Westbam, alias Maximilian Lenz, was born on 4 March 1965 in M¸nster, Westphalia. Not only is he Germany’ most successful and most popular DJ and avantgardist of the Raving Society, he is also the most innovative producer and co-founder of Berlin’ Indie Dance label, Low Spirit.
WestBam is in fact the abbreviated form of Westphalia BamBaataa and derives from this artist’ home state in Germany and his role model Afrika Bambaataa.
1983 marked the beginning of his DJ career in the Odeon Club in M¸nster. In 1984 he made a permanent move to Berlin which was still divided by the Wall. WestBam started as DJ at Berlin’ famous Metropol and his sophisticated mixing techniques brought him fame far beyond the borders of the divided city.
In 1985 WestBam worked with Klaus Jankuhn to produce his first 12" entitled “17” which was inspired by Paul Hardcastle’ “19”, one of the first sample hits of the time. One of the climaxes of those early years was undoubtedly his performance at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul (South Korea) where he gave a German cultural contribution at the invitation of the Goethe Institute.
In 1989 he made his first album “The Cabinet”. This was the first DJ-concept album to be launched on the German market. This album included the number “The Roof Is On Fire” and brought the breakthrough for DJ WestBam as well as Low Spirit Recordings.
After that things really started moving. “Monkey Say Monkey Do”, “And Party” and “No More Fucking Rock ’n Roll” are just some of the titles known to everyone who danced not just in German discos at the time. 1991 saw the arrival of his second album entitled “A Practising Maniac At Work”. The first Mayday also took place in 1991 (14 December) and WestBam was decisively involved in the artistic concept of this and the following Maydays. WestBam and Klaus Jankuhn teamed up under the name “Members of Mayday” to produce an anthem for each Mayday event. These Mayday anthems are so popular that they have now reached cult status.
WestBam’ fourth album “Bam Bam Bam” appeared in 1994 containing his most successful single until now “Celebration Generation” (21 Media Control Charts). The album “Bam Bam Bam” even reached fourteenth place in the German LP charts and sold over 140 000 times in Germany.
In 1995 WestBam again entered the charts with the remix of the Yello classic “Bostich”. The first “Members Of Mayday” LP entitled “Members only” appeared with all the “Members” hits. In the same year “Westbam, Koon and Stephenson” cut “Always Music”. For this production the two famous studio stars WestBam and Jankuhn joined forces with the Belgian DJ, Axel Stephenson" (Bonzai Rec.).
The highlight of 1995 was unquestionably the tenth anniversary of the Low Spirit label commemorated by the double CD “The Age Of The DJ Mixer – 10 Years Of Low Spirit” which included ten titles with WestBam.
DJ WestBam’ success story continued through 1996. In January Maximilian Lenz received the highly esteemed cultural award from Berlin’ biggest daily paper (BZ) and took his place alongside other award holders such as Mario Adorf, Bernhard Minetti and Otto Sanders.
In mid-1996 he released “Terminator”, a clear-cut electronic track that rose quickly to the accustomed popularity in the club scene.This was followed by “Born to Bang” which once again clearly demonstratcd Max Lenz’ musical versatility.
But 1997 puts everything in the shade. It all started with his first book “Mixes, Cuts & Scratches” (Merve Verlag). In “Mixes, Cuts & Scratches” WestBam presents a collection of his own texts from an interview with the poet, Rainald Gtz, about art, work and life as a DJ, and anecdotes, thoughts and discoveries. This book publication was accompanied by his successful remix of the 70’ Can classic “… And More …”.
Then “Sonic Empire” hit the market. The most recent Mayday Anthem (30 April 1997), written and produced together with Klaus Jankuhn and released under Members of Mayday, rose to number one in the German Media Control Singles Charts and was highly praised throughout the entertainment industry. “Sonic Empire” passed the 500 000 mark in July while WestBam was already producing some new hits like “Sunshine”.
“Sunshine”, the official Love Parade Hymn was the next coup which stormed the dance and singles charts during the summer and was in the meantime crowned with a golden award.
But the year’ final highlight will doubtlessly be the long expected new WestBam album “We’ll Never Stop Living This Way” (release date 10 Nov. 1997). The title, or even motto, reflects WestBam’ way of defining and producing music which, especially in the beginning of his musical career, was sometimes strongly critized. It contains 14 smashing tracks like the new chart single “Hard Times” or the Hip Hop influenced “Free Me”. Beside these current hits the fans will find more experimental tracks, e.g. “Die Dunkelsequenz” a very puristic, slow and heavy track or “Crash Course” which generates a danceable groove without using the the typical house schemes.
As a DJ, Maximilian Lenz is now known and in demand around the world. He already looks back on many successful tours of the USA, Japan, Australia and Africa.Without exaggeration, WestBam has had a decisive influence on the techno house cultural movement and his creative impulse is still very much alive and kicking.