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ATP! Interview: Max

You might know MAX from his smash single “Gibberish,” the cool covers he posts on his YouTube channel, the Dolce and Gabbana campaign he did with Madonna…the list keeps going. Regardless, MAX is everywhere these days, and he shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Recently, he was named a 2015 Artist to Watch by MTV, in addition to landing an opening spot on the Boys of Zummer tour co-headlined by Fall Out Boy and Wiz Khalifa, and he recently signed to Pete Wentz’s DCD2 records label.

MAX says he caught the performance bug early, helped along by growing up in New York City down the block from a lot of Broadway shows. “When I was a little kid my parents brought me to one of my first Broadway shows, it was Beauty and the Beast, and I got home and reenacted the entire thing on my living room table,” he says. “They started putting me in youth theater stuff and I never really stopped. I just loved it—writing music, performing, doing shows…I was lucky.”

He’s also a wonderful dancer, which he shows off in the video for his song “Gibberish.” The video itself is extremely unique, a concept he says that he had never seen before. “Anytime I’ve had an idea come to me that seems a little impossible, those are the most fun to try to conquer,” he says. That was definitely the case for this video, with him saying it was one of the hardest ideas he had ever tried. “It essentially took two one-take videos and put them together. All of the dancers you see and everything, they’re all dancing to a reverse version of the song and then I’m dancing basically by myself to a forward version of the song,” he says. MAX, director Greg Jardin and choreographer Laura Edwards were the masterminds behind the video, timing everything exactly so that when the two videos were put together, everything matched up.

MAX’s influences come from all over and he’s inspired by everything from old school soul like James Brown and Etta James, to Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, to Billy Joel. “I just love people who you can really tell put everything that they had into that recording or performance and that’s always something I’m drawn to,” he says. As far as more recent artists he expresses love for Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars. “I got to see Bruno’s show recently and you can just tell that every bit of his show is so special because he puts himself into it. It’s the specific moments, it’s all those moments that really make something worthwhile and worth remembering.”

He takes cues from his inspirations in his own work, always trying to put all of himself into everything that he does, be it the music, his style or “whipping out splits in the middle of a show.” “I feel like in my own world I try to give everything I’ve got in a new way every time, and so far it’s been wonderful and people have responded to that,” he says. He tries to put as much energy as he has into every song and every performance and he attempts to do something unique that people will be drawn to. “There’s so many people out there trying to do it and if you don’t give it everything you’ve got, then why are you doing it?” he says.

MAX’s hard work has obviously paid off, especially with getting signed and landing the spot on the Boys of Zummer tour. MAX says that he became closer with Wentz while he was on tour with Hoodie Allen and he was signed to the label shortly after Allen found out he was going to be opening on the tour. Not long after that, he was invited to join the tour as well. “It’s all a part of this one tour, with very different worlds coming together and colliding in an awesome way…It’s really amazing to perform for between 10 and 20 thousand people every night, which is the most I’ve ever gotten to play for. It’s a really incredible feeling,” he says.

MAX aspires to be headlining venues of that size on his own one day. “I always think that you can never settle for anything. In this specific world and industry it’s all about what you’re working on next,” he says. He strives to keep gaining fans on this tour and working hard to keep putting out his music while “hopefully bringing a message that people respond to.”

After the Boys of Zummer tour wraps up, MAX hopes to do some touring overseas and is looking at doing a fall headliner in the states, along with putting out a full- length album that he’s been working on. “It’s been a long process, a couple years, putting the album together, but it’s so worth it,” he says. “I’ve been working with some awesome producers like Pharrell Williams and I’m just really blessed to be working with these people that I’ve always idolized in music.”

To his fans he says, “Just thank you for getting on this ride with me and taking it wherever we go. I appreciate all the love, and I love my people, so thank you.” MAX should be prepared for a ton more fans to join in on the ride, as it looks like he’s heading straight to the top.

Words by Lauren Jones

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