England born singer and songwriter Max Stone, known for his work with George Ezra who worked with Florence & The Machines, decided to open up to us, here at Diapazone, about his early life and his music career, that range from singing independently, to participating in the X-Factor, to working on big budget projects such as Streetdance soundtracks and more. Max had a rough childhood, having to deal with drug abuse and moving from England to Sweden and again to England in a matter of 12 years, in his own words « I got to the point where I thought there was no hope ». He credits music for turning his life upside down and helping him go trough all of it. The following is an interview that goes as deep as the artist allows us into his personal and career life.
–First of all, could you tell us who MAX STONE really is? We would love to know more about you.
I always find it a hard question to answer as I do feel it’s not up to me to say who I really am , just like how when Simon Cowell at the six chair challenge asked me to say something fun about myself it’s an answer that I would feel unsuitable for myself to give . But if I were to explain how I am as a person I guess I would say that I’m a fairly introverted person . I love to throw myself into music and give all of my energy into that but in most other situations I like to stay on the side lines and try not to make a big fuss of myself . I’m not the kind of person who desires all the attention to be focused on me, in-fact that’s kind of my idea of a nightmare . Within music I found a way to express all of those feelings that I hadn’t dared to show people . I found growing up that I had to hold back a lot of my personality to fit in so I restricted myself from feeling and expressing everything that I could . So to have that opportunity to do so in music you could say sets me free and has shaped me into the person I am today . What I try to concentrate on in my life is making sure that love is always around me . That I can spend the majority of my time doing what I love and that I can see myself in a world where I have love for and from the friends around me and the girl that keeps me smiling . So on that note what it all boils down to is music , what I love the most is creating and performing and having the time in between to feel alive but I also love the roughness and the unpredictability in nature , seeing new places and landscapes and watching live music . Who I am beyond this you will all have to decide as time continues .
-Diapazone is mainly about live music that’s good to know haha. What got you into music and when did you start it?
I first started singing when I was a few years old . I started singing some James brown and blues melodies that I heard from my dads vinyl collection and found myself singing all the time. I felt early on in my life that singing and music can change the way you feel and make everything better and as my parents were going through a tough time I turned to music to make things better and so without even knowing singing made my childhood that little bit better . When you sing you get to release a lot of energy and express those things you usually don’t dare to speak about so I always knew music was something I wanted to do . I wrote my first piece of music and lyrics when I was 12 on the piano . However it wasn’t until I was 18-19 that I took it seriously and began learning to play the guitar and performing live .
When I was 20 I enrolled in a music school to learn more about music and songwriting in Stockholm where I was living at the time . This led me to continue at an institute in London from there I really got the bug and decided to give everything I can into music so that one day I can have the chance to create music that helps people when they’re having a bad day , to make a difference just like how music did for me when I was young.
–And how was your first time on stage?
My first time on stage I was 12 , I had written a song and my music teacher in school accompanied me at a talent evening . I remember being madly nervous and my legs were shaking but as soon as I got to the first chorus it all went away and that feeling and energy I was left with I’ll never forget .
When I was about 19 and I sorted getting into open mic nights in Stockholm I remember first gig . There were about 15-20 people in the room but all I can see was this one really big fat man in the middle staring at me with this unimpressed look like he was thinking – why am I here watching this . I couldn’t remember my lyrics and fumbled through the set almost keeping my eyes closed through the second half . When it ended I looked up and the man was gone . It didn’t put me off , the contrary . It made me feel like next time I needed to be better and that’s how it’s still like now . I always want to improve so that next time I’m giving something extra and not just the same .
-Lots of people first discovered Max Stone thanks to your experience on THE X-FACTOR, how can you describe this experience to us?
It was a great experience over all . I was forced to learn a lot about myself and who I am as an artist and to have that opportunity to learn from some amazing coaches was inspiring . What I loved the most was being able to create my own versions of the songs I was singing so I could put my stamp on it . This as I learned became harder and harder to do on the live shows , in the live shows you get this brilliant opportunity so connect with the audience at home in realtime and it’s such a buzz , I loved it . But as I found out there’s a lot of politics involved with producers needing variation on the show and I think because of this it pulls contestants away from doing what they themselves would choose to do and that which shows them as artists . I’m happy with how far i got on the show and where I went out and stepping out on that stage as the ten second countdown is always gonna be one of the most intense experiences in my life but most of all I’m happy for what the platform,the show and producers have given me and all of the great people Ive met along the way .
-Who are the artists that inspire you the most?
Artists that inspire me the most are the ones that give everything into their music like James Brown and Bob Marley . Many people write songs and sing them because they sound nice but to sing a song and live the lyrics truly that’s something else . James Brown gave every bit of his energy into his performances and Bob Marley wanted to change the way people thought of about things.
-What are your plans for the near future?
Since the XFactor I have been working on my release album which led me to Jamaica a couple months ago . The near future is all about releasing the right music and showing people who the real Max Stone is through the music I have been writing .
-Finally, do you have anything to say to the stoners?
To the Stoners I would like to say Thank you for all the support . When the days are long and there’s not enough time it’s the support from all of you that keeps me going so I can’t wait to share my journey with you all . To have people rooting for me means everything so I really feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to reach out to you guys on the show and continue showing you what I’m about .
Max Stone was one of our coups de coeur
Collaborated on writing this article: Oussama Melouani.