MAXX SILVER - INTERVIEWED BY PHILIPPA RUSSELL
REPRODUCED BY KIND PERMISSION: COPYRIGHT 2021 P RUSSELL
"In Recovery" is Maxx Silvers' seventh, and by far his best, album. Whilst synthesiser based, it contains influences as far apart as Electronica, Gothic Rock, Pop, Ambient and Dance Music. The first half is a collection of melodic and moody songs whereas things get more experimental after that point. The full iteration is the epic Limited Edition 15 track CD version with full versions of two songs and four extra tracks. As usual I found Maxx to be warm and very chatty over Zoom and especially keen to talk about the CD version...
"I wanted a physical version of the album that offered something extra. Its two years of work and, well, the CD, with its artwork and 12 page lyric booklet is a thing of beauty that I hope my followers will cherish. "
The songs themselves sound very personal and darker than previous albums?
"I didn't want to write music that washed over people. I wanted either the lyrics, or the sound, or something to grab the listener. The subject matter of the songs is people who are trying to get over a personal crisis or negative situation and how they deal with it. So on "Can I Make It Through?" ....someone is very alone, riddled with
self doubt and trying to cope with it. The song has a happy ending though"
This is something I noticed. The lyrics are not complex. but they hit hard. The very first line, "Winter is the time of death, barest branches bring no light" is about as stark as any lyrical opening to any album, despite the fast tempo and swirling nature of the music. But this album grabs you with its moods and its melodies. And it has many different faces, even some smiling ones. It is music for trying to get back to normality. It isn't as sad or dark as Maxx thinks it is, though he lived it, I didn't. There is an energy and optimistic side to the music, even where the lyrics are less inclined. In short it is a post Covid 19 album for 2021. It is for emerging, blinking, back into the light of day after bad experiences.
"It brought a new issue, having lyrics about difficult subjects that were really personal . I always need to explain that "Passive Aggressive" is a love song. It is about working out difficulties in a relationship but it was about someone who, to this day, treats me that way but who I still love. But I'm very sensitive to how people might initially interpret the song. "
With its queasy synths, expansive melodic chorus and elements of Depeche Mode, this uplifting song (and others) have been frequently played on Synth City with Rob Harvey, one of the most influential radio programmes for promotion of electronic music. it is a great achievement for Maxx to find himself there.
"I'll thank Rob for his encouragement until my herd of cows come home" he says. " I might not have finished this album without him playing a track of mine. I got really positive feedback from people who heard it "Can I Make It Through?" and it helped me have confidence in the project when I was in quite a dark place and having difficulties making any progress"
And you nearly gave up, didn't you?
"Yes I'm glad I didn't as I think the music offers something a bit different. I can listen , and like. every song on this one, its a definite cohesive album, to me anyway"
"Poison" is another song about not giving up. The video has a hilarious parade of gnomes. "Don't go drinking all that poison" says Maxx, sipping on his Baileys...
"I wrote the song some years ago and this is a brand new version. Sometimes a sentiment is so strong in a song that it needs another go. Discouragement is poison, was the idea I was thinking of, and how we should not go drinking any of that discouragement stuff!"
The cheerful catchy pop of "In Recovery" is gloriously twisted. The line "I'm better off without you in my life" is sung as if to say. I'm over you and I don't care!
"It is about someone who has had a toxic relationship but has only just realised it. Its probably a narcissist who has gaslighted the other person. Anyway he goes on holiday on his own and is completely released from the ties of a bad and dishonest person. In the mountains he finds his real self. The line "You are not connected so you got no power" is the point in any adverse situation where you regain control. He is happy, because he has, finally, escaped. And yes", he says, looking at his feet, "that was a true story"
"Titania" is another "up" song but a bit harder to work out. Please explain Maxx!
"Titania" is the name of a woman who the person in the song meets on Dartmoor. The lyrics express sadness and "tears" of his current situation... so... he does not seem that happy.
He has a passionate outdoor affair, and this seems to really cheer him up.... as it would!!"
So it is nothing to do with Midsummer Nights Dream, Bottom, or a donkey...
"Thats the remix... I think.....I mean it might involve a bottom, somewhere" At which point, we both laugh.
The whole song is backed by beautiful synthesiser arpeggios and then, a sax solo. Well it sounded like a sax to me.
After this comes two very long pieces. "Black Dog" starts out with brass, horns, doomy percussion and kicks into something the Sisters of Mercy might have done circa "Floodland" , but without Eldritch growling.
