Wednesday, June 1, 2016

NoiseTrade One-on-One: Interview with Kevin Max

As a companion piece to his exclusive Maxrospective career-spanning sampler, we talked to
Kevin Max for an insightful and exciting NoiseTrade One-on-One. During our discussion, Max opened up about his new album Playing Games with the Shadow, his two singles from the album (“Girl with the Tiger Eyes” and “William Blake”), and how he views his dual creative approach as songwriter and poet. We even got him to tell us his five favorite music videos in honor of his own new music video for “Girl with the Tiger Eyes” as well.
NoiseTrade: You’ve described your song “Girl with the Tiger Eyes” (offered here on Maxrospective) as “a semblance of my youth, bottled up in new romantic forms.” How do you find that perfect balance between nostalgic homage and forward momentum? Is it intentional or intuitive?
Kevin Max: I am not sure if there is perfect balance to anything…. but with that said, I feel that my music is largely intuitive. I don’t think of radio, or labels or positioning or what’s happening in the now when I am creating. It either sounds right to me or I chuck it. There have been many stabs at ideas that I have lurking on recorders and computers, but I usually go with the first thing that comes to me. I am not a perfectionist at all, more of a free spirit, and an experimentalist.
NT: Another song included on Maxrospective is “William Blake” – one of my favorites from your catalog. Artists like Bob Dylan, U2, Patti Smith, M. Ward and many others have looked to Blake for lyrical influence as well. What can you tell us about Blake’s influence on your artistry and specifically about the songwriting spark for “William Blake”?
Max: William Blake is one of my all time heroes and I’ve always wanted to write a song about his influence on me. It’s interesting that a lot of modern artists cite other musicians as their influencers, but rarely does anyone mention classic literature or poetry. Blake was one of the first poets I was introduced to as a child and then I dove into his work, including his paintings and writing about history. His book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell continues to be one of my favorite things to read. He was one the first experimentalists in my opinion, and one that had an uncanny ability to explain the supernatural. He was also a free thinker and didn’t subscribe to establishments or organized religion. His beliefs about ‘Energy’ and the ‘Soul’ were extremely interesting to me, and in my opinion still undiscovered by a great many people. To understand Blake, is almost like understanding the magic of poetry itself.