While this new music Friday has really been one of heartbreak and recovery, Max Frost offers some welcomed change with the deliciously positive track, “Head In The Clouds”. As he encourages his listeners to take a leap of faith with love, a quirky tune ensues that is almost as mesmerising as the tracks music video. Reflecting the energetic flow of “Head In The Clouds”, the fast-paced visual is undeniable captivating, and soaks up a danceable beat with a child-like charm — evoking all of the innocent excitement that comes with falling in love.
On the track itself, Max Frost explains, “This song is about someone holding back from being in love. Their head is in the clouds and their eyes wander through the fog of naivety and youth. It’s a call for something more to happen between two people. A demand of the feeling that’s just on the edge to come full circle.”
To celebrate the release of the track and music video, we spoke with Max about the production of “Head In The Clouds”, and what he hopes his fans can take from his unique sound. To stream the track and for the full interview, head below…
Hey Max, I hope you’re good! How has this past year been?
Man, it’s been a wild year! I feel like I’ve been in a sort of hibernation since the pandemic started trying to reinvent myself. This feels like the year where the seeds I’ve been planting are starting to sprout. The first bit of wind in my sails came from TikTok. At first, I was adverse to using the platform at all but I started just having fun with it and I found a whole new audience there. I found a niche making hypothetical covers of “What if X band covered X band” and it has really taken off. It’s been a cool experiment in showcasing what I do as a producer and my understanding of different kinds of music in a way that’s just pure entertainment. It’s also been a cool way to come back across paths with people who probably haven’t heard from me in a while. Amidst all of that I’ve been working away on finishing and getting a new EP ready which in a way has felt like I’m a new artist again. The approach was fresh and gave me a new confidence in creating without any fear. This year has felt like a chance to start over in a refreshing way rather than in a challenging way.
How did you first get into music, what sparked the interest?
I don’t remember the moment of ever first turning to it, because it seems to have always been there. Even when I was in a car seat in the back of my mom’s Ford Explorer, music activated my imagination like some kind of a psychedelic drug. I would imagine myself as a different person. I would sort of enter a fantasy world. In a way I could never stop thinking about it. I’ve heard a lot of stories from people where they describe a moment of inspiration of seeing an artist they love in concert or something and then realizing that’s what they wanted to do. I can’t really relate. It’s not that I haven’t had heroes, I’ve just never really sought out this idea of being a “rockstar” because to me it’s only been about the music. I picked up guitar at about eight years old and it became my thing. But I always wanted to avoid being the “campfire guitar guy.” I was truly just a nerd who was in love with music and the instrument. Growing up in Austin, Texas I was exposed to so many great players and opportunities to play in bands even as a teenager. So my addiction grew from there and expanded to other instruments. I’d play bass if someone needed a bass player. I picked up drums at 14 and kept at it even though my drummer friends laughed at me as the guitar player trying to play drums. I waited a long time before I ever dared to sing or write any songs, I knew that took a different kind of bravery I didn’t really develop until 17 or 18. If my life had taken a different path and I were a mechanic working on an engine somewhere I’d probably still make records in my spare time or play guitar. If I had one limb, I’d probably still play the shit out the tambourine.
And now you’ve dropped your new single “Head in the Clouds”, talk us through the production process?
So I’ve been in this awesome little creative exercise for many years called “the song game.” The leader (Bob Schnieder) sends out a phrase or word to the entire group via email once a week. By the next week, you must write a song with that word or phrase in it and send it to the group. It isn’t a competition or about any judgement. The game is to just write the song. If you don’t write the song, they kick you out! Explaining all that to say this song came about from that game. I was in Austin hanging out in the studio and the phrase that week was bizarre. It was “click clack.” So naturally my approach was very lazy. I sort of thought… “well this one is gonna be a throw away…” But I pulled open a beat I had made maybe the night before and the song was done in about 30 minutes. I remember playing it for people around the studio and getting a good reaction, so I actually sent it out. I was already preparing to finish this EP with Jenn Decilveo so I sent her the song and she agreed it had a chance to be on the EP. The finalizing production process was the same as all the other tunes on this EP, in that it was me playing all the instruments in a tiny studio in east LA, and Jenn directing everything and helping me dial in what everything should do.
What do you hope people take away from your sound?
I hope it just makes them feel good. I feel like we’re living in a new time where the vibe and sound of your record completely trumps the genre and I’ve been waiting for that day a long time. My struggle has always been with genre. I was about nine years old and playing guitar when Napster entered my life. My brain became like a sponge to anything and everything that blew my mind. Outkast, Eminem, Jimi Hendrix, and Green Day all in the same day. Literally downloading and digesting this art simultaneously and without any regard for genre. To me it all just sounded good. There was no genre. To me the term was invented to market records. There are certainly cultural lines within the social-artistic constructs of music. But I believe these are more like accents on a person’s speech than walls that divide worlds. I hope people listen to my music and take away a glimpse of that from my sound.
Tell us about the music video. What was the inspiration? How did it all come together?
This has been more like a mad scientist experiment than a music video. I have no background in being a set designer. I’ve never attempted anything like this. But I had a good friend who was willing to dream it up with me (Jessie Bearden), a decent amount of time on my hands, and the ever-motivating fear of embarrassment to fuel the vision. The beginning inspiration came both from surrealist painters like Magritte and Dali and then practical effects videos like Ok Go. We kept thinking up things we wanted to see, then figuring out how to make them come to life. It was deciding on a dream, then problem solving how to actually make it work. For example, the moment where the car folds down to reveal a fish tank filling up quickly with water and real fish inside is only about 10 seconds of the video… But it was about three weeks of my life figuring out how the hell to actually make it work. There are no YouTube instructional videos that say “How to fill a prop water tank that slides in on a dolly in and fills in ten seconds.” Jessie drew out the background and the visual aesthetic of the final result, so I knew it was worth pursuing. But actually learning how to build acrylic tanks… Actually learning how to build a pump that would fill the tank quick enough without hurting the fish or destroying the tank… I felt like I was working for Space X and Sesame Street at the same time. I learned to program DMX myself on my laptop to make all this stuff work. The lights. The electronics. I learned how to turn skateboard wheels, angle brackets, and PVC pipe into smooth and reliable dolly systems. I coordinated every moment and detail of how everything would work, then recruited friends to come over and each pilot one little piece of this thing for me over and over until we got the right take. It was like I was building a plane in my garage and nobody believed me until they got over there and saw how much time we were putting in.
And your new EP, what can people expect?
This is a record about youth, but more importantly it’s a record about the untainted dreams of youth. I wanted this record to feel like how I felt when I was falling in love for the first time at 17. I wanted it to feel like looking up at the stars when I was nine. I’ve come to realise in the past few years as I’m sure many other people have that time is something you don’t get back. This record has been about the struggle of that, but also about coming to peace with that. My career started at a desk with a laptop and a little plastic interface in a garage. The music I made there took me around the world and next thing I knew I was in big nice studios and working with incredible people. But in a way, the true me really comes out alone in a room on a laptop. Once I get the spark there, I can work with whoever can help me make the vision more defined. This record is very much a return to that first place it all started both in process and in spirit.