Words + Photos by Antonio Hernandez.
Maximillian is a multi-sensory artist that, at any one time, is a DJ, projectionist or is programming his live tube television installations. Sometimes he’s doing all three, muddling the lines between artist and curator.
Born in New Jersey, Maximillian lives in the relatively quiet suburb of Calvert County, MD, where he spent time teaching himself how to make beats and graphics. Frequent trips to Baltimore and D.C. gave him an outlet to play his music, show-off his visuals and test out his TV set-up, a stack of televisions playing glitched-out visuals. His latest instrumental release “Emojional,” features his takes on danceable electro, downtempo 808-driven beats and an ode to Lil B’ thrown in for good measure.
Maximillian talks his music, his TV installations, and the influence of Lil’ B.
Q: What venue has the best crowds?
MAXIMILLIAN: My favorite place, that’s closed now, used to be in Empire in Virginia. That place was real cool. I like DIY spots but I also like clubs.
Q: Did you have any formal education in Music, visual art or anything?
MAXIMILLIAN: I took music theory in high school and I did chorus, but other than that, nah. I went to school for business. It’s just been me messing around with music and stuff.
Q: What is your favorite genre of music to make?
MAXIMILLIAN: Right now, Vaporwave. Just taking things and chopping and screwing them, and putting little beats over them.
“It’s a bunch of people taking other people’s music, chopping it, releasing it underground under different names and languages”
Q: Why did you move in Vaporwave after starting with trap and juke?
MAXIMILLIAN: I used to DJ raves and stuff a lot, but I started getting bored with the music. I wanted to switch it up. A lot of people are heavy on Soulection and R and B – that kind of sound – right now. I’ve been looking for something that’s different. There’s just a weird style to it.
I’m on the internet a lot, I spend like eighty-percent of my time on social media. I just like all the art that goes with it. It’s a bunch of people taking other people’s music, chopping it, releasing it underground under different names and languages. I like that whole thing, the style it has.
“I just find shit and say alright, is this cool? I’ll just take it and do whatever with it”
Q: Where do you find most of the music you use to play or sample?
MAXIMILLIAN: Right now, I’m using cassette tapes and vinyl. I’m borrowing my friend’s record player, and I have a bunch of cassettes and an old tape. I just find shit and say alright, is this cool? I’ll just take it and do whatever with it.
Q: Are there places you go to dig for records, 45’s or cassettes?
MAXIMILLIAN: Right now there’s a thrift store around where I live that has a lot of cool stuff. A lot of it is bunk, but if you dig around you’ll find some cool stuff.
Q: How big of a Lil’ B fan are you?
MAXIMILLIAN: That goes a while back. I’m a really big Lil’ B fan. When I first discovered Lil’ B I was just like what the fuck is this? Because it was confusing; I had no idea about Lil’ B at all. At first I thought Lil’ B was just some rapper guy, just rapping, you know what I mean? I didn’t think his music was that special.
I had a couple friends who were like “no, you need to dig through his discography, and look and actually listen to his message.” I listened to some of the speeches he’s done, read the books, and all that stuff.
Q: Do you have any favorite tapes? Mine would probably be between “Ultimate Bitch” or “Hoop Life”?
MAXIMILLIAN: “Ultimate Bitch” is up there. Pink flame is another one up there. His favorite song, it’s called “The Internet,” and the verse he did was really dope. It’s crazy, some of the people that have made his beats before. He’s on a beat with 9th Wonder.
“VJing seems kind of cheesy to me. I thought if we’re going to go cheesy, why not make it ultimate cheese”
Q: How did you get into doing the TV installations?
MAXIMILLIAN: That’s actually really new. I started messing around this program to modulate, about four or five months ago. I started messing with it and decided that I wanted to VJ, but VJing seems kind of cheesy to me. I thought if we’re going to go cheesy, why not make it ultimate cheese.
I was born in the 90’s. Let’s get a bunch of TVs, the old-style TV’s, because no one wants them. I went on Craigslist and I wanted to see if it would be cost-effective to do this shit and sure enough, there are people giving away 20-inch TV’s. They’re just like “here, take this,” so I’ve been scooping up TV’s and rigged up a set-up to plug them all together. The first time I ever did it was a couple weeks ago. I wasn’t sure how that was going to go, but it was dope.
“I wanted to see if it would be cost-effective to do this shit and sure enough, there are people giving away 20-inch TV’s”
Q: So that was at the Freakness?
MAXIMILLIAN: The Freakness, was the first one, and that was pretty good. The show that really stood out, I did Julian Casablanca‘s “The Void” music video premiere in D.C. They played their video off of it and it was like an eight-minute long music video-documentary. Everyone was sitting down, watching their TVs and I was sitting there with everyone I was just like woah. Because their music video was out there, it was amazing.
Q: How much time is involved in setting-up and preparing for a show?
MAXIMILLIAN: I have to get there an hour, or an hour-and-a-half early just to get in. The hardest part is loading stuff in. Most times, I need to pack it all up and drive it up here. It only takes twenty or thirty minutes to get it going, and then once it runs, it’s been pretty smooth so far, thankfully.
Q: How did you get in touch with Big Vibe to the Freakness?
MAXIMILLIAN: I played Beet Trip, and it was the first Beet Trip I ever played, and I talked to Val and D.K. after that. We took a break and we were talking, and I was just like yo you guys make some crazy beats! And then Val, I got his number, and he called me a couple weeks later because he saw I was doing the visual stuff on Instagram.
“It still just ends up being a bunch of people standing there for the most part. I feel like it’s 2015, we should step up a little bit”
Q: Where do you see your installations going?
MAXIMILLIAN: I want to make it more interactive show experience for people. A lot of shows I go to they’re fun – and you can pack a venue out, go and have a headliner or a local show too, it doesn’t matter – but it still just ends up being a bunch of people standing there for the most part. I feel like it’s 2015, we should step up a little bit.
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I’ve seen some really cool visual art things on YouTube and in shows I’ve been to, and there are people with the cool stages, big set-ups, nice lights, but I think there needs to be stuff that the audience can really interact with and get close with. I want to start doing different kinds of installations. It’s going to be out there. It’s not going to be in the crowd per se, or blocking the crowd, but you can mess with it.
“There needs to be stuff that the audience can really interact with and get close with”
With the TVs and stuff we have people playing Atari on them and people thought that was real cool because you can come play this stuff and we’ll glitch it live. People were playing Pac-Man and having a blast. I want to breakout Super Smash Bros., and do some crazier stuff.
Q: Where will you be in 5 days, 5 months and 5 years?
MAXIMILLIAN: In five days, I will probably be working at 9:30 Club at some show. Five months, probably still around here. Hopefully I’ll have either moved to Baltimore or D.C. I’m trying to decide. In five years, I don’t know, I don’t know normally go that far. But hopefully, I’ll still be doing music. I’ve always been doing the same thing, since I was 16, because I’ve been wanting to get out play. I just take it one step at a time.