You have certainly seen Maximum frost if you have scrolled on the Internet in the past two years. The inventive alternative songwriter has become a smash hit on TikTok with his impressive mash-up videos that show off his undeniable mastery of the idea of genre. Nothing is forbidden to Freeze in its online presence or in its music — flying machinesreleased today, watch Freeze playing all the instruments on the EP that jump from psychedelia, alternative rock, hip-hop and 2000s indie, and it’s sure to become an instant hit on your summer playlists if you don’t. ‘re not familiar. We spoke with Maximum frost in regards to flying machinesand it turned into a very fascinating discussion about his take on the genre, and why he fell in love with ripping the organized idea of music:
To start, I want to talk about your growth on TikTok — I feel like I’m talking to so many artists who are really embracing this medium, but you’ve really thrived with your mash-ups. What made you want to launch this concept?
I really wanted to approach my art in all its aspects! It happened before the pandemic – it came to my attention that Musical.ly, an app I loved, resurfaced with a vengeance and took the industry by storm. Basically, my colleagues told me that it was already something big and that I had to be part of it because it was already taken care of. From there it was just a game of trying to figure out something that stuck. I got super addicted to TikTok and just tried EVERYTHING – I think my first big video was zapping bugs in my studio with a bug zapper – and one day I saw a mash-up video and I thought I could do it better. The first few I tried didn’t really work, but by then the pandemic was deep enough that I found a rhythm that worked. Once I figured it was working, I doubled down and kept hitting him. It was a fun thing to do; it was the first time I found something on social media that kept coming back to me. I had a lot of free time, so I really tried to work. I learned how to edit in Premiere Pro, bought some lights, and had a blast.
Do you have a favorite mash-up you’ve done?
“Pink Floyd does Billie Eilish” – that one was pretty good because the impression wandered into a deeper realm of what the band does. I really like doing mash-ups that stretch a genre very far.
Your love for genderless concepts seems to come through in everything you do, and I think it’s based on your love of the idea of gender. What experiences made you want to push the boundaries of genre as you do in your art?
The digital age has brought about this mix that I love; physically, in a record store, you would go to a Rock section or a Hip Hop section where everything is separated. I grew up with Napster, which gave me the ability to explore like crazy for the first time. Outkast, Green Day, Depeche Mode, Zeppelin, etc. And I never really had to organize it in any way. Genres are like accents for me; there’s an essential song DNA that you can boil down any piece of art to, and then it’s repurposed across cultures into different sounds and feels. From there, it’s organized by marketing and sales; as far as I’m concerned, we don’t need to organize music that way anymore. The more we do this, the more we see that music is hard to put into boxes – take Lil Nas X, for example.
Yeah, like when the country charts got super edgy that he was on the charts, but there were clear country music elements in his sound.
Exactly! Defining gender terms is simply not helpful at this point. I tell people when I first meet them that I’m an alternative artist, but what does that mean? “Alternative” doesn’t make sense. I have this theory that I have to expound on in a TikTok that everything is intensely cyclical. You look at rock and roll, for example – it starts in the 50s, grows in the 60s, matures in the 70s, then gets impacted in the 80s by cocaine and disco. It’s influenced by maximalism with pyro and explosions and guitar solos. Hip-hop followed the same in the 90s, grew in the 2000s, then hit EDM and Molly in the 2010s and similarly went through this period of maximalism. Everything is progressing towards the greatest sounds and ideas possible, and we’re just ready for the journey.
flying machines is your first independent album as an artist — what does that mean?
Being with Atlantic was great – I still know some great people there, and it’s an important chapter in my life that I really enjoy. They go for world and huge punches whenever they can take them. Despite all the resources they have to expend to be successful, they can become trigger-happy for little artists like me. The difference of being an independent artist is that I feel I can be more creative and immediate; I can release music in response to the public rather than waiting for the label to communicate what needs to happen. On a major label, you’re actually a state senator trying to get a bill passed. It’s nice to live in a world where my opinion and my desires trump everything else, and where what I want to do trumps everything else. It’s scary spending that money and betting on myself that way but it makes me feel like an underdog again and thinking about what I want to do rather than what I think what I should do.
Let’s talk about “Ringo Starr” for a second – it gives some serious MGMT vibes which I think makes it my favorite on the EP. How was this song born?
I was doing a Zoom session in the pandemic, and I had this rhythm that I started on a Prophet. I thought that was the score at Conduct – you know, Kavinsky and shit. I came up with this goofy lyric about how Ringo Starr dresses; I haven’t seen a picture of Ringo in the last 20 years where he didn’t come out of Elton John’s closet. It’s just this wacky guy who always dresses so well. That line stuck, and I look back now and it’s just this fun warning to my younger self entering Hollywood and the wider music industry. It became this subconscious memory of myself that I think turned out incredibly.
Buy/stream flying machines here.