Max Frost sounds like your prototypical modern pop star serving up a cool blend of driving dance beats, chunky grinds, silky rhythms, and rich vocals. That we're even talking about Frost is simply the case of him being in the right place at the right time — or rather, one of his songs being found online by the right people.
Frost already was a regular on the Austin music scene. Since his early teens he'd been playing the blues until coming to the realization that "the best people who would ever play [blues] have already died, and I was never going to be the guy to pick a particular art form and not be experimental and kind of stretch the boundaries a little more."
He decided to pursue a musical career on his terms. He recalled his youth and how Napster opened up his musical horizons through hip-hop, soul, funk, metal, jazz, and other "weird things."
"I was pulling in anything I heard," he says excitedly from his home in Austin. "I remember OutKast being one of the first things I thought was kind of out there. I didn't know what it was — just some alien, insane thing that blew my mind. There were so many things that seemed so polar opposite to anything I'd ever heard and it pushed me in a different direction."
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These influences solidified into a complicated palate of songs stored on his computer. Then, the computer was stolen — his life's work, was gone. Except one song, "White Lies," which he'd posted online. The song went viral and after being picked up for a Beats By Dre commercial, Frost became the next hot commodity.
Hurriedly snatched up by Atlantic Records, Frost was asked to re-create the lost files. The request proved incredibly challenging.
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"Generally, it's a real tough experience to re-create something you've already done," he says. "For me, I got a record deal and all and I just wanted to move forward. It's hard to go backward, but the process just made me fearless. Having all those songs in a computer and having it disappear — it kind of brings you back to the realization that everything that you offer as an artist is completely internal and only death can take that away from you."
Low High Low, his debut EP, reflected his emotions during this struggle. The album's pop-edge and electronica grooves is tempered by soulful melodies, funk inflections, and subtle hip-hop influences. His just-issued EP, Intoxication, takes these influences a step further, and to a generally more up-tempo place.
"Intoxication is sort of a sonic expansion. The songs are a lot stronger and a deeper vehicle into the world of what I'm doing," Frost says. "I try to write a modern song and dress it in vintage clothing. I try to put the songs side by side and hold them to that standard. But I'll also try and do something more old school, but it is what it is. Especially with the new material on this upcoming EP, it's easier for me to write what's a modern pop song. I think a lot of it has to do with using a hip-hop rhythm. There's more freedom there. My melodies are already so bluesy they might be confused for old school, but then I have to have more of a hip-hop sensibility to the way that I'm playing. I don't mean I'm rapping, but just the essence of that."
For Frost, that essence creates plenty to groove on.