MAXON singer, songwriter and vocal teacher from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria is our feature guest this episode. Their latest is ‘History’ – that’s the name of the Single – which was yet to be released, when this chat was recorded in City of Melbourne back in June 2018. Not only performed on National television with Delta Goodrem, MAXON is now preparing their own new live project called ‘Leading Lights’.
From the archives, back to 2013 and chat with Katy Manning (Doctor Who and more) – this is Part 2 looking at her one-woman-play and family.
To listen, click the green ‘play’ triangle…
(Transcript of the MAXON chat below, check to delivery in audio)
SHOW NOTES: MAXON episode
Where to find the show to subscribe/follow:
….and many more. Search “radionotes Podcast” in your favourite podcatcher.
- lnstagram – Including the ‘stories’ posted
- Archromatopsia – lastest Single (Wickedd Childd link)
- Where do You Go? – Tara Simmons (music video)
In The Box:
- My Love Goes On (feat. Joss Stone) – James Morrison, off You’re Stronger Than You Know (out March 2019)
- Chain of Joy – Felicity Urquhart, off Frozen Rabbit (out April 2019)
- Earth People Fair – Formidable Vegetable, off Earth People Fair (out March 2019)
- Night Swimming (album) by Dentist
FEATURE GUEST: MAXON
- History – MAXON (music video)
- Official Site
- Music Instagram
- Food Instagram (Vegan)
- mode. (music school)
- No Impersonator – MAXON (BTS video)
ARCHIVE GUEST: Katy Manning (of Doctor Who)
Returning to Katy Manning this time for Part 2, as many have requested to hear more from them (Part 1, was in episode 1).
Future episodes, going to dive way back for the ‘In The Archives’…. including Sia, Jill Sobule and more from the 90s.
Theatre – worth seeing from where I sit:
- Wasn’t Expecting That (Jamie Lawson cover) – Coby Grant, off Something Borrowed (out March 2019)
[Radio Production – notes: Feature chat 03’58” In Q: (sting) MAXON is… to 45’07” Out Q: …offical dot com Suggested tune: History by MAXON]
Theme/Music: Martin Kennedy and All India Radio
Web-design/tech: Steve Davis
Voice: Tammy Weller
You can make direct contact with the podcast – on the Contact Page
(for direct quotes check to audio – first version by Sarah M at Rev)
John Murch: Maxon, welcome to radionotes.
John Murch: Absolute pleasure to have you on board. Let’s firstly talk about the music. Get the genre question out of the way. Where do you play when it comes to music for your performance, your writing?
MAXON: As in, location wise? Or you mean genre?
John Murch: Yeah, in terms of genre. So you might listen to something else.
MAXON: Oh, gosh. The tricky genre question.
John Murch: Yeah. Let’s get that out of the way. So you might listen to the Kayne West, but you actually might be more of a Tori Amos.
MAXON: Yes, yeah. I love Tori Amos. I grew up listening to mostly Alanis Morissette and Jewel. At the moment I’m steering in a pop rock direction. It’s slightly changing from the really kind of raw, soulful pop that I was doing. It’s a bit more edgy, which is pretty fun.
John Murch: From the Mornington Peninsula, what kind of music activities are you doing there?
MAXON: At the moment, I’m laying low, which is really great. It’s a really good place to tuck away and do some writing. So I’m renting a house that my dad built, actually, just writing lots of music by the water, which is pretty cool. In terms of playing … There’s a few small venues down there, like wineries and things like that. But I’m not doing a whole lot at the moment. So, writing time.
John Murch: Talk to us about that writing process. By the time this does become public, some of that material will be out and about. Your father has built a house?
MAXON: Yeah. He’s a builder. Yep. Dad’s a builder. He’s got a couple properties.
John Murch: Good with his hands..
MAXON: Bricklayer, so yeah.
John Murch: Right.
MAXON: They actually live around the corner from me, but they built a house, and I sort of said to him, if you’re not gonna rent it out at the moment, can I rent it for a bit from you, and just lay low? Because I was living eastern suburbs, so closer to the city, just to kind of be around the live music scene a lot more. And then I was just like, I just need to go back home and regroup and write.
John Murch: Did you keep you in mind whilst he was building it?
MAXON: No, no. I think he was just like … An investment thing for him, yeah. I think he actually wants to sell it. I think he’s trying to kick me out.
John Murch: So you’ve got this window now where you’ve been doing this songwriting in this abode, which is yours at the moment.
