Showing us what's good by way of Philadelphia, singer-songwriter, genre-bending recording artist, and producer Max Swan deepens the groove with his recent hit, "Filler."
Max Swan's early ventures into the music industry revolved around jazz, primarily through being a classically-trained saxophonist studying under Saturday Night Live bandleader Lenny Pickett. Max Swan has created a unique sound dubbed 'electro-soul,' blending jazz's improvisational spirit with 21st-century soul, r&b, and hip-hop.
Max Swan recently released his 10-track album, 'Slow Jail,' reflecting themes of unexpected loss, newfound strength, escapism, self-discovery, and grief. The album's halfway track, "Filler," perfectly enhances these themes while Max Swan showcases his heartfelt performance alongside the heaviest and most sensual 'electro-soul' sonics and instrumentation.
Delving into our favorite song of the album, "Filler," we're met with a hard-hitting and airy mid-tempo drum break alongside fluid and fluttery synths and heavy piano chords that sink the song's atmosphere into a deep, dark place. As Max Swan makes his sweet and savory vocal appearance, he begins to serenade us with his emotional words that ponder love's confusion, bitterness, and the distance between two lovers in a tumultuous relationship.
We genuinely can't get enough of the song's dense production and instrumentation; it offers perfect elements of psychedelia alongside contemporary electronic and the grooviest r&b. The song's atmosphere is to die for, and Max Swan makes the listening experience much more cathartic with his honest, vulnerable words that anyone can relate to. As he grooves towards the outro, Max Swan leaves us craving more sensual and chilling tracks like this.
Do yourself a favor and dive into the depths of love with Max Swan's recent hit, "Filler," and find his latest album, 'Slow Jail,' on all digital streaming platforms.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, Max Swan. We're head over heels for the soul and passion within your recent hit, "Filler." What inspired you to create this distant-feeling and heavily emotional piece?
Bad relations. I was at a dead-end with my day gig. Every day, I’d come to the studio angry, for a long time—completely out of patience, short-fused, and worn so thin that I had to continue battling the urge to fly off the handle at any moment. I had to fund what I was doing in music from elsewhere, which I was proud to do, but the way I was serving it was really testing me. A lot of people can relate to this because a lot of people are working hard labor for—or in relations with folks—who are blindly steamrolling their world, following some falsehood of self-actualization they preach, when in reality they’re full of holes that their unwilling, to be honest about, both inwards and outwards. I’m the kind of person that’s blindly dedicated, which leaves me open to letting people go too far, looking at everything like it’s a challenge I accept to overcome. The anxiety caused me and the way it made me treat my closest friends was absolutely fucked. When I made the decision to cleanse myself of it by writing about it, like many other subjects I captured in this album, it flowed like water. Filler is the substanceless B.S. between you and people that just don’t get along and will never get along, and sometimes you gotta cut em off.
The whole album for me was about taking what I had and actually putting it into my words and sounds, and this track was big for me in the middle of the process. It drove me further into what I was doing with the music. Could you take us through how you created the dense, heavy, and soulful sonics for "Filler"? What vibe or feeling did you want the production and instrumentals to emit?
The whole thing started with the piano line at the top. Long before I’d ever gotten the words or meaning out of it, the beat was there, and the verse form was lined up. The darkness was there from the jump, but getting that odd major/minor move at the refrain (“why so hard and why so far…”) had a nice little tweak to it, something to set it apart. The first verse/refrain went down on it long before the chorus ever landed, and it sat like that for some time for sure. After that came the chorus, the melody of which had been in my head as its own beat for years. Most of my stuff is made like that, from lines that pop in and out of my head and get twisted and flipped around as my memory plays with it over time. The chorus was where I wanted to be as evil as possible with the sound. Korg Minilogue on the top-top line, alternating string lines panned opposite to get 'em goin, and some insanely crunchy layers of piano down on the bottom, sub-bass as well. That’s the heaviest spot in the song, all instrumentation included, and it just melts away to the verse.
Would you say "Filler" is one of your favorite tracks on your new album, 'Slow Jail'? What does this song mean to you?
Absolutely. “Woohoo” has been really well received by the streaming numbers, but I always had “Filler” as the trophy in my mind. I thought it would hit hard, and it was one of the first tracks where I dipped into some trap stuff, which a lot of my peers are big on right now. The song was a way for me to make something positive out of what was bothering me at that time. Something to ease my spirit, because I quietly won out, making some art out of it.
How does "Filler" enhance the theme and concept of your latest album, 'Slow Jail'?
I just couldn’t leave the song off the album, even if I was saving it for the next. It fit perfectly into the playthrough and plays a huge role in the journey through the song order. There’s a shift in the album when you get to it, and then through “Legend”, after coming out of the “Sheesh” and “Runaway” pairing.
What's next for you?
We had a great little run of release shows right before Omicron, definitely the biggest crowds so far for me, and now the focus is to capture some of the songs live in-studio with the band and to do one or two more feature music videos for it. Definitely gonna be submitting to Tiny Desk again this year, as well.