New Zealand artist Maxwell Young has just dropped a stunning new single ’Sketches Of Dragonflies’, a heartfelt song he describes as a ‘vulnerable reflection on maladaptive daydreaming’. The new release follows his debut album ‘Daydreamer’ from last July, and sees Young finding more confidence in his dreamy pop sound. Having been announced as the opening act for Snail Mail’s upcoming NZ dates next week, Young looks to continue the momentum with these live shows.
We spoke with Maxwell about his new release, honesty in music, and how he’s found the move from Wellington to Auckland…
COUP DE MAIN: What was it about ’Sketches of Dragonflies’ that made you want it to be the first release from the upcoming EP?
MAXWELL YOUNG: There’s a more pop-leaning song from the EP for the first single which will come next, but I like how ’Sketches Of Dragonflies’ starts very melancholy and dreamlike before it hesitantly finds it feet and goes into its passionate but short-lived chorus. My music is always (for better or worse) a reflection of my experiences and how I’m mentally dealing with them. I think my doubt in myself is heard in the new music I’ll be releasing and absolutely in this song. Also the lyrics in this song are really special to me, so returning with a song this honest and sentimental to me feels good.
CDM: The song is really, really honest - do you think that honesty is the most important thing for you when working on music?
MAXWELL: I’m glad that honesty is clear! For me it is likely most important factor. When working on this EP I wasn’t giving any consideration to it being listened to in the context of my peers or anything, the songs were essentially therapeutic in a tough period of my life. This became conflicting for myself as I thought the songs were too obtuse to release but I decided I have to be honest about the steps of my progression and even in terms of sharing a new chapter of my life with every release. I've never been the best in technicalities or skill, but I think what I've grown to be good at is being honest, so that's a quality I will always hold dear in my work.
HOW I FEEL ABOUT THE RELEASE OF 'SKETCHES OF DRAGONFLIES’…
CDM: Is maladaptive daydreaming something that is a big part of your life? How do you find it affecting your everyday life?
MAXWELL: It’s a strange thing as it’s not clinically diagnosable, but it has come into my life heavily at a few points. Definitely last year it was overwhelming. It's a natural reaction of when my anxiety attacks get intense and consistent. It comes when I can't really deal with reality, that happened a bit last year when I was making these songs due to heartbreak or going to music school and my disdain for it giving me doubts in my pursuit of music and a lot of existential crises like that.
CDM: The artwork for the song is really beautiful too, and the EP title ‘Colours Of Us’ suggests a certain importance around colours in relation to your music. Do you find yourself associating songs with colours?
MAXWELL: Thanks so much! The art for all of my new material is done by my best friend Max Pirrit. He's incredibly versatile in his expression. Regarding colour associations, I don't exactly think I have synaesthesia purely in colour, but how and why I write music absolutely comes out of locking into scenes of my life or of scenes I've daydreamt and trying to encapsulate them for closure. In the reflection and introspection my music comes out of, colours are especially important to me.
CDM: How have you found moving from Wellington to Auckland in terms of the music scene?
MAXWELL: I’m honestly the most excited I've been about New Zealand music I've ever been right now. I used to only stan Lontalius and shrug off all other music from the country, but now people like BENE and Church & AP are making it such an exciting place to be as a young artist. I’m really excited for my friends Stupid Rich Kid and Tom Verberne’s years ahead, it was so much fun performing together last month and their new music is incredible. Feeling positive. Auckland's just a bit better for music and a nice step for growth in independence. Already grown so much this year but definitely miss my family.
CDM: If M.A.X.W.E.L.L. was an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
MAXWELL: My Aching Xylophone Wails Even Louder Late.
Listen to Maxwell Young’s new single ‘Sketches Of Dragonflies’ below…