Continuing the series of questions and answers that I sent to various people, whom I’m either in contact with, admire or just wanted to be nosey with. In fact many fit all three.
Well Max Weiner I came across when recommended by another musician, so hopefully if you’ve not heard his work before you may just stick around. Since then I have conversed many times with him about his music. Like many other musicians he’s also heavily involved in other spheres and in Max’s case this is art. Within this piece I have also highlighted some of his visuals too. He’s one of those talented people who can play just about any instrument they pick up which I admire greatly being as I had trouble just playing the triangle when at school.
1. Many people including myself have likened your vocals to that of Art Garfunkel, do you find that as a compliment or a hindrance? A compliment, of course! Art Garfunkel, in my opinion, has one of the smoothest voices in the history of folk-rock. I envy how he is able to go between notes so melodically, almost like a violin or a cello. To be compared to him is most certainly a compliment. It’s funny because I tend to get Paul Simon comparisons much more so than Art Garfunkel. I actually think about this a lot, comparisons. It’s something I do when I listen to a new artist. I try to hear who they sound like so I can associate a genre and make sense of what message they are trying to convey. I know I have been heavily influenced by Simon & Garfunkel, for example, so it’s only natural that someone would hear the similarities. Comparisons, in my opinion, often can be a hindrance, especially if the musician isn’t willing to grow and find their own voice. They begin with a copied sound and never leave the nest of influence. I try to bring my own element to the influence to create something new. Well I do think you found your own voice within your material.
2. You come from an entertainment family background, did you find this an advantage? If so what traits did you pick up? Growing up in the environment that I did, one where creativity and individuality were encouraged, was absolutely advantageous. It shaped the person I am today. My father is a comedian and a puppet-maker, my mother is an artist and a life coach, so there was always some project being worked on around the house that promoted curiosity and outside-the-box thinking. They are both entrepreneurs and self-employed, and I can remember when I was in middle school thinking that when I grew up, I wanted to work for myself and do what I loved everyday, just like they did. My father used to rent a loft space where he would work on puppet sets and write new material. I would work alongside him sometimes, hot glueing broken toys he had lying around onto pieces of wood, making collages. Letting me explore and create on my own had a big impact on how I create and explore now. It taught me that I could trust myself to make something wonderful. Being around such creative, productive, and inspiring parents fostered a real love and appreciation for the arts and for following my dreams through to fruition. My mother taught me how to be resilient through the many hardships that you can encounter when running your own business and throughout life in general. It gets very difficult, being self-employed, to see a bigger picture sometimes, and having that reliance has been such a useful tool. It helps me to see the end goal, in both recording albums and creating artwork.
3. Now you not only make and produce your own music but you also draw all your own artwork. If you had to choose one career, music or art, which would it be and why? I have been asked that question before, and the truth is that I can’t choose one or the other. I go through periods of musical creativity where I will just record and write music. Then I go through periods where I am extremely, visually inspired and want to do nothing but draw, paint or sculpt. I think I need a bit of both to keep from going crazy. I do love the style you employ greatly.
4. You’ve been in the studio of late. How’s that been progressing? Is this for a debut album? I have been working on and off for the past few months on a concept E.P. which may or may not be entitled “Seasons.” The concept was to analyse each of the seasons, study their character traits, and then embody that in the female form, almost like a love story for each season. So for example, the song “Winter” is about a love that has become cold or frozen, but eventually warms again, and you remember why it was that you loved to begin with. “Winter” is nearly finished, so all that is left is Spring, Summer, and Fall. It should be finished by the end of October. I have also been working on a full length which will be a bit different from my previous folk style music. It will incorporate more of a full band sound, and I am really excited with the way the recordings have been turning out. That’s good I’ll keep a lookout for these creations then.
5. How have you found the music business? have you had much interest from any labels or our planning to release it yourself? So far, I have found the music business to be tricky. You have to be very careful when dealing with labels and people who want to support, and make a profit off of your music. I was recently approached by a company that has a lot of commercial power who were interested in licensing my songs to use in their programming. After carefully reading their contract, I decided against signing with them, as parts of it were too vague for my liking. Reading contracts carefully is key to having a healthy, long career I think. Smaller labels have expressed interest in my music, but for the time being, I will be releasing these projects myself. Wise words there I feel take heed as I have seen many bands been signed up only to release a shadow product of their former self.
6. Once completed your recordings are there any plans for some live concerts? Promotional Radio? On that subject do you have a music publisher to plug you? Absolutely. Performing live is crucial in connecting with a fan base. I am looking forward to promoting these new projects in a live setting. Once the E.P. is finished, I will do some solo acoustic performances. When the full length is done, I will be performing with a full band. No radio play as of yet, but I am in talks with a friend in Holland about some opportunities both for radio play and some shows, so we will see what happens with that. Cool, hope that transpires and it would be great if you can come perform also in the U.K.
7. You have done artwork for other musicians, as with Andrew Judah. Is this something you wish to continue? For sure. Being able to work on art for bands other than myself has been a huge opportunity for me. I have met a lot of like-minded musicians, and the relationships I have developed with them have been very helpful in the growth of my career. I just finished working on some artwork for a band based in Holland called AlascA, and I developed a friendship with their lead singer, Frank. I had some doubts about the contract I talked about earlier, and he had some lawyers and friends who were knowledgeable in entertainment law look over the contract free of charge. I have consulted with Andrew Judah on some songs of mine, and it was his track-list suggestion for my E.P. that made the final product. I think it is a mutual gain to work with like-minded musicians on a project, because you both benefit from the finished product, so I definitely would like to continue doing artwork for musicians. Well being honest I haven’t heard of AlascA, but again I will go see what they’re up to too.
8. We touched on the Simon and Garfunkel sound, what other artists have greatly shaped your musical direction? Are you ready for the abridged list? Joni Mitchell, CSNY (both together, as well as Stephen, Graham, David, and Neil’s solo stuff) James Taylor, The Beatles (as well as Paul, John, and George’s solo work) Vashti Bunyan, Nick Drake, The Grateful Dead, Jackson Browne and more recently, Fleet Foxes, Blake Mills, and Chelsea Wolf. I’m certain I left a lot of musicians out, but that is the general list. I like all kinds of music, and try to blend many different genres. I recently got into Chelsea Wolfe, and she has just completely changed the way I go about trying to construct a song. She has very dark elements to a lot of her music, lots of minor chords. I highly recommend watching the room 205 videos of her on Youtube. With that list I can see why I took kindly to your output. I will also take a peak on the internet too at Chelsea’s works later on thanks.
9. Being a multi instrumentalist, which instrument do you write your songs with? Which one do you regard as your principle tool? Guitar. It’s my primary tool and the instrument I feel I can be most expressive with. It was the first instrument I learned how to play, and because of that, I feel there is a deep connection that allows me to write songs more organically. If I’m writing a song to be played just with an acoustic and my voice, I love exploring how I can make certain strings sound like backup vocals to fill out the sound a bit more.
10. Given the chance to re-record one of your own songs with famous musicians which track and which people would you surround yourself with? Seeing as I have only released an E.P. so far, I think from that collection of songs, I would re-record “Hanging On Clouds” with Graham Nash circa “Songs For Beginners”. I feel like he would be really good at adding tasteful harmonies without taking over the song. So are you listening out there Mr. Nash?
Well what an interesting response that was from Max Weiner and thanks for taking time to answering my questions. You can find Max via Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Soundcloud and his own website. Interesting times ahead for him it would seem, I hope you also join him in that too.