"Haha well I never could growl... wish I could! That track is a few years old now and was about the time I suffered from depression. Knowing that depression is often called the "Black Dog" the whole sound of that track
in the first few minutes is what it all felt like, to be under this weight above me. But the song has a fast tempo and when the music lightens it suddenly becomes an optimistic track. It was SO difficult
to mix and produce and it gradually evolved to become what it is now."
Maxx I've never heard a track like this anywhere. To go from brooding gothic horror to walking on sunshine isn't something that songs are actually meant to do. Its a mammoth and complex effort which leads into "Outside / Inside" two tracks which are really one. Starting with a synthesised atmospheric section with church bells and effects, (and a cat, in there somewhere) we stumble upon a person alone and sad.
"The song 'Inside' talks about addiction to social media, and living a lonely existence. It is a most heartful plea to be part of society and not to be excluded from it.
But also to have the courage to try to get back within that society. I love the lyric "and you will overcome, the things that drag you down" That is crucial, we are all in this situation where we have so many challenges and difficulties. I seem to have always placed the idea of someone else being the solution to the problem within my songs. But I don't think that love being the saviour has to be romantic love. It can just be someone who shows enough humanity to make a difference. The singer and song have confidence in a better day coming up"
After this comes "Overactive MInd" somewhere between Depeche Mode and Curve. The track is noisy, dramatic and impossible to ignore. Maxx howls... kind of...
"It is meant to be and is, a chaotic song. Trying to get to sleep and.... fantasies of things that could happen go into my mind. So there is a BDSM mistress in there, and turning into a werewolf, howling
at the moon and just thinking too much and then everything just goes into full noise overdrive. I would love a good remixer to pare it down to the pop song that lies beneath"
"Dragons" is another gothic style track with guitar to the fore...
"Its about seeking an alternate reality. It could be a computer game, you can hear the computer bleeps in the background. It is a mind that is producing or seeing apparitions or is addicted to gaming"
But the "You can take me away" line is about how, really I don't want this, I want to spend time with you, not dragons, or anything else. That is the positive interpretation at any rate before he succumbs and just wants dragons at the end."
The final track on the MP3 version after an extraordinary musical journey, the incredible lush pastures of "Realm of Artemis" Maxx, this is such a fiery, beautiful piece with an ending like a classical symphony which is something that needs to be heard to be believed.
"Oh Phillippa did you like it then? Thank you, seriously. Artemis was a Greek Goddess who was a huntress. I thought she rode horses. Apparently that is wrong she had a chariot with magic deer! So the symbol of recovery
and freedom is the horse. And the whole thing is about riding through this fantasy landscape. I wrote it as an improvisation and it fell together so quickly, I could hardly believe what I had created.
It is the promise of redemption and one of the favourites of any pieces that I have written. It really is euphoric to me "
Worth mentioning that Maxx writes many of his songs from improvisation, in the same way a jazz musician would. The intention is to make something that sounds fresh, or different, with elements combining
like happy accidents. This is his unique selling point, almost anything can come from his fingers. He disdains computers and loves to play his instruments. His voice is not autotuned which as any vocalist will tell you, means that he makes things difficult for himself. When it all works the result is often inspired... musical combinations influenced by all types of electronic music but with a style that is unquestionably his own.
On the CD version, the album continues with "Broken" a trumpet infused poignant song about someone struggling with her life. "Realisation" is a big loud happy stompy dance number which really
should be a single and "Our Tomorrow" again a beautiful sad, song with soft Frankie style synth bass, dramatic strings, trumpet and Middle Eastern style percussion and mood.
The whole epic project finishes with "The Last Stand" a very weird and thankfully brief instrumental with samples that sound like an ice cream van in a horror movie. Wasn't keen on that one though it is different!
But overall this was a great album from Maxx, more highlights even than 2016's "Psychology" And with a variety of Radio stations giving it airplay, it might just get a lot more attention than any of his previous albums.
I sincerely hope so as this independent, original and hugely talented artist deserves success for pushing the envelope of music in new and interesting ways.
I ask him, what next, so that I can be prepared to write my next interview with him.
"Provided my music does ok, I'm looking at a in part ambient album with a working title of "Mind Pictures" and with only a couple of vocal tracks. I'm going to re release my debut album, reworked and remastered, and that is a pretty good collecion of music. But not album 2. That wasn't so good. I have about 40 songs that may be selected from for a new album but it might take unti ;ate 2022 to get enough good ones finished. But if enough people are interested there will be another album. The best thing you can do is support me on Bandcamp, if you want more music from me!!"
Perhaps "In Recovery" will be enough of a breakthrough to keep him doing music, he really should do so!