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Up & Coming with 
Max Wassen

Max Wassen is a character. Both his music and personality can’t be described as anything else than ‘typical Max’. One of his curious projects is making an album with simply French collaborators. The most curious element of it all? Max is a Canadian dude, living in Sweden that has no connection to the land of the Eiffel Tower, foods and fashion whatsoever. We could name more than a dozen reasons why we should talk to this guy, so let’s get into the Up and the Coming of Max Wassen.

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Listen to the interview here or read on below

00:00 / 23:43

Time for an introduction. But Max being Max, I wanted to do something a bit different. How would your next-door neighbor describe you?


O my god… Specifically Mr. Jenkins? Annoying, loud, disturbing, wonderfully polite. The kind of polite that when you go over and say ‘you need to keep it down’ and I’d invite my 60-year old neighbor in. And he’s like ‘I guess I could grab a little bit of cognac in this party full of very young/old people’. That’s probably how he would describe me. Unapologetically nice. In a nice way.


Do you agree with him?


Not at all! Not even a little! I’d invite him in because he’s a cool dude. But if it was someone else I’d be like ‘yeah, we’ll keep it down’. Like the normal stuff and really do not do anything about it. Sometimes when you can’t beat them, join them. And my man Jenkins got it. His name is not really Jenkins but we’re going to call him that. It’s a very Swedish name.


Why did Max Wassen ever get into music?


That’s a good question. I didn’t have anything else to do. I wasn’t good at anything else to begin with. I always enjoyed lyrics. I listened to a lot of Eminem growing up. A lot of different types of hip hop and I’d not just hear it but also listen. I would get pissed off when people weren’t listening to what was being said. I just started writing it down. I remember writing down a lot of his tracks. Same goes for the Black Eyed Peas and some Sean Paul stuff. That was sort of the era in which I stumbled into hip hop. Which was interesting. Cause you had like Elaphunk and these kinds of records that were blasting. They were very musical, very melodic. Eminem was gritty as shit. At the same time, the thing with Sean Paul was just fun. Writing down those lyrics was very interesting. I learned a lot, but I didn’t even realize I was learning structure when I was like 8 or 9 years old. You can probably check the records and find out what year that was. I wasn’t Googling any of that shit. It was press play, hear what they said, pause it, write it down and then press play, hear what they said, pause it, write it down. I did that the whole way through. All of the sudden, I started understanding how people were rhyming and using bars. Well, if I say people I mean at least Wil.I.Am. That’s sort of how I got into music to begin with. That was way back when I was in Canada.


But I didn’t get into music for real, until I moved to Sweden, where I was bullied for a bit. Being bullied, I didn’t have anything else to do than just go home and listen to music. So I did that for a couple of years. That was interesting. That was… I am not going to say ‘fun’, but it was what it was, you know. At least it got me somewhere and got me into a passion that doesn’t make any money. 


I keep looking back on it and it reminds me of that time. I look back on it now quite fondly. I even have it in a song which is like I remember being bullied really bad and it sucked. And then you grow older and you’re like ‘wow, that was easy in comparison to some other things you have to deal with as an adult’. As an adult, all of the sudden, you have so many different responsibilities all at the same time coming at you from all angles. Then you look back and are like ‘wow, there I only had to worry about a couple of dudes. Now, I have to worry about everything all the time. Then you realize that it was actually one of the easier parts of life. Which sucks to think about, but it’s sort of what it is. 


I have a number of tracks that are all about growing up, for some reason.  And I keep falling back into it because I grew up really quickly, when moving to Sweden from Canada. I remember there is a very clear.. in the Max Wassen origin story or my arc, my character arc…  of being very accepted, having so much fun in Canada up till I was 11 or 12. And then I moved to Sweden, where I had a really bad time for about a decade. It took a long time to sort of stumble into myself.  Because I remember that I was a very loud, obnoxious, fun child. And then moving…  people in Sweden really don't like it if you're loud or you're a lot, or you have a personality. They don't like that. So they'll try and peg you down a notch. And then they did and it probably worked. I realized that I was getting more accepted and getting more friends, the less fun I was and the less of an accent I had. I did that for a couple years until I met a dude who was loud and obnoxious and funny. But people loved him for some reason. I was like ‘oh, I'm gonna just do that’. So then I just did that. I made myself become his friend. He was very hesitant at first, and then after annoyingly being next to him for a good couple years,  all of that just rubbed off and I was back to being myself. Then I just sort of decided I'm gonna just be me right now.


The whole point about growing up and why it's so difficult is because you're trying to figure that out while also for some reason doing tests and school stuff, which doesn't even matter. And you know, I can't even imagine the times I've thought about highschool…  or not even high school, which isn't that much growing up, but like sixth to ninth grade or eighth grade for North Americans listening. Can you imagine that there were parts there that felt important? You know, none of it really was. Growing up, I don't think it's a trap. I think I'm way happier now than I was growing up. I think a lot of people are too. So getting over those hurdles is important. Growing up is tough. And it is fun to get out on the other side.


How can we hear who Max is in your music?


