Rising star MAXIMILLIAN may have buried inner demons but his troubled past has not deterred the 20-year-old Copenhagen born singer-songwriter from striking a chord in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Since releasing his breakout single ‘Beautiful Scars’ in 2019, MAXIMILLIAN has raked up more than 24 million plays for the single on Spotify alone and the song is well on its way to becoming a sleeper hit and anthem.
Having released his debut EP ‘Still Alive’ in early April of this year, MAXIMILLIAN may not yet be a household name, but the Danish star is one to watch. From a troubled childhood with arguing parents and anger issues, the introverted musician opened up about the adverse cycle of anger issues that followed him through his childhood years which saw him lashing out at teachers and students at school.
I didn’t care about anything. Unfortunately, I started smoking a lot of weed just to get away from my troubles. I would smoke to hide my emotions in different ashtrays and that became a problem. I started hanging out with some bad people. I started doing bad stuff. My life dipped till the point where I hit rock bottom,” shared MAXIMILLIAN.
In a turn of events, young MAXIMILLIAN nonchalantly followed his father to a Pink Floyd concert at the Parken Stadium and it was there that the singer had an epiphany to pursue music for the rest of his life. “And for one second, I just saw exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It started this little fire inside of me and I turned around to my dad and told him everything I was going to do,” remarked the musician.
With the support of his father, MAXIMILLIAN was sent to boarding school for two years where he participated in music and vocal lessons. It was there that he recovered from rock bottom and slowly matured into the young adult that he is today, expressing a gratefulness for the trials and tribulations that he has undergone. The process birthed the idea for his single ‘Beautiful Scars’ by which he embraced and adopted a new philosophy in life: embracing who he was and no longer shoving down or suppressing his emotions. He shares about the cathartic process of writing music:
When I write music, I take an emotion or feeling out and put it into song and remove it from my own body.
Having undergone the major label system in which artistes are thrown into songwriting rooms and bootcamps with global hitmakers from Amsterdam, Norway, Stockholm and Los Angeles; the introverted troubadour slowly mastered the art of communication and extroversion, building up his skills to better articulate song ideas and details he wanted to create in his songs. In doing so, his long-time Copenhagen based producer claimed that the songwriter was easier to work with at the beginning, but it only meant that MAXIMILLIAN got closer to his establishing his vision and sound as an artiste since his debut single ‘Higher’ in 2017.
MAXIMILLIAN still remains humbled through his experiences in the music business and speaks with a maturity past his years. The years of rebellion seemed to have dissipated while a level of self-acceptance and a jovial disposition radiates though his voice even as he enthusiastically shares about the thrill of challenges in his music journey:
If I know there’s a note that I know I can’t hit, I’m going to practice until I hit the note. If there’s a song I haven’t written yet, I’m going to write songs till I write that song.”
Even as the world and the global music industry have been severely struck by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, MAXIMILLIAN has taken the time to reflect on himself through this emotionally exhaustive period. He spent time brushing up on his cooking skills, whipping up spaghetti bolognese and a spicy Thai dish taught by his sister aside from housekeeping, calling his friends and playing video games. Usually drawing inspiration by spending time outdoors people watching, the singer-songwriter has had to go into zen mode and dive deep into rumination through this period to make the most of his time.
He shares about consciously not emulating the Law of Jante in his music and life, a code of conduct in Nordic countries that normalises conformity through tradition in Denmark. It is a sociological rule whereby ambition or having the thought the one is special is deemed inappropriate and though MAXIMILLIAN regards staying grounded as essential, he believes a false humility could lead to insecurity. Having sung since the tender age of three, he aspires to break through these notions through his lyrics.
I try to make people understand that everyone is special. No one is better than you, because you are you. No one is better than me, because I am me. I’m not saying I’m better than you, I’m saying I’m the best I can be.
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The ‘Still Alive – EP’ is about my past. Growing up I started hanging out with the wrong people and I’ve stood at many crossroads in my life, both in my teens and in relationships. The EP is about these struggles, and writing this in songs is a process of finding out who I used to be, who I am today and who I’m going to be.
On reflecting on what he hopes listeners will take away from his EP, MAXIMILLIAN aspires to create something special and hopes that people acquire some thoughts about their future and experiences through encountering his music. He sees his music as a catapult for people to openly talk about their feelings, a catalytic conversation starter. “There is no need to be locked up in your body,” he remarks.
Listen to MAXIMILLIAN’s ‘Still Alive’ EP.