They saw “God Is a DJ“ printed on their guitar player’s T-shirt during a rehearsal. Sister Bliss tweaked a melody she had prepared, and Maxi Jazz created an entire philosophy around the concept in just a few hours. Regardless of what you believe, whether you rely on a Christian upbringing or a Buddhist approach in adulthood, the dance floor is a place where we pray and, above all, where we heal. Let’s say that this is the easiest way to explain it. Maxi Jazz was the embodiment of the postulates of rave culture – PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect) and his passing is a massive loss for the global scene! Sometimes he was a shaman, often a preacher, and always the unifier and catalyst for sweaty catharsis in the crowd.
His spirituality stood out in his preparedness for dialogue, even though Faithless’ music is highly socially engaged, and it was never difficult to figure out their views on the general state of the world. Political and social topics formed the basis of hits that dominated radio stations, educating generations of people who went to clubs or festivals for some light entertainment.
Until the release of the single “Salva Me”, they were selling out local clubs, but soon they became a global force and indispensable on the charts, as well as in music encyclopaedias. This happened primarily because of the cry “I can’t get no sleep!” but also other singles from the album “Reverence”. The dance mantra from the next one was “We Come 1”, but a new audience was also reached by the collaboration with Dido (sister of another member of the band), who was at the peak of her career at that moment. A big inspiration for Maxi was Muhammad Ali, and in addition to glorifying his idol, he used the next album to directly criticise world leaders with “Mass Destruction”. Boy George was featured in “Why Go?” while with “I Want More”, it was once again quite directly said that you should act from what you believe in, not from fear.
In addition to regular performances, they have spent much time in the studio and released two more albums before appearing at the big celebration of 40 years of the Glastonbury festival as headliners, which represents perhaps the crowning jewel of their career, in front of 85 thousand people. After a tour that lasted almost two years and many recorded songs, an exhausted Maxi Jazz announced in the spring of 2011 that this was their farewell tour. The two sold-out final concerts in London were directly broadcast to the biggest cinemas around the world. During that period, they had over a million attendees at their shows and sold around half a million records.
Maxi Jazz stepped away from the band, using words like “break” and “pause” but never “split”. There was no bad blood, only the need for rest and something new, even though new sometimes meant going back to basics. He started composing on the guitar and formed the analogue-based band The E-Type Boys.
Faithless released a remix album in 2015 and prepared a special show with which they would embark on a new tour. They chose their dates carefully and decided to celebrate another jubilee, the fifteenth birthday of EXIT. They brought well-known hits in a new guise, with Maxi constantly calling the audience at Petrovaradin one of the most beautiful he had seen. They returned for two encores and reminded everyone of the ideas around which the festival was formed. Faithless is a band known for sharp synths and electronic parts. Still, their performances seem to be remembered for the intimate moments in which the music stops, and Maxi’s deep voice says that we must protect each other, that love is the reason and the way, that you can believe in different things, and that diversity is precious.
After that epic performance, “We Come 1” became the unofficial EXIT festival anthem, with the band’s blessing. Internally, the EXIT team used that phrase for its actions and campaigns, and it became a kind of mantra. That visit in 2015 meant a lot to us, to them, but especially to the fans. Even with the distance of time, it feels like a visit from the gods. The concert recording on YouTube has 2.6 million views and comments saying that this was one of the band’s best performances and that it changed lives. There are a lot of new comments reacting to the news of Maxi Jazz’s passing. Many go there to write their last farewell.
Rest in peace, the voice of a generation. How lucky and honoured I am to have had the opportunity to witness this magic. Thanks for everything.
The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude… Maxi Jazz, we thank you for the soundtrack of our lives 🙏
I’ve just heard about him passing away and instantly came to this video. Yes, I was there, and yes, it was amazing, but above all that, this man and his band literally helped us survive and stay normal here in Serbia. All we knew were war, poverty, embargo, drugs, dictatorship… Almost all the normal things we had were music, art and rare tv shows worth watching. He brought spirit, liberty, good taste and great music we loved and appreciated so much, and now he’s gone… Rest in peace, my friend and thanks a lot.
Faithless felt our audience’s love and reciprocated it even before the performance. The meet & greet, which performers often do quickly and unwillingly, lasted as long as two hours, during which they chatted with people and exchanged energy backstage.
Although that night was unforgettable, Faithless wanted it to be immortalised, so footage from the performance is a large part of the video they released for the new version of their biggest hit, which was done by the biggest EDM producer at the time, Avicii.
Although Maxi Jazz radiated the wisdom of Tibet, he rejoiced like a boy. He participated in car races and was the honorary director of a football club.
Following the sad news of his passing, the remaining band members put together a fitting farewell letter saying he was a man who improved lives in so many ways. He gave their music a real meaning and message. They emphasised that he was a wonderful human being with time for everything and wisdom that was both profound and accessible.
Once again, the connection between the band and the festival was confirmed by Sister Bliss herself, by replying to the tribute that EXIT had made for Maxi on Twitter.
Maxi Jazz fell asleep at the age of 65. He will never wake up again, but he is somewhere out there at an eternal party, where the DJ is the love he preached during his lifetime.
Written by: Vojkan Bećir