Photo: ANDY MOORE

Waiting for the revolution, manipulating feelings and thinking Bach is “dull AF”. We delved inside the mind of Max Blansjaar to find out who TF the lauded Amsterdam import is

Here at Born Music we are passionate about sourcing and giving a platform to the undiscovered. The unearthed gems that are yet to get time or opportunity to fully break out and carve a name for themselves. Who TF is a new feature where we take some of these artists and give them the opportunity to showcase who TF they are and WTF they are about.

This all begins here, with 16-year-old Max Blansjaar. Max has been slowly gaining acclaim for this unique brand of lo-fi indie. Emerging last year with his debut EP Spit It Out!, the young artist has since returned with the captivating new single ‘Life’s Too Easy’, a breezy, laid back adventure of a track that has captured our collective imagination. We caught up with the talented teenager to find out a little more about him.

Who TF is Max Blansjaar?

He’s a sixteen-year-old Dutch kid who lives in Oxford and makes music most of the time. Although he does actually work as a teaching assistant in a children’s pottery club, too. But I digress. He’s notably also the less successful of the two sixteen-year-olds playing Truck Festival this year (see: Alfie Templeman). And he’s not at all bitter about it.

How long have you been making music?

Around two years; twelve years, if you’re counting the classical piano phase. I tend not to, as it leads to questions like “so you do music like Bach?” which I obviously don’t, because he’s dull AF and I don’t have time for it. But yeah, twelve years.

Photo: SIOBHÁN COX

Why do you make music?

It allows you to manipulate other people’s feelings, which – without sounding creepy – has always excited me. You get like three minutes, or however long the song is, where everyone’s just listening to you and you have the power to just take them wherever you want. It allows you to depersonalise your own feelings, share them with people, or take other people’s feelings and make them into something concrete… I guess it’s like having a superpower. But it’s better than flying (what’s the point?) or invisibility (as if we don’t have that already?).

What are your biggest influences?

Ooh… it varies quite a bit. I think it’s important to listen to a broad range of music. But for any upcoming stuff, the primary influences will probably come from Mitski, Parquet Courts, Courtney Barnett, Beck, and Let’s Eat Grandma. Oh, and Tune-Yards. And Darwin Deez. You know what, this question is too hard. No comment.

What would you say has been your best moment so far?

My best moment? I wasn’t technically present, but it was probably this: Thomas Hitch, who drums for me in live shows, had just finished playing a gig with one of his (many) other bands when a guy comes up to him and says “aren’t you the drummer for Max Blansjaar”? Victory. I don’t think anything will top that.

What do you want people to take away from your music?

Uh… that teenagers don’t just sing about angst? No, but seriously. I think it varies from listener to listener, there’s no one thing that’s like: ‘this is what I want to say’. I’d just like people to remember my music, for whatever reason. Even if it’s just because they really hated it. My worst nightmare would be if everyone who heard my music, was lukewarm about it.

What’s your dream “I’ve made it” moment?

When the revolution finally comes and Life’s Too Easy is blasted through newly conquered Buckingham Palace, OR when Courtney Barnett calls/texts to tell me “hey man, your music is great”. I will have failed if neither goal is achieved, nor will anything else suffice.

Can you tell us some more about your excellent latest single ‘Life’s Too Easy’?

After we released the first EP back in October last year, it took me ages to write stuff I was happy with. I don’t know why – I guess things take time, they come in waves, et cetera… I think I finally wrote Life’s Too Easy back in March, after having taken some time out, and I was pretty relieved. The reaction it’s gotten from everyone who’s heard it has been really lovely as well. I’m trying to think of an appropriate metaphor, but I don’t have one; point is, you never really know how these new singles will go down. So I’m glad it went well. Maybe it’s a bit like Russian roulette? But not so extreme.

You’re gearing up for a slot on the V&V stage at Truck Festival, how excited are you for it and what can people expect from your set?

I’m super excited. I’ve been to Truck for the last four or five years, so it’s great to be a part of it now. We play on the Friday at 7PM, meaning we clash with Lewis Capaldi; which is great news. No offence, but I dislike him greatly.

I haven’t prepared our set yet, actually – I should probably start doing that soon, thanks for reminding me. Let’s see… what can you expect? You can definitely expect there to be three of us – Silke on bass, Tom on drums, and me on guitar. Oh, I remember once we were playing on quite a small stage, and I swiveled round and detuned my guitar on Silke’s head by accident, which injured her. You can expect that to not happen this time. Those things only need happen once.

What else does the near future have in store for Max Blansjaar?

Two words: Countryfile Live. I think we play Countryfile on the 1st of August, so that’s definitely a big thing in my calendar. Play a quick set, then go and watch the sheep-shearing. Living the absolute dream.

I’ll probably record a new EP at the end of this month too, but I need to write the songs first. Preparation is everything.

And finally, who is your biggest fan right now?

It seems to be whoever’s behind the Instagram accounts asking for brand reps. I’ve had about five different brand rep offers so far. I’m still not entirely sure what a brand rep is, but I think if the whole music thing doesn’t work out I could probably start pursuing that instead.

Life’s Too Easy is available now through Beanie Tapes.