John Murch: What’s that process like? And I wanna know in terms of how you divide up your day there in terms of songwriting?
MAXON: Yeah, it’s a strange thing. Mostly I like to get up and get out of the house and go for a walk, go to the beach. Just stay with my thoughts kind of thing. And then come back and I’m always, or almost always, melody first. So things just, as I’m doing things during the day, even if it’s just like cleaning or showering or whatever, melody will pop into my head and ideas will flow. And then I’ll go sit at the piano and start that process there. It is a weird thing being home every single day to do that. Some days it’s absolute rubbish. But then other times it’s awesome. A little bit of magic.
John Murch: Talk to us about how the life experiences that are in your lyrics are translated into that space. How do you bring the life experiences through to that space?
MAXON: So when I say melody comes to me first, there’s always an emotion attached to that melody. So I kind of … So I’ve just been through a big breakup. I was with my partner for seven years. Mutual, like everything’s great. But it obviously is still really hard. It’s only been a couple of months. And so a lot of the material I’m writing at the moment is me moving forward from that.
John Murch: Because I’m guessing there is that sense of duality of a partnership, and at any point you want me to move on, please tell me, okay?
MAXON: Oh my gosh, it’s so fine.
John Murch: I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable. As the body language starts crunching up.
MAXON: Do you know what? It’s just that I haven’t spoken about it yet. But I’m totally okay. Yeah.
John Murch: You don’t want to save it for the songwriting?
MAXON: No, no. It’s so fine. It’s actually good to get it out. I haven’t talked about it yet.
John Murch: So there’s that seven years of duality, and now songwriting can be somewhat of a solo pursuit.
John Murch: Is there a level of uncomfortability about going solo after so long. After so long checking in with someone else that you’re doing all right?
MAXON: Uh huh. Because … So my partner’s also a … My ex-partner. Gosh, that’s weird to say. Also a musician. Singer, songwriter, engineer. So everything I did went through her. And we also wrote a lot of things together. It is very strange now not having that support in a way. And I feel like I’ve started to feel really nervous about the material I’m making and putting out because it’s not … I don’t know. It’s just very raw, and it’s very, like, comes straight from me only. So I have been reaching out to other singer songwriters, and doing some collaborations and stuff, which is cool.
John Murch: To use the analogy though, you build a house. But now you’ve had to move out. And luckily you’ve got another home to move into.
John Murch: But emotionally that house is quite-
MAXON: It’s empty. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s empty. Yep. There’s no one by my side at night. Yeah, yep.
John Murch: Except words.
MAXON: Except words and melody and memories, yep. Yep. So it’s all music. I’m turning it into songs, which is great.
John Murch: How are you, and it may be too soon. How are you finding the strength to actually dive into that material?
MAXON: I’ve got no idea. It’s like … I don’t know, you just do it. It’s the only way I actually know how to process how I’m feeling is writing music. I don’t … That’s why it’s so hard, like right now. I don’t know how to actually say to you how I feel. But if I could go into another room right now and just start singing something on a piano. And then go that’s what that feeling is.
John Murch: And I definitely don’t want to take away from that, but I think from a listener point of view, particularly if this comes out at the same time for which those great tunes will be, you said you’re a person who’ll definitely put the personal in your work because that’s the right thing to do. Do you believe it’s the right thing to do?
MAXON: Yeah, I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. It’s the only way I know how. Like I said, it’s the way I process everything. Is through music. So I have to be honest, and I have to be real, and I have to share my story within the music.
John Murch: This seems light, compared to what we’re speaking about then, but it is about the influences of music. Because that is the repertoire for which you have built your foundations of musical knowledge. So let’s ask what they are? Could be, well the Alanis Morisettes of the world, for example. But it could be broader than that. It could be quite niche. So let’s ask what those foundations are.
MAXON: Growing up, music wasn’t part of my family. Like, nobody sings or writes music or performs or any kind of arts. Whatever was on the radio was what I took in. So at that time, it was Alanis Morissette, and it was Jewel. But then I kind of went and found a few other things through them as I grew a little bit older, to understand what I wanted. What I liked in music. But what I really love in music is just somebody getting up there with one instrument, and singing a song from their heart. I don’t care what the genre is. I just love that aspect.
John Murch: If we look both Jewel and Alanis, come from very much a narrative songwriting.
MAXON: Yeah, yep.
John Murch: Do you perceive yourself to be doing it that way?
