One morning last year, I woke up and decided I was going to skip my math class and write a song. (I’m currently studying Economics at the University of Ottawa, which is located in, as you might have guessed, Ottawa, Canada – my hometown.)
Instead of playing around with a synth inside my DAW – Digital Audio Workstation: software that is used to produce music (mine is Fruity Loops) – I reached for my guitar and mic. I played three chords, looped them and just started singing over it. Whatever came into my head.
Nothing was written down, I was just letting things out and it felt good. Like, really good. It was almost like a lightbulb moment for me.
My lyrics were derivative, the melodies were lazy, every note I tried to sing was either flat or sharp, and it took way too long for me to get a half-decent take of the guitar riff… but I was finally excited about making music again.
That song was “Skipping,” which appears on my EP from April of this year, crying in the club – the first one I released under my rebranded alias/artist project: maxime.
The final version of the song is quite a bit different compared to what I wrote and recorded that afternoon (a little autotune goes a long way), but it still stands as a major turning point for me artistically.
Let’s rewind a little bit. I had been making EDM since I was 14 (I’m now 21) and was deeply in love with the genre. Ever since my dad played the Deadmau5 classic “Strobe” for me, I had been hooked on electronic music, first as a listener and later as a creator.
Slowly, I stopped listening to artists like Mord Fustang and Noisia, in favor of others like Radiohead, The Maccabees and Vampire Weekend. More recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of Papooz, Jay Som, Bay Faction, and so on – a whole bunch of indie/alternative, basically.
My last electronic music release was called Toothpaste and Orange Juice, a 7-track EP which I released in August, 2018 under my old artist name: MaXD.
God, I hated that name.
I can’t believe I stuck with it for so long. I came up with it while playing “Rock Band” at the ripe age of thirteen in my basement. Yes, the “XD” is supposed to be the emoticon. I’m so quirky. I mean, we’d at least changed it from MaXD to Maxd, but the name didn’t make any more sense after that than it did before. It became somewhat of an identity crisis because I felt the project, in general, was no longer one I felt proud of, no longer something I wanted to work on.
Rediscovering my love for the creative process
So there I was, 20 years old at the time, working on this new song, finally excited again about something which I thought I was starting to fall out of love with – making music.
The new music was really different. In some sense, maybe too different.
I was nervous to show the new sound to my manager and express my desire to change directions artistically. It was a pretty hard 180, and we had put a ton of time into developing the MaXD/Maxd branding over the last few years.
But after he took a listen to a few demos I sent his way, he was immediately on board.
During that semester of school I wrote around 20 entirely new songs, all with this new sound. Over the course of a year, I had transitioned fully from bedroom EDM producer to bedroom indie/pop artist, vocals and all.
That last part of the equation was a tough part to figure out. It took a lot of time to become more comfortable singing over my tracks, and on the album I’ve got coming up, it’s easy to hear in some of the tracks when I got more confident singing and started to showcase that aspect more prominently. But I got to a point where I really became comfortable with this new process, and I never looked back.
Side note – my friends, family and I loved the new music but my grades did not. I ended up failing that math class because I spent so much time singing and noodling on my guitar.
maxime. – a new start
Alright cool, so I had a ton of new music now, but what was I to do with it?
First things first: I had to come up with a new artist name; a lot easier said than done.
A few of the ideas which got scrapped include maxime meanswell, maxime tripp, and maxiime. Ultimately, none of these felt right. But I did like the idea of using my real first name, so we settled on something simpler – and aesthetically-pleasing – maxime.
Next up, we had to figure out how to package everything. First, we released crying in the club, which was much more pop-y than past stuff but still had lots of electronic influences. More recently, we dropped pity party – another 5-track EP which is essentially straight-up indie.
Finally, I felt like it was time to drop a proper debut album.
whatevernowiscalled, which is 18 tracks long and combines a little bit of everything stylistically, released on December 6. I finally get to share it with the world. It is my music baby.
This past year has been a very exciting one for me. Lots of ups and lots of downs. But the music has always been there for me – something I always go back to when I get that sinking feeling in my chest. And when I listen back to some songs, it’s a cool reminder to myself that I got over these things that at first felt like huge problems.
Now, I’m just excited to get started on the next project.