Max Jury is an undeniable rising star. Having toured alongside (Queen) Lana Del Rey and gained admirable recognition by Mark Ronson, his hazy gospel tones are definitely making waves in the music industry (and on our playlists). With 2 EPs and a whole load of singles to his name, he brings a mature old soul to his music, despite being a youthful 23 years old. Combining soul and country sounds, the piano playing singer songwriter’s tracks deal with matters from the heart producing a raw, autobiographical sense to his lyrics, a real treat for the ears.
His debut album titled simply Max Jury reads like a diary and features his newly released single “Numb”, one of 11 carefully curated tracks that evokes the longing to escape, one that’s taken him from his hometown of Iowa to London, and one that works in our favour of being able to revel in the bittersweet and seductive tones that he produces. Jury is at his best when channelling his unique style of late 60s and early 70s, piano balanced rock ‘n’ roll, ready to steal the hearts and souls of any emotionally vulnerable listener out there. Watch out.
Hey Max! Tell us about the music scene in Iowa, it’s a corner of the world we’re yet to venture to…
Hey! The music scene is certainly growing. More and more millennials are moving to Des Moines, Iowa and the art/music scene is becoming more present because of that. There’s a desire to collaborate and help the people around you that may not be there in a bigger city. A band I like is The Maytags- really cool, soulful stuff.
How did music become your career? How easy or difficult was it to get to this point with a debut album on the way?
I signed a publishing deal when I was 20 or so – I think that was the first time that I could live off the money that music provided. Things rarely go as smoothly as one hopes, so getting this first record finished was a learning experience. There were plenty of speed bumps – whether it be financial issues, self doubt, finding the right producer…etc… It’s been 6 years since I really wanted to make a record but the timing fells right now. I still have a lot of room to grow but for the first time I feel like I have a collection of songs that I’m proud of and represent where I’m at in my life.
What was touring with Lana Del Ray like? Her career has skyrocketed so quickly, did she give you any advice?
She’s such a special artist and really almost an iconic figure so touring with her was a dream come true. Watching her play each night and her ability to captivate her fans and connect with them in a very honest, deep way was more advice than money can buy.
Are you an aspirational artist? Would you like to have a career as huge as Lana’s? What are you striving for?
I am an aspirational artist. The way I see it, if I don’t sell myself out by comprising my musical vision, why limit success? I don’t think being a big artist is selling out – I think losing the passion and drive to make the music you believe in and bowing to outside interests is selling out. With that said, very few people have the talent, voice, and style of Lana Del Rey, so I should be so lucky if that ever even happened.
Let’s talk about your debut! How long has it been in the works? How did you know and how did you feel when it was finished?
In a way, the album has been in the works for the last 3 years or so – but recording officially begun last June in New York. We ended up cutting 20 songs, I think, and whittled it down into what we thought were the 11 strongest. For me, a recording never really feels finished. There are limitless directions to take a song from a production and arrangement perspective. You can never really go crazy in the studio- I mean it’s rumoured Bruce Springsteen spent twelve hours finding the guitar tone for Born to Run. But I did the best I could with the recourses I had and the time I had and that’s really all you can do. When I first listened back to the final mixes really loud with my label in London.. and I wasn’t squirming in my seat out of fear, regret, or embarrassment- I think I knew it was finished. It felt like something I could stand behind.
What are you listening to between stints in the studio?
A lot of jazz. Mingus, Monk, Miles, Coltrane, Mary Lou Williams… for me that’s the real stuff!
You’ve moved into gospel territory with your album, what made you want to explore the genre?
Adding the gospel element was something I’ve always wanted to explore. I grew up singing in church and that style of music has always stuck with me. There’s something universally powerful about hearing a strong chorus of gospel singers. I was lucky enough to meet some very talented vocalists early in the recording process and I really cant thank them enough for their contributions.
You’ve described writing music as like your diary, do you ever find it hard to share personal things with your fans? Do you get nervous waiting for people’s responses?
Absolutely it’s hard! Sometimes I don’t want to remember what certain songs are about and where I was at in my life when I wrote them. And it’s very nerve-racking waiting to see how people respond to my deepest, darkest most consuming thoughts and ideas. But nobody is holding a gun to my head to write from such a personal perspective, so there must be something in me that finds t both necessary and healing to write this way.
We see you’ve been writing with Cloves! Anything we’re going to hear any time soon?
I hope so! I love Cloves. The voice of an angel and a real pleasure to work with. She didn’t take anything too seriously- I really liked that.
Debut album ‘Max Jury’ is available from June 3rd.