Hailing from the music hotbed of Atlanta, emerging talent Maxwell Aden offers a unique persona and haunting music that pleases ears alike. Acts such as Outkast and Usher served as Maxwell’s early influences and his infectious hooks and melodies are the proof. Aden first made a name with his debut single, “Heartbeat,” a pop single that centers around love. From being a broke college student to gaining a major co-sign from music legend RAab Stevenson, there’s no doubt Maxwell will take off.
More recently, Maxwell treated fans to his “Bounce” video featuring Kodie Shane. Since its release, the video has amassed over a million views independently. Check out our interview with the Atlanta-native below.
Walk me through your childhood, how would you describe being raised in Atlanta?
I think I’m very fortunate and blessed to have been born and raised in Atlanta. It’s given me a very unique perspective and respect for people. Not to mention musical influence. When you grow up with Usher and Outcast to the Backstreet Boys and T.I. in your backyard it gives you a much broader appreciation and perspective for music as a whole. Atlanta seems to be recognized as the “culture” now but that was forming my whole childhood so that’s been my foundation, my DNA, from the jump. I’m grateful for that.
There’s also this tangible, unspoken, sense of pride and loyalty in the city. You see all these people and artists helping each other out and putting each other on and I think that’s a major root of that. Additionally there’s a general, respect for each other that you’re treated with when you first meet someone, even if you don’t know who they are and I think that is very special and rare. People who move here tell me this all the time so I know it’s real. I think fortunately that has taught me well.
Tell me about your music influences, what are some of the artists that paved the way for you?
It’s probably more broad than usual to be honest. My main influences are definitely Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown, Jay-Z, Drake, Future, and Usher. As well as Micheal, Adam Levine, and Caleb from Kings of Leon. I was also influenced by Dave Grohl, Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, alternative bands like Yellowcard and All Time Low, and even some metal bands.
What initially made you gravitate to music?
To be honest man, I couldn’t help it. From the time I can remember melodies and lyrics would just come in my head so naturally. So I couldn’t really help it, I guess it was my soul.
Looking back on your debut single, “Heartbeat,” what is the biggest change that you noise in your sound?
“Heartbeat” was more of like my story song. I think the biggest difference between then and now is that I learned more about who I am and my identity as an Artist. Of course, Bounce is more of an urban pop song, whereas Heartbeat is more EDM/pop. People gravitate to what’s real and genuine and I think more than ever appreciate good music rather than confining it to a genre. Which in my opinion is beautiful because in a sense it’s the evolution of Art and we’re a part of it.
So I have no problem moving forward singing and writing more of a “trappier” song or an “EDM” one as long as I’m singing how I actually feel and the song is the right feel. Someone who embodies this better than anyone, in my opinion, is Chris Brown. And while I’m not trying to be Chris Brown, I’m Maxwell Aden, I identify with that and feel that very much.
What drives your sound creatively?
First, I like to just sing from my soul. I don’t really like to force anything, so typically I just put a beat on and essentially freestyle sing melodies over it. Generally I use the first thing that comes to mind. Second I definitely intend for it to have a certain sound. I call it 808’s and feels. Which I like because it’s fairly broad but also directional. People love 808’s, that bounce, that feel. While they also love catchy melodies. Melodies that get stuck in your head or like to sing along too naturally,
Are there any artists or creatives in particular that you’re working with or currently work with?
I work a lot with RAab Stevenson and his crew who work with Timberlake, Rihannah, Pharell, SZA, Dave Mathews, Ryan Tedder as well as Jordan Stillwell whose produces with The Chainsmokers. Additionally some of the other producers I’ve worked have done songs with Future, Rihanna, Davido, Bad Bunny, and more. As far as other artists I don’t know if I can talk about that right now but I’m excited.
Your single “Bounce” is a fan favorite, how did that collaboration come about and why do you think it took off so well?
Candidly, I think it’s a combination that people aren’t necessarily used to hearing or seeing, that still feels so natural. While the sound is pretty mainstream, it’s also fairly unique and different so that definitely contributed to it. Not to mention I think the visual really helped. There’s a certain shock value and art to it that is unique. The single came about very organically. My friend Kevin Maya knew Kodie so he introduced us. We had basically the whole song for Bounce and then had the idea that Kodie would sound really good on it, so we asked her and she eagerly hopped right on it. Didn’t take more than an hour.
As far as music goes, what can we expect from you this year?
You’ll have to find out (laughs) but yeah definitely a lot more of it.
Looking a few years into the future, what type of legacy do you want to leave behind?
Great question. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t my goal to win Grammy’s. I want to make music that resonates with as many people as possible, which I think is being genuine and real, and is also innovative and part of changing sound, pushing the boundaries. Additionally, I never want to lose sight of and always focus on quality. Quantity has become a major part of the industry and you gotta give the people what they want, but at the same time greats have always put an emphasis on quality and I intend to do the same. Unity. I want to unify people as much as possible. People at their core are all so similar and there’s these boundaries that exist that need to be broken. I want to be a part of breaking these boundaries. Philanthropy and giving.
Taking care of my own is very important to me. So I always want to be sure I’m giving to my own people. When you look at the majority of greats, they all understood it was so much bigger than them, no matter how talented they were. So they never shy’d away from giving back, and not just giving back but truly and earnestly giving back. From starting charities, philanthropies, to your community. Sure, everyone wants to make a lot of money and be rich but I don’t really understand the point of money if you’re not being generous with it.
I heard you have a pretty crazy story can you tell me about it?
So you know, I was this broke kid living in my buddies apartment recording demos in the bedroom. I found out I had to have like this life saving heart surgery. The right side of my heart was 3 times larger than what it should be due to some holes in it. Luckily the doctors went in and patched it up.
Shortly after RAab Stevenson – Timberlake, Rihanna, Pharrell’s camp – heard one of my demos and the next thing I knew I was on a plane to LA to work with Jordan Stilwell, one of The Chainsmokers producers.
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