MAX’s intimate af fresh yellow energy

WORDS BY IRVIN RIVERA

The magnetic charm of Max’s music comes from the core of its relatable truths that he harnessed through his life experiences.

He possesses the ability to channel and mold raw life experiences with emotions and the results are magical.

The multi hyphenate artist, actor and dancer has toured the world multiple times over, been featured in a Dolce and Gabbana campaign with Madonna, and starred in critically acclaimed films and television shows. With the breakout success of his 2016 full-length album, Hell's Kitchen Angel, MAX yielded an inescapable smash in the form of his hit-single "Lights Down Low". 

Max recently announced his Intimate AF Tour (NYC on 6/19, LA on 7/1, and Chicago on 8/4) and all three dates sold out within hours. His new single “Love Me Less” is currently hitting the charts and making waves everywhere.

In this exclusive interview, dive into Max’s journey as an artist, read about his music-making process, what inspires him, and what Harry Potter book he would be if he were a book.

PHOTOGRAPHY:  IRVIN RIVERA

PHOTOGRAPHY: IRVIN RIVERA

What’s your story?

Hell’s Kitchen, NY born and raised fun-sized human.

I started singing and dancing at 5, never stopped and hopes to give people hope and make people happy and write the most truthful music to my own story that connects with other people.

 

Did you come from a musical background?

Funny enough they’re not that musical. My parents are lawyers. 

My dad’s side is a giant Jewish, very energetic side of the family and the other side is my mom’s very small Christian side. And the combination is very free. But nobody in my immediate family does music but me. I just caught the bug at an early age and they were cool enough to support me.  


There are so many songs that I think are really present and trying to find that belief that things will get better and that’s a huge theme on the full album


STYLING:  JONAS PECKSON , GROOMING:  ADA TRINH , PHOTO ASSISTANT:  PHIL LIMPRASERTWONG , STYLING ASSISTANT:  SHARON ROSE

STYLING: JONAS PECKSON, GROOMING: ADA TRINH, PHOTO ASSISTANT: PHIL LIMPRASERTWONG, STYLING ASSISTANT: SHARON ROSE

What inspires you?

Most of my inspirations come from pain being turned into positivity and hope.

On the other side, the inspirations comes from bottling up the most raw and meaningful stories in my own life that I hopefully will connect with people. The inspiration always comes mainly from truth to a safe space that other people can look at and listen to as well.

 

If you’re not making music what else keeps you busy?

I spend a lot of time with my little one-eyed yorkie, Wink and my wonderful wife and I really try to make that time for the family. I think it’s something that I spend a lot of time just working on stuff and doing so much music stuff. After going through some shitty times I realized that I have to just make more time for those people because life will pass very quickly so that’s really all I do. I spend time with my family and my dog and I make music and perform.

LEFT:  Jacket: ASOS, Shirt & Pants: ENRICO COVERI, Shoes: JF LONDON  RIGHT:  Jacket: KID SUPER

LEFT: Jacket: ASOS, Shirt & Pants: ENRICO COVERI, Shoes: JF LONDON RIGHT: Jacket: KID SUPER

Who are your biggest musical influences?

My biggest musical influences are definitely Prince, Marvin Gaye, Billy Joel, Etta James, and on the more recent side, Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars.

 

Walk us through your song making process. How do you come up with music?

Usually, walking to a studio and most often my favorite songs will come from me bonding with a few other humans in the room- writers. Usually there’s three of us total, maybe 4 at most, and I love collaborating that way.

The best ones usually come from me walking and saying Oh my God I just had this really shitty day or this terrible experience or I just want a poisonous person being cut out off my life and I tell that story to them and somehow we morph it into this song. It comes in other ways too but I would say those are usually the most special songs that come from the story. Then melody gets built and then we build the song around it.

LEFT:  Jacket: KID SUPER, Pants & Shoes: STYLIST’S OWN  RIGHT:  Jumpsuit: KID SUPER

LEFT: Jacket: KID SUPER, Pants & Shoes: STYLIST’S OWN RIGHT: Jumpsuit: KID SUPER

Because it came from your truths.

Always. Yeah. And I tried other ways too but honestly the more I think about it, the more I realized that the ones that stick with me are the ones that come from that.

 

Anything you can share about your upcoming sophomore album?

I am super excited about the album.

A huge theme on this record is just converting pain and negative experiences into hope and optimism that’s why yellow is such a huge theme in the record too. There are so many songs that I think are really present and trying to find that belief that things will get better and that’s a huge theme on the full album. I’m excited for people to hopefully feel the same hope that it gave me.

 

What’s coming after “Love me Less?”

After that I have a song coming up called “Acid Dreams.” It’s definitely more of just a jam and after that there are more real intense, deep songs.  I thought it would be nice to get a nice summer jam in there. But honestly I wrote it with my partner Ryan who I have a project called “Party People for Two.” It was just something that came out of the moment. He sent it to me and I wrote the whole song in front of my wife. I was just looking at her and wrote this song in front of her and that rarely happens. Usually it’s in a studio with other writers with everyone else and so its really cool that afterwards it just felt right. I am really excited for people to hear it. It’s definitely a jam!

LEFT: Jacket: ASOS RIGHT: Suit: VINTAGE

LEFT: Jacket: ASOS RIGHT: Suit: VINTAGE

 

How excited are you about your upcoming tour?

Oh so excited. We are starting with these really intimate shows. I’ve been really lucky to do shows where I perform in an arena or I’d do a show for seven people in a room It’s cool to start a whole cycle for an album with shows that are really intimate with the biggest fans possible. This reminds you that people out there, they care. I’m excited to bring all this yellow vibe. We’re working up the theme of the whole show and how it will look and I am excited for everyone to see it. 

 

Who are you most excited to do a collab with?

So many people. I’ve been really stoked to just get in with a lot more unexpected collaborations. Like having Quin XCII in Love me less is such an honor because I think a lot of people didn’t expect it and maybe people that know him as much and he is such an incredible artist. It’s cool to have people that are not as well known and really bring them to the sphere. In my last record I had my friend Lil Uzi Vert on it before anybody knew who Lil Uzi Vert was, which was really cool. I just thought it was awesome to see people blow up from that. I’ve been working with my friend Pink Sweats on this new one, and some really secret cute collaborations that I am excited for.

 

LEFT:  Jumpsuit: KID SUPER  RIGHT:  Suit: VINTAGE, Shoes: DOC MARTEN

LEFT: Jumpsuit: KID SUPER RIGHT: Suit: VINTAGE, Shoes: DOC MARTEN

If you were a book what book would you be and why?

I’m definitely obsessed with a romantic ending, a lot of magic and exciting story so I’m just gonna go with the classic Harry Potter and it’s hard to put it in one specific book. I’ll go with the Sorcerer’s Stone. They’re such babies and they’re learning the world. A big thing for me is that I’m an only child and I’m so obsessed with finding myself in other people. I think in the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry needs to be a team with Ron, Hermione and everyone to get to that Sorcerer’s Stone and I feel that it is such a beautiful theme in life. We find it in each other and make incredible things happen.