Sound Off: MAX
Jun 23, 2020
Most of his fans refer to him as MAX but in this household he’s still Thelonious.
Most known for the love anthem that ruled 2016, “Lights Down Low”, the star has actually been performing and creating for over a decade! Hailing from Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of NYC, MAX actually got his start alongside some other very familiar Nickelodeon alum (who we’ll tell you about later) in the Broadway production of ’13’.
Four years after his debut project, MAX is gearing up to release his sophomore and most aesthetically pleasing album to date. Starting with the release of “Love Me Less” feat. Quinn XCII in April of 2019 (which has over 140M streams on Spotify), the artist has released several other standalone tracks and collaborations including “Acid Dreams” (feat. Felly), “Checklist” (feat. Chromeo), “Missed Calls” (feat. Hayley Kiyoko), and most recently a feature on ‘Burn It’ from Agust D, most of which are in contained in the artist’s top 10 “most popular” on Spotify!
Not only amassing success as a solo artist, MAX has also just released the 8-track debut EP ‘Neon From Now On‘ under his musical duo Party Pupils with partner Suave Yung with the help from friends and collaborators such as TOBi, Gary Go, Drelli, and Ashe which you can check out here.
Keep reading to learn more about those recent singles, his experience on 13, and just when exactly you can expect that new album!
1. Tell us about this new track with Agust D aka Suga of BTS?!
Well I’m ecstatic its out finally. It’s a very unique vibe for me personally which I love. Suga sent me the track after we hung out in Korea and asked me to be a part of his mixtape and I of course said yes. It was an honor to be a small part of the project.
2. Every time you release a collaboration it’s a hit from Hayley Kiyoko to Quinn XCII! Can you tell us a story about how these collaborations came about?
Wow well thank you! Honestly, they all come about very naturally. With Quinn, we both worked with the same producers and had been friendly for a while. The producers played him “Love Me Less” in a session one day to show him what they’d been working on and he immediately texted me asking if I’d be open to him jumping on the song and I said, “oh hell yes let’s goooooo.” Hayley, similarly, we’d been friends for going on 10 years, I sent her “Missed Calls” and she immediately hit me back saying “This is the one, I’m writing my verse now.”
3. What is a collaboration that you want to happen (whether it’s with you or not)?
Oooo with me or not, that’s fun. I’d love to see BTS and someone super classic like Stevie Wonder work together. That would be wild. I also would be honored to do something with Stevie Wonder. Or doing something with Miguel would be a dream. I’ve always loved his vibe.
4. The vibe of this new era of music are almost completely in yellow, blue, and purple. How did that concept come up?
Yellow came from a vision after I was silent for 4 months. The colour felt like the palate to give me hope and positive energy when I needed it most. A colour to remind me there’s always light somewhere to be drawn to when you are in that dark place. The other colours have been amazing to utilize as different moods and stories on top of the yellow foundation.
5. Hell’s Kitchen Angel was a blend of R&B, pop, and a bit of rock. How would you describe this new era of music?
Mostly the same but leaning a bit more into the soul side at times. Experimenting with more soundscapes and textures that feel exciting and unheard from my stuff before.
6. What is your favorite song from the “Colour Vision” album?
Damn they’re all my little babies. One that definitely has a very special place in my heart is the ending track, “There Is A God”. It’s an intense and potent moment of love.
7. A lot of people may not know that you actually co-wrote a song for the Big Mouse! How did that opportunity come about?
Haha that Big Mouse. I’m guessing you mean Disney and not another famous mouse. Well when I was on Nickelodeon, I asked to be a part of the writing camps for my show “How To Rock” to try to write my own songs on the show. We ended up pitching one of the songs I wrote towards the theme song for “How To Rock” to Disney and they used it for “Shake It Up.” A few years later, I started doing a bunch of covers with Zendaya so it all comes around full circle.
8. You actually got your start on the Broadway show “13” with fellow Nickelodeon alum Ariana Grande and Elizabeth Gillies. What do you remember from that time?
I remember it vividly. Ariana used to tell me I sounded like the male Natasha Bedingfield, which I always thought was random but fun. We were all such babies then. I think we all grew up a little faster through that experience. Everyone was on their A game for that show, which set all of our bars of professionalism and work ethic really high, which I appreciate.
9. What ever happened to Thelonious?
Hahahahah oh wow you guys are real OGs. Gosh I have to bring back Thelonious. He was a special guy. I think after my vocal surgery I just got a lot more careful with my voice. If I’m not singing or using my voice, I just spend a lot more time resting.
10. What is something your fans would be excited/shocked to learn about you?
Hmmm off the top of my head, I’m in my underwear hanging with my one-eyed dog Wink as I fill out this interview.
11. What has been your favorite tour to date?
Well it’d be hard not to choose the tour with Fall Out Boy, Wiz Khalifa, Hoodie Allen and Lil Uzi Vert. Not only was the tour pretty incredible, but that was the tour I started dating my wife. We had our first dates mid-way through in Chicago and my life was never the same again in the best way.
12. Your birthday is coming up in a few weeks. What are your quarantine birthday plans?
Oh, wow I don’t have any yet I gotta get on that. I’m always doing a festival or something extravagant for my birthday. I like to go big. This year will definitely be a little different, which I embrace for whatever it is.
13. When are you finally going to the Met Gala to show them how it’s done?
OH MY GOD MY WIFE’S DREAM. I promise you when we go it’s going to be glorious. We’ll go all out.
14. Shuffle all of your music. What are the first five songs that come up?
“Trap Queen” (Fetty Wap), “Not About Love” (Fiona Apple), “96000” (In the Heights), “Coming Home” (Leon Bridges), “Gravity” (John West)
15. Can you tell us about any upcoming releases?
Album comes out September 18th, more surprises throughout the summer. Some of my favorite music I’ve ever released is all coming from now until then. It’s gonna be glorious to finally get to share these tasty tunes with the fans. I’m stoked.