Editors’ Notes Despite his sunshiny demeanor and cheery cover art, LA-via-NY pop dramatist MAX’s sophomore album Colour Vision almost didn’t happen. “I lost my voice for four months and had vocal cord surgery,” he tells Apple Music. “Getting my voice back, having a second chance at this life, gave me a new outlook. That’s what Colour Vision represents—waking up each day and appreciating everything that you have. It’s all based in the color yellow.” Fittingly optimistic for a musician whose background includes stints on Broadway, songwriting for hit Disney channel shows, and starring in the Nickelodeon series How to Rock. The result is a concept album that exudes his synesthetic enthusiasms: nods to musical theater (“Colour Vision”) and soul funk (“Acid Dreams”) to bouncy Justin Timberlake-does-Ed Sheeran R&B pop (“Working for the Weekend”) and all-star collaborations with Hayley Kiyoko (“Missed Calls”), Chromeo (“Checklist”), and BTS rapper SUGA (“Blueberry Eyes”). “This album has made me believe there is magic still in the world,” MAX explains. “I hope fans feel that spark and gather that confidence from listening to the songs, too.” Below, he breaks down Colour Vision, track by track.

Colour Vision
“This was one of the last songs I wrote for the album, and it was a real risk because I knew I wanted to create an introduction to this experience. I really wanted to have that ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ moment. A lot of people, I'll be honest, didn't really believe in having this song be on the album. Everybody wanted the main singles, and to me it was so important to establish what I wanted the listener to immerse themselves in. And this song, as the intro, really summed up the whole message of the album: I wanted it to be theatrical, to feel like, 'The show's about to begin.' That's so important to me, coming from summer theater and musical theater as a kid, and getting started on Broadway.”

Working for the Weekend (feat. bbno$)
“I wrote this with my friends AJR. We’ve always bonded because we've been the underdogs for so long. We watched so many people we respected blow up very quickly, and we felt like, 'What are we not doing that these people are doing that's just working?' In retrospect, I look at our journeys now and I'm grateful that it's taken time, because you really fall in love with the process. And so this song, because the album is about seeing every day in a different way, is about recognizing that most of your life is what you choose to do, on the work side. It's what you commit yourself to.”

Love Me Less
“It felt like the perfect song to come after ‘Working for the Weekend,’ because the right person will love you for your flaws and your story. I wrote ‘Love Me Less’ because I had this ex-girlfriend who threatened to get my British wife deported. She was really upset. It was really intense. She of course said she was sorry, but it doesn't change the truth of the matter that it did happen, and it did inspire the song. Quinn XCII got it without even knowing how deep the backstory is: just that idea that when you're with someone, you hope your past doesn't affect your relationship.”

Acid Dreams
“‘Acid Dreams’ is such a funky song. My partner, Ryan [Siegel], who I have another project with called Party Pupils, produced this record. He's someone that's been in my life even longer than my wife, for almost six years. It was really cool to have him be a part of this record, this feeling of euphoria in a relationship after you’ve established that you’re going to accept each other for your flaws. You’re in this state that is really gorgeous and bright and delightful and full of color, which, of course, fits the theme. I wrote my verse in front of my wife one night when I was very high. I don't know if I should say that on Apple Music, but I was feeling good.”

Circles
“My wife and I had a rocky phase. We were living with my parents because I was on the road so much, and being married and living with your parents is a tricky thing for any relationship. There was a moment when she ripped off her ring, and she was like, 'We have to make these changes. We have to have that respect for each other.' And for me, we kept going in circles. We kept having these fights, making up, and going back and forth, but I always knew it wasn't going to end. She's my person. When you know you're meant to be with someone, you don't get afraid that it actually will end; you know you'll always work it out. That's what the song was about: We're going to have these rocky phases, but we'll always figure it out. The relationship is hard; the love is easy.”

Blueberry Eyes (feat. SUGA of BTS)
“SUGA's the best. We've had this deep bond since we first became friends over our mutual love for basketball, food, and music. He asked me if I would hop on 'Burn It' [SUGA’s track under the name Agust D], and I was so honored, I didn't expect it. It was the first day we met, he said, 'I want you to be on this song of mine,' and I was so delightfully surprised. Then we attended the Kobe Bryant tribute game, and he had never been to a basketball game, and he had been an obsessive basketball fan. At that game, we had such a great time bonding, we talked about music, and I said, 'I'd love you to be on my album, too.' I sent him all the songs, every song on the record, and he ended up really loving 'Blueberry Eyes' and saying, 'I want to add my flair to this.' And he did. It's so perfect. The translation of his Korean lyrics, they're vows, and that's what the song is about.”

Where Am I At
“A big theme of the whole record is that life can hit you like a ton of bricks. I had my hero in my family pass away. This one came from grief and changed my outlook on everything, on every moment, on what success really is, on what happiness really feels like. And this person taught me all of that, so I feel like that's why it's such an important song to come midway through the record when you feel like everything's okay, because that's how life is. When you feel like everything is okay, something's going to hit you when you least expect it.”

New Life
“This was the first one I wrote after the vocal surgery, and it's about reclaiming life, realizing you have control over your own destiny when you commit to it. There is a confidence when you realize, 'Man, why am I trying to make everybody else happy if I can't make myself happy along the way?'”

Checklist (feat. Chromeo)
“Funk is very deep in my soul. I’m inspired by the James Browns, by the Marvin Gayes, by the Etta James—that raw feeling. Chromeo definitely embodied that soul on this song. It was so great to work with Chromeo. Their music is timeless, because they embody this funky spirit, and they added so many incredible production elements to this song.”

Missed Calls (feat. Hayley Kiyoko)
“Before Quinn came in the picture, I asked if Hayley would be interested in ‘Love Me Less,’ but it didn't feel right creatively for her. And so when I wrote this song, I sent it to her. Songs with people I've grown to become friends with, I can just hear their voice on it, very quickly. I just know when their story will make sense. And she responded to it immediately. Because we've known each other for going on 10 years and have such a deep respect for each other, it was really cool to add this song to the mix. This song is just saying sometimes even if everything's perfect in your life, you still look back and feel nostalgic about some of the other things that you experienced early on.”

SOS
“My wife had this really intense surgery. She was supposed to go in for endometriosis, which a lot of women deal with, and she ended up having an erupted appendix that they didn't even know was there. She had an emergency appendix surgery that was supposed to take two hours. It took five hours. It was actually scary enough that I thought maybe she wouldn't come out of it. And you just kind of pray to whatever makes sense to you, to whatever you believe in. And this song was that prayer. Like, 'If she's okay, I'll never take it for granted, ever again.' That’s the 'SOS' of the song, saying, 'I'll do anything to make sure this person's better.' And I had my friend, Dom [Lalli] from Big Gigantic, rip the saxophone at the end, too. I'm such a big fan of them, so it's great to have him add to the end that hallelujah feeling.”

There Is a God
“I knew it had to end the album. The meaning is: Whatever you go through in your life, have something to hold on to and believe in. Everything, from our own personal surgeries and health crises, to the people we've lost together throughout this time, to really diving deep into each other's worlds. It's realizing that when you bond on a soul level with someone, you want to hold on to them forever, and because of that, you start to believe that there is something more out there. I was raised predominantly Jewish, and with any religion you're raised on, I think there's a moment that tests your faith. That's why I wanted to end the album with this specific song, to hopefully give that same hope to whoever's going through a crisis in their life or a relationship that they don't know if they can make work. When it's right, you know it, and you'll believe in so much more.”

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