In what has been a fairly brief time as a professional music artist, Max Frost has had some notable success.
But even as he heads into a new phase of his career with his first full-length album, “Gold Rush,” Frost feels like he’s just scratching the surface for where he wants to go as an artist and songwriter.
“I’ve always been into it (songwriting). I’ve always thought about songs, but I still feel like I haven’t really cracked my own code yet or broken through on how I want to really write. I’ve just gotten lucky a couple of times that I feel like is all that I’ve done so far.”
Luck can’t be discounted as an ingredient in any success in music. But Frost also showed some songwriting and studio skills, turning out genre-blending
songs – such as the underground hits “White Lies” and “Adderall” –that have earned him status as an artist to watch.
Frost posted the former song to his Soundcloud account in March
The label released Frost’s first EP, “Low High Low,” in 2013, followed by
a second EP, “Intoxication,” in 2015, which included three more singles. That release was followed by another trio of stand-alone singles, including “Adderall,” and a guest appearance on the 2017 DJ Snake hit “Broken Summer.”
But after those successes, Frost, 25, felt he needed to shake things up to move forward with his music. One step was to move from his life-long home of Austin, Texas, to Los Angeles in April 2017.
“I just knew it was time to go,” Frost says. “I knew that if I moved to L.A. I would have no choice but to work as hard as I could. The thing about staying where you’re from is that you can be so comfortable there that it’s hard to, I don’t think great art comes from comfort. It’s not to say that you have to make yourself miserable or that I believe you have to be like living in hell to make anything good. It’s more just whatever drives you to work a 15-hour day on music is not very likely (to exist) if you’re just staying in the place you’re
Another key step – and an incentive to make Los Angeles his next home –
was that Frost had become friends with Michael Fitzpatrick of Fitz and the Tantrums, who happens to live in Los Angeles and had become a mentor to Frost. Fitzpatrick had agreed to executive produce Frost’s next album, and being in the same city made sense for the two.
By the time of his move west, Frost had been working on his first full-length
album for some time, a process that grew frustrating as he scrapped a few early versions of the album.
“It wasn’t even like writer’s block. It was just sort of like I was just making stuff that was OK, it was good. But I could just tell when I played it for people it wasn’t moving them,” he says.
“I could tell when I would try the songs out live, it wasn’t moving them. You know very quickly. You don’t know in the room when you’re working, but you know when you start bouncing music off of people. You can see it in their faces and their body language whether something is working.”
Frost arrived in Los Angeles ready to do whatever it took to create a debut album that he felt proud to release. Without the distractions he had in Austin, Frost could concentrate fully on songwriting and recording.
He also found he was able to let go oF preconceived notions he had for his music and he also embraced the idea of writing music with pop hooks – as long as the songs also
Having Fitzpatrick available to help guide him through the writing and recording process also proved to be a key in successfully completing “Gold Rush.”
“What I found in Fitz was someone who not only had the credibility and had done great work that had success and understood music, he could speak the language and he could look at where I was coming from on a particular song or in the bigger picture, and he could turn to me and point out where my weaknesses were,” Frost says.
“I think when people can help you identify your weaknesses, that’s just so invaluable, especially when the creative process is as difficult as making an album.”
“Gold Rush” might actually feel a bit more cohesive than Frost’s earlier EPs. But the album still blends genres and evades boundaries. For instance, “New Confessional,” “Anxious” and “Eleven Days” all feature hip-hop cadences to their vocals and grooving beats, but they have multiple pop hooks, A few other songs add variety, such as the recent top 30 alternative songs single, “Good Morning,” which has a gospel feel mixed with it modern beats; “Money Problems,” which brings more of an old-school soul element into the sound; and “Put It On Me,” which leans toward modern pop with a melodic vocal and a smooth percolating beat.
While the “Gold Rush” songs were largely created on computer in the studio, Frost takes a
“I guess the idea that I’m trying to create or make the audience feel with me is that the stage, with all of these instruments and with all of this technology, almost in a weird way, becomes one thing and it’s this sort of space ship that I’m piloting through the musical journey.”
Another feature of the show is a giant reel-to-reel tape player that Frost has built to use as a stage backdrop – and to add something more to the show.
“There’s a movie called ‘Wild in the Streets,’ where the main character’s name is called Max Frost, which is totally coincidental. I never found out about it until I started having a little bit of success in music and people started asking me if I had named myself after that character,” Frost says.
“But I do take advantage of the coincidence by using these old quotes from the movie that come out of the (reel-to-reel) tape player, like a radio broadcast or something.”
Max Frost w/Upsahl
Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, valleybarphx.com, 7:30
p.m. Saturday, April 6, $15-$50.