Last month I posted the EP ‘Nowadays’ by French Soul group And This Is Max. Like me, you guys were instantly digging their sound and eager to know just who they are and what they’re all about…well not one to disappoint, Musicvein caught up with lead singer Raphaël Hiribarne, here’s what went down.
Musicvein: Who are the members of the group?
RH: Well there are five of us. We have Aurèle who plays the saxophone, Bertrand the trumpet, Charles is on drums, Paul the keyboards, and I, Raphaël, I sing! Right now though we are in producing and recording mode – so we all “play the computer” 🙂
Musicvein: Great to meet you all, so tell me about your influences?
RH: There are so many… Oh my god! We all love very different types of music. I’m personally digging Mozart right now, but in our latest stuff you can hear a little Frank Ocean, Robert Glasper, Erykah Badu, Hiatus Kaiyote, and James Blake.
Musicvein: Yeah I do get that actually! How do you think those artists have they influenced your style?
RH: We used to play Old School Funk/Soul music but these guys showed us a way to do it Nu School.
Musicvein: How did it all begin for And This Is Max?
RH: Ah lala! It’s a long story! We started in 2007. Bertrand and myself are High School buddies, I remember being with him in Montparnasse (Paris) – listening to some Jamiroquai – I said to him “Bro’ we got to make some Funky music!”
We picked up the other guys along the way and at one point we were 11 people in the band! Eventually we realized that the more we were, the more complicated it was.
Musicvein: Do you play any instruments?
RH: I play the guitar which I’ve been strumming for almost 15 years and singing since I was a kid – but I’m not sure I want to pick it up for And this is Max!
Musicvein: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
RH: Playing at the New Morning back in Paris! New Morning is a famous black music venue in Paris. So if you go to Paris and you want to hear some good Jazz/Blues/Soul, go to that place!
Musicvein: How does the creative process begin for And This Is Max?
RH: I usually come up with a melody and some chords and we go on a composing week end. Usually Charles says: “We have to make it sound dirty” and he adds a James Blake keyboard.
Aurèle then says “I have an evil genius idea” and he messes up the beat. Paul tries to understand how to make his computer work and Bertrand scrolls on 9gag! But by the end of the week end, we come up with something which makes everybody happy.
Musicvein: Hahaha that funny how it all comes together, you certainly have the right formula. So where do you get inspiration for your songs?
RH: Uh… Break ups? Hahaha the guys always make fun of me! “Is this song talking about a girl?” I’m sorry it’s a traditional Soul music theme!
Musicvein: How do you get in the ‘zone’ for creating your material?
RH: Usually, we try to isolate ourselves. Today our phones are constantly buzzing, so if we don’t go in “plane mode” nothing happens. We also try to share as much music as we can bewteen us. And when we’re in the zone, we take breaks every 2 or 3 hours to listen to each others ideas. At the end we come up with something really different from the original idea.
Musicvein: What was your inspiration behind making this EP?
RH: ‘Nowadays’ our second EP is more like a clean recording of what we’ve been doing for a few years. It’s not really a particular slice of the band’s life. It was produced by Vincent Théard (Sandra Nkaké, Lucy Dixon, Juan Rozoff) and Christophe Marais (Claude Nougaro, Olivia Ruiz).
We’ve enjoyed working with them very much, but for practical and financial reasons, now we produce DIY (Do It Yourself).
And this is Max! evolves constantly.
Musicvein: If you could sing/play alongside any artist from the history of music who would it be and why?
RH: Otis Redding! To me he’s just the best – best singer ever, great composer with so much feeling and seems to be a very down to earth, humble guy. As Steve Cropper his guitar player and co-composer said: “Everybody loved Otis”.
Musicvein: Who’s your favorite up and coming artist?
RH: I think my band would go for Hiatus Kaiyote. But I’d pick Lianne Lahavas. God has blessed England!
Musicvein: Where can people catch you playing live?
RH: A lot of our friends and fans are asking “When’s the next concert?”. We grew up on stage, and can’t wait to go back! Sadly I don’t think there we’ll be any gigs this year. Unless we’re invited to open for a band we like.
Musicvein: What’s next for you?
RH: We’d like to release a new song every month, and to find a label. We’re actually looking for one right now in the UK. Our next release will be “Listen” a composition. We are also working on 2 others, and a Coldplay cover – so be sure to stay tuned to our social media for more updates!