MAXON: I don’t know. Because for me, it’s melody first. So it’s a feeling, and then the words kind of flow within that. So I don’t know if I’m so much of a storyteller. More just, if I’m angry, I’ll tell you I’m angry. If I’m sad, I’ll tell you I’m sad. If I’m happy, it might be in there.
John Murch: The thing that always complexes me about human beings that are so honest and open about their feelings is why other people aren’t so responsive to that, and actually engage with it for good.
John Murch: This studio, well it’s really just the home where you’re writing songs, it’s not a studio.
MAXON: It’s just a home, yep. Just a home.
John Murch: Do you have a piano. Do you have a Steinway, do you have a Yamaha?
MAXON: Oh my gosh! I wish. I just have my keyboard. My keyboard that I’ve been carting around to gigs forever and a day. And it sounds like sh*. It’s got a lot of character though. It’s had beer spilled on it, it’s had all these sticky and yuck.
John Murch: And do you write the music down, or do you just play it out?
MAXON: I record. So because it all just comes to me, it feels like it kind of falls into my lap. I have to press record and just go for it, and then listen back and see if I like it or not. Because yeah, it’s otherwise, it’s gone.
John Murch: Maxon, what’s the colours you see when you’re recording.
MAXON: Black, a big black hole! That’s really awful. I shouldn’t say that. It definitely comes from a sad place, most of the time. At the moment, anyway.
John Murch: Black holes aren’t necessarily bad things. They’re in space, which is a nice place.
MAXON: Look, I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, that’s for sure. Colours. Lots of them. It really varies, because for me, my melodies are … In my songs there’s quite a big range there. Hard to describe. If I was gonna say something, it would be like more dusty colours. Like dusty pinks and dusty blues and dusty this and dusty that and gray, it’s like clouds. Rather than like bright colours. Which seems, I don’t know. Seems strange, but that’s, everybody sees different things, I suppose.
John Murch: Coming from someone who’s based along the beach, is there a desire to go out into the desert?
MAXON: Oh yeah, yep. Anything, any desert, nature, anywhere, I love it. Love the hills. Like …
John Murch: Where are some of your favorite spots in terms of that?
MAXON: I’ve never been into a desert, sadly. I would love to drive up the centre of Australia and spend time doing something like that. I think that would be an incredible experience. Places on the Peninsula that are really amazing. I love waves. So I love the back beach more than anything. I just find it really calming, and really relaxing, and I can kind of just think about nothing. You kind of go there, and you just listen to that, and there’s no noise of the city or cars going by.
John Murch: Well, it’s the equivalent of a blank page, isn’t it?
MAXON: It is. Yeah. That’s true. Yep.
John Murch: And so, as a creative, you need a backdrop for which you can place a little bit of yourself, if not a lot of yourself into the work.
MAXON: Yep, it’s very true.
John Murch: What have been some of the most, yet again, it’s been the last seven years, it might be a biting question. But what’s been some of the most memorable travels?
MAXON: I just did a tour in January. A very small tour up the coast. There is a place there that I’d visited as a child. It’s called Crescent Heads. Or Crescent Head. It’s in northern New South Wales. And it is so beautiful and peaceful. There’s mountains and hills. And there’s surf beach. And it’s these … It’s a small town. If you go there in the middle of the year, like I’d say now before the school holidays. It’d be such an amazing place to be. It’d be so quiet.
John Murch: Again, because it’s empty.
MAXON: Empty. I just love empty spaces, really. Like today, so we’ve come to the city this morning, I’m freaking out. We get there, and I don’t know where to park the car. I’m scared of all the people. Everybody’s touching me. Get me out of here! So now it’s nice because we’re in a library. And I’m calm.
John Murch: Well it’s weird, because everyone tells me that Melbourne’s the most live-able city in the world, and I come from a place called Adelaide, and we’re just like, really? The hills up there.
MAXON: Yeah, exactly.
John Murch: You know, I can get on my pushy, and I can be in bush. Get my pushy, be in bush within an hour.
MAXON: See, that sounds like the kind of city I need to be in.
John Murch: Calm, relaxing.
John Murch: Oh, the beach? Yeah, she’s about an hour and a half that way.
John Murch: In fact, that’s by pushy. You’re also a music teacher, Maxon.
MAXON: I am.
John Murch: How exciting is that? Oh, it’s nerveracking, is it?
MAXON: It is so nerveracking. I don’t know if I’m doing anything right. Except that I know that I can inspire them to be creative. I think because I do my own work, my own songwriting, my own performing, they really look up to that.
