The Secret Origin of a ChampionWhat Made This Montreal DJ Quit His Day Job to Make Music.
By Scott Wood
When you cue Champion up on your mp3 player, it is an electronic act. His warm universal beats evoke long sweaty days on a tropical beach. Champion’s record Chill’Em All and the follow up remix album have that elusive crossover appeal of Fat Boy Slim, Chemical Brothers or Daft Punk.
This strange hybrid of styles has made Champion compelling, unique and successful.
Inside his plush tour bus, Champion—sometimes known as DJ Champion, formerly known as DJ Mad Max—aka Max Morin, settles into his seat. Morin is everything you want from an interview subject; he is warm, charming and eager to talk.
He has been active in the Montreal scene for over ten years, in punk bands, as a DJ, and doing commercial work for “the man”—as well as more At [the] time everyone wanted to be a DJ. Everyone was fighting to be the best DJ, the best band, the best sound-whatever. I just got fed up with all that crap. In the end it's bullshit. So I thought, let's make a big joke about it and call myself DJ Champion. artistic projects like composing the score to The Triplets of Bellville.
And he is happy to tell us the secret origin of Champion. The words roll off his tongue in a charming Quebecois accent, sometimes getting mangled.
“I was walking down the street and I saw a friend of mine. He had just quit his job. He had a big job as an internet programmer. He was really high ‘cuz he just quit. It was a beautiful sunny day. I was with a good friend of mine. And he just came to us and said, ‘Hey champion. How you doing boss? Yes sir, captain, alright!’ I was just amazed at all those beautiful words. I was like, ‘Hmm yeah I like that champion thing.’ At that time everyone wanted to be a DJ. Everyone was fighting to be the best DJ, the best band, the best sound—whatever. I just got fed up with all that crap. In the end it’s
“I was composing music for movies and publicity like you said –also DJing as Mad Max. But I got fed up with having to deliver something to someone—all the time. I do not regret composing music for movies and publicity because I learned so much about my work, so much about music. It’s very important—I would suggest it to every musician. If you really want to learn your job, learn to make music for images. It’s a beautiful way to not be scared of all types of music. Sometimes bands are indie rock and that’s it—that’s all—or heavy metal and nothing else. When you have to make music for images, you have to embrace the whole spectrum. All music. It doesn’t matter.”
“I had to deliver that music all the time [for the day job]. So as a DJ, I was pretty much into that minimal house scene. It was really uptight, really precise. With my day job, the music for publicity, I was making a lot of money, but I wasn’t delivering [After 9/11] I took a few walks downtown. Everybody was afraid. There was a really strange feeling in the city. I felt it, real strong, that I had to do something real, something good for me, for my life... I dunno... for life! So I quit my day job, became broke-totally broke-and stared composing Chill'Em All. anything good for my community, for my life, for my friends—for anything.”
“In winter 2001, I went to Cuba for the first time. I was shocked to see those extremely poor people talking about solidarity. They were alive. They were nice people. So I was there, I saw those beautiful people talking about life, being alive, and making that super beautiful music. That was a big shock. And afterwards in Fall 2001, I preparing for a concert, Quebec-New York 2001. That particular morning I was late. I was leaving for New York, finishing my programming. And my partner at the time called me and said, “Look, Max I do not think you are leaving for New York today.’ I was like ‘what’s he talking about?’ He was like, ‘Open the TV.’ I saw it. I was like, ‘Man it’s just a fire, you are disturbing me. I’m working. I ‘m late. Chow. Bye.’ But I never went. It was September 9/11.”
“So that was a big shock. Afterwards I took a few walks downtown. Everybody was afraid. There was a really strange feeling in the city. I felt it, real strong, that I had to do something real, something good for me, for my life... I dunno… for life! So I quit my day job, became broke—totally broke—and stared composing Chill‘Em All.”
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