The first thing you notice about Max Jury is his voice – not just his voice musically, but the one with which he speaks.
His speech, much like his music, rings with glimmers of excitement, a sense of humility and an adorable yet appreciative shyness when you compliment his work. The Iowa songwriter bears an unmarked humbleness, not yet rubbed off by the repetitive injury of touring and releasing. Instead, at only 23 years old, Jury is at the starting line, ready to run the marathon of music – and he’s already in the lead.
“My first record came out in June of this year and I’ve just kinda been promoting it in various ways – a lot of touring and festivals and then the promo cycle wrapped up early November. Now I’m working on record number two. [It’s been] a busy year but a very enjoyable one and it’s been nice to see people respond to the music [with] maybe, I don’t know, a different reaction, I guess.”
From dropping out of the prestigious Berklee College of Music when he found it wasn’t for him, to cleaning toilets for his local parks and recreation department, Jury is no stranger to hard work. “Those kind of experiences can keep you grounded and give you perspective,” he says. “I think you get to a certain point in your career and it’s easy to get greedy with your success, and in some ways, that’s natural.
“I don’t clean toilets for the city any more, and if I ever feel like I’m slipping into a frame of mind that I’m being close-minded and having first world problems, well, I’ve gotta remember performing is more than enough.”
Indeed, Jury has always been musical. On the origins of his particular style, he says, “It’s probably a melting pot of [artists like] Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield, and country – Willie Nelson, Hank Williams. In my teens I became more interested in hip hop and indie and I guess I grew a deeper interest that carried into my early 20s. I try to sort of condense all of those sounds and thoughts I have about music into something I feel is natural and convincing and enjoyable to sing.”
The reality of Jury’s success is something he can’t yet get his head around. Slowly but surely, the light is dawning upon him that he’s not just out there performing music for himself; he’s gone pro and people are loving what he does.
“We played Montreal Jazz Festival in July, and for me it was a great experience,” he says. “I’d always dreamed of playing and the people were really hospitable and we got to bring the whole band. They filmed the concert and we watched it back and it was the first time for me I thought, ‘Wow, we look a real pro band up there.’ That was the closest thing to a pivotal moment, absolutely.”
Jury is bound for more prestigious festivals to come, with his upcoming appearance at Bluesfest marking an Australian adventure he’s almost dumbfounded to be embarking on. “It’ll be my first trip as a tourist and performer. I mean, I’ve become a bit acclimated in the sense I found out I was playing and found it was a huge festival with a tonne of great bands playing, and I’m really looking forward to it – to meet artists, hang out for a few days.
“It’s surreal compared to four years ago, I didn’t think I was gonna be doing this – I was directionless and didn’t think I’d get here by now. I’m super glad and grateful to do this.”
Bluesfest 2017runsThursday April 13 – Monday April 17 atTyagarah Tea Tree Farm, and features Max Jury, along withZac Brown Band, Santana, Barry Gibb, Patti Smith and many more. Max Juryis out now through Marathon, and he also playsThe Basement on Thursday April 13.