Interview: Once Upon A Grime meets Maxsta

Tonight I caught up with the Grime kid Maxsta. After a phone conversation with Max, it turns out the Maxtape sold a lot more than he thought it would, why he put out the MaxstEP, and where's Nutcase been? We also talked about his qualms with other Grime artists and if he'd record a track with anyone he's sent for. But the best part being, what's with the little back and forths between him and Marvell? Check it all out below...

OUaG: First off, the Maxtape. In terms of sales etc. did the Maxtape do as well as you thought it would? Or did it exceed expectations?

Maxsta: In terms of sales it did a lot better than I thought. It sold like three thousand or something copies and we had to get more printed up. It was mad, it sold out in HMV’s and other places stocking the CD in the first couple of days. I didn’t know there was that many people out there listening to my music at the time.

OUaG: As for the MaxstEP, what made you want to release a free download straight off the back of an album?

Maxsta: At the time I was confortable and happy with the first release that I had money from it, so I thought I’d just give the people something they didn’t have to pay for. It was just to say thanks for buying the CD. If I was on a major label, it would have been a re-release (of the Maxtape) with a couple more tunes on it.

OUaG: So was it just tracks you didn’t put on the Maxtape you put on the MaxstEP was it?

Maxsta: Nah, those tracks were made after the Maxtape. It was too early to give the fans music that they had to pay for as the CD had just been released, so I thought I’d give it out for free. I was excited about the music, but I didn’t want to hold on to it.

OUaG: You made a video for On The Low which featured on the free download. Are we going to see any more videos from the Maxtape? Or are you done with that project and moving onto the next one?

Maxsta: Yeah, Second Chance and Back to Grime are both have videos done for them, I’m just waiting to press the red button on those. I’m not trying to flood the industry and get people bored of me already, so just got to take it step by step. On the Low has come out and done its thing, now onto the next videos…

OUaG: So the video for On the Low was just to promote the MaxstEP really then?

Maxsta: Nah, it was to promote what I was doing. I don’t even see it to promote a single project, it was just to say “this is what we’re doing now” because I feel like it’s a bit of a change in the way I’ve come across musically. That was just to show people “we’re doing this now” and that we’re taking it more serious and making proper music now.

OUaG: Right now, what are you personally working on?

Maxsta: Right now I’m working on the Maxtape 2, I’m in the studio with Bless Beats and the rest of the crew. People probably think right now I’m not going to do Grime or something, but I’m showing people I’m trying to push Grime into different directions. I’m not trying to change it, I rate Skepta’s new tune (Cross My Heart), it’s friendly to the wider audience and the kids who don’t care about Grime, and that’s what we’ve got to do. Sometimes you’ve got to play the game right and rather than just make music to the current fans, we’ve got to expand and sell to the people who don’t normally buy the music. I’m trying to make Grime that’s friendly to the average listener.

OUaG: So you’re trying to spread the sound of Grime to the wider audience then?

Maxsta: Not just that, the culture too. One thing I’m in love with Grime is the culture. Do you know how sick it was to watch the When I’m ‘Ere video or watch the Pow! video? You take in all the surroundings not only the sound. No-one’s really selling the sound of a kid who does Grime nowadays, it’s just Grime, Grime, Grime all the time. It’s like we don’t have a life. All they talk about is shanking each other, and that talk is all dead…

OUaG: On the subject of forthcoming releases, will we see a mixtape from GKR in the near future? And to clarify for anyone who doesn’t know, who exactly is in GKR?

Maxsta: Yeah we’re working on a mixtape at the moment. We’ve just got to wait for the collective to have its own momentum. You might listen to it because of DeeKay, or you might just listen to it because of what I’ve done. But I want the fans to be like “have you heard GKR’s new track” etc. I don’t want it to be like ‘Maxsta’s crew’. We want everyone to build their name individually first, then put the mixtape out. A lot of people drop their music at the wrong time, sometimes you have to wait a bit and release it at the right time and not get excited and throw it out for no reason.

OUaG: Where’s Nutcase been? Will we see another Certified Talent or not?

Maxsta: We’re working on so many different things at the moment, but the next volume of Certified Talent, we’re working on that. It’s just a couple of people have gone off and done a couple of different things, Nutcase was in pen, he’s just come back out, so I suppose we’ll just get it back on the road.

OUaG: As a rising star in Grime, how do you feel about the change in the style of Grime? Do you miss the sound you were brought up on? Or do you prefer the new sound of 2010?

