Max P (High Wolf / Black Myth Zone Chant) “I wouldn’t be satisfied, as a performer, with an audience of people like me.”

The mysterious Max P has been active in the underground music scene as High Wolf since 2009. He arose as label owner of Winged Sun Records, releasing about a third of his discography there while nailing his first releaseSuper Modern Temple on tape via the infamous Krayon Recordings. From there, he landed works on Not Not Fun, Crooked Tapes, Bathetic, Stunned, Sun Ark, and Holy Mountain, and his newest LP Growing Wild hits listeners this June on LEAVING Records. Max P also rides under a different project as Black Myth Zone Chant, providing a more beat-driven (no guitar) fueled project. Under that name, he released Straight Cassette in 2011 on Laitdbac, and just this year followed it up with Mane Thecel Phares on Editions Gravats.

Max P gets deep on both of these projects in the questions and answers below, instigating thoughts from conscious readership to North and West African radio to a variety of other flights of thought only Max P’s hive-mind could buzz up.

How has the transition from winter to spring treated you?

Quite alright! I had a not-so-busy Winter, waiting for the new High Wolf and Black Myth Zone Chant LPs to come out, so I didn’t play as many shows as usual. It gave me time to get new gear and train with it, and to create the first Black Myth Zone Chant live set. I basically spent winter inside my home studio, and by the time I needed to go out there again and play some shows it was Spring already.

Do the seasons influence your music, ever?

Not so much. I am always very focused on what I want to do, so what’s going on outside can be secondary. When I’m at home, I spend lot of time in my studio, so it doesn’t matter if it rains or snows outside. I am focused “inside” of me and separate myself from the outside world. Of course, I’d rather be in the summer wearing a T-shirt and shorts, but bad weather will not affect my ability to create or motivation to get things done.

So typically it’s the gear that changes your creation and motivational process, if we’re talking “outside” your internal mindset?

With no gear, I can just clap my hands and sing (that’s already a lot). So of course, what I can use will lead me somewhere, and vice versa; I need some specific instrument if I wanna go to a specific place. Though, what I use is one thing, the way I use it is another thing. It doesn’t change my motivation to create, but it feeds the excitement providing new possibilities.

What new gear did you grip and being practicing with? Is your gear interchangeable from High Wolf to Black Myth Zone Chant?

Analog synth and drum machine, basically. Also I’m doing my first steps in the modular world and that’s a lot to learn, really, it’s like going back to college or something. I want to use it for both projects, but use it differently; use it accordingly to my vision of each entity.

How has is your first Black Myth Zone Chant set creation been different than making High Wolf sets?

Well, no guitar for one. I have this simple, but effective narrative in High Wolf live pieces where I alternate between themes and solos/improvs with the guitar. I had to do things differently, there is a lot of twisting knobs in the Black Myth Zone Chant live set, but that was taking more and more space in High Wolf set anyway. I think Black Myth Zone Chant live came right at a good time for me to experiment an electronics-only set (except for minimal vocals), when I couldn’t really do it as High Wolf because I don’t want to get rid of the guitar just yet.

The creation was somehow lead by the same purpose: creating an atmosphere. Black Myth Zone Chant’s atmosphere is different than High Wolf’s atmosphere, so their results are different, but the process (except this guitar thing) was similar.

Did you grow up in France, and what locations do you think about in terms of sound when you think back to your childhood?

Yeah I grew up in France. It’s hard to tell how accurate are my childhood memories. I remember that I was always psyched when we would catch the radio from Paris because there was those stations dedicated to “immigrants” music (North and West Africa), and I always liked it more than French pop music. Even then I was responding to music as a signal showing me that there were other worlds out there.

Was their a particular show, DJ, announcer, or musician/genre you like(d) from West/North Africa?

Not really, I wasn’t paying attention to that, it was just the music that I felt was way more satisfying than the regular French pop music we were hearing everywhere, all the time. It felt real as opposed to hit music which felt like clean, not dangerous, SAFE.

What’s your favorite touring locale?

I love to tour the U.S. because it’s always some kind of journey. Long distances, amazing variety of landscapes, cities… But it’s more difficult to get good shows in North America than in Europe, so professionally speaking, Europe is better. Being based in Europe, I play most of my shows there, so touring the states has also this “exotic” and temporary feeling that makes it very exciting. I don’t know what location has been the most responsive to my music. I wanna say Russia treated me well, Italy, France is not to be forgotten, as well. UK and U.S. have been good to me too but somehow crowds are a bit less into going crazy, I feel like.

Have you ever made an album (or most of one) while touring America or anywhere, really?

Never while touring. I did record a bit when in L.A., but it never came out. I cannot work as I want to when on the road. Not enough time, no possibility to really dive deep. I need to be home, to be comfortable, to have time. I take a lot of time creating music. I consider a lot of variables, I try lots and lots of things within a piece of music. That’s another psychological determination of mine. Hard to put an end to a work in progress.

