Max Stone is of the contestants of the twelfth series of the X Factor UK. He grew up in Devon in the United Kingdom and then he moved to Sweden where he studied songwriting. Now he lives in London to hone his craft at the Institute of Contemporary Music. As it’s already mentioned, he’s currently on the X Factor mentored by Simon Cowell. I caught up with him and asked him a few questions, especially about the X Factor.
Why did you apply for the X Factor? Was it your own choice?
Max: There were many reasons for me joining the X Factor this year, I had thought about it before but this year it seemed like the right time. I applied to the X Factor because I have been trying to further myself in music every day for the past 6 years, 5 of which in London and it is a dream that I have had since I was very young, to be able to make music that not only makes a difference to how I feel, but to try and make music that can improve the quality of other people’s lives. Also, one of my best friends in London, Tiffer Morris, passed away shortly before the competition began. He was on holiday and fell asleep to carbon monoxide poisoning (something I would like to spread awareness of, carbon monoxide alarms aren’t a legal requirement in many countries and simple travel alarms can be bought for less than a tenner so I would like to spread this as much as possible as one of these would have saved my friend’s life). Tiffer was my biggest supporter and always wanted me to do as much as I could with music and told me I could do anything, so when I thought this year about whether or not should I go for it, I thought about what he would say – don’t be stupid, just go for it – or something like that.
How is working with Simon Cowell like?
Max: Simon is great to work with, when he speaks it feels like the room is empty and each word he says seems really important. Simon has helped me already establish that in music, the reggae/soul vibe in music is something that really works for me so I feel that I’m already beginning to figure out what style of music I would like to do.
Of all the other X Factor contestants, who’s your favourite?
Max: I would have to split this choice between Reggie & Bollie and Anton, I love these guys and they’re great to be around in their own individual ways.
How was meeting Louis Tomlinson like?
Max: Meeting Louis was really great! He was such a humble and down to earth person which really shocked me. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but he was just one of the nicest guys I had met in a good while and we chatted a lot about the competition, the advice he gave me on how to cope with all the pressure and more.
Do you have a role model? If so, who is it and why?
Max: My role model is my manager Ray. He has taught me more about myself than anyone and he’s someone I look up to.
Any celebrity crushes?
Max: I am very much in love with my girlfriend.
Do you have any other hobbies except for music?
Max: I enjoy surfing (it’s been years, though), rock climbing, scuba diving, paragliding (I would love to learn to fly one day). I have a huge interest in reading and I’ve been captured by the beat generation for the past couple of years.
When did you start singing?
Max: I have been singing for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first song and composed it on the piano after a couple years of piano lessons when I was 11 and it really got me. I found a way to put it on paper and melody the things I didn’t dare to speak about and it felt like a release. Music has always been an escape for me. I continued singing and writing when I was a kid but stopped when I was around 14, due to shyness. I started picking it up again when I was 18 and then decided to study songwriting when I was 21. I also joined a gospel choir and used to frequent blues bars to improvise with them and all of this helped me find my voice and figure out the way I wanted to sing.
What would you tell to the people who would like to apply for a talent competition, but they’re too afraid to do so?
Max: I would suggest to all those who would like to try out for a talent competition to make sure they have found themselves enough and if they feel ready to just go for it because it could be the best experience of their lives. The things you learn and the people you meet is a really spectacular thing. When you’re thinking about the fear of trying out, if you think of it more as day by day, the process rather than the whole show, you should concentrate on what you have to do today to get where you want to be tomorrow. Then everything will work itself out for the best. But I do think it’s really important to have some experience before the show, through performing or recording, so you can find yourself and your voice, since being prepared will give you the best chance to be able to further yourself, I think.
What do you think of Bupsi and Alien Uncovered leaving the X Factor? Were you surprised when these two acts left?
Max: I was very surprised about Bupsi and Alien leaving the first week and I was also surprised when Sean and Kiera left. It goes to show that our future in the competition ultimately is out of our hands, so it’s all down to us working as hard as we can, to be sure that we don’t leave with any regrets. The only regret I could have is that I wasn’t myself, or that I didn’t do enough. As long as I stick to who I am, regardless of the comments and work hard. Then I feel lucky to got this far and eternally grateful for all the viewers voting for me to help me make my dream come true.
Thanks Max for finding time to answer all of my questions! We wish you good luck in the competition & in life.
You can watch Max’s most recent audition below.