Des Moines artist Max Jury is living in London for most of this year promoting and touring his debut eponymous album that just came out. Jury started recording music when he was in high school and pursued it further by attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
While he was in school, demo recordings of his music caught the attention of the label Marathon Artists in London, England. They offered him a publishing contract. Jury says he had every intention of graduating from college.
“But then I was faced with this decision of sign the publishing contact, start going on tour, or keep going to college.” says Jury. “It was a tough one that you know me and my parents kinda talked about extensively, but I ended up saying you know, this is kinda what I’m at Berklee for, so if I have this opportunity, you know I feel like I should take it.
After signing, Jury moved back to Des Moines and recorded an EP in 2014. It was well-received in Europe and the United States. This led to a series of new partnerships in the music industry, allowing Jury to complete his first full length album. To concentrate on making the record, he needed to leave Iowa.
“It boiled down I think to me sonically wanting to go a bit of a different direction and try to infuse more of these gospel and soul elements,” says Jury.
With recording sessions in New York and North Carolina, he had access to studio musicians playing in some of today’s biggest pop music acts. One of Jury’s biggest challenges is finding a balance between classic and modern music styles. He says one solution is to use something as simple as a synthesizer.
“It may not be at the forefront, but by doing that it ends up sounding you know like it was made today,” says Jury.
His songwriting is influenced by records from the 1960s and 70s he grew up listening to with his parents, by artists like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Joni Mitchell.
“Those older records, they do resonate with me. I think it’s important to reference the classics in a way or build on tradition in a sense. That’s important to me at least with my music. Kind of continuing the story of American music in whatever that means,” says 24-year-old Jury.
Unlike his previous recordings, he distanced himself from Iowa while making the new album. But during his recent trip home while playing an intimate show for his friends, he says he appreciates the ongoing support.
“You know without these kind of people and playing, you know opening for these people when I’m 15-years-old and everything you know, I wouldn’t be doing it," he says. "So I’m kind of indebted to the musical community here so I’m just really grateful.”
Jury is now on tour in Europe for the summer, but soon he’ll play in the United States with a stop back in his hometown this September.