singer, and composer signed with the Puerto Rican independent record label Rimas Entertainment.
“Big Soto is an artist signed with Rimas. He put his email on his Instagram and said to send him rhythms there. I took the email, sent him a few tracks, and he gave me his phone number. But the phone number he gave me had a missing number,” Maux recalled laughing. “I was desperate because I wanted to talk to him. So, I had to wait one more week for his email response and have that last digit. He was one of the first people who opened a door [for me].”
Then, from the music production side, Maux’s first interaction was with HYDRO, a Puerto Rican music producer. HYDRO was an elemental and key figure in Maux’s early stages of his career.
“HYDRO was my mentor for a long time. He was already involved with Bad Bunny and was signed with Hear This Music. He was the one who did “Dime Si Te Acuerdas.” He was in the industry for a while and had collaborated with various artists,” Maux said. “He was very friendly with me. He gave me a lot of information. He connected me with a lot of people. And he was also the one who gave me my relationship with Rimas. I’m now signed with Rimas.”
Maux’s constant pursuit of creating life’s soundtrack led him to be signed by Rimas Entertainment in 2019, and that was just the beginning of the magic in the near future. He kept polishing and perfecting his craft and technique by studying the sounds, rhythms, and textures he wanted to achieve on a daily basis.
One of the basic phases of his creative process consists of repeatedly listening to music and artists that inspire him, such as Bad Bunny, Kaytranada, Tainy, Frank Ocean, Tame Impala, Travis Scott, and many more. Whenever he’s listening to a song, he’s paying attention to the melodies and the drums. He pays extreme attention to the details when he’s both listening and producing music because “to be able to create music, I have to listen to it.”
If you think about it, it sounds quite abstract and conceptual. But when you understand Maux’s process, everything makes sense. He understands his music production as an artistic craft and compares it to that of painting. He paints with music by creating soundscapes or sound landscapes and uses his computer as the main artistic instrument.
“If you compare it with painting, you have to take different sounds and place them together. You have to take different colors and place them together to create a base. To paint a soundscape, it would be like a landscape. To paint a landscape or a song, you need different elements,” Maux said. “You have to throw in elements like the drums, chords, melody, and effects. Just as if it were colors.”
Just as in a painting, Maux needs to have a canvas where he can place the musical elements to create the soundscape. His metaphorical canvas is the program Ableton Live Suite, which is a software program used by musicians, producers, and DJs from around the world to create music.
“This is the program that, at least, artists and producers like Tainy, Bad Bunny, and Skrillex use. There’s a lot of people who use Ableton Live Suite. People who are my idols,” Maux said. “And I feel it's the best program I can use to express my ideas. I can come through it any way I want, and I can manipulate the audio like I want.”
That means that Maux sees no limits in his creative pursuit of music production because he understands his art as one where he varies the process every time he creates. Playing with the musical elements is part of his process as an attempt to deliver a final product that is always different. His process also depends a lot on how he is feeling during the day he’s creating and what sounds and rhythms he’s chasing.
“I like playing a lot with rhythm in the sense of the swing that the drums have. When a person’s listening, that defines a lot the rhythm and the cadence in how the music is moving. I also love the chords because they define a lot of the songs’ mood,” Maux said. “There are chords that are more jazz or more R&B, which makes it more sensual. Or there are more obscure chords. Like a trap. It all depends on the vibe you’re going for.”
“EL MUNDO ES MÍO” or Is It Maux’s World?
Exploring and experimenting with more obscure chords and sounds is what brought the magic to Maux. He enjoys designing his sounds by chasing around the perfect sound for whatever project he’s crafting. In 2020, he created the music and sounds for Bad Bunny’s “EL MUNDO ES MÍO” song – which translates to "The World Is Mine" – for the Puerto Rican’s solo studio album “El Último Tour Del Mundo.” “EL MUNDO ES MÍO” is the opening track of the album. When you listen to it, you get a feeling of suspense and mystery because of Maux’s choice of sounds.
“For EL MUNDO ES MÍO, I thought: ok, I want to create something sort of like Travis Scott. Travis Scott is obscure. So, I play some chords that are obscure. Like minor chords. I go to the synthesizer, design the sound, and say: ok, I’m going for a texture that is softer than what it sounds like in the synthesizer,” Maux said. “Now that I have this ready, how it sounds, I look for the chords, and it’s ready. I have a base where I can guide myself for the following sounds that I can use so that the sound palette goes hand in hand.”
Maux makes it sound quite simple, yet it was a quite complex process that relied heavily on Bad Bunny’s feelings and mood the day and moment the Puerto Rican artist chose Maux’s music for “EL MUNDO ES MÍO.” Maux remembered when he sent the beats to Kamil Jacob Assad, the A&R (artists and repertoire) representative at Rimas Entertainment. Within the beats that Maux sent to Assad, there was the one for “EL MUNDO ES MÍO.”
“From the many beats that I sent, to me it’s incredible how Bad Bunny heard it and liked it. I feel like, as an artist, you’ve got to feel a certain way that day to choose a beat and wanting to write something over it. He could’ve chosen anything else, but he chose that one,” Maux said.
“EL MUNDO ES MÍO” was the song that marked an impressive before and after in Maux’s career. It was the one that changed his path in a major way, and it became one of life’s soundtracks that he ambitiously produced.
Given that the song belongs to Bad Bunny’s album “El Último Tour del Mundo,” which won a Latin Grammy in 2021 for Best Urban Music Album and a Grammy in 2022 for Best Música Urbana Album, Maux became a Latin Grammy and Grammy award-winning music producer when he was only 22 years old at the time.
“It was a rollercoaster for me. I never felt anything like it. When it happened, I was in shock and then I was so happy that it happened. And then, I started normalizing it and just feel normal about it,” Maux remembered, amazed. “It was pretty amazing, and I’m so grateful for that. That opened so many doors for me. In the big scheme of things, that made me so happy, and it made me gain success as a producer, and it helped my name.”
Maux’s mission of creating a dark beat that sounds epic was achieved with “EL MUNDO ES MÍO.” It’s such a legendary track and beat that it was even used for Bad Bunny’s promotional trailer for his album “Yo Hago Lo Que Me Da La Gana,” which was released on February 29th, 2020. Meanwhile, “El Último Tour del Mundo” was released on November 27th, 2020.
This means that Maux’s mythical production served as a tease and sneak peek of what was coming next in terms of new music from behalf of Bad Bunny. His track is one that feels like a trip because it takes you on a journey with its straightforward trap beat with the drums, dark melodies and chords, and bass.
“EL MUNDO ES MÍO” is simply part of Maux’s constant pursuit of creating people’s life soundtracks as a legendary music producer and artist who wants to show the world his rhythms and sounds characterized by the Latin American sabrosura (pleasantness) and soltura (looseness).
“As a Latin American artist, I have to demonstrate more than a U.S. artist. I feel U.S. artists have a greater global reach than Latin American artists. It’s always been like that, especially with music in English. But people like Bad Bunny have proved that music doesn’t necessarily need to be in English to reach every corner of the world,” Maux said. “And I feel that as a Latin American artist, I have to show the world that I can be more. That I can be just as important as any song that’s been consumed out there a lot, at least in the U.S. industry.”
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