Editor’s note: Click here to check out a gallery from the Boys of Zummer tour, featuring Wiz Khalifa and Fall Out Boy.
By MIRANDA KARANFILI, Staff Reporter
MAX is a New York City-born singer who has achieved great success this year. His hit single “Gibberish” featuring Hoodie Allen, received over six million views on YouTube in its first week and has over six million plays on Spotify.
MAX has a strong presence on social media with his fans. His YouTube account has over one million subscribers and has about 373,000 followers on both Instagram and Twitter.
Staff reporter Miranda Karanfili spoke with MAX, MTV’s 2015 Artist to Watch, at Fall Out Boy and Wiz Khalifa’s Boys of Zummer concert at DTE Energy Music Theatre Friday.
Q: You have such a strong presence on social media with your fans. What does that mean to you?
MAX: “I know a lot of people see social media and their followers as one other number, you know? But to me, I know that one number is one more person, one more heart, that is connecting to mine. It warms my heart to know that a fan has connected with my music and I love interacting with them. I really appreciate that they support what I love and what I am doing out there for them.”
Q: What inspired you to become a musician?
MAX: I’ve been listening to music ever since I was a kid, it’s a huge part of who I am. I’ve loved being able to sing and perform. I was in a musical on Broadway called “Thirteen”. I loved theatre growing up because it allowed me to integrate both of the things in my life that I loved.
Q: Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?
MAX: I listened to everything growing up. Michael Jackson, James Brown, Justin Timberlake; I love music with a lot of heart and soul in it.
Q: You started off by posting videos on YouTube of yourself singing covers. Is this something you would still like to keep doing?
MAX: I try to put up videos on my YouTube channel since I’ve been on tour to keep my fans updated on how it’s going. I really love making cover videos. I like putting my own spin on other artists’ works. I would hope between touring and other projects, I can still do covers. It’s a lot of fun.
Q: You had a couple of acting jobs are you still planning to stick with acting now that you’re touring or will you be focusing more on your music?
MAX: I’m focusing more on my own music and getting my sound out and giving my fans the best work I can. I love acting. I recently was in a role where I portrayed Van Dyke Parks in the movie “Love & Mercy,” the story of the Beach Boys. I was working alongside some great actors like Paul Giamatti & John Cusack. It was amazing to work with such great talent. I love doing both, it’s nice having a foot in both doors.
Q: Do you see yourself going in that same path like Justin Timberlake? How he can go on tour and then come back and host SNL?
MAX: Justin is amazing, really one of a kind. I admire his work a lot. Being from New York, hosting SNL and even having the chance to perform there has always been one of my dreams. I would hope to have that one day, it would be awesome.
Q: You have an album coming out later this year. After hearing “Gibberish,” is that the kind of sound we can expect to hear or you planning something different?
MAX: The album will be a blend of that pop soundtrack to make you feel good and dance along to, but I definitely wanted to get into those soul roots. Some of the songs will be ballads, and touch on some dark experiences, like loss and my relationships with others. It will be a bit different than what I’ve released lately and I hope that people can connect to it.
Q: How’s it been touring with Fall Out Boy?
MAX: It’s been such a circus of awesomeness. So many different smells and sounds, especially since the guys have kids, they’ll be running around backstage sometimes and it’s really fun. I’ll watch them from backstage and watching it all come to life is really amazing. I’ve been having a lot of fun.
Q: What keeps you grounded? How do you manage to keep yourself sane during all of this?
MAX: The most important thing is to stay connected to the people. Its easy to lose yourself in this world and it can be lonely. I make huge efforts to stay connected with them because sometimes time flies and, you don’t realize it, but a year is gone. I have people that are my core, my foundation that I stay connected with. Also, with social media, it’s made it a bit easier to stay in touch with them, but they keep me grounded and I’m grateful.
Q: What advice would do you have to other artists who are starting off?
MAX: Taking risks are important, whether you’re putting your video on YouTube or going a different direction. It’s a scary thing to put yourself out there and it leaves you vulnerable. It’s also really empowering too. You come to terms that you’re the only you out there. There will never be another person out there like you. Even if it’s one person finds your music it might be your voice that gives them the courage to embrace themselves. Never be afraid to be vulnerable with yourself or your work and of course always be you yourself and love yourself for who you are.
You can see MAX open up for Fall Out Boy and Wiz Khalifa on their Boys of Zummer tour. Expect his album to drop sometime later this year.