INTERVIEW: A Conversation with Max Jury on Self Realization, the Music Industry and Favorite Records
It is always stellar to stumble upon a new, fresh musician with an old soul -- this is the epitome of Max Jury, a London-based singer/songwriter dissolving the boundaries of genre and injecting a signature sound into his craft. On the heels of releasing his debut, self titled album (out June 3 via Marathon Artists), he stopped by our office to have a chat about the creative process.
The new album follows up Max's two EPs, Something In The Air and All I Want (released in 2014) that have so deservingly received international praise. His sound appeals to music lovers as a whole, blending elements of country, soul and classic rock. His powerful voice, pristine instrumentation and touching lyrical content make for an artist that you should keep close tabs on. We sat down and conversed about his upbringing, the art of song writing and trials in the music industry.
What color do you feel like today?
What color do you feel like today?
Hmm… Green. The sun is shining and spring has sprung. Things are looking up.
How did you know music was the answer?
Boy, I don’t know. I still don’t really know if it’s the answer. Certainly one of the only things I enjoy. At an early age I was drawn to it and wanted to pursue it. I was always singing as a kid and humming around the house. My parents would play CDs and it always really resonated with me. I felt strongly and it made sense. It came intuitively, I suppose.
What was your first job?
I worked part-time in the music section at Barnes & Noble. I wanted to be Jack Black from High Fidelity. But I was a grocery store bagger at an organic foods store once. And then I worked as a janitor. I would literally clean bathrooms... A nice character building job, to say the least. It gave me a chance to listen to music during the job too.
Congrats on the new album -- What was happening in your life at the time of you writing your self titled album that inspired lyrics, melodies, etc..?
Several things. It has been a long process. Recording actually only took about 3 months, but up until then, about two or three years of work were put into it. I went through a breakup and was trying to figure out how to live my life and I was kind of entering into a new world. Touring, playing music and all the experiences that come along with that and dealing with change. A lot of the record is self-aware in that sense but mostly it's about relationships with friends, family, and a significant other. Vulnerability creates great art.
You have quite the genre dissolving sound… What did you grow up listening to? Did it influence your personal music?
My parents were really into music and my friends as well, so I was always surrounded by something musical. Bob Dylan, Neil Young and those kind of artists... Old school country. Soul music. Al Green. Talking Heads... New wave stuff. It certainly influenced my sound.
What’s your first musical memory?
The most poignant memory is when I was listening to a song in particular, over and over. "Blue" by Lucinda Williams. It was on a mixtape my mom had and I loved the track so much. When I was 6 or 7 I was listening to N'Sync and Britney Spears (I actually had a Britney Spears poster in my room, the one with the school girl outfit...) -- but the “cool” answer is a White Stripes record my mom bought me.
How was working in Electric Lady?
It was amazing. It lived up to my wildest expectations. There’s a certain kind of feeling in there, given the history of it. I felt a little bit of energy and it also is a fantastic studio. The instrument selection is wild, it was truly like a playground. A real eye-opening experience because I’ve always recorded at home. There were runners and assistants and they asked things like “Would you like me to go buy you a pack of cigs” and I'd be like “What?!”
I only recorded four tracks there and three ended up on the album. There were some challenges making the album cohesive because of the different studios -- we had to recreate what we did there in a less expensive environment. That was the hardest part and that was the biggest concern -- How are we going to tie it all together? I was fortunate enough to find and play with awesome musicians that helped the process. It was also helpful to watch the producer I was working with at Electric Lady and pick up some of his tricks.
How do you handle the stress of the industry? How do you escape?
I’m getting used to it, learning how to deal with various pressures and stresses that present themselves. When I first entered the world of music industry, I was very guarded and reluctant to make decisions, but I’ve learned a lot. Dealing with those pressures is tough. I don’t sleep very well but that’s just the bad part about it. It’s still a dream come true and the pros outweigh the cons. In weird in a way, I escape the music industry by simply making music. It gets me back to the core. I love to play live as well. Hanging out with people who could care less that I’m "Max Jury" is a nice thing too.
How do you feel about the relationship between audial and visual art?
I think it’s really important. I like it when the visuals and aesthetic for an album campaign is spot on and it’s cool when you can see the influences in visual art. But at the same time, it’s frustrating that you might have a good song but if the visuals aren’t up to snuff, it might not go anywhere. Music videos help launch music greatly, in my opinion. I’m very particular with the visuals involved and opinionated... I guess I really do care a lot. Take away everything I just said. Maybe I’ll produce a film someday.
"Great American Novel."
How has music guided you to discover new things about yourself?
A lot actually. Especially when I’m writing lyrics. I replay experiences and situations my life and I recall them and say “wow is that how it really happened?” -- you learn a lot about yourself and it's rather humbling. The album is so autobiographical. If you write lyrics about yourself, you inevitably find things that you’re not comfortable with totally when you're exploring these parts of your brain and expressing them creatively. It can get emotional at times but once at peace, you put the stamp on it and you can kind of put aside as a chapter of your life. It was a lovely feeling to have the full album. I never really though it would happen to be honest. It was constructed in four whole years and it didn't really feel like it. A great feeling.
Do you have a vinyl collection? Favorite?
I do have a vinyl collection! Favorite record is Jackson Brown’s first album, it’s pretty cool.
Top three favorite projects ever?
Oh boy… *pours glass of water* I have so many! Off the top of my head, things that really influenced me… there’s a Muscle Shoals compilation that is super dope. Bob Dylan's Blood On The Tracks and Al Green’s Call Me where he covers a bunch of country songs. Really cool, love the production.
What do you listen to before you go to sleep?
A lot of jazz.
Do you have polyrhythmic dreams?!
Ha! More like soothing jazz. Melodic, Chet Baker vibes. And funky stuff when I wake up. Something real funky.
How do you want to be remembered?
How do you want to be remembered?
I want to make a solid catalogue of albums that most people enjoy... Be remembered as a pretty decent guy. Selfless dude. Helped people. Wrote some good tunes... Yeah! Something like that.
Catch Max on tour!
MAX JURY TOUR DATES:
May 14 /// Copenhagen, DK /// Ideal Bar
May 15 /// Berlin, DE /// Privatclub
May 17 /// Zürich, CH /// Eldorado
May 18 /// Vienna, AT /// B72
May 20 /// Paris, FR /// La Gaîté Lyrique
May 21 /// Amsterdam, NL /// Paradiso
May 23 /// Cologne, DE /// Blue Shell
May 25 /// Bristol, UK /// Louisiana
May 26 /// London, UK /// 100 Club
May 27 /// Nottingham, UK /// Bodega
May 29 /// Manchester, UK /// Gullivers
May 30 /// Glasgow, UK /// Hog & Pint