Interview: Max Lawrence introduces us to his new single “Gasoline” and talks about isolation during these bizarre times

Melbourne musician Max Lawrence has a new single called “Gasoline” which is out now via online streaming. His music embodies passionate vocals infused with a smidge of electronic and dance music, but still maintaining those chamber pop credentials we’ve grown to love. I’m curious to watch and hear Max Lawrence’s music progression. I hope he remains with a step in the pop and harmonic direction to keep us fans on edge, but I also look forward to his future explorations with new sounds.

“Gasoline” explores the distraction money and material possessions have on us as humans that we feel make us happy but really often don’t. The words are also astute right now as we all need a distraction from how bizarre and confusing the world is. I’m loving the vibrant chorus with the sounds of money chinking, and the ever flowing vocals throughout. “Gasoline” will be part of Lawrence’s second EP (release date to be confirmed) and this follows up his widely popular debut EP, Chlorophyll, which was released in 2019. I recommend taking time out to listen and support Australian music. Now is the time more than ever.

I took time to chat to Max about his new single, and also to hear his thoughts on remaining in basic isolation during these COVID-19 times.

Congratulations on your latest song release. I’m really enjoying Gasoline. I feel it’s still got the beautiful harmonies and sound reminiscent of your first EP Chlorophyll, but with a new edge to it. Do you see your music in the future taking a new style?

Oh, absolutely. I love too many different styles of music to only make one type. At the moment I’m focusing on making more groove driven music or just using more abrasive sounds as the subject matter evolves into darker worlds. When I started making music I really tried to corner a specific sound, but right now I’m just having so much fun throwing all the different colours at the wall and seeing what sticks, and exploring that multiplicity within myself as well as my music feels exciting.

I read your career highlights are performing as part of the 2019 Gaytimes Festival and performing with the Forest Collective Orchestra this year. If I could snap my fingers and make it happen, what or where would you love your music to be part of next?

I’d love to perform my music with an orchestra again, maybe at beautiful venues like the arts centre or recital centre, or I’d LOVE to bring a show like that to Dark Mofo in Tasmania. Maybe infusing some more gritty electronic beats elements contrasted with the beauty of the orchestra. That would be sick.

When do we expect the Gasoline film clip to be available to the public?

Hopefully very, very soon! It’s just being finalised. We have a couple more behind-the-scenes stuff to do before releasing, although I’m so excited and just want it out there, so not too long now!

What inspired you to write Gasoline?

So I wrote Gasoline on guitar in mid-2018, when I was feeling really down and out and unmotivated. I was going through a pretty nihilistic period of my life, just wondering what the point of anything was, and that feeling was beginning to creep into my music. I was questioning within myself what kept me going, and desperately started to search and identify what that was. The line ‘feed me gasoline’ popped into my head and then the song just flowed from there.

I then wanted it to sound like this absurd, trippy dream state and produced it with kooky de-tuned bells, granulated weepy synths and washed-out psych guitars with my close collaborator Rino Darusman, and here we are!

Tell us something about Max Lawrence that majority of the public don’t know.

I’m freakishly good at catching food in my mouth. I’m like a circus animal; it’s wild.

Who or what inspired you to make music?

I’ve sung all my life, and both my parents were very musical with my brother and I growing up. I was in choirs, played piano, Mum and Dad would always sing around the house, and music was just always ingrained into my DNA. I’m a very sensory and emotional person, and at age of 16 I began writing my own music which became a way to discover how I was feeling about myself and the world around me when there were so many layers of self-doubt and shame numbing me. Making music has been an emotional liberation of sorts because it helps me reflect and understand the world and my role within it.

Who would you love to collaborate with to write a song and record a film clip?

I would LOVE to collaborate with Woodkid, aka Yoann Lemoine. He was a bastion of hope and inspiration for me as a teenager, and the way his music weaves a story with his visuals is just next level. It would also be a dream to work with the incredible artist and filmmaker Andrew Thomas Huang, who has worked with the likes of Bjork and FKA Twigs, and brings this otherworldly and sensual element to their art which I feel would really compliment mine.

Do you feel that being in self-isolation has enhanced your creativity by giving you new feelings to explore to then write music?

It’s funny. I’ve found myself writing more songs or lyrics for people I care about, because I can’t actually go and see them but still want to show them love. I’ve been confronted with the idea of how we show love to people when we can’t actually touch or hug them, and the only way I know how to show love without presence and touch is by making things.

How strange has isolation been for you? How do you see the road out of here?

It has its ups and downs. I really miss seeing my best friends and going out for a good boogie and engaging in my beloved queer community at the club, but it’s also been great to have more time to develop and engage in my practice and experimentation as an artist. I find myself talking to people I haven’t spoken to in ages, and also valuing the people that do contact me even more. I never used to jump on video calls but now I do it often, and it reminds me of how connected we can all be; although it’s hard to see friends struggle with the readjustment. I wish I could just go give them a big, long hug.

When this is over we’re all going to really value each other’s company, our gigs, our nightlife and our communities so much more. I see this having a really transformative effect on our collective consciousness. We need each other more than we maybe realise, and I think we’re beginning to question the ideas that isolate us as individuals within a society. Maybe we can cultivate a more community driven mindset in how we operate in the future.

How have you been using isolation at your advantage as a musician?

Honestly, I’m loving it. I just love having so much more time to explore and create, and it’s so cool to see how musicians are getting really creative with how they collaborate. My bass player friend uploaded a bunch of bass lines for his friends to jam/write over, and I ended up writing two new songs based on those bass parts and sent them back. He then wrote more lines and it opened up new avenues for collaboration online which I’d never done before, and am excited to do more of!

Thank you for taking the time to chat to us today. Are there any future music releases besides Gasoline?

In regards to this, I haven’t got anything set in stone yet. But more music soon, so stay tuned!

“Gasoline” is out now through Spotify and via Max Lawrence’s Facebook.

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