Oh, I don't know. I think if you read a little bit of the lyrics… I think some of my tone deafness comes off and rubs off in the most annoying of ways,  music-wise.  If it's upbeat in a very, very sad track, like lyrically, it's probably me, you know?


I remember there was a song that I wrote for another dude, or where I helped write at least. Someone checked out who the lyrics were and they saw it was me. It had elements of very sad stuff to this upbeat song. And that's sort of why he could hear that. This wasn't a fan. This was also someone who was close to both of us. He was like, “did Max touch this?”.


What would be a big achievement you will be hopefully making in the next five years?


I'm gonna be the first man to space walk on my lawn. That'd be kind of cool. First guy to eat a pineapple shell. First guy to duct tape a squirrel to water skis.


Wow… And music wise?


Music-wise, I don't know, it's so hard to say. Rich, famous, obnoxiously annoying, handsome, devilish, charm. The Mets. All the Mets. Several of the Mets. Being to those ones, you know. I don't even like baseball, but I'll do it!


I think what I'm doing at the moment, which is releasing one collab a month with different French artists, is gonna be up there with at least some of the foundation of what is gonna be a long career. Hopefully. Or, you know, just a career at that point. Maybe I'm gonna get off the shelf of Up & Coming after, let's say,  two years? Something like that. That'd be nice.


Is there any specific reason why you decided to make an album with just French people?


Uh, no!  It's not a great idea. I'll tell you that. And I've been very adamant about it since day one when people have asked me like ‘oh,  is it a good idea to do this?’. No, it probably isn't. I don't think it is at all. I think it's difficult. I think there's a lot of reasons not to do it, and I think that's why I wanna do it. I'm annoying in that way. When everyone's sort of telling me ‘ah, that's not a great idea’. I'm like, yeah, that's kinda why I wanna try it. You know? 


I think I just have a lot of good contacts within France. And I think the French are wonderful. Wonderfully provocative! They boast in the best way possible. They always got their chest out. They're very proud of their country. They remind me of me in a weird way, but more just prone to being angry about things. And I think that's the main difference. They're wonderfully social too, and I think the French get a lot of bad rep just for being honest people. They're very blunt and honest, and Ilove being blunt and honest, at least honest. I'm not too blunt about it often, but in comparison to Swedes… The French are fantastic, but to be honest,  most countries are in comparison to Swedes. 


Almost every song that you hear on it is me reaching out to one of these French artists through one of the other French artists. Because they all sort of know each other in a weird way. Saying, “Hey, would you mind just doing a session? This is the project that I'm doing.” This is the amount of songs that we're doing, we already have these names on it, you know? And then they're like, okay, “here's three or four instrumentals.” Then they send me  three or four instrumentals, and then I get back to them maybe three weeks later after polishing and recording everything. And writing everything.  Sometimes getting in choirs and getting in some guitar stuff and maybe changing some structure even, and asking for stems. Maybe seeing how far I can really press it, you know. Then sending back what I already think sounds fantastic, you know?  And some of the answers are usually just ‘wow, that's great’. Because they're not used to just someone putting in so much work into something before them. They're producers as well, they're producer artists, so they're used to having to be the ones that maintain the whole track. So when I get a chance to get my hands in it. They don't really know that I'm a producer as well, in my foundation and my roots, and so knowing that I could just send them something and they'll be like ‘whoa, that sounds great’. Then it's hard to say no when a track is already there and it's almost there.


So they just need to do a little tweak and just have some fun with it. Maybe change some stuff and make it more personable. Then all of a sudden it's like, ‘Hey, we got a cool ass track here’. Then they get excited as well, you know. That's really fun to see when people get excited for shit that I've made for them or with them


How did you select the collaborators you are now working with? Like RetroVision? You just released Aubade with him, and now there's other guys coming up. .


I actually sort of looked for people that had different genres than I did. Because none of these people really come from hip hop and I really wanted to just sort of experiment with mixing EDM and hip hop. I think that's also why Soave has been fantastic to work with because they’re really EDM people and because they don't have a lot of hip hop artists, I become more interesting in a weird way. So then being able to do a fun little mesh of that has just been cool.


It's been very interesting. And some of these other tracks I know are really gonna be popping off the shelf. They're very European in a weird way, these songs. And I think that that's very cool. Hopefully they can break through in a weird “American marque”. A bit of French for you! 


Why are most of the songs written in English


I can't speak French. So that's probably one of the main reasons. Nor will I learn it!  I think it's one of those things: would a Frenchman travel to someone else's country and learn their language? I don't think they would. So I'm not gonna learn French because I'm French at heart. That's what I'm gonna be doing. I'm just gonna get by in English. People are going to be annoyed. It's gonna be great. We're gonna have a lot of blunt, honest conversations. It's gonna be fantastic. 


Well, what is the good thing about French though then?


So many, so many, so many great things about France. 


What are your top five favorite things about France?


I'd say Damien N-drix. He's one of my top five French things, most definitely. He is very warm and cuddly, very nice. He hates the smell of my feet. I love the smell of his though. That's a fun contrast.

