With a double-platinum single in the rearview, MAX is ready to release his best work yet.

For nearly a decade, pop artist MAX has been thoughtfully developing his career to this exact rupturing moment. After signing to Pete Wentz’s DCD2 label in 2015, the young New Yorker released his debut effort, Hell’s Kitchen Angela rooted nod to the concrete jungle that raised him. The album would go on to produce the inescapable sleeper hit, “Lights Down Low.” To date, the double-platinum track has cleared over 500 million global streams and has quickly become a staple for proposals, weddings, and events around the globe – sparking love’s newest soundtrack.

Now, after collaborating with everyone from Illenium and Matoma to Noah Cyrus and Joey Bada$$, co-creating tracks with his Party Pupils project, and touring the world, MAX returned in April to share his latest runaway single, “Love Me Less” alongside Quinn XCII. Gaining nearly a million streams per day, the throttling pop track finds the two artists at their absolute best all while feeding off an undeniable and effortless musical chemistry.
MAX at Firefly 2019 (Matt Torres/Soundazed)

We caught up with MAX following his set at Firefly 2019 to discuss his breakout single, “Lights Down Low,” the latest with “Love Me Less,” working with Felly on his next single, “Acid Dreams,” and the major follow-up to Hell’s Kitchen Angel. Read on below.


Happy birthday – what’d you do for it?

Thank you! Rented a farm for the weekend, playing this obviously beautiful festival, and I woke up on my birthday and hung out with a cow named Joy and I felt like that was the best way I could ever wake up for a birthday.

We’re here at Firefly 2019 – it’s your first one. Caught a little of your set and it’s really high-energy. How would you describe it for someone that hasn’t seen your show?

It’s funny because I think most people who don’t know me probably know my song, “Lights Down Low,” which is the lowest energy point of the set. I kind of love that people don’t expect it to become what it becomes. I leave every bit of energy I can on stage and then prepare for a nap afterward, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s really just about being happy to be alive – that’s what the set is.

You just mentioned your huge breakout single, “Lights Down Low.” Can you tell us briefly about the story behind that track?

I had just started dating my wife and I wrote this song for her – I knew that I was going to propose with it and I did. Then people really started digging it more than that which was a great lesson for me. I think we all do things in our lives where it’s like, oh that worked, and then you think something else should work instead-but in reality, you should stick to what feels real. This song really taught me that. So, yeah, I wrote it for her and proposed with it and now it’s a lot of peoples’ wedding song – which is sick.

The track was a total sleeper hit – didn’t it start to really surge a year after you released it? What was your reaction to the sudden success of “Lights Down Low”?

We were grinding for it, really. We were going to every radio station and city in the world, honestly. It was really cool to see the transition from people not really knowing it in the beginning and then towards the end going to places I’ve never been and people knowing the song. It was a really special experience. It really pushes me to maintain the same work ethic on the new material.

It’s a really great track. You now have a new single out though, it’s called “Love Me Less” and Quinn XCII is featured. How did that collaboration happen?

We were friends before, besties now. I think a lot of artists always say they want to do something one day when it makes sense. At one point our mutual producer friend played him the song and he texted me immediately to ask if I was looking for a feature on the track because he felt like he could do something great on it. It was the least expected, most organic, and wonderful feature and it’s been a glorious ride ever since. We’re both married boys born in 1992 which is a nice connection.

You released “Worship” last year but “Love Me Less” is the first single from your forthcoming new album?

I think so. “Worship” may land on the Deluxe version but “Love Me Less” definitely feels like the first one for this new chapter and I have another track coming out soon called “Acid Dreams” that I’m excited about. It’s been so cool to have this be the first one to kind of start it all after being away for months and really, this song was the representation of hoping that my fans didn’t love me any less since I’ve been quiet for so long but luckily the right fans have shown more love than before.

What can you tell us about “Acid Dreams?”

