With every note he creates, he wants people to know that things will get better. He says,“ Hope and passionately positive energy overall is the message of my music. I hope that through my music, people realise that even pain can become beautiful.”
Pain and vulnerability have become the cornerstones of MAX’s cross-genre sound as he uses these emotions to create beauty. Speaking of the evolution of his music, he says, “I think it’s just gotten more vulnerable and honest. Not that I was ever really afraid to be that way but as things work you just become less afraid to go for what you believe and proud enough to say no to the things that you don’t believe in, including songs or messages in songs.”
Born in New York City, the young pop icon’s musical career began in 2016 with his full-length album Hell’s Kitchen Angel, and since then there’s been no looking back.
Sky-rocketing to fame with single Lights Down Low – which generated half a billion streams globally, earned double-platinum certifications in the US and Canada, soaring on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and achieving #1 on both Shazam and the Billboard Adult Pop Radio airplay chart, among other accolades- MAX delivered transcendental renditions of the track at various talk show appearances.
The song was loved for the story it told, and it was only the beginning as far as MAX’s honesty goes. As he prepares to release his sophomore album House of Divine, there is a distinct sense that there’s much more authentic musicality waiting to burst forth from him.
Delving further into what can be expected from his forthcoming album and the impact he hopes to make, he says, “This album is definitely the most vulnerable and hype for me. These two things don’t always go together but taking the song Love Me Less as an example; there is a message that is a bit vulnerable hidden within a production that masks the pain from which it came. I hope people love the whole album and can also dive deep into feeling where the messages came from.”
MAX has been part of a Dolce and Gabbana campaign with Madonna, as well as starred in critically acclaimed films and television shows, but as he moves on from how he hopes to inspire fans to his own personal inspirations his answer is genuine and simple, with no pop-star frills attached; he is inspired by his wife.
Gushing about his greatest inspiration, he says “She’s definitely my foundation. She has inspired me to take the rarest of risks and is my voice of reason when I need to realise I’m wrong or when something isn’t right for us. She has shaped so much of my world as an artist since we’ve met. My project really is a true collaboration of us both.”
In a sweet gesture, the mention of his wife continues even in something as trivial as the most repeated song on his playlist. Talking about his recent favourite track, he says, “I’m pretty obsessed with Red Orange County. His song New House he dropped not too long ago definitely spoke to my experience with my wife and me recently in a very deep way, and it’s just infectious to listen to on repeat.”
Next, we discuss his expectations as he sets out on his ‘Intimate AF’ tour and his hopes of giving the fans an extraordinary experience. He says ”These shows are so intimate and personal and the few we’ve done thus far have been magical energy, truly.”
Still, on the topic of touring, MAX delves into his favourite places to perform. The 27-year-old has already toured the world multiple times, and there’s another world tour looming on the horizon, but of all the places he has performed, he makes a special mention of London.
Explaining his connection to England – his wife comes from the country – he exclaims that he is excited about the London show. He adds that headlining at the O2, having opened there previously for Fall Out Boy, is a dream.
Speaking more on dream venues, he says, “Of course Amsterdam is one of my favourite places in the world and actually where my song Lights Down Low got its start. I’d also love to perform at Madison Square garden in my hometown of New York as well!”
From dreams yet to come true, we move to dreams that have come true, and he has a lot of amazing achievements to speak of. Yet his most memorable moment is stripped off all glitz and glamour. Recalling the time he played US festival Firefly, he says “The shows were all great, but it was my birthday, and I rented this farm and had all of my friends come up and stay there and come to the festivals. To do what I love, have fans who care, and be surrounded by family and chosen family on a farm with cows and chickens and horses- it was heaven.”
Heaven is what he calls the experience of doing what he loves surrounded by the people he loves. And as he exclaims that it’s what he wants to keep doing, over and over again forever, there’s no doubt that it’s also the heaven that everyone listening to his music wants as well.
*Originally published in Volume #32*
Photographer: Mary Sullivan
Stylist: Samuel John Borg
H&MUA: Emily Wood
Location: The Courtyard, Fulham