Listening to Stars, the debut EP from Wollongong artist Max Pasalic AKA Up Late, it’s difficult to put your finger on exactly who his influences are. Combining elements of hardcore, emo, trap, rap and pop he’s created a body of work that feels at home with his fellow acts on heavy/alternative label UNFD, but could easily feature on a Soundcloud rap playlist.
The one concurrent element throughout Stars is his ability to string together big hooks – hooks that hit you hard in the feels and stick with you for days. Maybe it’s due to spending his younger years writing and performing with punk outfit After Touch, honing in his songwriting skills, before going solo and completely DIY.
Whatever the reason, we’re currently dealing with a serious Up Late addiction. So much so that we had to catch up with him and get the inside word on how this project came to exist. Check it out below and head here to follow him on Instagram:
I don’t have to run anything by anybody. I think what’s interesting about coming from a heavy music world to a solo world, I feel like I’ve always had a pretty strong vision about what I want everything to look like, I want everything to sound like. And I will never sit here and say that I do everything on my own, because I don’t. I have a lot of super talented people that help me with most things, but I think being able to realize your own vision, as contrived and cliché as that sounds.
I think at this stage now I am closer than ever to being able to show exactly what is going on in my brain to the world, and that’s what I’ve always strived for and wanted. So, as much as I love being able to work in a band and work with super talented people in that setting, I think it’s just a little easier for me to showcase exactly who I am as a person and as a musician or a designer or a photographer, videographer or whatever I’m doing in that context. It’s just much easier to do it as myself, as Up Late, so I think ultimately for me I’m finding it much more fluid and it feels better.
Yeah, people that can play guitar. Nah, that’s a joke. I miss the camaraderie… I guess being with a core group of people that you’re with all the time. Not being with that core group of people that you’re with every single second of every single day, it’s kind of weird, right? I have been playing in bands since I was 14, been on the road since I was 16 or 17, so now being just turned 25 it’s a little bit daunting thinking of the prospect even in next year when I’m going on tour, not actually having that support network around me.
I was just fucking over writing sad music. I didn’t want to write another sad song, as much as a lot of the other songs on the EP are all break up songs and super moody and whatnot, I just couldn’t at the time. It was the end of 2019 that I wrote it, just sitting in my bedroom and I was just over trying to write another pop song that had just the same ethos and idea and vibe.
I just wanted to try my hand at actually making a rock song, something that you can actually party to. And people ask me this all the time, who am I referring to in the song? I’m not actually referring to anybody or any situation or anything. I just wanted to write a song that you could turn up to and party to and just have fun to. And that’s what the ‘Fuck You’ sentiment is.
Yeah, it was never a shift. When I was super young, when I was 14 started playing shows in a local band, I was producing beats for rappers in the States. I’ve always loved hip-hop and rap music, but I never understood or I never actualised a way to combine the two.
So, I’ve always grown up with it and I’ve always loved that sound, but this is the first time that I’ve actually been able to sonically seize them. And I guess, this whole era of me throwing out the rule book and saying fuck it I just want to make a rock song today, I’m going to make a trap song tomorrow and then I’ll make a pop song on Friday.
It started in 2019 when we were all just writing a bunch of music, me and friends and then eventually we all stopped writing bandy music and it was just me left alone in my bedroom and I was like alright cool, maybe I’ll make a trap beat and see what happens. Okay, maybe I’ll play guitar over it. Okay, cool maybe I’ll sing something. Okay, cool actually, maybe I’ll just try rap something.
And then I just gave it to Matt, who is my co-writer and producer now, and I just gave him 60 songs in February. No word of a lie, 60 songs and he was just like okay cool, this is the vibe you were going for and we ended up just feeling that throughout this year. And we’ve been growing and learning together. So, yeah it’s just always been with me this weird genre-mashing. I love Justin Timberlake as much as I love Bring Me The Horizon.
I don’t really think about lyrics as much, most of the time it’s just I have a loop idea where I have these four chords or something like that. That’s how a lot of this EP started – just me in my bedroom working out maybe an intro first chorus, and then just flicking that to Matt and then we go back in the studio and we rewrite it from the ground up together.
That’s mostly how a lot of this started, thinking about was just my bedroom. Cool, that’s a sick idea and then I take it to the studio and Matt goes, “That part’s sick, that part sucks. That part’s sick, that part sucks.” Let’s just fuse all of this together and this energy and this sonic identity and let’s create something new from it. Or let’s just build from the chorus. So, that’s normally how it starts. It’s super like Frankenstein, we just pull from everything.
I’m just working on my scalability. So, depending on the show, depending on the tour that I’m doing, I have one booked in for this year that is probably going to allow me to bring some sort of backing band with me, because the stages are quite big so there’s room for that. So, I’m hoping that… My ultimate goal is to have at least, there’s something about live drums for me that just feel like it really clears the atmosphere, that energy that I think a lot of music has and I think that really needs to resonate in that setting. Yeah, live drums are a big one for me and then Matt, who writes everything with me, he’s going to come and he’s going to do some sampling. Obviously that is super heavy in all the songs.
And then yeah, maybe one tour I will do a full rock band set, every song is going to be rock. Then maybe next tour I will go on tour with, I don’t know Justin Bieber, and I’ll do a piano or something. Go on tour with Example and do a DJ set. You know what I mean? I just want scalability and I want flexibility and I want you to come and see me at UNFD festival and be like, “Damn, he put a break down there.” But then I want you to come and see me at Tusk and be like, “Whoa, he just dropped a great beat there.”