Though pretty new on the Australian music scene, having released her first single ‘Need to be me’ in early 2020, MAXINE has already woven herself tightly into Sydney’s ever-interconnecting web. It’s no doubt the work of her sensual R&B love songs that salute an overt confidence and lack of shyness. Traits that can be seen throughout the entirety of last year’s honey-doused work, from her second release ‘Do it’, to her pleading single ‘Say Something’, to her lively performances and voluptuary music videos.
‘Who I Am’, the latest addition to her arsenal — written alongside Danny Duke and produced by not one, but three producers, including Chunkyluv, Korky Buchek, and rising star Tasker — follows along the same lines. Based on a previous relationship, one that disconnected her from herself, the track lilts gently between slow-moving verses, and an almost-imploring chorus, ‘why don’t you let me / why don’t you let me be just who I am’. To celebrate the release of this newest track and the latest movements of the rising star, we chat to MAXINE about performance power, inspiration and what’s to come.
Hey MAXINE! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into music?
Hey y’all! Well, I’m South African, I have four other siblings and 8 nieces and nephews, and seriously, family is the best thing about my life. It’s been a long time coming with music. I used to be a dancer, and I was always in situations where my sisters would be pressuring me to sing, but I was so sure I wanted to dance. My brother Mike is an artist as well, and he really is one of my biggest inspirations, I just never thought I could match him. We grew up with music constantly playing in our house and my mum always used to make us watch DVDs of live shows from Sade to Tina Turner, Lauryn Hill, MJ and Stevie Wonder. So I think eventually when I was mentally ready and finished battling my mind and heart I finally pulled the pin, and the rest is her-story, if you understand me!
From the looks of social media, your family seems to be quite a group of performers. Where did you all get this star power, or drive to perform, from?
Oh, aren’t they just. I seriously feel so blessed that some of the most inspiring people to me are literally in my bloodline! My dad’s family are all super musical. They play instruments and sing, and my dad sings too. So it was bound to spill onto all of us. My brother, Mike Champion, and my sisters used to be in a group when they were kids called ‘Sensitivity’. They travelled and played shows all around Sydney. So we’ve all been doing this from such a young age. My brother is a recording artist and my sister-in-law is a choreographer, so even my nieces and nephews have this inbuilt performance factor inside of them. It feels like we were literally made to be performers.
Your new single ‘Who I Am’ is a cry for someone to let you be who you are. Can you tell us a little bit more about the track?
I wrote ‘Who I Am’ with my really close friend, Danny Duke. I was in a relationship for a long time when I was younger and I guess looking back, there were so many times that I felt like I morphed into being someone I wasn’t to cater to somebody else. I was always conflicted because I felt so in love, but I was constantly in a battle with my head and my heart because I wasn’t truly living and being myself. It kinda ended a little tumultuously because once I really had the courage to understand that, I was mad at him, but also at myself. I knew I needed to just set myself free…ah, breakups.
In general, what’s your process when you write music? Are they often reflections of things happening in your own life?
Honestly, it’s quite different every time depending on my mood. Sometimes I start from scratch and other times I’ll write to a beat that someone has sent me. Sometimes I write with people. I feel like I write and think of the best ideas when I’m driving alone in the car. They are almost always reflections of events in my life that left a mark. Now that I’m saying that don’t go back and dissect me too hard please (laughs).
Peter Sabbagh produced your latest song, what’s it like working with him? and what’s the process of working together on tracks?
This is my favourite question! This song is actually produced by three producers. The incredible Chunkyluv, the unstoppable duo Korky Buchek — which Peter is one half of — and the infamous Tasker, all incredible producers! But I’ll let you in on a little secret about Peter, we don’t work together as much as everybody thinks. Sometimes we tend to bicker in the studio a little, probably because I’m his girlfriend but maybe also because I’m quite picky. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. He’s my other half and seriously I haven’t met too many people as passionate and driven as him. Sometimes we write together in the car on the way home too.
There seems to be a very interconnected crew of talented up-and-coming artists in Sydney. What’s the scene like there, and who are some other up-and-comers you have your eye on?
Honestly, Australia is glowing up right now and I definitely feel proud about it. For the women, I fangirl so hard over Kota Banks, but she has been glowing for a very long time. Liyah Knight has been courageous from the very start with her sound and it’s very dope to witness. Maina Doe also just really be doing it all with ease.
For the men, BOY SODA is another one coming with his heat real soon, so stay ready for that. Planet Vegeta are hard. I actually witnessed them performing recently and it was a vibe!
What artists have persistently inspired you throughout your life? And influenced the sound of your music?
One of my favourite artists of all time is Stevie Wonder. His music has always been so relevant at almost every stage of my life. Of course, there is Lauryn Hill, Erykah, Queen B, Kanye, MJ — the greats. The new school artists I really feel influenced by are; Lucky Days, Victoria Monet, Partynextdoor, 070 Shake. This list could honestly never end.
What’s been your favourite moment in your career to date?
Right now, I can’t specifically pick one moment. But, being able to do this every single day and say it’s my job is pretty damn awesome. I’m literally living my dreams every day of the week, and honestly, I’m blessed to do it.
What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your music? Or where do you see yourself at your peak?
I just want to stay happy forever being in my partnership with music. Of course, I want to play stadium shows, and festivals nationally and internationally, that’s a given. But ultimately I just never want to lose the love. I never want to fall out of love with making music. We have to stay understanding each other so there’s no love affair. Oh, and I want my family to be proud. I wanna work so hard, so that all the children that have dreams just like me, have a bigger platform than I once did.
What’s to come for you in the next little while?
Lots more shows! I’ve been having the best time being back on stage! Right now I’m just buried in being consistent and creating. Everything else, I’ll keep a surprise!
Follow Maxine here for more and stream her new single ‘Who I Am’ below.