Interview With Indie Pop Artist Max Blansjaar

We sat down with 21-year-old indie pop artist Max Blansjaar to share insights into the creative process of his upcoming debut LP False Comforts, produced by musician, engineer & producer Katie Von Schleicher, his musical journey from Amsterdam to Oxford and now Brooklyn, exploring the unique influences that shape his sound. 

By Chris RoditisMusicngear Lead Editor

Article photo - Interview With Indie Pop Artist Max Blansjaar

Chris Roditis, Musicngear: You've taken a remarkable journey from Amsterdam to Oxford, and now to Brooklyn for your debut LP, 'False Comforts.' How has each location influenced the sound and themes of your music?

Article photo - Interview With Indie Pop Artist Max Blansjaar I think the move from Amsterdam to Oxford plays a big role in my life, in some subtle kind of way. I live in the UK and have done it for a long time, but I would never say I’m actually from here. I feel foreign here in a lot of ways that inform my songwriting. Though you can’t really tell from my accent, English is actually my second language, so when I write songs in English I feel like I can set up more of a distance between me and the songs. If that makes sense.

Obviously, Amsterdam and Oxford are not big cities, and New York is massive. A lot larger in terms of surface area, and it’s also a lot taller. Makes you think bigger, I reckon.

What aspects of Katie Von Schleicher's work drew you to her, and how did her multifaceted expertise impact the creative process behind 'False Comforts'?

Consummation blew my mind when I heard it for the first time. I mean, there are a lot of things to love about that record. Obviously, Katie’s an amazing vocalist, an amazing lyricist, producer…and it’s thirteen pop songs, basically, but there’s a fuzziness to them that you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s like something’s off, but that’s actually the thing you hold on to. All my favourite music does that. Cate Le Bon, Darwin Deez, Deerhoof. To name three totally random examples — ha. But they all have that sense.

So yeah, that was the thing — she and Nate Mendelsohn (Market) ended up producing my album, and they really know how to make a pop song but they’re also not afraid to fuck shit up. I think I have that impulse but I don’t really know how to control it. When I self-produced my early EPs, I’d crank the lo-fi dial up to eleven. But you have to be tasteful in these things. Katie and Nate are so tasteful, you have no idea.

The production quality of 'False Comforts' is strikingly polished yet retains a raw and intimate feel. Could you share some insight into the music gear you utilized during the recording process? How did specific instruments or equipment contribute to achieving the desired sonic aesthetic of the album?

A major player was the CoolMusic A-ME01 Modulator, which we ran a bunch of the guitars through, and probably some keys as well. I mentioned Cate Le Bon just now; I think that’s the pedal she has her whole band play through. It has, like, nine settings, and none of them really do what they say they do properly, but they do something way weirder and way better instead.

We recorded most of ‘Burning in our Name’ straight onto an eight-track Tascam which taught me once again that there’s nothing quite like tape — not even a really good plugin. Some of the vocals were recorded through two mics at once; one of them was super clean and crisp, the other one super busted up and distorted. I kept asking for the vocals to sound like they were coming through a rotary telephone, but again, you have to balance that crappiness with some kind of tonal depth to make it work.

So that’s the polishedness and the rawness that you mention. Also, Katie’s bird, Ursula, is on a few of the tracks. She was flying around the room or hanging out in her cage most days, and she loved to sing.

"Anna Madonna" is the lead single from 'False Comforts'. What inspired this particular track, and how does it represent the overall theme of the album?

Article photo - Interview With Indie Pop Artist Max Blansjaar Anna Madonna came lyrics-first, so I’ll start there. The lyrics were inspired by a kind of disillusionment I was seeing in some people my age; they were discovering, in whatever way, that life was not as they imagined it to be, and their response was to retreat from it, to fold inwards on themselves. They thought the world would look after them and they resented it when it failed to meet that expectation. But it’s messy out there, and we need each other! So that’s the main message. Musically it has something nursery rhyme-ish about it because I wanted it to feel a little childlike. It’s a simple, block-colours kind of sentiment, after all. A lot of this album is me trying to create songs that capture the process of figuring out your place in the world. I think that process probably doesn’t have an endpoint. But I also think acknowledging that fact makes it a lot easier to live with.