My partner, Ryan [Siegel], that I do my other project, Party Pupils, with, it was the first time where he produced an entire song and sent it to me – that’s usually how the Party Pupils tracks happen – and I instantly thought it was more of a MAX thing and not Party Pupils. It was a little rocky at first because the project is our baby together but it’s really cool to have this track. I was very high on legal marijuana, I was with my wife, and I wrote my entire first verse just while sitting in front of her – which I’ve never done before. It was just really cute, we had just watched the Beyoncé documentary and I was just super inspired.

I’ve never done acid but my partner on the track Felly has and I loved that he came up with the acid dreams line and I love that it’s something that I don’t know because I feel like sometimes when you really fall in love with somebody you’re kind of afraid of it because it’s uncharted territory and now I feel like I need to try acid once now that I have a song coming out called “Acid Dreams.”

So, Felly is on the track? You also mentioned Party Pupils, you guys played Firefly as well this weekend and I saw that you played all original remixes for the set – which is pretty cool. Tell me a little about that project.

Yes, Felly is on the track! As for Party Pupils, My friend Ryan is the genius mastermind behind that and I’d say I’m more of the conductor, and it’s vice versa for my project with him. I’ll put it all together and then he’ll make suggestions, and we really are soulmates, he’s like my other wife, and with Party Pupils, it’s so amazing because we get to do something completely different from my MAX project and yet, they also live in similar worlds too, which is cool. Party Pupils is just about living your best life and losing it to some funky music. We’ve been doing it for a few years now, so glad that we’ve grown the project enough to be able to play an entire set of all original remixes and tracks.

You just mentioned the next single from your new album is coming out soon. How is the album coming along?

It’s been great! Nothing against the powers that be in music but sometimes they’ll try to give you a single, you didn’t write it but it’ll be a hit they say, and I think I realized immediately with “Lights Down Low” that I really don’t want to big hit song from the album to be one I didn’t write. I’m too transparent to be like “this is the story behind it” some guy sent it to me and now it’s done. With “Love Me Less,” there was another song that they wanted me to do but I said no and they told me it wouldn’t go well for me. It’s been great to adapt to the new record and to make sure that I’m making something that I believe in.

Do you have a timeline or idea of when we might get the new album?

Realistically, I think it’ll drop at the top of next year with a lot of new music coming out between the summer and fall. I’m announcing in the fall and then we’re going from there.

With the first album, you had Lil Uzi Vert, Hoodie Allen, and we just talked about Felly. Can we expect any other collaborations?

Definitely. One of my favorite things with Lil Uzi, it was so cool because we were just cool from a Boys of Summer tour we did together and I didn’t know many rappers at the time. He was down for the track and everyone kept saying we could get a bigger feature on the track and I was like “no, I love this guy, he sounds really good and he’s my friend” and it was cool to make that. The same happened with “Love Me Less,” everyone was like “oh, maybe we should get G-Eazy” and I was like yeah, he’s big and it would be amazing but Quinn is my homie and he just sounds so good on the track. That’s another lesson I’ve learned recently, just going with my gut when it comes to stuff like that. I’d rather just work with someone that I think is going to be big, that I know and believe in, then work with a huge established artist just to do it.

In a theoretical world, what collaborations would we see on this album?

Definitely Kehlani, I would love to work with Kehlani and to have her on a record. I also make this joke in every interview, that I want to make a song with Khalid about puppies and hugs, so it may be a bonus track on the new record. Ultimately, obviously Beyoncé but I don’t know in what dream world MAX and Beyoncé make a track together. Crazier things have happened I guess.

You’re on a mini Intimate AF Tour right now.

A lot of the shows are sold out but it’s so nice to be in a room with just a few hundred fans. Hopefully, they’re the most OG fans because they got tickets so quickly and that’s so special to remind myself why I love music with those fans before we do the big tour for the new album after it comes out. This is sort of the taste test for a lot of the new material on the album and I’m excited for the people going to hear it first.

MAX’s Intimate AF Tour will make sold-out stops in Los Angeles and Chicago, with additional dates confirmed in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, and of course, DC’s U Street Music Hall on October 6. For full dates, the rarely available ticket, or more – visit MAX’s website.

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