(L-R: Maxamillion Haunt, Anastasia; Credit: Anabel DFlux)
The Haunt are an up and coming quartet based out of Florida formed around brother and sister Maxamillion Haunt and Anastasia Grace. With a sound that mixes indie pop and post punk, their music would sound at home on the Warped Tour or Vivienne Westwood’s late seventies London boutique. Off stage Anastasia is shy, but when she performs she becomes a whole different person. With a voice beyond her years, she can channel anyone from Amy Winehouse to Billy Holiday. With cleverly crafted unique songs penned by this brother and sister duo, they are poised to become a household name.
Was music a big factor in your home are your parents supportive of all this?
Maximillion Haunt: Yeah, our parents are very supportive. And since a young age our parents have always, neither of them are personally musicians, but they’ve always surrounded us with music for our whole lives and enrolled us in piano lessons when we were very young. They always believed that like music was very important in a child’s development. I don’t think they thought it was going to become this big of a part of our lives, but they’ve been very supportive through it all.
So, they’re happy that you’re going forward with this or do they want you to have like a backup plan.
Anastasia Grace: Don’t quote me on this (Laughing)it’s like if you have a backup plan, you won’t succeed, because you won’t try as hard. it’s something like that.
So, there is no backup plan. You’re all in 100%
MH: Yeah, all the chips all the chips are in.
AG: Of course, there are other things you want to do.
MH: I mean, I, before we went on tour with Palayle Royale, I was studying biology and that was honestly just for personal reasons. I had the time to do that back then. Now I know I don’t. But I think there’s other things that we’re interested in, but music is our main goal for career.
So, what drew you to making music
MH: Wow. I mean, I think inspiration is usually what draws you to make music. I saw a concert, I think the first the first time I went to a concert was some free Plain White T’s concert and I like that, and I thought it was really cool. But there was nothing about that that made me like, wants to pursue music. And then I went to a Nine Inch Nails concert when I was like, probably like 12 years old. And I was in the pit and it was brutal. And I was just like, this is quite possibly the sickest thing. And I guess what drew me to make music was that intensity of like how people could connect over something that someone else has made. I don’t think there’s any other creative platform where people connect so heavily as music and so that is what drew me to it. I draw and I do other things, but nothing no one connects over any type of art like they do over music, I think.
What’s it like being with your sister in the band? How does how’s that work with the sibling rivalry thing?
AG: I don’t think it’s like,
MH: It’s not like rivalry. I mean we argue a lot. But I think siblings do that anyway. We think we argue a lot. Then when we see other siblings, like, we know plenty of people who are brother and sister and barely even talk to each other. We were like, We were really, really close, growing up as kids before we started music. When Anna was like, I don’t know, there was like, yeah, there was like the gap and you were like, 7, 8, 9 and we just like we’re not like super close. And then once we started making music together, Once she turned like 9 or 10 it was like, we became best friends. Like even closer than we were before.
You see stuff like Billy Eilish with her brother and they’re very, super close. And they can go the exact opposite direction where you have you know, the Gallagher Brothers from Oasis who pretty much will kill each other if they are in the same room.
MH: Yeah, no, we’re not like that. (Laughing) Maybe one day, we’ll kill each other. Right now, things are things are really good and I think music actually brings us way closer. I don’t know, we were into a lot of the same things that aren’t music. And I think that that’s kind of what keeps us sane too. It’s like, we don’t only just talk about music, think about music, write music. We do other things throughout the day that we are also bonding over, so I think that’s pretty healthy.
So how did you get started?
MH: We started when we discovered Anastasia good sing. She was about eight or so. And my parents discovered that she could sing. And they placed her in vocal lessons. Then when she had like recitals and stuff like that, for her vocal lessons, she would make me sit on the stage with her and I was just doing nothing. Actually, at the time, I was literally just sitting on the stage, I wasn’t allowed to look at her, or in her direction. I had to face the audience. I had to sit on the stage. She was very shy. And I think I sat there for basically moral support. That was my role in, in her project. And then, eventually, after like a year or so of that, I was like, This is ridiculous. I started taking guitar lessons. I had already played piano. So, we started making music together. And that’s how the band got its origin.
Anastasia are you still shy?
AG: Umm yeah, I definitely talk a lot more than I used to.
MH: Yeah, in comparison, you wouldn’t be able to tell she’s nearly as shy back then. It was like she had trouble like talking to people and stuff like that. It was it very extreme shyness. And I think music is one of the thing that really helped her overcome that. Because if you see her on stage, you would never assume she was always shy. Although she doesn’t talk much on stage. It’s mostly just singing.
So, you found that you’ve gotten comfortable with being onstage in front of people then?
How was that transition for you?
AG: It’s where I’m most comfortable.
What do you think it is about being on stage that gives you that comfort factor?
AG: I don’t know. It’s just like my peers.
What kind of influences do you have?
MH: I think the two of us have a lot of influences and I think each of ours are different.
AG: For sure. Amy Winehouse. Let’s see Freddie Mercury on all things, fashion and performance. Billie Holiday which I play a lot.
MH: I think a lot of mine are similar. Definitely one of my biggest ones is the White Stripes, Jack White. I’m a very big into Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. I really like industrial music, and a lot of hip hop influences. Both of our parents are from New York. We grew up on a lot of 90s hip hop and early 70s hip hop and I think that has a lot to do with, believe it or not our sound even though you wouldn’t be able to hear it in the final product. I think a lot of it is heavily influenced by the impact that that music has.
When I’m listening to your music, I actually do hear in your voice Billie Holiday, and Amy Winehouse. I’m thinking to myself for a young person those are some pretty serious influences. Where did you pick up on those?