John Murch: As a teacher of music, you’ve got these students who look up to you, they’re inspired by you, and they’re inspiring you, I would assume in return..
MAXON: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yep.
John Murch: If little Johnny there, who’s learnt the music through you comes up to you and says, “Hey Max. I think I should audition for that TV show you did.” What are you going to say?
MAXON: I’ve got a couple at the moment who sending in audition tapes. I try to be as open as I can about it. If I honestly think it’s not the right direction for them, and they don’t have the … You have to be pretty strong. You have to be pretty, like, I know what I want and I know what I’m doing, and nobody’s gonna get in my way. To be involved in television. Television’s brutal.
John Murch: That’s a really hard conversation for you as a teacher, someone who really wants to nurture their music, to say, “Actually, your dream isn’t right.”
MAXON: Yeah. I just tell them how it is. I just say, “If that’s the avenue you want to take. These are the opportunities that will or will not come from that. I’m not gonna stop you, obviously. I can’t stop you from doing it.” But it could make them, it could not make them. For me, I did it at an age, I was a bit older. I knew where I was going with … I just launched Maxon, the project. And I knew where I wanted to go with that, and it steered me in a different direction. So I was quite angry that they didn’t let me be who I am. They didn’t let me show anything about myself. It was really a story for, I suppose, Delta Goodrem, bless her. I think she’s an incredible singer, but it was a story for her. Because I sang her song. So you just have to think about those things. If you know where you’re going, and you know what you want to do, it’s probably not the right avenue for you because they want to create you.
John Murch: Maxon, let me ask you about this vision of your music. ‘Cause you’re at the writing stage at the moment. I reckon you’ve got an album in you?
MAXON: Yeah, I think so. There’s definitely an album in me. It’s just probably funding, really. So at the moment … It’s hard. It’s hard to release music. You record. You might get a producer on board. I’ve lost my producer now because that’s where my ex and I did all the work together. So I’m at a cross point, really. We did all that stuff together, so now it’s kind of … I’ve got to find new people to work with. And I’m getting there, but it’s hard to find somebody who just understands you, and understands your vision.
John Murch: Let’s talk about family. Hopefully that’s a happy place –
MAXON: Oh, yeah. No, it is. I’m just kidding. Kind of. There’s been some ups and downs. Every family has their shit.
John Murch: Mum, dad, separated?
MAXON: No, no. Mum and dad are together. Yeah, yeah.
John Murch: So, it’s sort of working.
MAXON: It’s sort of working.
John Murch: Brother, sister, yay, nay?
MAXON: I have two brothers. I have an older brother. He’s actually 10 years older than me. And a younger brother who’s six years younger than me. So …
John Murch: It’s amazing, blackouts that happen in the Morning Peninsula.
MAXON: Yeah. Yeah, so we’re quite spread out.
John Murch: But seriously though, the older brother. A mentor in any way?
MAXON: It’s really funny, because yes, now. We had very similar upbringings, obviously. Same parents. When I was eight, he was 18. He was gone. He wanted to go. Went moved up the coast for surfing, did his own thing, which is so amazing. But in so many ways we really didn’t know each other. So we’ve only really actually just reconnected in the past month.
John Murch: Has music helped with the reconnection at all?
MAXON: I’ve written a few songs about him. Music helps. But we just needed to … Not that we ever had a falling out, as such. We’ve never been connected.
John Murch: This is with the older brother.
MAXON: Older brother, yeah.
John Murch: The younger brother?
MAXON: Younger … Well, we mostly grew up together. So, yeah. We’re all right.
John Murch: And what do the parents thing of this music biz?
MAXON: They’ve always been pretty supportive, actually. Dad does sometimes worry a lot. You know, when you gonna get a real job? Said, “Well, I’m teaching now. So is that a real job? I’ve actually opened my own school, is that a real job?” No, they’ve been pretty supportive. When I was younger, take me to places. Dad would bring the PA and set it up for me. Yeah, they’ve been really amazing.
John Murch: That running your own school. That balance of the two, as we mentioned, there’s that inspiration there. There’s some really happy moments there. But there’s also that having a look at the next generation. Do you get that vibe? You seem to be very much in touch. So do you get that vibe of where they’ll be at?
MAXON: It’s very scary, actually. If we just put music aside for a second, young people growing up today is so scary.
John Murch: And the thing is, if I say it might be “young people these days” in a bit of a … But from your perspective, you’re in that perfect spot.
