Songwriting is excruciating, but it's what he lives for, says German musician Maxim in an interview with DW. After shaking up the German charts with his single, he's now on tour with his new album, "Staub."
There's something mysterious about Maxim's urban pop ballads, but his raw vocals and soul-baring texts will get under anyone's skin. The success of his single "Meine Soldaten" (My Soldiers) - which climbed to number 18 on the German charts and which has so far garnered over four millions views on YouTube - attests to his wide appeal.
Just hours before opening the concert for American hip-hop star Kendrick Lamar in Cologne, Maxim stopped by DW's Pulse studio for an interview and live unplugged performances of his two most popular singles, "Meine Soldaten" (My Soldiers) and "Rückspiegel" (Rear View Mirror).
With lyrics like "When my heart calls out for you, when the chaos breaks out inside of me, I send out my soldiers to stare down the resistance" ("Meine Soldaten"), he reflects on his private experiences of separation and pain - but leaves the context ambiguous enough that anyone can identify with it, whether they're going through a breakup or mourning the death of a loved one.
"Writing is the first thing that I define myself through," says Maxim, and his new album "Staub" (Dust) is proof that he doesn't just master the somber side of the emotional palette, but can skillfully span the whole gamut. "Rückspiegel," his latest single, paints multihued images of summer and reminds listeners that so many things look brighter in retrospect.
Unplugged in the DW studio
Songwriting is a painful process, he confessed in the Pulse studio to hosts Kate Müser and Natalie Muller, but one he simply cannot live without.
It was not in Germany that he first discovered his passion for making music, but on a school exchange in Guadeloupe in the French Antilles, where his early musical roots were in reggae. "This was the first idea of how I could make my own music," Maxim told DW.
In live studio performances of "Meine Soldaten" and "Rückspiegel," Maxim shows just how far he's come in establishing a firm foothold on the German music scene as both a songwriter and performer.
Pulse is DW's weekly youth radio magazine. Each Tuesday, it presents 30 jam-packed minutes of stimulating information and the music that is shaping Germany. The Pulse studio interview with Maxim, including live performances, is available on www.dw.de/pulse from Wednesday, August 21 through Tuesday, August 27.
Maxim's tour schedule and music videos can be found on www.maximmusic.net.