Your artist statement mentions influences from The Velvet Underground, Elephant 6, Beck, and Cate Le Bon. How have these influences shaped your approach to music, and what do you hope listeners take away from your eclectic inspirations?

Those first two, The Velvet Underground and Elephant 6, definitely taught me some big lessons in how to do a lot with a little. My background is in classical piano, which I wouldn’t say has a problem with simplicity necessarily, but it’s certainly true that a lot of classical piano music is harmonically much more complex than your average pop song. So I was harmony-pilled.

But Lou Reed said: What if we hammered on this one chord for seven minutes? Harmonically it’s simple, but the colours that come out of those instrumentals, the textures, are so rich, and super complex. Elephant 6, it’s a similar thing in a way. Neutral Milk Hotel songs rarely use more than four chords. But it means the melodies really soar over them, and it’s a kind of freedom. What’s the Björk lyric? The more you take from me, the more space I have? Something like that.

Beck and Cate Le Bon—third time I’ve mentioned her now—are huge lyrical inspirations. I basically see them as two of the great surrealists in pop music. That Beck album, One Foot in the Grave, it’s like the world is so near its end that sense is breaking down. When you stop trying to use your lyrics as a vessel for information and start letting them grow their own meanings like that, that’s when things get really interesting, I think.

Your journey into music began at a young age, promoting shows and releasing EPs. How do you feel your sound and approach to music have evolved since your early days in the Oxford scene?

Yeah, I was fourteen when I put on my first show, and fifteen when I released my first EP. In those days I was incredibly self-assured. I was new, so I was sort of stomping around, feeling my way through, writing songs all the time and throwing distortion on everything. I think I’m a little more considered now. Well, I still throw distortion on most things. But I’m trying to take stuff apart more than I used to, trying to question myself and do more with less. I’m basically trying to move a little more carefully.

I think it’s because I’ve been writing songs through a kind of formative period in my life, and now I’m having to understand what songwriting has been for me during that time. Definitely, my approach to music used to be much more about me than it is now. These days I try to take a wider view.

As a young artist with a diverse range of musical influences, how do you navigate the balance between staying true to your unique sound and experimenting with new musical elements? Are there any risks you've taken during the creation of 'False Comforts' that you found particularly rewarding or challenging?

Article photo - Interview With Indie Pop Artist Max Blansjaar I feel like I keep talking about distortion, sorry. But speaking of distortion: hearing my voice without distortion on it took some getting used to. I was so convinced that vocal distortion was a key part of my sound. When I self-produced my early EPs, I put distortion on my voice all the time. Plus a whole bunch of other shit. Partly because I was using crappy mics and recording in the music room at school, so I had to compensate by thinning it out, and because I wanted to be lo-fi like my idols.

But I’m sure it was also because I found it too confrontational to hear my own voice cleanly in the mix — I wanted to make it sound less like me, so I added loads of effects. And I actually don’t think that’s a bad impulse, necessarily. But when we were recording False Comforts that impulse was challenged, because suddenly there were other people in the room with me and I realized that it’s not self-evident that vocals should be run through guitar distortion pedals all the time. Imagine!

I mean, Katie is like, incredible with recording vocals, and mixing them and stuff. So in my head, I’d be a little resistant to the idea of having my voice completely clean, but then I’d hear it through a good microphone, recorded well, mixed well, and I’d be like: oh, wait, this does make sense. And this does add a kind of depth and intimacy that my kind of distortion would have taken away. Obviously, there’s still a whole bunch of vocal distortion on the album, but there’s a lot less than there might have been. I guess there’s only so much emotion you can convey through a rotary telephone.

Stay tuned for the arrival of Max Blansjaar's debut LP False Comforts, on June 21st.

Connect With Max Blansjaar
Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / TikTokSpotify / Bandcamp

About Chris Roditis

Chris Roditis has been an active musician since 1995 in various bands and projects across a variety of genres ranging from acoustic, electronic to nu metal, british rock and trip hop. He has extensive experience as a mixing engineer and producer and has built recording studios for most of the projects he has been involved with. His passion for music steered his entrepreneurial skills into founding MusicNGear in 2012.

Contact Chris Roditis at

About Interviews

In this section of the blog we host interviews with established but also up and coming artists we love and recommend as well as music industry professionals with tons of useful information to share.

Interested in an interview, writing a story as a guest or joining the Musicngear team as a Contributing Author? Contact us at