Slade Introduces Us To “Trap-Folk” on From My Room
By Riley McShane
“At this point in my life, this is how my emotions, experiences, and stories all sound.”
A potent, about-to-leave-town type of melancholy lives at the heart of San Jose-raised Max T. Slade’s debut album, From My Room, self-released on November 20th. The 18-year old Slade started his recording process, as you might guess from the title, in the bedroom of his childhood home in San Jose. It was finished however, in a dorm room in Seattle, where he now resides. In the literal sense, the project spans a great distance – the 800 or so miles from the Bay Area to the Puget sound. But much more impressively it spans a major emotional journey: that of moving away from home and, as Slade puts it, “starting over in a way.”
Slade sees a major influence of From My Room in Justin Vernon’s enigmatic, ever-evolving project, Bon Iver. In the 8 years between Bon Iver’s debut, For Emma, Forever Ago, and 2016’s barrier-challenging 22, A Million, Vernon’s enigmatic project became a symbol for reinvention and a touch point for the evolution of “folk” music. Slade admires Bon Iver for “getting his audience to think differently about the genre of music he makes,” adding, “I wanted to attempt this…so I worked toward making what appears to be a stripped down acoustic album, adding unorthodox production into the mix.” Slade found an unlikely influence in his production: trap music, “[it’s] something I enjoy making separately from what I actually release.” While trap and folk certainly seem like strange bedfellows, the subtle electronic drum and bass on tracks like “Cactus” and “Offroading” demonstrate Slade’s ability to weave the two into something unique. It’s still folk, and in some ways very traditional, but put into a bag and shaken up a bit – the contents that spill out in the form of From My Room have a distinct and irresistibly modern edge.
The list of prefixes attached to “folk” is now seemingly endless, and we’re certainly not helping with the addition (and perhaps coining?) of “trap-folk.” The genre is not diluted by its diversity, however, but strengthened by it. As many great, contemporary folk artists have proven – the form can always use a little tampering and distorting. It doesn’t have to stay within the boundaries laid by Greenwich Village in the 1960s. “Folk” music is defined by the artist writing about the experiences, emotions, people and events that are most real to them – and presenting these ideas in a way that feels handmade. In this, Slade has certainly succeeded. We are excited to see how he continues to evolve his sound – check out From My Room in the embed below, and on all major music streaming services.