How have people gone crazy at a High Wolf show, if the U.S. is a bit more timid than you’re used to? This sounds awesome!

I mean people dancing, screaming, getting sweaty, shirtless, losing their shit, etc. I haven’t had that in the U.S., but my sets there were probably a bit more calm. And it’s not that they’re timid in the U.S., no way, but also there are less people at a show and it’s almost strictly musicians in the audience, so they just checked out the live show in a different way, they’re here to listen, and it’s good too. It’s the way I am myself when attending shows, 90 percent of the time! I wouldn’t be satisfied, as a performer, with an audience of people like me.

Those intuitions are, for me, messages sent from my subconscious to conscious, subconscious slowly cook things, all those musics heard, all those life experiences, mix them with my deep-personality/mind-patterns/neurosis, and when it adds up, my mind sends a message.

I imagine your label lineage goes fairly deep in a network of cross-over and cyclical relationships through friends and acquaintances (Britt, Ryo, Cameron, Matthew, Phil, etc.), but I’m curious how it began…

Well, it all began with Stunned Records I think, which was run by Phil French, also a member of Magic Lantern at the time, a band that was on Not Not Fun. This was the beginning, my entrance point in this scene. Phil was also a close friend to Cameron, also in Magic Lantern.

I made a couple of things on Stunned and then started to work with Not Not Fun. Then in 2009, there has been this NNF euro tour and I played a couple of shows with them, so we met in real for the first time. Then I crossed path many times with Cameron, because Sun Araw played a lot in Europe back then, and sometimes promoters would book us both. That was stage 1.

Stage 2 was my first U.S. tour, in 2011. I stayed for a little while and spent time here and there, meeting many people from the scene, playing shows, collaborating, etc. It has been extremely important for me, I learned a lot and it made me work differently. I was amazed by how professional and good all those musicians were, and it made me want to get better. I stayed in L.A., spent time with the guys from Sun Araw (at that time Cameron, Alex Gray, and Barrett Avner) and many other great musicians. Ryo was there too, I already spent a month touring Japan in 2010 with his band Topping Bottoms, and they came to play SXSW, so we went there together in an epic drive from L.A. with the Warm Climate guys. Few days later I drove back from Austin to L.A with Matthewdavid, whom I met through Cameron (them being neighbors), and stayed at his house.

So you see, it’s all connected. And last time I’ve seen Matthew was last fall in Tokyo, and Ryo was there too. There was this night when Ryo’s band Dreampvsher played, and it was the best live show I [saw] last year, easy. This band is insane, him on modular and Mike on 707. Ryo is a very talented musician, but for some reason he never really released anything with his bands/projects. We have very different personalities him and me, and it can be a conflicted relationship somehow, but he really pushed me, saying the right things at the right time, some kind of smart criticism. All those guys have been very important to me, Britt, Cameron, Ryo etc. I owe them a lot.

Your music is active in the way that there is a lot of sounds churning at once, but in fluctuating (yet match) time signatures: is this activity something to you delve into on tour?

I see live in the same way, yes. I cannot be inactive for even half a second when performing, so I constantly change this, that, minor details sometimes, but it is constantly evolving. I think my goal is to find this middle way between evolution and repetition, and also between order and chaos. A subtle balance. Keep the groove and the hypnotism of repetition, food for your subconscious, and at the same time stimulating your consciousness with variations, breaks, scale changes, whatever.

I recently discovered I was probably slightly hyperactive, in my own way. My music helps me to figure out stuff about myself, I think you can do a psycho analysis of an artist through their art. There are a few things in my art that probably say a lot about me. The fact that I have so many layers together, that I am unable to be minimalist, that things have to change all the time (each song on the new Growing Wild is basically two or three songs in one), my obsession for details etc. My “style” was never conceptually built, it’s all post-analysis and deductions from what has been done instinctively. That’s why I believe my music has a lot to do with the unconscious, and maybe that’s why it can have some spiritual depth for variety of people.

Do you believe there is a duality of energy in LIFE that is also attributed to your music? As such, do you believe it’s natural (i.e., “If there is no good, there is no bad,” as you said “order and chaos”). More-so, do you find your music is a battle of mind vs, equipment, or self vs. self?

Man, I don’t know. I do believe in duality for sure (yin and yang, particle and antiparticle, supersymmetry… it’s everywhere). Good and bad is different because it’s moral/judgement, so in that way I follow Nietzsche, and I try to think beyond good and evil. Order and chaos have no moral judgement (although, maybe a little), but you’re right, they are human invention, chaos is just an order we don’t understand.

I don’t think my music is a battle as much as it’s an attempt to link the inside and the outside; to share my sensibility in a language that is not verbal. I don’t know why I do that really, but I KNOW there is a deep psychological NEED/NECESSITY for me to do it because I feel it with no doubt: this is what I want to do. It’s good and satisfying and rewarding that I have a few listeners, but when no one cares about what I do anymore, I won’t quit. Not because it’s a self vs. self battle, but because it’s self helping the self process.

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