An Interview With R&B/Soul Singer MAXWELL PLANES On His Latest Song ‘Runnin’, Making Music During the Pandemic and More!
Meet R&B/Soul artist Maxwell Planes who recently released his latest single, “Runnin,’” which he penned about his ongoing battle with anxiety. On April 30th, the Chicago-based musician who describes his music as “a fusion of soul, rap and country with a layer of smooth R&B guitar licks,” released the song’s well-filmed music video.
“Like a lot of people, I have been dealing with bad anxiety for a long time and the way I cope is by running,” shares Maxwell. “In a way, anxiety had control of my life and it seemed no matter what I did, or where I went, it would follow me. It still follows me till this day.”
Listening through his current catalogue of singles, you can feel a common connection between them; optimism. “I try my best to be an optimistic person, so when I create I feel like that translates through my guitar licks and sometimes lyrically. Also, I’m heavily inspired by gospel music which I feel like can have the most optimistic sound in the arrangements and lyrics.”
His single, “Runnin,’” was written about the struggles he faces and the emotions that come along with it, mainly anxiety. As the world is well over a year into a pandemic, anxiety is at an all-time high. “Like a lot of people, I have been dealing with bad anxiety for a long time and the way I cope is by running. In a way, anxiety had control of my life and it seemed no matter what I did, or where I went, it would follow me. It still follows me till this day.” The “Runnin’” music video highlights Maxwell jogging through various Chicago neighborhoods. It’s a city that equally inspires him and challenges him. “These are streets that I am walking, running, or driving down on a daily basis,” notes Maxwell. “I don’t really like to fabricate anything. I like every last detail to be genuine.”
Maxwell began releasing music during the 2020 pandemic though he’s been writing music since 2013. “I never felt the music was at its full potential, so I never released any of it,” he says. “I have been blessed to be able to tour with Ric Wilson for the past few years; being able to see and work with the musicians he works with. We recently went on tour with Cory Henry as well as spending time in the studio recording an EP with Terrace Martin. After seeing how they create, and learning from them, I finally felt the confidence to start releasing my new work.” Prior to his work with Ric Wilson, Maxwell was the DJ/Producer for popular Chicago duo, Sicko Mobb under SONY/ATV music publishing.
Learn more about Maxwell Planes in the following All Access interview:
So what has this past year been like for you and your music? How are/did you get through the pandemic? Are things opening up now where you are? How do you feel about that? Did you get vaccinated yet?
It’s been a lot of staying down till I’m up. Writing, recording, and creating quality music. Also learning a lot about myself, life, what’s really important, etc… which is translating through the music. My guitar is what kept me sane through this; I believe this was a crucial time for artists to perfect their craft. Things are opening up slowly in Chicago. There are small bar/restaurant shows going on but no venues have opened yet. I got my vaccine and I’m just patiently and impatiently waiting on seeing how this summer rolls out.
Let’s talk about your newest single, “Runnin’.” What was the inspiration for this song? What was it like writing a song about something so personal as your battle with anxiety?
Some songs with touchy subjects are hard to write but this was really easy to put together. I wear anxiety on my shoulders like the T-shirt I put on every day, so it kind of just poured out of me. A lot of the time, searching for peace can feel like you’re constantly running and oddly enough, the act of running is what helps me cope the most.
How would you say that “Runnin’” prepares listeners for more music from you? How does this track compare to your previous song, “Remember Me”?
Just like “Remember Me,” “Runnin’” had that soulful feel behind my guitar licks and my lyrics. It’s sort of a vibe that I typically express subconsciously. I have a producer and friend here in Chicago by the name of NikoTheGreat and he is a big part of the warmth you feel, and we have much more expected to come out soon.
What was it like making the music video for this track? How creatively involved with the whole process were you? What is the best and most challenging part about making a music video? How did the set stay covid-safe?
I’m lucky to have great people around me so the process was smooth. The only part of the process I wasn’t hands on with was the post editing, which was done by the director, PassPort Trace. The best part of the video was, it was filmed in half a day, no real problems came up, and the final product came out looking like a whole production. Most difficult part is always scheduling, like when is a time everybody can link up? In the video every character is masked up aside from myself and the majority of it filmed outside. It was a very safe set.
Do you have plans to release more new music or a whole album soon?
Singles, singles, and singles. Down the road but not too far, maybe a collaboration project with a very talented Chicago singer…
Where would you absolutely love to hear one of your songs playing?
Movies. I used to describe my music as “Movie Music.” I’d like to see a serious scene that might make somebody cry and the whole time you hear my music in the back.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be a singer? What do you think motivates you day in and day out?
One time I was DJing a party and wasn’t really catching these transitions, so I just said ‘f*** it’ and grabbed the mic and started singing a song I never released or anything. The reaction was great and what I felt was even greater. People around me motivate me, but in all honesty, we have to constantly search for motivation. I chase it every day.
Growing up, has music always been important in your life? If you weren’t a singer today, could you see yourself doing anything else? What is something else interesting/funny you are good at?
Growing up music was in my life but, untraditionally. I grew up with both my parents deaf so, I never had anyone showing me music. However, I was able to really dive deep in my exploring because there was absolutely zero influence. Before I even touched a guitar that I wanted, I also thought I was going to be a professional skateboarder. I still kinda got it (skateboarding abilities).
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
Prior to releasing my own music, I have been blessed to produce with great Chicago artists, tour alongside some incredible musicians, and just get put onto so much game from highly accomplished musicians. The unexpected challenge has been simply staying afloat in this extremely cut-throat industry.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
Music that helps people get through tough situations as well as an escape from tough situations. Also, a new favorite artist.