Music month interview 02 / Maxwell young


1.As part of music month, I wanted to chat to a few NZ Musicians to celebrate their music talent, to start tell us a little bit about your music?

The music I make is pretty relaxed or dreamy. I'm quite the over thinker and the music I make is like my therapy as lame as it sounds. Since I was very little the artists I've been drawn to have always been a little left of centre, and primarily artists with big visions for their work, like Frank Ocean and  Kanye West who for me, have always evoked a cinematic quality encouraged by their clear art direction. James Blake is a big inspiration in how he blends so many different electronic techniques while still showing his extreme talent at the piano in his songs.

I'm 17 and still learning how to do all this, but when I saw Lorde blowing up at 16, I was like, there's no point in waiting to put yourself out there. I really believe in just trying things by yourself in your bedroom with your laptop because with the internet, so many walls have been broken down and we can access an audience all over the world.

2. You have worked with creatives like Casey Neistat, What's it like communicating with other creatives and keeping connected in the general creative scene?

Working with Casey was a dream come true as he's been a hero of mine since I was 11. A friend in maths class, who liked his videos too, suggested I try emailing him some of my beats. It turned out being a very important email for me. I couldn't believe it when I first heard my music on one of his videos.

Today with the internet it's far easier finding like-minded people in creative scenes. You aren't limited to your geographical location much for collaboration or anything, although it is a far nicer experience creating in the same room. So far I haven't done much collaboration in my music and have only recently started recording other voices for my album and features for other people. It takes it to another level.

3. You make mixes and also write and record original works, what does your creative process consist of?

When I started high school my voice broke, which turned me off from singing a lot for a while. I was desperate to find another way to express myself so focused on making video games and trying to make beats like the ones I'd listened to for years by J Dilla and Kanye but had no idea how they were made. I spent all day everyday listening, reading, watching, trying everything, to learn how to make beats until I started to feel as though they weren't terrible.

A few months later, alongside my beats, I posted a little demo of me singing and playing guitar. It took off and is now my most popular song, about to break 700k streams on Spotify.  

I've been focusing on singing and guitar a lot more lately but it's all starting to blend at the end of the day. All music is made with computers to some extent, and while I'm trying to include more and more real instruments in my songs (like guitar and violin that I learned for 12 years), I don't want to fully shift from samples and electronic production.

For me the creative process is mostly based around a mindset. The mindset comes from generally where I'm at in my life and how I'm feeling, as well as my current media consumption and taking inspiration from those works whether film, albums, books or games. 

4. Your music is widely spread from recognition from social media, How has being in social media affected your successes?

Social media has been very important for me like I guess it is for everyone today. Soundcloud has been a main distribution platform from a very young age. I would post and follow other bedroom based creatives as much as I'd like.

There can be many approaches to social media but I think the most effective use of it is always for it to be pure over aesthetics rather than producing volumes of work. One of my heroes, Kevin Abstract, manages to have an almost hyper fan base through his social media, but he treats his fans very personally and has frequent posts with special little videos and music that have no real gain for himself other than artistic expression and sharing something directly with his fans.

Another example of social media being used really well to me is the famous who is so selective in what and where he posts. By restricting his social media presence to one website, the weight of everything he posts is monumentally more valued than say @champagnepapi instagramming his new Jordans.

So I guess as an artist it’s about being selective about the platform and the content. Personally I'd love to have time to become a master of social media, but for now as a teenager who loves the internet almost as much as music, and never enough time, I can't help but take part.

5. You opened for the internet last August but don't tend to play live often, do you enjoy playing for an audience would you like to play shows more?

That was one of the best moments of my life and I was so blessed for that to have been my first live performance. Having zero expectations, nervous as hell backstage, to walking out on stage hearing my name chanted was so surreal. As pretty much everything I do with my music, all the plays and the feedback, is through a computer screen, it was crazy for me, and my parents, to see some of the appreciation for what I do every day in a live format. I'm working on my own debut live show for the "album" I'm working on and doing my best to make it as special as possible. It may not be on the scale of The Internet or some of the other artists I’ve opened for since (Peanut Butter Wolf, NameUL), but again, I’m super excited to take the risk for something thats mine, and risk it being super scrappy, rather than not doing anything. Also gigging, at least in Wellington, will be easier when I’m 18.

6.where would you like to see your music career going in the future? Do you have any future plans?

Yeah! I'd really like to make the most of the opportunities with music that have been showing up since I started putting myself out there. Songs really are my favourite thing in the world and seeing some of my heroes believe in me and like what I'm doing this young makes it really hard to give up on the dream. I'm trying my best to make this little album I'm working on to be set for release this year. It's all made by myself and I'm learning everything by trying. I feel like it's easily the best music I've ever made. Kinda panicking about next year as I finish high school this year, it'll work itself out though. FOLLOW YOUR HEART :~)

7. If you can could you curate a small playlist of songs you're into at the moment! ( Spotify, SoundCloud, written down )

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FB - Maxwellymusic

Insta - @maxwell_young