Interview: Max Frost
“Magical” is how Max Frost describes the process by which he makes his music, and indeed, there is something otherworldly – fantastical, even – about the man’s sound. Frost mixes genres with the best of them, combining elements of classic rock, soul, electro and r’n’b, smashing through genre conventions with wit and energy.
Indeed, his EP Intoxication is a boundary free work of art; a work that avoids restrictions of any kind; a piece that refuses to be pigeonholed. It seems like his free-form experimentation has paid off, as well: Intoxication‘s lead single, White Lies already has over a million hits on youtube, and its catchy hook has embedded itself in minds across the globe. It is all but ready to catapult Frost into the stratosphere, and by all accounts, represents the artist’s slow move towards mainstream appeal. Not to imply that Frost has sold out, however, and his newer work contains all of the experimentation and intelligence that his older tracks did too.
In conversation Frost is passionate; intelligent; committed. He is open when discussing his own musical upbringing, and happy to mention the artists and influences that have shaped his own work. In short, he is as generous as his own music is free-form. We spoke to Frost about Intoxication, the process of shooting music videos, and the concept of music as a ‘parallel career.’
Joseph Earp: How are you and where in the world does our interview find you today?
Max Frost: Austin Texas! Back home fresh off a tour!
JE: Intoxication is such a powerful piece of work. How easy was it to write the EP? At what point did you realise the collection of songs were forming into an EP?
MF: Thank you! It wasn’t easy at all. The time I spent working on this music has been very challenging as I have been growing into understanding who I am as an artist. I hope it never stops being challenging cause I think if it feels too easy then there’s a problem. It became an EP once I connected what I thought were the best songs and realized the intoxication theme that connected them all.
JE: The work balances some very polished, very catchy hooks, with some powerful thematic material. When you’re writing, do the melodies come first, or the lyrics?
MF: Usually the melodies. But it’s more like there are lyrical concepts that I want to get at that I keep trying for song to song. I’ll write the same concept into three different songs and one of those three will truly voice it right.
JE: What is your favourite song off Intoxication?
MF: Today… I think Let Me Down Easy.
JE: Where would you say you drew the most inspiration from when putting the EP together?
MF: The feeling of adding more and more to a world I started a long time ago.
JE: The video for Paranoia is so much stylised fun. How was it to shoot?
MF: It was like writing a song. It started as a pretty different idea. It didn’t work. So I changed it and changed it until there was a small piece that worked. Then I tried to make the whole thing feel like that one piece and it came together.
JE: You have such a distinctive voice. At what age were you when you realised your range? Were you someone who sang a lot as a child?
MF: Thank you! I didn’t sing a whole lot as a child but I always had decent pitch. It took a long time to sort of “find” my voice. I signed up for choir my senior year of high school and got a lot more range out of just practicing every day. Then touring for years has just kept strengthening it. I feel like I’m better every few months.
JE: Was yours a very musical household when you were growing up?
MF: Not in family of musicians way. But in a hippie mother who was always playing great records way.
JE: At what point did you realise music was what you wanted to do with your life? Was there ever a eureka moment for you?
MF: No eureka moment. It was always there. Always what I cared about most. I had other interests and ideas of what else I might do for a living. But the older I got the worse those things seemed. Making music has been one of the only things in my life that’s remained magical.
JE: Were there any particular supporters you had early in your music career: people you know who had a direct influence on your sound?
MF: So many its hard to think. First my mother. My first guitar teacher. Music teachers in high school. Older musician friends who mentored me. Working players in the city who I met when I was young who encouraged me to do what I was doing.
JE: If, for whatever reason, you couldn’t be a musician, what would your ideal career be?
MF: I’d love to play a sport or be some sort of an athlete. Music is parallel career in more ways than people realize.
JE: Tell me something you’ve never told an interviewer before.
MF: I have a size 14 shoe.
Max Frost’s new EP Intoxication is out now.