Navigating the melodic maze with: Feux

By Alice Haldane

20 May 2024

North-West London rapper, Feux, spoke on his future headline shows, dream collabs, and the importance of being authentic with his craft.

Telling stories through his expressive lyricism, the 23-year old’s dynamic sound and raw approach to his craft undoubtedly sets him apart from other artists. Touching on topics of battles with mental health and feeling lost, Feux understands the importance of connecting with an audience on a deeper level. Growing up in a French household originally inspired his sound, flitting between English and French through freestyles, his urge to experiment is what makes him so refreshing. He is constantly evolving and switching-up his tune, pushing the boundaries of rap. From uni dropout to over 150,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, we discussed everything from his newest album, MAX MANTRA, to his first ever headliner which is set to ignite stages across the UK in March.

*Since this interview Feux went on to play the max mantra tour and had a blast.

I really appreciate you setting some time aside for us today -Go and introduce yourself to the readers!

“Yeah, thanks for having me. My name is Max. I make music under the name of ‘Feux’ which is a French word for fire. I’m from London and I’m 23. I also do creative direction, I model, and yeah, just tryna do my thing.” 

I feel like your genre is a mix between rap and trance-like instrumentals, would you agree? 

“It’s hard to say what my exact genre would be, but I think something kinda more alternative, soulful, but with the incorporation of hip-hop. You can have an indie song where I’m singing, and then there’s a rap verse within that.”

Your most recent project, MAX MANTRA, incorporated more singing, was this something that was new to you at all?

“To be honest I’ve tried to sing for many years and this project highlighted it in the best way. I’ve always tried to sing in my tracks, like ‘Life’ was one of my first times singing on a song. I’ve always tried to not just be rap, that’s my main thing, I would rather stay away from it and try and make my own kind of genre. But yeah, I’ve always tried to sing, I love singing, and for me it’s a great way to express yourself.”

Do you enjoy experimenting with your sound?

“Yeah definitely. I think it really depends on who I’m working with, but whenever I release, It’s like, is this an improvement? Has my ability to sing gotten better? How has the mix of the song gotten better? Does it feel like an elevation and evolution? That’s kinda like my main focus. Sometimes experimentation comes with that. I’ve got some producers that I have a lot of fun with and mess about and experiment and do some crazy shit, and then sometimes it’s a bit more straightforward.”

Photo by Dan Hall: Feux

“People ask me, if you were in the studio with your favourite artist, what would you do, and I say I would probably not go to that session. Like yeah, I’m just not good enough to be in the studio with Kendrick Lamar, it’s as simple as that [laughs]. I don’t think that’s a pessimistic mindset, to me it’s like I’ve got a long way to go, but I’ll get there eventually.”

I read somewhere that your older brothers rapped- did this spark your interest in the genre?

“Yeah I’d say so, to an extent for sure. The eldest was good friends with some artists that are still making music, and I think seeing his friends rapping, and him trying to rap as well was pretty cool, that was like early days of my childhood. And then, there’s my mother who’s a classically trained pianist and that’s where I got the feeling for music from, like I was in the womb when she was playing piano, and that’s kinda always been like my interpretation of where that came from, cause it was very unexpected for me to end up making music [laughs].” 

“The end of 2018 was when that kinda flame was sparked somewhat. then I’d say I properly got my teeth into it in lockdown. I went to University in Glasgow, then I dropped out and covid hit, so I was just obviously in a position where I could make music for hours and hours.” 

What’s your creative process like? Do you have any personal, little rituals?

“I guess I find melody first then I write to that, I just voice note whatever I find, that’s when I’m tryna be more impulsive with my creations. There’s other methods where I may start with the writing, but I always try to cater it to the music, that’s how you find that symbiosis the best. There are rituals I have before performing, like I do breathing meditation, mindfulness like that, but when I make music I always try to keep it open.”

It’s a hard one- but what song or project are you’re most proud of?

“This project MAX MANTRA was quite a big achievement for me because it was like the biggest thing I’ve done up to this point in terms of just the planning, the music, the promotion, the videos. Every aspect was so thought through and so meticulous. And there’s some songs that I’m glad I made. ‘Life’ for example, I’m glad that in that moment I wrote something that I felt. I don’t listen to that song anymore, but it’s amazing to see people appreciating it and it helping them in a way as well.”

Would you say your French-speaking Belgian-roots sets you apart from the crowd?

“I always try and make it me when I make music, I always just try to think of how I feel, and how I wanna approach it, just so it comes out as authentic as possible. It’s a hard question when it comes around, it’s like what makes Feux’s music Feux, I think it’s just the merging of experiences and sounds that I listen to and trying to make that into a tangible thing that sounds good.” 

“I think I could probably count on my fingers how many other French artists there are, so it definitely is. I didn’t mention it just cause it’s not something I’ve done enough of to necessarily say I only brand myself as an artist that raps in French and English. I’ve only got a handful of songs like that. Early days I rapped in French quite a lot, and that was kind of a big part of you know, the foundation of my sound, something I want to do more for sure, but it’s much harder.”

You’ve got performances coming up in March, how have you been preparing?

“I had rehearsal yesterday for it with a band, with the band, which is cool. It’s still a learning process with the whole instrumentation side of things. I’ve got some amazing musicians around me who are helping me build this up to something that will hopefully be really great.”

“My main goal, honestly, is to just enjoy it. There have been so many tours, and shows that I’ve been clouded by anxiety or just thoughts, and I think for me it’s just when I’m on stage, I have to just channel being in the moment as much as possible and enjoying it, and celebrating it. I’ve opened up for so many artists, I’ve always been the support act, so to have my headline is a big moment for me.”

Who do you want to collab with in 2024?

“They are mostly producers to be fair, people like Venna, a guy called Emil, guy called Jonah, guy called Jay Mooncie. I’m just tryna dig into working with producers and finding that new, next wave of music. And then artists, maybe not 2024, but Little Simz would be great at some point, you know, Kaytranada, all in due time, I’m in no rush. These people have been crafting their sound and their music for like 10 plus years.”

What advice would you give to aspiring artists who are carving their way in the industry?

“For me, I find it hard to find a balance, find a routine, because you have to be strong and implement it yourself. I’d tell them to get ready for a whole lot of work, a whole lot of dedication. I think like you get to a point where your life becomes the artist, and it’s a whole compromise really of your wellbeing.”

“If they were rap- I would probably tell them to stop listening to rap, and to listen to other genres. I stopped listening to rap for a while and that’s when I thought, what I was consuming was what I was putting out.”

“Be yourself is always quite a basic one, but if you can try and channel your experiences and your tastes into your art, it’ll always come out better.

“But that takes a long time to get there, so that’s kind of like a down the line thing, the goal for an artist is to just be like you and to be singular, rather like, beatboxed into a genre. I think just enjoy it, yeah cause it can definitely get tough, it can get overwhelming, but when you have those moments to really have fun or enjoy the moment-  you have to push yourself to just love it.”

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