MAXON: No, I’m seeing them every day. And it’s very … They’ve all got mobile phones, iPads, they’ve all got everything they’ve ever asked for. The kids I teach, anyway. And I don’t know. There’s a lot of online bullying that goes on. I see a lot of … It’s actually quite interesting, teaching, because half of the lesson is quite a therapy session. They come in … I mean, they’re young artists really. They’re coming in, and they’re singing, and they’re very emotional people. You spend half the lesson helping them through their daily life. And a lot of kids that I teach are bullied at school, or they have issues with their work. They can’t focus. So music for them is a release. But yeah, I worry about that.
John Murch: And that’s just 30 minutes or an hour a week.
MAXON: 30 minutes.
John Murch: Yeah.
MAXON: Yeah. It’s quite an intense 30 minutes, actually.
John Murch: How have you been dealing with that, going through what you’re going through. So you’ve reached this point … already mentioned. And you of course can’t share that.
John Murch: Of course.
John Murch: So how have you been coping with the incoming?
MAXON: It’s okay. I don’t mind it. I don’t mind listening. I don’t mind being there, especially for the kids. For that time when I’m teaching, I’m there, I’m present, and I’m with them. So I’m there for them. And I’m there to teach them, to coach them, to write songs with them.
John Murch: Is it overwhelming though, that you can sense that it’s not just you that are going through some things, but obviously …
MAXON: It’s … Yeah, it’s definitely. I don’t know if it’s so overwhelming. But I definitely do get a bit upset seeing them so distraught. And sometimes I might even push too hard with getting them to do exercises or things that they’re not ready for yet. Because I want them to be the best they can be. And I do want to push them because I remember what that was like at my music lessons. You know, once you get a breakthrough and you unlock something in your voice or your playing, it’s such an amazing feeling. So I want them to let go. But these days, and I assume it’s so much to do with social media, they’re so scared to do anything outside their comfort zone.
John Murch: Tell me if I’m wrong here. We’re talking teenage, sort of maybe younger –
MAXON: Or primary school too. Yep.
John Murch: As you’ve already mentioned, they can have whatever they want, and the parents are … A lot of parents are bending over backwards. Not all. The technology is there. They can be whatever they want to be. They should be able to do whatever they want to do, because they have the right to express themselves. We’re not living in a third world regime.
John Murch: But you’re saying exactly the same time, any self expression outside of their vision is still being limited.
John Murch: Because I’m of the age where we used to sort of run around the back of the Nissan Huts and sort of have a go at each other, and tell people what we thought. And if we went too far, then the person would tell us that you went too far. Now people aren’t even testing those waters.
MAXON: No, they’re too scared to. There’s too much bullying.
John Murch: So they’ve started out with bubble wrap. And now they’ve become like an eggshell within bubble wrap.
MAXON: It’s really sad. And I used to be quite shut off from people. And I still find it really hard, but music obviously has helped me open up, because I write about personal experience. But they do. They’ve got this wall up. And it’s so hard to bring it down.
John Murch: What’s your technique to get through that?
MAXON: Just music. It’s so interesting. Like song and dance really lifts somebody’s spirits. Like there’s no doubt. Look at music therapy and palliative care, and what it does. And you know, start playing music. I might even just sing them a song or we might write a song, which will help them unlock something that they’re going through. And understand why they’re feeling the way they’re feeling.
John Murch: Do these kids have a place of trust anymore?
MAXON: They definitely … I could say no. I’m sure we’re generalising, but I think with music, and their music teachers, they definitely … ‘Cause they open up to me. I hear some things I would never repeat. Because I want them to keep coming back. And if there’s anything obviously that I’m really worried about, I’ll ring their parents. But, well, for instance, one kid’s … I could probably say this. One kid actually ran out of a lesson. Not with me, another teacher. And ran across the road. He was just so distraught because he couldn’t play a particular note. And what else are you going through for it to get that bad, you know? If something gets hard, you just can’t cope, and you just off you go. Sorry. I went off track again because I just get so upset about it. They do trust us. But I don’t know if there’s places they feel like they can go.
MAXON: And I feel like a lot of people these days … I mean, I know. And not to put my parents down, but my parents, or my mum always said, “Don’t share what you’re going through with people because you don’t need to do that. You can just keep it to yourself. You don’t need to tell people if you’re having a hard day.”
John Murch: So that was her take on it.
John Murch: Do you know where that came from?
MAXON: I don’t know. I mean, she was brought up by her grandparents. So brought up in a very old school way. And I don’t know if that … I’ve got no idea if that has anything to do with it. I don’t know what her grandparents were like. I never met them.
