At the forefront of the UK underground music innovation stands Feux, a gifted artist blending soul-stirring harmonies. His reputation as a 'project artist' goes beyond creating music; it's about crafting immersive experiences that the listeners can connect to on a deeper level.
From standout projects like 'Pure Nine,' 'Dubious,' to his debut album 'Opal Blues,' Feux has carved his niche among the UK's music pioneers. Sharing stages with acclaimed artists such as Sainte, Lord Apex, and Freddie Gibbs, Feux consistently showcases his remarkable talent and charismatic presence.
Now enter Max Mantra, Feux's alter ego and creative sanctuary. This identity liberates Feux from self-imposed or external confines, allowing him to explore new frontiers fearlessly, as Max Mantra symbolises the courage to transcend limits and break away from predefined expectations.
As the project unfolds, welcome to Max Mantra "Side A," a portal into Feux's sophomore album. This isn't just another compilation of songs; it's a voyage into Feux's intricate psyche, reimagining R&B/Soul with innovative flair.
We caught up with Feux to talk about all things 'Max Mantra (Side A)' from the creative process to the visuals behind the project.
So this new project MAX MANTRA (side A), serves as an introduction to your alter Ego of Max Mantra. What inspired you to go down this new creative path?
I think for me the main starting point was creative freedom to basically disintegrate all the boxes that I guess over time you get put in. I think people never really know what they want and I think using that to my advantage was important and creating a whole new universe, sonically and visually, something for people to just consume as they please was important for me. I think going in that direction where I can give people the unexpected is kind of what I want to do as an artist, keep my listeners on their toes.
Do you think this had an effect on the way you approached the music for this project?
Yeah, of course. I tend to never really create with many thoughts in my head. I think a lot of the time things just fall into place and they just make sense. I think that's partly just because for me, I feel like my journey has kind of been that way, but also just because I like to let things be natural.
But in terms of the process, it's been a whole different process, a whole different approach, so I would definitely say so. The amount of time that's been put in, it's been at a definite higher standard than previous. It's no longer just in my bedroom, even though a big part of Side A was recorded in my room, a lot of it was finished in other places. So I think it definitely has impacted my creation and my creative process.
Side A takes us on a transformational journey, you explore your emotions and concerns which is something we've not really seen you do on previous projects. What made you go down this journey?
I wanted to give myself the opportunity to feel like I'm free when I create, sometimes you kind of fall into categories, I guess that's just a human thing, People like to categorise things, and for me, I tend to want to move away from that. I want to be known as a freeform artist, I'm not someone that does one thing.
For me, it was really just allowing myself to be free in my creations and to try and push something new and to push myself musically in as many different ways as possible on both side A and side B as well.
Side A differs from your older work like Opal Blue and DUBIOS, when you started creating it, did you want to create something different, was it from an experience you went through or was it more of an I need to change?
For me, it was natural. It was actually after Opal Blues came out, I made Lucky You, which is the last track of side A, which is surprisingly the most different.
I made Lucky You and that kind of sparked something in me where I was kind of like, okay, I like doing something that has no hip-hop whatsoever in it. People around me liked the song, even when it was unfinished, so it definitely gave me the boost that I needed to push myself to really try and push and do something that people weren't used to from me and that I wasn't used to. It definitely was a starting point for me to embark on that journey and just push myself creatively and put myself out of my comfort zone.
When it comes to your visuals, you've decided to go fully monochrome. Was this something you decided from the beginning or was it as the project evolved that you thought would fit the themes?
For me, this project has really shaped itself over a long, long period of time. It's really hard to explain. The process for my projects is all so different, the way I approach it is always so different, but this one was definitely gradual and there was a lot of brainstorming to be done and to be had with this project.
As I said earlier, things tend to fall in place with me because I just keep my head down and work and do what I think is right and then things do just fall into place. But, a lot of it was very much planned and the monochrome aesthetic for Side A has many layers. I wanted to make this project a visual album as well as an audio experience, for me, I wanted to find a way where I could really engage the people that are listening and watching.
Bringing them into a world, into a universe where they have something that they can follow is important. So there is meaning to the black and white to the monochrome, but for me, mainly I wanted to make something that was up to interpretation and people could kind of see it how they wish.
Obviously, I can't speak on it fully right now because Side B hasn't come out, I mean I know what that it means to me, but I don't know what it will mean to other people once the whole album is out, but it definitely has meaning. I wanted to be surface visually striking, but also have a deeper layer but I guess with time I'll be able to explain them.
You've been doing a lot of DIY I with it yourself, and that can be clearly seen over Instagram. you are really hands-on with the project, and I think that shines throughout the music and you can tell it means a lot to you as a project as a whole.
You've said that you want to be someone that people can relate to, do you think you've achieved that with the project?
As I said, it's not just out yet, but as an artist, I definitely look to inspire people, my peers, my supporters and everyone really around me, that's kind of my goal. As a kid who was pretty lost in my teenage years, not doing the best at school, I think a lot of people are in that position. A lot of people may feel lost between going to school and going to uni, I personally didn't want to go to university, but that was the kind of only option I had.
It's not just music, but if I can help people to see that I'm just another person, who just worked hard and followed my heart, then I feel like that can have a positive effect on many people. That's really my goal, to be honest, to make that happen and to inspire people around me. I feel like I have already, but there's still a long way to go and many more people to help. So that's kind of why I feel like I want people to relate to me because I want to be real and I want people to see that.
So speaking about your peers, you made the decision to have no features on the project for Side A, was this something you wanted as it's more of a personal project?
I think partly, but there was never any space for features. All these songs I made, I just made them and I made them from the heart and it was not like, oh, I'm not going to have features on Side A. It was just, these are the songs that are there and there is no space for features.
Although I consider everyone has worked on it as a feature. So yeah, there's not actually much reasoning to it, but you can most definitely bet you're going to get some juicy features on side B.
I won't put in names just yet, but there's a big feature on there that I'm very, very proud and happy about, so you'll get to hear that.
So if you had to tell someone to listen to one song from the project that would explain to them this new Max Mantra personality, the alter ego, what song would it be and why?
That's a good question. Obviously, I make albums. I don't really do singles too much, but I think if you want to connect with the essence and the emotion of the project, I think Ocean Eyes is probably a good song to listen to. And if you want some sort of more insight on the kind of themes within the project, I think either Don't Fuck My Night Up or Lucky You.
When it comes to live performances, you now perform with visionaries. How has this affected your past experiences when performing live?
Yeah, I mean last night was very eye-opening. I think it has opened a lot of doors for me in terms of just how I see my performances evolving. I think it was challenging and I think vocally, I have a way to go. I want to get better. I want the band to be tighter, I want it to be second nature. But it was a great starting point and that's how I'm seeing it.
I think having a band, playing with the visionaries, is going to allow me to get to that even higher level and higher standard of live performing. So next year, expect some very, very big performances with the band, which I'm very excited for, but until then we got to keep practising and making sure that the shit's perfect.