Written by Kelly Holm
NYC-born-and-raised singer-songwriter MAX first ascended the pop charts in 2018 with his double-platinum sleeper hit, “Lights Down Low” (ft. Gnash), which he used to propose to his wife Emily. Now, he’s coming off the high of playing the Greek Theatre’s first live event (virtual, of course) since October 2019, during which he promoted his latest album, Colour Vision.
“It definitely was bizarre to think we were the first show there in almost a year, but also felt honored to bring some music back to its iconic stage,” MAX shared. “Sharing that moment with my band and album crew, who I really love, was the best way to celebrate the start of the album release… even with no people and as a virtual show, it was so cool.”
A Dolly Parton stan for life and a protege of Pharrell Williams, MAX knew that a career in music was “meant to be from the start.” He made his stage debut at 5 as an Oompa Loompa in a production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and began writing songs in elementary school. This intrinsic love of performing is what propelled him to grow up to play gigs around the world— from Amsterdam to Korea and back home toNew York. “Every incredible show rolls into one collective feeling of euphoria,” he mused.
The shows had to grind to a temporary halt, however, when COVID-19 struck the globe. By then, the production process for Colour Vision was already 80 percent complete, but the affiliated world tour had to be postponed indefinitely.
“[Colour Vision] was mostly inspired by new perspective. Some trauma made me realize our mortality and how precious each moment is,” MAX said of the philosophy behind the new album. “If you get to do what you love, enjoy every second of every bit of it… appreciate every part of the process.”
He hopes fans will “find hope and magic” through its 12 tracks.
These days, MAX acknowledges a heightened appreciation for all things closer to home in the year since COVID has grounded much of the music industry. Though he’s always characterized his music as “intensely vulnerable,” becoming a new Dad has unlocked doors for him with regards to both his relationship and his songwriting.
“[At the end of 2021], I’d like to look back knowing I was the most present and supportive husband and father I could be, and finish another album,” he said. “I’ve been having a lot of fun digging back in and writing non-stop since I’m home more and not touring… there’s definitely magic in there for this new project.”
Another goal of MAX’s that hasn’t been blocked by COVID? Hearing praise and recognition from one of his long-time idols. “I just got a letter the other day from Dolly Parton saying she loved my voice, so I don’t think I’ll ever get over that,” he shares. “If Dolly shows up [to a concert] and loves the show, I’ll die happy.”
And as he continues to look toward the horizon, MAX knows that the ultimate marker of success would bring him right back where he started.
“Headlining Madison [Square] Garden is the dream, baby. New York boy, through and through,” he says. “But it wouldn’t be the dream without my family and favorite friends and fans who really care… [dreams] mean nothing without feeling fulfilled with who you share them with. That’s my real dream, to keep creating music that connects with people and means something.”
Stream MAX’s Live Album On Amazon Music