Max Schneider aka MAX is not your average YouTube cover singer.
He has been performing since he was 3 years old and the 24-year-old singer has done it all: understudied for 4 roles in the Broadway musical “13”; modeled with pop icon Madonna for an international Dolce & Gabbana ad; wrote a song for Disney; starred in Nickelodeon’s “How To Rock” as Zander; covered songs on YouTube; released several original albums; and toured the US with popular singers such as Fall Out Boy, Wiz Khalifa, and Hoodie Allen.
Last year, MAX signed with DCD2 Records, home to Panic! at the Disco and Fall Out Boy, and on 8th April, he dropped his bold new album, “Hell’s Kitchen Angel”, which focuses on his life growing up in a Manhattan neighbourhood.
Thanks to our friends from Livescape Group, we got to speak with the “Gibberish” singer real quick before his “Livescape Sessions” show in July and here’s what went down:
We know that it’s going to be your first time performing in Malaysia. So how have you been preparing for your trip?
It’s going to be my first time in anywhere, which is amazing. I’m so excited to go there and perform. We’ve been in rehearsals and I will be performing songs from my new album, “Hell’s Kitchen Angel”, for the first time. I’m just so excited to put on the best performance possible for them (fans).
“Hell’s Kitchen Angel” is your first album released under Pete Wentz (DCD2 Records). In your words, can you tell us what is “Hell’s Kitchen Angel” all about?
I’m from Hell’s Kitchen, New York City and a lot of people think that it’s a cooking show called “Hell’s Kitchen” by Gordon Ramsey, but it’s actually a real place in New York City where I was born and raised. There’s a song (on the album) called “Hell’s Kitchen Angel” about me meeting someone in the neighbourhood where I grew up in. (So) I decided to name it (the album) that. The album is really about all the most honest experiences from my own life that I could portray in songs. There’s a song called “Basement Party” and it’s about having your own parties, which is what I did when I was growing up. I used to have a lot of basement parties in my house so it (the album) really documented my life thus far and capsulated who I am as a person and a singer and how people can connect with that. I try to keep it as transparent as possible with my own experiences in life.
You have been collaborating with so many different artistes on so many different occasions. What’s been your most memorable collaboration so far?
That’s a good question. I’ve been really, really lucky to collaborate with so many wonderful people. I would say that one of my favourite collaborations thus far was with Patrick Stump and he is a singer from the Fall Out Boy. Patrick was a really big hero of mine when I was making new songs. I wrote a song with him on the album called “10 Victoria Secret Models” and it’s kind of a trick title because the key line is “even when 10 Victoria Secret models walk into this room right now, I’d never take my eyes off you”. It’s about this girl I was very in love with and I only had eyes for her, so the song is not just personal to me but also I get to collaborate with him (Patrick) because he’s such a genius artiste and I have been a Fall Out Boy fan like forever so I appreciate that I got to work with him.
Speaking of collaborations, you have worked a lot with fellow YouTuber Kurt Schneider. Just out of curiosity, have fans asked you if you guys are related?
No, actually, everyday! No matter how many times Kurt and I say we’re not actually brothers by blood, everybody still thinks that we’re brothers. We might as well be brothers, we’re so close! We sort of accepted that some people will think that we are related with the same half name, which is sort of funny.
What’s your songwriting/creative process like?
For me, the songs mostly come from the stories that I have experienced in my life. I always like to start out with an experience. For example the song “Home” is about a pregnancy scare I had with a girl and I basically documented the experience throughout that night of everything I thought. I thought, “Am I ready to be a father at 23 years old?”, “Where are we gonna live?, “Am I still gonna go on tour and do music?”…Just everything! Starting from a place like that for a song, you kinda just write (about) yourself and your experiences. In my mind, I always hoped that it will relate to someone (who is) in my place and how I figured it out hopefully helps them get through that thing. So for me, it (songwriting) always comes from an authentic place, story, or feeling, and then I work on it after that.
A few days ago, you released “Christina’s Song” as a tribute to Christina Grimmie. If it’s okay with you, do you mind telling us how you guys first met?
Christina and I have a lot happening in the YouTube Community and many singers work together a lot. So Christina was someone that I knew but hadn’t met for almost 5 years. We always talk (online) and then one day I was walking down the street and I ran into her. It was a hilarious experience, we felt like we knew each other for 5 years and that’s the line in the song, “we thought we’ve known each other forever”. It was nothing like “Hey nice to meet you”, but it was more like “Oh my gosh, it’s great to finally see you!”. So we kinda connected pretty instantly and from there we’ve been friends. When I found out about the news, my heart sank, I didn’t believe it. A few days later, I wrote the song to honour (her) just because it’s the only way I know how to help deal with anything like that (death). To write about it, it’s sort of a therapeutic process to honour someone with the thing (music) we all love the most.
How has Christina’s death affected the YouTube music community?
You want to be vulnerable to the people that listens to your music and connects with you. Christina was like that. She was so kind, loving, and vulnerable and she passed away with her arms open. She had her arms open to this terrible person who did such a savage thing and (he) betrayed her trust and her fans. I think that it’ll only increase our strength in the (YouTube) community to connect with our fans. I think that it may also have affected some of them in a way because they don’t feel safe. I think that venues and places that people play shows at need to raise the bar for security. A concert is a place where everybody should feel so safe and able to be free, vulnerable, and fuse themselves with the music. They shouldn’t have to fear for their life. So I think the whole community is demanding for more security and more support in that way so that we can be the most open and free with our fans and the people that matter most to us.
Last one for the road – What can your fans expect from your upcoming show?
We’ll be performing some songs from the album and we’ve also got a couple of covers too. There will be a lot of energy and I can’t wait to give all my energy to get the crowd involved. Hopefully I can bring the best show possible to them. And of course my favourite thing is meeting fans, going to new places, and thanking fans for giving me their time in my music and supporting me.
Livescape Group’s “Livescape Sessions” featuring Megan Nicole, Andie Case, Max Schneider, and Mike Tompkins will be held on 14th July at Stadium Chin Woo, Jalan Hang Jebat.