Maxsta: I never used to listen to Grime; I used to listen to Rap and stuff, but when I heard Grime and saw all the videos on Channel U it was exciting. It was a whole new thing. And it was literally in every direction, everyone was doing something different from someone else. But nowadays, it all sounds the same. I don’t really listen to new school Grime apart from Shizz, Griminal, Stelf, Voltage, Ghetts…

OUaG: Do you prefer the old days then? The Channel U stuff?

Maxsta: Yeah most defiantly, ‘cos that’s when it was a culture being pushed forward, it was like a proper thing. It was a way of life for some people. It was a whole new thing, it was kids around my age now, 18 and upwards, plus the older lot like Wiley, and they were literally selling you a story. ‘Cos they were out and about doing things on the block, now it’s just like everyone just spits hype, and you can’t have a whole genre of music that just has hype. You’ve got to have tunes that people can relate to.

OUaG: So what you’re saying there isn’t enough content in the music then?

Maxsta: Yeah there isn’t enough content, so I listen to Boy In Da Corner, Home Sweet Home, I know it sounds a bit cliché, but that’s what everyone did back then. I still do listen to those tunes, and I look around and those things they’re talking about are still going on today. So how come nobody else is talking about it? ‘Cos we’re still living in the same situation…

OUaG: Are you going to make an attempt at going mainstream like Chipmunk, Tinchy Stryder and Tinie Tempah? Or will you stick to your Grime roots like JME for example and make money out of Grime?

Maxsta: I’m at a stage where there’s a lot of success around me, I’ve got the same management as Tinchy, and I’m in the studio with Bless Beats. We’re always in different buildings have meetings and I’m getting introduced to a new life and new artists from across the border. So, with me, basically what I’ve decided is no matter what I do, I want to be successful, everyone wants to be successful. I look at it and the people that are die-hard Grime MCs don’t get as much respect as other artists, and I think why? ‘Cos there’s a lot of them around. I spend my money on Grime ‘cos I love it, but whatever I do, I’ll just do Maxsta.

OUaG: You’ve had your fair amount of ‘beef’ in the Grime scene, Shocka’s send on their version of Americano being the latest. Are you going to send back?

Maxsta: Yeah man, obviously, I’m thinking to myself fair enough I haven’t sent back yet, but what does Shocka think? I’m not really going to say nothing back? I’m me init, I’ve got to say something. So I’ve got a little surprise for them. On Sunday when their tune comes out (We Know) and if it doesn’t chart, I’ve got a little war dub on the We Know beat ready to let out at 7pm when the charts come out. I know it’s a par and it looks like I’m a hater, but I’m not. If someone says something about me, I’m going to say something back.

OUaG: This is the second member of Marvell you’ve had qualms with, Double S being the first, what’s the whole situation between you two?

Maxsta: You know what it is, people don’t even know this, Double should know this if he remembers, but I don’t think even the rest of Marvell knows how it started. In 2008, everyone thinks it was an ’09 thing, when it was warring season and when Tinchy and Ghetto were going at each other, Wiley rang me when he was with Maniac and asked if I wanted to clash Double S. So I said yeah, ‘cos at the time I was a young kid, and it was Wiley ringing me, so I said yeah ‘cos it was exciting that the fact Wiley was even ringing me and asking me to clash someone. Me and Double were both at Alwayz Recordingz at the time, so it didn’t really make sense, we didn’t really have any conflicts with each other, and we were cool. Double wasn’t sure if he wanted to clash, so in the end we didn’t end up clashing anyway. In the end his cousin Sgt. Ragz sent for me, that’s why me and Sgt. Ragz clashed anyway. No-one really knows that, but there you go, I’ve let you know that anyway.

OUaG: Then you’ve got little shots in your lyrics too. “I’m mates with Ghetts, but I don’t like Scorch” referring to Scorcher. “I’m cool with Merky Ace, but f*ck MIK, straight levelling”.  Also, “I’m gonna be bigger than Chip’s oval head”. Aren’t you worried if say Ghetts said “come to the studio and do a track with me” and Scorcher was there it would cause a rift?

Maxsta: You see, I’d rather just not do it then. I know what that sounds like, it sounds like “does he think he’s that guy? Does he think he can just do whatever he likes?” It’s not even that. It’s Grime, if I send for you it’s ‘cos I’ve got the Grime mentality. If I sent for someone, I wouldn’t ever jump on a track with them, I sent for them for a reason.

OUaG: Saying that though, who do you rate in the Grime scene then?

Maxsta: I rate Ghetts, Griminal, Lil Nasty, Devlin, Stelf, Big Shizz, Axeman, Wiley, Brazen…Rival’s another. I like that Gun Reload tune, that’s f*cked. But I just listen to the old school stuff really, D Double E, Kano, all that.