Photography by Max Bernetz
Styling by Mary Reinehr Gigler
After the massive mainstream success of his single, “Lights Down Low”, single-name-fame singer, MAX, has fans hooked and craving more. As any prodigy who establishes success and talent at a young age, MAX has an intelligent candor and playful optimism. The 26-year-old singer writes from experience. “Lights Down Low” is a modern ballad to his wife Emily, to whom MAX wed in 2016. His personal tastes revealed an unexpected bonus early-on: working with his idols, Fall Out Boy. As a result, MAX ignited a new arm of his career, met his muse, and is now ready for more. In the midst of working on his new album, the singer spoke to L’Officiel USA about his favorite piece of industry advice, soulmates, and what’s to come.
CLOTHING SAINT LAURENT
TANYA AKIM: “Lights Down Low” was such a success. How did it come to be, start to finish?
MAX: I had just started dating this magnificent British woman Emily while I was on tour with Fall Out Boy and Wiz Khalifa. We started dating while I was in Chicago for some shows with them and this light switch just went on when we had a few dates. I had this undeniable feeling that she was it for me. Fast forward a few months I’m deep into writing this song with my friends Nat and Liam and all I keep saying to them is that I want to propose to Emily with this song and that I don’t care if it’s a big single or anything that I just want to dedicate it to her. A few months after that I’m down on one knee in the same place we had our first date in Chicago singing the song with a harp player asking her to marry me. We’ll be married for 3 years in April.
TA: You got married so young, how did you know?
M: I guess it just felt more right than anything I had ever had to decide. It was a combination of the catalyst of wanting to make sure she could stay in the country because of her immigration status being from England and also just feeling like it was completely right. I feel like sometimes without a catalyst we might delay things in our lives till we have to do them but for us, I had no doubt in my mind that she was my soulmate so getting married 9 months into dating just didn’t scare me at all crazy enough.
TA: What can fans expect from your new music?
M: I’ve had a really terrible year. The worst of my life. I could give the list of the reasons why but I realize what’s more important is finding a way through his new album to channel that pain into joy and hope. The new music has a lot of stories of finding a way to get myself out of that place of feeling 6 feet under to finding happiness, love, and excitement again.
TA: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from someone in the industry?
M: Pharrell years ago when we were working together told me to not lose the joy and love I had for music and myself. Along the way, I’ve gotten lost here and there, maybe taken advice from the wrong people and given in to the pressure, but the things I’m most proud of I always fought for the most and didn’t sacrifice my integrity. That’s a reminder I have to give myself every day to stick to those guns and be confident in my gut.
TA: How did you get linked up with Fall Out Boy? Were you a fan growing up?
M: MASSIVE FAN. “Dance, Dance” was my jam. Pete discovered my music through some mutual people we worked with and invited me to a show. The rest became history. We toured together. I wrote “10 Victoria’s Secret Models” on my last album with Patrick Stump. I obviously met my wife on tour with them. I have them to thank for some of the most amazing things in my life.
TA: Who are you writing and working with now?
M: I’ve been working with a ton of different people on the album but first time massively special collaborators for this album are Imad Royal and Roget Chahayed. Roget just had amazing records come out like "Sicko Mode" and "Sky Walker" and Imad is a genius. We have a song with Quinn XCII coming out that I'm so hyped for people to hear. I’ve also been working with some other geniuses I’ve worked with in the past like Jon Bellion, Mako, Nathaniel Motte, and some really special surprises I’ve gotta be a little mysterious about till the album comes out!
TA: What do you listen to at home?
M: I’ve been pretty obsessed with Alabama Shakes and Rex Orange County recently. Sound & Color is just an unreal album to me that continues to remind that even though I make Pop music, I have to make sure I bear my soul in every song like she does.
TA: So, what’s next?
M: This is the greatest new transition chapter I’ve ever faced, musically with the album and in life with my family. It’s scary as hell but like David Bowie once said so brilliantly, ‘Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.’
TRENCH COAT VALENTINO
Grooming: Vivian Wang
Camera Assistant: Chris Garcia
Photo Assistant: Shen Williams-Cohen
Production: Yael Quint