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Interview: Max Jury


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With a sound that’s both classic and fresh, 23-year-old Max Jury is one of the fastest rising solo artists.

The Iowa-based singer/songwriter/pianist/guitarist is set to drop his debut album on 3rd June.

Max Jury

Nonetheless, he’s already touring both the US and UK (including dates with Lana Del Ray), and his singles have become a love lullabies for a rapidly growing audience, and his unique style has already given him a chance at making a name for himself.

He started off with a passion, but not too many plans, and now he just follows what he loves.

“When I was 17, I used some money that I had saved up to record a three song demo at a local studio. I sent that demo to various blogs, labels, publishers, and managers and started seeing some interest in my music. I think that was the first time I figured I could do it for a living. Before that, it was always a passion project because I was such a fan of listening to records, the mythology of rock stars, etc....To be honest I’ve never seriously considered any other route.”

Similarly, even though plan Bs are always something to rely on, Jury says he doesn’t really have one yet, and that, in his opinion, is something that makes him work harder.

In any case, his tunes are truly remarkable. Compromising between the soothing style of late ’60s and early ’70s piano-balanced rock ‘n’ roll, Jury has a sweet, clear voice that can sweep anybody off their feet.

As he creates most of his pieces accompanied by his piano, he tells us, “The piano is a romantic instrument, I think. And it lends itself to unique and special chord voicings that no other instrument can quite parallel - and I think the piano can be really cinematic, as well.”

Although he manages to whip up songs as classic as tunes by Neil Young and Gram Parsons, he’s also a fan of the more aggressive, futuristic tunes.

“I do like electronic music. Some of my faves would be Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Junior Boys.”

In addition, he thinks image has a substantial role in music making: “For better or for worse, I am a firm believer that the visual aesthetic that accompanies the music can make or break it. So I’m a bit picky on that front.”

His lyrics are simple, sweet and uncomfortably touching, as his introspective autobiographical songwriting makes him both romantic and relatable. His persona is a very transparent one, as it appears in between every line he sings.

“I think my best trait is my kindness. I’m a giving person and I genuinely try to go out of my way to be kind to people. On the other hand, my worst trait is that I can be quite a dark person internally sometimes and have a far too negative outlook on life.”

His favorite memory is fishing with his dad late into the night during the Iowa summer and with authenticity, his inspiration comes from everything that surrounds him personally, he particularly likes to write about love.

He goes through “periods of prolific output” and then “periods of prolific drought”. He adds he’s not “that kind of cat that can sit down and write every day. Although I’d like to be. And am practicing that.”

For example, last year he went three months without writing a song and then wrote five songs for the album in one day!

When asked, ‘what if you get bored?’, his answer is a poignant one: "idle hands are the devil’s workshop”!

Spiralling off that, I also asked him what he’d do if he were abducted by aliens and what his thoughts on boredom are.

"I would take a copy of D’angelo’s Untitled (How Does It Feel) and I would say this is about as good as it gets."

Writing about what he knows, he’s given us a sneak peak of the inside story behind one of his songs.

"The song 'Ella’s Moonshine' is about my friend Ella from North Carolina. She lives in a treehouse, doesn’t wear shoes, is an accomplished blacksmith… and makes her own moonshine! I thought she deserved a song and included all those things.” On the same page, at his live shows, he always tells the story behind his song 'Black Metal': a night out with a sweet, innocent Midwestern girl, which resulted in discovering she was actually a ‘worshipper of Satan’."

As his songs are much more human and a lot less political, I ask him what his thoughts are on the controversial presidential elections back in his homeland.

“I think it will be Clinton to win. I really hope that the quite large number people who are supporting Trump sober up quick. Trump being the prez has some really terrifying implications and I’m truly embarrassed for my motherland that he has made it this far.”

Regarding fame, under another perspective, although he’s humbled and grateful, he’s not very bothered by a prospect of exploding as a star.

“To be a good musician, I think you 1. have to be a good listener 2. Have to be willing to learn from others 3. Have a lot of perseverance ...Being a touring/recording artist is challenging and if you give up easily/think you know everything it probably won’t end well. But my father once told me ‘You’ll never be as good as they say and you’ll never be as bad as they say’ and that kind of stuck with me. I’m really glad people have been responding positively to my music, but if I start to derive happiness by what people think about me - oh lord that’s a slippery slope.”

Max also adds there are several artists he’s like to collaborate with, including Blake Mills, Kanye West, James Blake, Jeff Tweedy, but he stops at “I could go on for days!”.

With his new set goal being one “to live in the moment”, he has no outrageous dreams, saying he’s more than happy with just touring, recording, writing music and live comfortably, “that is the dream baby! Anything beyond that is just a bonus cheque.”

He’s already started writing tunes for the next album, and hopes to be “touring his butt off” throughout all summer.

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