"DJs are the rock stars of today," German DJ/producer Timo Maas declares. "And sometimes I even feel like a rock star, but I don't take it too seriously. In fact, I really like to chill out at home in

"DJs are the rock stars of today," German DJ/producer Timo Maas declares. "And sometimes I even feel like a rock star, but I don't take it too seriously. In fact, I really like to chill out at home in the German countryside."

On the eve of the release of his first proper artist album, "Loud" (due March 19 via Kinetic/BMG), Maas understands only too well that he won't be spending much time in said countryside for the next few months. In addition to promotional duties and DJ touring in support of the disc, Maas celebrates his 20th anniversary as a DJ this year.

"Loud" is Maas' third album for Kinetic, following "Music for the Maases" -- a two-disc retrospective -- and the beat-mixed "Connected." Maas views his relationship with Kinetic as "a good marriage. Step by step, we've been building something together. The team is behind me, and they understand, love, and support my music."

He continues, "America is a huge country. As a European, it's hard to find a place in the market. Kinetic plays a big part in having the people pay attention to me."

Maas produced the funky and aggressive "Loud" with longtime musical partner Martin Buttrich, whom he met while working at Peppermint Jam Studios in Hanover, Germany. "We wanted to do a proper long-player to identify ourselves and our musical style," Maas notes.

Since befriending each other, the pair has collaborated on nearly 100 productions (including remixes) under a variety of monikers, including Orinoko, Kinetic A.T.O.M., and Mad Dogs. Highlights of the duo's career include Orinoko's "Mama Konda" and a remix of Azzido Da Bass' "Doom's Night," both of which were championed by such global DJs as Danny Tenaglia, David Morales, Deep Dish, and Jerry Bonham.

While making "Loud," Maas says he and Buttrich stopped doing remixes and productions in order to focus on the project -- that is, except for one. In order to convince R&B artist Kelis' record label (Virgin) that she should collaborate with Maas and Buttrich on "Loud," the pair agreed to remix the singer's "Young, Fresh and New." According to Maas, Kelis and Virgin liked the restructuring so much that Kelis flew to Germany to record the vocals for "Help Me," the opening track of "Loud." Finley Quaye and 2-stepper MC Chickaboo are also featured on the album.

The set's first single, "To Get Down," was serviced to club DJs and U.S. alternative radio stations last month; it arrives in stores March 12, complete with a mix by Fatboy Slim. Already a hit throughout Europe, "To Get Down" is being used as background music on televised soccer games and garnering multiple spins on the influential BBC-Radio 1. According to Kinetic marketing director Linda Yang, "Shifter" (featuring MC Chickaboo) and "Help Me" will be follow-up singles.

Maas and Kinetic began touting "Loud" during Maas' December DJ gigs in New York, Boston, and Miami. The label's Web site (Kineticrecords.com) features an artist homepage devoted to Maas; screensavers and flash postcards are also available. Maas will commence a five-week DJ tour in May.

With the album in the bag, Maas has resumed his remix career. He recently worked on tracks for Roger Sanchez and Garbage. In the "dream collaboration" category, Maas says he would welcome the opportunity to work with Lenny Kravitz and Busta Rhymes.

As much as Maas would like to spend some quality relaxation time at home in Germany, he shows no signs of slowing down. "I have been connected to music nearly my whole life. It's always made me feel better. I see no reason to stop now."