John Murch: You’ve taken the time, though, Max, haven’t you, to actually listen and look into how that would work or not work?
MAXON: And I know for me now the best thing to do is be open and honest every day. Because otherwise you bottle too much up, and I think that’s what’s happening with these kids is –
John Murch: But you respect your mom’s view though, don’t you?
John Murch: Yeah.
MAXON: Totally, that works for her
John Murch: Yeah.
MAXON: That works for her.
John Murch: Yeah.
MAXON: But for me, that’s too hard. I bottle too much up because I learnt to keep everything in.
John Murch: Because we’re coming back to that now, aren’t we? With these kids who, I feel don’t have that trust to engage.
MAXON: To say, hey, I’m having a hard time at school.
John Murch: Because when they do, through their networks, the networks are either gonna laugh at them or not give this kind of response. A community response.
MAXON: Yeah, no, never.
John Murch: It’s just a little heart. And if they don’t get that, then of course, down they go!
John Murch: Someone didn’t like my depressive thought. Think I’ll be more depressed.
MAXON: It’s so true! It’s so scary. I keep using the word scary because it is.
John Murch: Hm.
John Murch: But you believe music’s the answer?
MAXON: Music is therapy. Even for somebody who isn’t musical, or like, can’t sing as such. But picking up an instrument, or listening to music. So take Sia for example. Her songs, they help people. Everything she writes. You know, most people can relate to.
John Murch: But if she kept her depressive alcoholism to herself, we wouldn’t have Sia.
MAXON: We wouldn’t have Sia.
John Murch: How do we the listeners support musician? What do you need from the listener, as a songwriter performer?
MAXON: Oh, gosh. Just listen. Take it in. I don’t know. That’s a really tough question. I think it’s really, really nice when somebody reaches out to you. Because then you can also reach back. And say, “I’m here. I went through the same thing. And let’s go through it together.” Yeah.
John Murch: I don’t think, Max, you thought this was gonna be a tough album to make. But it’s gonna become that.
MAXON: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
John Murch: But you’re ready though, aren’t you?
MAXON: I’m so ready. Yeah. I’m at a turning point in my life. So I’m 29. Gonna be 30 next year.
John Murch: Talk to me about this. So you’re five years into a relationship when you’re 27. 27. That’s that year.
MAXON: That’s the year.
John Murch: The Janice, the Kurt. How the heck did you get through it? Was it the fact that you were in the relationship at the time? Or was it something else? How did you get through 27?
MAXON: What was I doing at 27?
John Murch: Was it not an issue for you?
MAXON: No, it is. 27 to 28. Because 28’s a new cycle of your life. You’re starting to..
John Murch: It’s the returning of Saturn
John Murch: Should we go on to happier stuff?
MAXON: Yeah. I’m easy. I love the dark stuff. Sit me in it all day long. It’s where the songs come from.
John Murch: Joining us is Maxon. She’s just had a release out, or is going to have an album out, which Is coming off the back of a seven year relationship that sadly ended. Or maybe happily ended. We’ll find out when we get the album and we get a chance to listen to it. But very much, you have a unique vocal style. Is that something that you’ve developed? Have you learned to be unique? Or is it just naturale?
MAXON: It’s just me. The more I sing, and the older I get too, it changes. And at the moment it’s like, really powerful and kind of raspy at the same time. I don’t know, it changes all the time. But I know there’s a style there. I don’t think about it.
John Murch: And also being a music teacher. Are you more aware of how to treat that voice, that you do need three packs of smokes a day to make it sound right?
MAXON: Yes. No cigarettes.
John Murch: Yet. Note she said cigarettes.
MAXON: Ah, look. We all have the occasional, don’t we? It’s not good for your voice. Obviously, everybody knows that. I know a bit about the voice. I wasn’t … I didn’t have extensive training growing up. I had a teacher who was phenomenal, but we did songwriting. I wanted to be creative. Wanted to make my own music, so I just learnt what I know by feeling it out.
John Murch: Intrigued to know whether or not that voice, in the essence that question was there, is something you’re developing because you can, because you have the knowledge to a particular sound, or are you very much leaving it in what is naturally coming out? Because I know that you could make it something else if you wanted to.
MAXON: Yeah, you can. I think there’s always an ability there to copy another singer. And I see it all the time with my students. Every time they learn a new song they copy the artist that they’re learning from. But I try really hard to encourage them to find their voice. And for me, that was just … I did a lot of cover gigs.
