Back to all News

Five questions with Max Lawrence

Max Lawrence is a Naarm-based musician, who blends electronic textures and jazz sensibility with larger-than-life art-pop songwriting. We talked to them about their upcoming show, Fountain and their collaboration with contemporary classical music outfit, Forest Collective as part of Midsumma Festival.

You’ve said Fountain is the antithesis to binary absolutes, how is that reflected in the music? 

There’s something fascinating about what’s between what we perceive as two, opposing absolute truths. The way the magnetic pull of a contradiction sits within the body has so much energy to it, and when I was working on the concept for the show I noticed that I had opposing ideas I wanted to communicate. On one hand there’s the wonder and awe of the inner child seeing the world as beautiful and rich in its abundance, and on the other hand there’s this deep, cold well of sadness that longs to be acknowledged. I’m not in the business of repression, so it was necessary to honour all of these selves, and the allowance of all of these parts created an eruption. A fountain. Of all the shades in between.

Why is exploring this topic important to you? 

It’s so common for people to shut down their emotions to appease others, to keep the peace, or to look away from the big ball of pain in the room so that no one has to look at it. But it’s still there. It’s not going away. Nowadays I’m not interested in looking away, I want to poke and prod it, examine the shape, dive into the well of sadness and erupt from the depths with a greater appreciation for the beauty of existence having experienced the cold.

We are never just one thing, everything is happening everywhere all at once, especially our emotions, and it is important to me to create music that details the different textures of this emotional terrain, and if someone recognises that landscape as a place they’ve been before, or want to go, then we can be there together.

Why did you choose Forest Collective to further explore these pieces? 

We’ve collaborated before on a show called Chlorophyll in 2020 about the healing powers of our relationship with the natural world.  Performing that show was the most fulfilling and realised my music has ever felt. It’s not every day I get to hear songs I’ve poured endless hours into come to life in such a beautiful, lush and communal way. My music-making tends to be quite a lonely practice and means I spend a lot of time in a little cave with these works, but to have them performed by over 10 musicians, each person pouring themselves into it, allowing these songs to soar through the sky and feel so much bigger than me. It is an incredibly emotional experience and makes all the struggle and hardship of making art feel worth it. I love working with the Forest Collective, so when the idea of another collaboration show came up I jumped at the chance. They’re all such brilliant musicians and wonderful people.

You’ve said Fountain is going to be bigger and better than your 2020 collaboration with Forest Collective, Chlorophyll. In what way? 

I think I’ve grown a lot as a person and artist since then, Chlorophyll was before the pandemic and I’ve written new songs that I’m really proud of in that time of isolation and forced self-reflection. I care less now about imperfection and am learning to embrace it, allowing an acceptance of the true, weird shape of my spirit, rather than what I think people want to see. That’s an ongoing process, but I’m proud of the headway I’ve made and continue to make. Fountain will be a raw expression of truth and fantasy, taking the seeds of Chlorophyll and watering them, allowing unbridled growth in all directions.

What do you hope audiences take away from this performance?

I hope people connect with what I’m making, see themselves in it or someone they know or could be. I want people to come with an open mind and heart and leave with some internal pieces moved around, or at least an appreciation for the strange shape of those parts. I want this show to feel like a communion, something we’re all experiencing together and can share. Music is such a robust vehicle for love, and that’s really the goal at the end of the day, to harvest and share love.

Fountain by Max Lawrence & Forest Collective
3-5 February

Book now