MAXWELL YOUNG: I DO LIKE THAT I'M AN OUTSIDER
Maxwell Young is a local artist making global moves. With the release of his long awaited debut ‘Daydreamer’, Maxwell is leading the way for a new wave of young creatives. In the lead up to his opening spot for Red Bull Music Presents: G Flip in Wellington and Auckland, NAH ZONE had the chance to chat with Maxwell about his creative process and his bright future in music.
Looking at your music, there seems to be a strong connection to film. Songs such as Bianca take big inspiration from the silver screen. In saying that, how does film play a role in your creative processes?
At first it was a way for me to have a story to write about. I didn’t have relationships or things going on in my own life, so it kinda played that role. Now I think I just find it easier to get inspiration from [film] than music at times. Maybe because it’s very human a lot of the time. Whether it’s imagery that hits, or music with imagery. I don’t know I want my music to be cinematic.
So do you go into films wanting to write about them? Or does the inspiration to write come after you’ve watched it?
A bit of both. Probably more the second one though. A film just hits me and I just wanna create that same feeling.
To me that’s super interesting because you’ve realised how accessible other forms of art are to you. Which is something that I think musicians can forget about.
Yeah, these days people don’t need to lockdown on one creative thing. If you’re creative, you’re probably just creative. Rather than just being good at one thing. I used to love how Kanye West always talked about how he wasn’t appreciated for doing other things beyond music.
So obviously you’re influenced by people such as Kanye, do you feel like you get that same type of inspiration from film directors? Someone like a Wes Anderson maybe.
Definitely, there’s this one guy. Charlie Kaufman.
I love Charlie Kaufman!
Yeah man, he’s my favourite. He’s all about the human experience, in such a blunt but dreamy way. I love it, and it’s totally the feel I want to create. Confronting. If you hear him in interviews, he’s really trying not to be fake at all.
I think that relates a lot to the music you’re making today. It’s feels like an honest reflection of self. Would that be correct?
Yeah, thank you. I guess cause all my favourite artists pretty much do that. Y’know, that’s why they’re my favourite artists. I can just connect to them because they are very true to themselves. So that’s how I wanna be seen as an artist. In whatever I’m doing. If I’m under the bedroom pop genre, I don’t wanna be seen as someone who’s just following the trend.
Right, so you’re not just making music in your bedroom because it’s trendy…
Haha no that’s just how it is.
I first heard about your music through the work you did with Ngahere Wafer which was full on Hip-Hop production. Although that’s a ways away from the work you did on Daydreamer, how do you end up with that sort of eclectic taste?
Um.. I guess it comes from being someone who spends a lot of time on the internet. You end up loving so many different types of music. Plus I don’t feel like I have to be limited to like “Oh I just make this kinda music”. I know Daydreamer does have a sound to it somewhat, but there are autotune moments mixed in with guitar moments. I didn’t want it to be all just guitar and singing. I wanted it to be different.
Is production for other artists something you would want to focus on more in the future?
100%. I’m super inspired by people that play both roles in the industry. Like Blood Orange for example: That guy produces for ASAP Rocky but also has his own thing going. That kinda position would be sick. To do producing and songwriting for all sorts of artists while still doing my own music. I don’t wanna be too precious about my ideas.
So what’s next for Maxwell Young?
I wanna put out videos so I’m working on that. Doing more features and production for other people. Then I guess big goals would be working with specific people overseas. I mean one day, I would like to move overseas. Also I’m not too bothered with signing to a label. I don’t really see the point. They can’t do that much for you. If you’re smart with your social media and putting a lot of good work in, not being too embarrassing - you should be fine. Music is such an undefined career path. It’s terrifying.
What keeps you going?
Some of my heroes taking notice for sure.
Of course! How does it feel to have someone like Kevin Abstract mention you on Twitter?
It’s great, a bit surreal. I think what’s best about them is that they weren’t forced. Like I wasn’t saying “Yo please retweet this”. It’s just cool when things happen naturally rather than pushing too much. A lot of that just happened by chance. Getting those people to recognise is pretty cool but it’s not the reason I make music or anything.
To wrap up, how does it feel as a NZ artist to be recognised globally? And does being from here play a role in who you are at all?
I don’t know. It’s easy to say that it doesn’t. Just because of the internet and everyone posting music to the same places, but then again it probably does. I do like the fact that I’m not just another guy from L.A who’s tryna make the same sound as everyone else. I do like that I’m an outsider. I like that I don’t have to be a part of some ‘ratrace’ community. Which helps me cause I’m still developing and trying to find my voice in music.