John Murch: Maxon, what’s the vision for the next 10 years? You said you’re 29. So you’re still pretty young.
MAXON: I would really like to go overseas. I’d really love to go through the UK and perform over there. And make a bit of a … I’d love to be there, I think. I think Australia’s been really hard for me. I don’t know why. I think it’s hard for everyone, obviously, no matter where you are. I just feel like I need to up and move and try somewhere new. And I feel like London would be really fun. Go and perform.
John Murch: What do those plans sort of look like? It sounds like you’ve got some …
MAXON: Not really at this point. It’s just a thought. But I have Singles coming out over the next little while. So I’ve got one coming out towards the end of the year, and then a few more next year. But I’d love to pop over into the UK middle of next year and just feel it out. Check out the scene. Do some gigs.
John Murch: What’s your view on dance music?
MAXON: Uh huh.
John Murch: And using your voice to further in that direction?
MAXON: Uh huh. Believe it or not, when I was younger …
John Murch: I have an open mind.
MAXON: I did do a song called Chocolate Lover. That I did not write. It was written for me.
John Murch: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
MAXON: It’s still online, but we won’t go there with that.
John Murch: Won’t track it down.
MAXON: It’s not under Maxon, so you might … You might be … I’ve told you the title. Chocolate Lover. You’d probably be able to find it.
John Murch: I’ll give you a tip. Don’t google it. Because the word ‘chocolate’ and other things can get-
MAXON: You know what, when that song came about, the guy that was writing it for me said, you know, anything with the word chocolate in it is a hit song. And we totally went with it. But I was only 15 or 16 at the time. And I should not have been singing what I was singing.
John Murch: Do you … Because you’re quite funky. You’re quite hip.
MAXON: Yeah, I’m not opposed to doing more vocal session stuff for other people.
John Murch: Minus the chocolate.
MAXON: Minus the chocolate. The loving’s all right. Yeah. I’m not opposed to it. I love singing. I’ll sing anything anyone gives me, I’m happy to make it a challenge and give it a go. But for what I’m creating, it probably wouldn’t come from me. If someone gave me a track, and said write something to it. I would love that.
John Murch: Been asking guests about food. Now, you mentioned previously that you’re vegan.
MAXON: Yep. I’ve been vegetarian for, I reckon, five years now. But vegan for a year and a half. It started with health. I’m just really into health. I love cooking. I love putting good-
John Murch: I love pudding as well.
MAXON: Good pudding. Putting, putting. Good things, no, no pudding. I like putting good things into my body and being healthy, so …
John Murch: Let’s talk about health. Because I really want your views on this. This is talking obviously about the life stuff. So vegetarian, now vegan. It’s about the health. What exactly is healthy about that lifestyle? Obviously you are what you eat, but what else about it?
MAXON: Well, today I’m a tofu sandwich, then. That’s probably not even good for you, tofu sandwich. It’s processed.
John Murch: Well it has yeast, bread.
MAXON: It’s processed. It’s processed food. So normally, day to day, I wouldn’t eat it. I know I’m being so particular.
John Murch: You’re being naughty today, aren’t you?
MAXON: I’m being naughty today. I’ve had a chai and a tofu sandwich.
John Murch: You’re in the big city.
MAXON: I might even go get a vegan donut later. We are designed to eats fruits and vegetables. Our hands are designed to pick fruits and vegetables. That’s what we’re supposed to be eating. That’s the healthiest thing for us to eat, is raw fruit and vegetables. Not that I eat raw every day.
John Murch: We created knives –
MAXON: We did. ‘Cause we’re smart. We learnt to kill an animal because we were hungry. And I get that, I get have. If it were survival, I would eat anything. Anything that was put in front of me, I would eat it. You know, if you really were starving, you would.
John Murch: In terms of the healthy, maybe not fitness, but the healthy aspect of it, what are you doing there? How are you getting healthy?
MAXON: I’m pretty unfit at the moment ’cause I’ve been at home writing songs all day, every day.
John Murch: Are you a runner, a cyclist?
MAXON: Oh gosh, no. I hate real strenuous physical activity. Hate it. I’m a musician. But I love, I do love outdoorsy things. So in summer I would like to go surfing. Or I would go for a walk on the beach, not a run. I do like yoga. I do a bit of yoga.
John Murch: But not Bikram?
MAXON: Not Bikram, no.
