Imagine it’s July 2013, and there are a sea of bandana headbands in the half-empty Avila Beach Party crowd. Little did you know that 17-year-old Max Styler was the tiny dude in front of an oversized royal blue banner with his emblem screen printed onto it for good measure. What if I told you that the English progressive trance trio Above & Beyond were headlining that same sold out California show? San Luis Obispo’s Styler landed that gig while hitting the books hard in high school thanks to Johnny Kenny of Collective Effort Events.
When Styler turned the big 1-8, supporter Steve Aoki didn’t throw a Dim Mak birthday cake at him, but instead handed him a record contract. Fast forward two years. Today, Styler releases his debut album Heartache with cameos from Luciana, CXLOE, KARRA, Devault, and Colt Matthews. Take a peak at Max Styler’s brand new LP and official music video for “Gold” after you read my Q&A with him below (obviously).
How did you manage to swing a slot opening up for Above & Beyond as a high schooler?
To be honest a little bit of luck and a shit ton of passion and drive.
I’m digging your rose forearm tattoo. Do tell.
Thanks! It was actually a birthday present for my 20th birthday. I went into my local tattoo shop having no idea what I was going to get. I started looking through the book of tattoos and didn’t see anything I really liked. As I was looking down I realized that I really liked the design on my T-Shirt I was wearing at the time. I decided to get the design on my T-Shirt tattooed on my arm lol. (I don’t wear that T-shirt anymore by the way).
Why is being a part of the Dim Mak family badass?
It’s just that, it’s a family and it truly feels like it. That’s why it’s badass.
What is the significance of creating an acoustic version of the ballad “Heartache” with Colt Matthews?
Honestly, “Heartache” is my favorite song that I’ve made to date. Colt Matthews’ vocal seemed to be starving for a more unplugged and raw version and that’s why I decided to create the acoustic mix. I wanted to add a new dimension to my LP by exploring a new style. It gives the listener a break from all of the electronic sounds that the rest of the album holds and allows them to focus on the simplicity of just a piano, violin and vocal.
Who did the album artwork for ‘Heartache,’ and explain the symbolism behind it?
I actually rented a studio out for the day in LA with my creative team in order to get this artwork done. We hired a model who was willing to have paint poured all over her and in turn it got pretty messy. As far as symbolism goes, it’s really just about the look, angle and the way the paint is flowing on her skin. There’s no hidden meaning behind it.
What was the first melody you learned how to play on the guitar?
Wow first melody on guitar? Ummmm… I think it might have been ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ by Cream.
Where is the next major festival you have lined up?
I don’t have a festival lined up at the moment but you can catch me at the Dim Mak 20th Anniversary shows in Huntington Beach, California next Friday 11/19 or in Hawaii in December.
When did you have a “pinch yourself” moment because you couldn’t believe how much you achieved in your short 20 years on planet Earth?
I pinch myself everyday ;). No but seriously, not having to look at price tags when shopping at IKEA.