I don't know. Other than that, the music's great. The food is great. Of course the food is great. I don't know... the people I really, really enjoy. The French people really.  People saying that they don't like the French people, just haven't been met with a dose of honesty, or honest, honest people in their lives. A lot of people come from passive countries and one of the most passive countries is like the Scandinavians, you know? And then you just hang out with some French people and they will tell you exactly how they feel. Exactly! You know? It's great and I appreciate that because, for the first time, I get to know if someone really enjoys my company or not right off the bat, you know? And I think that's fantastic.


Why are you calling your album French Breakfast? 


There's a couple of reasons why I'm calling this collaboration album French Breakfast. The biggest reason is something that I sort of stumbled into. I called it French Breakfast already because I just thought it sounded fantastic. I thought it sounded like a good collaboration album thing. And I could see us as a last supper final image where, where Fishsmoothie draws it and illustrates it. Then we just have everybody around this table and it's just breakfast. It's fantastic! It just looks great in my mind. 


I didn't even know until like two months later that I was set on the name and someone said, “Hey, are you calling it French Breakfast because the French don't have a word for breakfast?” And I didn't even know that they didn't! They call it little lunch, which is ridiculous. It doesn't make any fucking sense. So I'm calling it French Breakfast also to be like, “Hey, you guys should have a better word for breakfast”. Come on man. You're France. You're all about food. Have a real word for breakfast. You're also about language and culture and stuff. Do better.


And now that Aubade has just been released, It's super nice! The next songs are going to be similar or are there huge differences? 


I'd say, Aubade was actually one of the ones that stuck out to me as being very unique. Both in its style, its substance, the structure as well and RetroVision. He's one of the most talented producers I've ever seen. When he got to sink his teeth in, he was like ‘yeah, let's do that’. Then he made some wonderful changes. It was like that last drop he workshoped together in half an hour. Which was quite ridiculous, and he did some (mumbling singing)  between those parts. That's his voice that he just fucked around with to the point where it sounds like that. It's special. It's a very special track. It's been really fun to see that. He's gotten a lot of positive feedback for it too.Because I think some of these artists are like, ‘oh, it's outta my genre’. And then all of a sudden they see this and they're like ‘oh, well that's pretty cool’. You know? The song with Aubade is different in the way that the producers are very different. They're very different in what they do, and they're also very talented, but in different aspects, right? So RetroVision was speedy as hell. It was really quick. I remember when I worked with Toby Romero on my EP. He produced the whole thing. He was also speedy as fuck, you know?


I'm just sort of waltzing in like, “Hey, I can, uh, rap”. I think that there's some fun names as well and some fun music… and the concepts. Just try and listen to the concepts!  I'm really happy with a lot of my lyrical work for this album.


I think with something Aubade, when you really dive into the lyrics, is very depressing and you wouldn't expect it. It's the same with the next tracks that are coming up. So the track Into You, which is the next one that's being released, it's very upbeat, it's very fun, it's very interesting. But the concept or the hook of it… I don't know if I can talk about the hook yet because we haven't even shown the track yet. But it's with Miller Miller who I've worked with before… And, uh, I don't know. I can't remember your question. I'm just sort of rambling. What was your question? What to look forward to? Oh, I don't know. Don't look forward to anything. Have the kind of mind that I do. Think that everything's grey and dull and bad. And then you're gonna be pleasantly surprised every time you walk outside and you're like ’Hey, the world's not on fire’.


I like the concept idea! Maybe that's just a general thing, not just for your music, but for all music: just listen to it. Would you agree?


Well no, There's a lot of music out there that's just bad. There's absolute trash and I hear it all the time. I have friends that make really bad music. They're great people and they make really bad music. When I say bad music, it's just…okay, when you write about love, which a lot of people do, right? If you're gonna step into the world of love, and you're gonna do it in a way that's the most generic way fucking possible, where you use love as the key word and the hook is just, ‘I love you’ and it's generic as hell. You gotta get back to some Billy Joel, listen to, “she's always a woman”, and then try and get back to me on how to write a fucking love song. All of that annoys me. I hate music! Absolutely hate music, it is the worst because of how much I love it. It's absolutely horrendous to listen to on a daily basis.


On a daily basis when people write love music. Because there's a difference too. You could be a pop megastar and write good love music, right? So one of the tracks that I do reference to is one track with Ariana Grande which is fantastic. It’s called ‘POV’ (point of view). And  it's writing around love, but not specifically love. So the whole concept of that song is like ‘ I want to love me the way that you love me’. You know, “for all of my pretty, all of my ugly two, I'd love to see me through your point of view”, which is a very nice way… It's a very good track. It's solidly written, very well written, and the production is really interesting as well. And it's a sweet production, so it makes sense. But I don't know.


So there are great ways to write love songs. Now I've just sort of gotten to a rant about love songs. People are really bad at it, horrible at it, and they don't really know how to make it interesting. And then it gets a lot of streams and people are like, oh, you need to write it generically. No you don't. POV has like a billion streams or something, and it's perfect.

Time to stop you there, Max. I think it's time to listen to your music for a bit now. Thanks!

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