top of page
RAAR013_1440 .jpeg
PURE Guest.012 Maelstrom

The shards of sound moving in the maelstrom will make you mass of bruises.


Maelstrom, chaos, turmoil. Like his name suggests, it is a perfect fit to describe him in the electro scene. With nearly two decades of rave parties in warehouses, fields and basements, it is under this moniker that the artist has truly come into his own. Tempestuous rhythms and moody vibes, the output is as ferocious as it is diverse striving to challenge the sonic and intellectual status quo of dance music due to masterful sound design and an experienced ear. Prolific and erudite French producer Joan-Mael Péneau aka Maelstrom is from Nantes. In addition to being a producer and DJ, he is also a PhD in Anthropology.


After a long series of exciting releases on labels like Zone, Bromance, and Minimal Wave/Cititrax, Maelstrom cofounded the label RAAR in 2015 with frequent collaborator Louisahhh where he released his debut album "Her Empty Eyes" in 2017. Throughout the next 2 years, he has delivered fascinating EPs for electro-standards such as CPU and Cultivated Electronics in the UK, or Private Persons in Moscow, while playing an all electro live set in clubs and raves, from Paris, London, Tokyo, etc.


His full-length solo album "Rhizome" was released in March this year, it is an entirely fresh body of work about invisible creative communities, sonic evidence of the fact that nothing is created in a vacuum. The word "rhizome" is derived from Ancient Greek "rhízōma", meaning "mass of roots". It was termed by the philosopher Deleuze and the psychoanalyst Guattari in the publication of "A Thousand Plateaus" in 1980, and refers to a model of thought in which knowledge is not traced from a single origin hierarchically. In contrast to the linear logic of the genealogical tree, rhizome, which uses plants as an analogy, emphasizes its diversity and continuous flow. One of the principles is "asignifying rupture": a rhizome may be broken, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines. Connections between thoughts can be permanently severed and repropagated elsewhere, forming new connections between previously unrelated rhizomes. It sounds complicated, yet this is how many plants grow, such as ginger, yams and potatoes. Maelstrom's "Rhizome" enacts this model in ethos and execution, in an interview with Metal Magazine, he described the creative concept behind it in great detail. Interested readers may wish to read it.

PURE G Select:

Maelstrom - Lithium [Cititrax]

Maelstrom TBX72 [Cultivated Electronics]

Maelstrom Archaea [Mechatronica]

MAELSTROM_3 © Elizaveta Porodina.jpeg


What drove you to study Anthropology, did your master's degree study the same subject? Does this have any relevance to your music creation?

My masters was also in anthropology, I studied creative practices of techno producers in France. Then I was able to receive a PhD grant from the EHESS in France, and I started my PhD research. My main subject is Creative practices and knowledge circulation in beat making studios in Dakar (Sénégal). So of course it has relevance to my music creation, but it's also a way to think about these subjects from a different angle since I'm not directly involved: what's the influence of digital technologies on creative practices in West Africa? How do the knowledges involved in these creations circulate and through which modalities? 

It takes a lot of time to write a PhD research dissertation but you maintain a prolific music creation at the same time. How do you handle it?

It's actually quite similar in terms of process, because both are creative, and I tend to write music and research the same way. Although I usually alternate between both: 2 months of music/2 months of research and writing.

Did you go in a specific direction for the mix? Any favorites you want to highlight? 

I've played a set in Montreal with Louisahhh last month, and we pushed the tempo around 150/160 BPM, which opened up a whole new world of possibilities, so I started with more classic electro stuff (mostly recent productions from myself) and then pushed the tempo up to explore different worlds.

INNER_SLEEVE © Elizaveta Porodina.jpeg



We really like the concept of your new album "Rhizome", which reflects the Digital Age very well. Do you always have a clear creative concept when you create music? 

It usually happens at the same time - the music informs the concept, and then the concepts slowly starts to influence the music.

Do you have any rave suggestions about the Nantes and Paris? Which one are your favorite?

Nantes has a really interesting scene at the moment, around a club named MACADAM, with experimental and club scenes merging, and quite an interesting crowd with an open mind. For Paris, everything happens in the suburbs in warehouses at the moment, but there's many problems around this scene in terms of regulation, noise complaints, health issues, and responsibility, so things might be changing again, since there's a need for some professionalization.

Do you ever feel limited by the meaning of name?

By my name? I don't know… I don't really feel the weight of it, it's been with me for a long time, and it's something that I consider a project. It's not me, it's Maelstrom. So I can let my music go anywhere without having to battle my ego on the way 

Photo Credit: Elizaveta Porodina


bottom of page