Music News and Interviews

Interview with Max Gowan

You may remember the prolific singer-songwriter, Max Gowan, from WKNC’s Double Barrel Benefit earlier this year. The Raleigh native turned Virginia-resident gives us a look into his most recent album release, Bygones, which is set to produce its first music video later this month. Gowan is promoting this release through WKNC by generously giving us a teaser trailer for the project. The music video for “7th Day” by Max Gowan can be promo’d above and further questions about Gowan and his artistry can be read below.

Music Video Questions:
First and foremost….. please give credit to the creators! Who helped you create this video? This video was made by Lake Park Productions which is a group of my friends Cary, Nathan, and Coleman, and probably some other folks who I haven’t met yet. They are awesome and I couldn’t be happier with the work they do. 

With what concept did you approach the videographers when starting this video? I wasn’t sure what I wanted for the video when I went to my friend Cary’s team to see if they were interested. We talked about it and I told them the song was generally about a sense of unease and dread that I sometimes get that can be pretty consuming. They thought it would be cool to build a miniature town out of household toys and stuff they found and build tension throughout the video until the town ultimately floods. I was like “yeah, that’s perfect.”

To what degree does psychedelia inspire this music video? I guess a lot of people would consider the song itself to be fairly psychedelic, because it’s focused on building textures in kind of an abstract way, so I think they tried to make the video reflect that. I like things that evoke emotion without being overly direct.

To whom does this video pay homage? Who are your inspirations, if you have any? I know very little about film and movies but I’m sure the team that made this video had inspiration from lots of places. They were shooting in a style called “Macro” I believe, and I’m sure there are lots of filmmakers and directors covering new ground with that technique. I know it’s not similar at all, but for some reason, the video sometimes makes me think of Wallace and Gromit which I grew up on, I loved that claymation stuff. 

I like the contrast between glowing and iridescent imagery inside the structures and for your profile’s color scheme. The contrast between their vibrancy and the mundanity of the tiny town must have been intentional. Can you elaborate on that a little bit more for me? I didn’t know that was going to be done until I saw the finished video for the first time. I love it! I’m sure the filmmakers could speak better about it than me, but my reading is that everything in the video is an inanimate object, except for the shots of me playing guitar. So it’s almost like they’re making the play-pretend world seem very grounded in reality, but the actual footage of the real world seem more like a daydream. It’s a cool subversion.

Why did you select this song to be the featured single/music video off of Bygones? It was the first song I ever made for the album and I think I chose it for the single because I thought it had the most immediate appeal. I’m happy with how the guitar interludes turned out. Those sections have two guitar parts layered together that probably shouldn’t work but for some reason they did!

Common themes between your two music videos, “7th Day” and the video for “Couch” are time-passing (the flood in 7th Day and the train in Couch), light leaks, close-ups of your guitar, and photo-negative images of your scenery. What’s the carryover between the two videos? How are they related if at all? Why do you like those motifs? Cary and his team also made the video for Couch, so I think those might be markings of their style. But I advocated for a lot of those choices too because I think I’m usually very conscious of the passage of time and of how things can seem surreal. I’m probably a little too focused on it, I guess that’s why I make music about it. 

Ultimately, that small town is destroyed by water and the lights go out, why? That part to me is like…the extreme logical conclusion of any irrational fear or delusion. The idea that it could consume you. It doesn’t usually happen but I feel like it’s a fear that most people probably share.

Ever heard of the book, the Giver? You being the only thing in color reminds me a lot of that. I loved The Giver! That was probably my favorite book I read the whole year of 6th grade. I hadn’t at all thought about the connection there but you’re very right and I’m sure that subconsciously made me like this video even more. 

Do you plan on releasing more music videos for this album? I would like to release more. I think I’d either want to do one for the song “Overpass” or the song “Knocking” but it will probably be a while before we can get anything going.

When can we expect this music video to come out and where can it be found once it is? I think our goal right now is late August or early September. It will be posted on my music YouTube channel and it will probably be premiering on some blogs as well. But YouTube is a safe bet.

The interview continued on to cover a variety of subjects. For further insight into Max Gowan as an artist and person, continue reading. The following Q-and-A does not directly pertain to the music video for “7th Day.”

Why is “Blue Kite” such a good song? It is my personal favorite! Haha, I’m glad you like that one. I’m really happy with how it turned out but for some reason it’s not one of my more popular tracks…I guess it’s a little slow and dark. I’ve never made something before that centered so heavily on piano and drums – that was a lot of fun to explore.

Do you have a favorite released track? I think my favorite released song of mine is probably this one called “Bad Breeze.” It came together really fast and just felt like the kind of song I’ve always wanted to make. I thought people would hate it at first because I could see how someone would think it’s goofy or weird, but I think it’s my most played song on Spotify which is a cool feeling!

Favorite and least favorite song that isn’t by you? I hate to throw people under the bus but I heard this song “Lover Is A Day” by Cuco and it drove me INSANE. It’s kind of like a standard Ultra Chill Dream Pop song but I just really didn’t like the rambling vocals and instrumentation. Then I looked and saw the song is 7 minutes long. It just kept doing the same thing the whole time…the audacity. I’m probably just an asshole though. I’m sure the dude is talented it’s just not my thing. My favorite song is probably “Helicopter” by Deerhunter. Probably a very uncool opinion among Deerhunter fans but it’s everything I love in music.

Who are your musical icons that you admire? I listened to a bunch of death metal in middle school and then got really into Elliott Smith and Deerhunter in high school. I think those two artists plus Spirit of the Beehive, Broken Social Scene, and Alex G are probably the most influential for my music. I’ve also been listening to a ton of Tierra Whack lately, she’s amazing.

What have you done since Double Barrel Benefit? Double Barrel Benefit was awesome, we were really glad we got to play! Since then I finished my last semester and graduated college. I worked a couple of different jobs this summer and am moving back to Raleigh and job searching there.

What goals do you have for yourself going forward? I think my goal is to find a job that I am satisfied with that also allows me some time for working on music. As far as music goes, I think it’s easy to get caught up in thinking “in five years I should have this many listeners and be playing in X size room” but the world doesn’t work like that. I’ll be happy if I can keep making albums that I enjoy more than my previous stuff.

Where can people listen to your music online? You can find it under my name on Spotify and Apple Music or you can go to

Soup or salad with your sandwich? Salad! I could use the fiber.