John Murch: There’s no collaboration with Sting. That vision of seeing Sting doing Bikram yoga on Pultney Street in Adelaide. Like it was great to see him-
MAXON: That’s cool.
John Murch: But he was sweating.
John Murch: He really looked like he needed some help.
MAXON: Yep. Some people love it. They reckon one you do it a couple of times it’s really addictive.
John Murch: But it’s the irony of ringing an ambulance for someone from The Police. I don’t know where that came from.
MAXON: You need another coffee.
John Murch: Very interested to find out from you what steps you’re taking day to day as a musician. And we’ve talked about the space. But it’s a discipline, isn’t it, music?
MAXON: Yeah. It’s really like more than a full time job. It’s like a 70 hour plus week.
John Murch: So how do you organise that? What’s some life hacks, I guess, in a way, that the other aspiring musos, who are going, okay, well Maxon seems been doing okay. Got a couple of Singles out. But what’s happening behind the scenes? How much work?
MAXON: There’s always more you could be doing, which is really, really hard because you feel like it never ends. But I’ve been really lucky be I’ve had help with the email side of things and the booking side of things. If you can get yourself a booking agent, I don’t have one, but Emily does, my manager does book gigs for me. I think that’s really helpful. But there’s a lot to do day to day. But at the moment I’m really focusing on the writing side. And I think you need to do that. You need to kind of put the emails aside for a certain amount of time. Because you can get very distracted doing every aspect that you need to do. You know, reaching out to radio, doing your own press. There’s things you should palm off to people who are good at it. And that’s what I’m learning only now.
John Murch: What are you reading at the moment?
MAXON: I just read The Alchemist, which was a really nice, positive message. Achieve your goals, I think. And I think being 29 and just going through, starting that new cycle, I’ve really started envisioning my dreams as a child. And what I wanted as a child. And I forgot a lot of that through my 20s. And it was always singing. It was always singing. It was always music. And I think, not to say I had a bad relationship at all, because I definitely did not, but when you’re in a relationship through your 20s, your focus shifts. And we lived together, we did everything together. And I was always still doing music, but I think I was always half assing it. Think that now I’m really focused and driven and remembering what I wanted as a kid. And it’s always music. And I think if you can remember those dreams you had as a child, and incorporate them later on in life, I think you can be quite happy.
John Murch: What concerns me when I hear that is that so many people go through a stage of compromise during those years.
MAXON: Yeah. Yep. Over here on the right, hello, music, is just sitting there constantly. But you’re not really looking at it. And that’s how I felt. That’s how I feel now. It’s like music’s always been there. And I know it’s there.
John Murch: So how does one get, as you have now, or about to, get back in love with what’s been there all along?
MAXON: Yeah. That’s a tough question.
John Murch: How do you not take music for granted?
MAXON: Yeah, that’s a really tough question. For me now, I’m learning, and I should have learned a long time ago, meditation. And doing yoga and focusing on being present. And listening to yourself and to your heart and what you want. It’s a really hard thing to do though, when you’ve got all this noise around you day to day. Don’t know if there’s an answer for it.
John Murch: I’m getting a sense though, and this isn’t a counseling session, by the way.
MAXON: Very deep here.
John Murch: Although it’s making me feel much better. if it’s making you feel like sh*
MAXON: Oh, no, it’s not at all. I love it.
John Murch: But now that thing about perspective on the paper. Through the song. There is a very well known comedian who unfortunately at a standup comedy show, which they had to do night in and night out, which they based upon their breakup. After a three, four month of that same show, it got a bit too much. And really was quite a crap show because really they were tapping back into somewhere they really didn’t want to go. How are you managing that vibe that you’re gonna be releasing material that taps into something that isn’t so lovely?
MAXON: I don’t know yet. I don’t know the answer to that yet. But when you feed yourself the negative things, eventually your subconscious believes it. I’m pretty lucky because the breakup wasn’t bad. As far as breakups go, it was really beautiful. Which is weird.
John Murch: Which I’m hearing timely.
MAXON: Yeah, yeah. Awful, sad, all of those things, but the music that I’m writing is very … It was a great time. It’s sad that these things have all … It’s kind of just blown up in our face. But it’s time to move on, and it’s time … For both of us, we never focused on our individual selves. So that’s what this time is about for me, just doing me. No matter where you are, what you’re doing, who you’re with. Like focus on yourself. It’s not selfish if you’re listening to you. Yeah.
John Murch: Maxon, thanks for joining radionotes.
MAXON: Thank you so much. It’s so nice to finally meet you in person!