Anyone tasked with uploading songs to various hosting platforms knows all too well how rigid the process is. The categories are claustrophobic. There’s a small chance you might find a ‘Metal’ tag but chances are you’ll have to select ‘Rock’ and hope for the best.
Which, in 2020, doesn’t make a lick of sense. The notion of keeping things segmented by genre is dead. It didn’t work. Fans have taken notice and our consumption habits have clearly changed, so it’s odd the Music Industrial Complex is lagging so far behind, considering that it isn’t just the fans who have taken notice, but artists too.
Wollongong’s Max Pasalic is firmly embedded within this new musical frontier, operating under the moniker of Up Late. Enigmatic and hyper-active, Up Late refuses to sit in one place long enough to be confined. There’s metalcore, straight rock, EDM, pop and hip hop elements all woven atop one another, and with incredible harmony no less.
“[Streaming platforms] have some editorial playlists that may be alternative beats;” Max says, “You can have a rock band, then you can have a pop singer on it, but most of the time, they’re trying to pigeonhole artists and it’s not working because people don’t fucking care about genre. I think genre is over.”
While the concept of creating genre-fluid music is relatively simple, Max is the first to admit that the ethos of Up Late, the ‘why’ and ‘how’, are “super complicated.”
The concept of being genre free came early on in the piece, and everything else would have to follow suit: “I didn’t want it to be a box, or a genre, or a category, or another band, or another sound, or artist.”
Max answers questions with confidence and without missing a beat. Indeed, there was an answer locked and loaded for every question thrown his way. It was clear that there isn’t a single angle or perspective through which he hadn’t already troubleshot this project.
“I’m not a savant at all,” he claims when pressed on how he works, “I’m definitely the worst musician that’s ever graced the face of that studio.”
“We always make the joke, Nat and I,” Max offered of Up Late’s inner workings, referring to serial collaborator Nat Sherwood, “Up Late is like my head has just been split open, and then the world is flooded with my ideas, and whether it’s me or him or somebody else, we’re just constantly trying to distill or synthesise what’s going on in my brain into a marketable form of music, art, photo, video, content, whatever it is.”
Up Late has afforded Max plenty of time to think on the nature of the project, stepping outside his singular perspective to explore why not just he, but so many other musicians around the world are abandoning the notion of ‘genre’. His findings connect back to the thawing global pandemic.
“People are cooped up inside and they don’t have time to find a band and meet new people and hang out and tour,” he says of the lockdown’s impact on songwriters.
“I actually spoke to someone about this recently and an interesting thing that he said was the fact that right now, month-on-month with Spotify, they’ve had the biggest influx of music since March. They’re breaking records every single month. More and more people are uploading music.”
“An interesting thing they’re finding is where traditionally, a lot of genres that have super exponential growth normally stray towards mainstream sounds, what’s happening at the moment is basically every single genre is having its moment and that’s perhaps not to say that every single genre is having its moment, but that’s perhaps to say that artists are actually starting to cross-genre.”
With the project’s latest EP STARS on shelves, both digital and otherwise, on Friday, 18th December, Up Late is now taking on a life of its own, one that will inevitably involve a demand for live shows. Again, this is already something Max is troubleshooting, asserting that “it’s just all about fluidity and scalability.”
He continues: “For me at this stage, making little to no money, it’s unreasonable to think that I can bring a four-piece, five-piece with me. I have a tour next year that’s supposed to happen, that’s with some rock bands. With COVID and everything, it seems unlikely. I was going to bring a live drummer on tour. We’ll see if that happens anyway.”