MH: There was no point where she got into that. That was always something that kind of existed within her. She from like a really young age would always, I don’t even know how old you were when you used to tell mom that you wanted to hear the music that sounded like Christmas. She was like five years old, and she would play when we got a record player and even before she had the record player we would play like, the standards and stuff from her TV to go to sleep at night. Literally like, her room was just like a like a 40s nightclub. With jazz singers playing in there all day long. It was definitely a weird thing. No one told her that that was like what you should be listening to. She just always did.
I’ve seen that in some of your videos too. The one for Cigarettes and Feelings had that same feel to as well. Do you enjoy making videos?
AG: I’m really into acting and that’s something I looking into doing in the future. But you can say videos is one of my favorite parts of the whole thing
MH: It’s a whole lot of fun because most of our videos that we made are very grassroots. So, there’s a whole lot of planning and months’ worth of work that goes into filming each video and it’s just really awesome when you can see a payoff. Especially ones like Cigarettes and Feelings, which it was like months’ worth of work, and stress, and dying for like a day of shooting or two days of shooting and it was like it was daunting. It was it was amazing.
Do you see yourself continuing making videos like that, that are almost a movie quality?
MH: Yeah, I mean, I feel like once you set those standards for yourself, you can’t fall below them. So, we always want to create everything we do with the highest quality. And so, I think that that that’ll always be something that we continue to do.
You have a new EP coming out soon.
MH: Yeah, yes, we do.
Are you working on it right now? Or how far along are you on it?
MH: It is done. It is mostly done, and it could be released right now. We have a couple of tracks that were up in the air about whether they’ll make it on this EP or not, but it’s very close to being done.
With one album already done and out, and this new one just about done. What did you learn from the first one that’s helped you on this one.
MH: We learned on the first one through a long process. The first one took months to make that first record. This one we did over the course of two weeks. I mean, of course the writing happened years before that on each of them, but starting for recording once we began recording, the first one took a couple of months in this one took two weeks and I think that the difference is, we were much younger and that was our first time like really committing to being in the studio and try and create a record. I think what we learned more than anything else is to really like trust ourselves in our own ear. And of course, like the producer is always there for a reason and the producer on this new record. It was absolutely incredible Matt Good is one of the sickest producers we’ve ever heard and definitely that we’ve worked with and ever heard musically, he’s, he’s, he’s great at what he does. And so, I think that you know, trusting your musical opinion is definitely something that was a skill that we learned from the first record and carried on to this one that made this process go a lot smoother. We got to the end product a lot faster.
So how did you discover your producer?
MH: Through our management team. He was recommended to us by people on our team and we had an opening and it just perfectly lined up and we’re like, Yes, absolutely. Let’s, let’s make this happen. And it was pretty much like a dream matchup he he got our sound entirely and was able to capture the kind of record that we were trying to make, which is a more developed version of our same sound.
The listener will hear growth, but still have the same core sound.
MH: Yeah, I mean, it’ll definitely still sound like The Haunt, but it’ll sound more produced and fuller and more juicy.
Do you see yourself making a full length album?
MH: I would love to make a full length album. Originally that was our intention, but we just figured for what we were trying to do
AG: We definitely had enough songs to make a full length album
MH: We had enough to make a few. But I think we’re trying to pace ourselves; you know.
Just ease your way into this business.
MH: Yeah, we’ve been at it for a long time Even though the first record only came out Last year. We were playing before that under a different band name three years ago. So, we’ve had time to like really develop before we actually went into the studio and I think now a lot more content will be coming with less time.
With being so young how’s this whole process been for you? I mean from your very beginnings, just starting out with just Anastasia on stage to now where you’re at, where you’ve been on tour.
MH: It’s funny because we’ve been asked that question before and it’s a weird thing to answer without just using like, some words like amazing or incredible because it’s been our whole childhood. We don’t really know anything else. So that’s totally by choice. We, we were the ones who pushes for this to be our whole lives and you know, there’s not a day that goes by that it’s not hours out of our day spent working on this project was I feel like any professional musician would probably tell you the same it’s it’s an amazing experience to be able to create something and see it take fruition and have people like listen to it and appreciate it and when you play it live like think it’s good and vibe with it is definitely one of the best feelings in the world.
What was your moment of discovery? I mean, when somebody found you. There are stories out there about how a band was discovered. What’s yours?
MH: I don’t think we’re discovered yet. We’ve definitely been lucky to be heard. We’re definitely blessed with the opportunity that we’ve gotten and all that, but I don’t think that we are like discovered. You know, what being discovered implies that we’ve reached our full potential and I know that that’s not the case yet.
Well, it’s just that there’s many bands that are out there, that they’ve been out on the circuit trying and trying and trying. And they have nothing, you know, they have no EP’s, they don’t have a management team. But here you are. You’ve gotten a second EP coming out, you know, you’ve got music videos, I mean there is a buzz to you.
MH: I think the thing that I would give the most credit to our quote unquote, like success so far, would definitely be the tours with Palayle Royale. I think that after releasing our EP and getting on tour with Palayle Royale that absolutely changed our lives. Those fans took us so kindly and we are like definitely forever grateful. No matter what happens to Palayle Royale and what they’ve done for us as a band.
How did you manage to get hooked up with them?
MH: Um, that was honestly, a connection from our old, it wasn’t really a management team. It was like a team of people who helped us. They weren’t really managers, but they that’s like the closest thing you could call them. I guess, consultants. They had a connection with Palayle Royale and then we met up on Warped Tour and we went on tour together.
What was it like being out on tour with a band like that? How’d that go?
MH: It went really, really well. They gained us the recognition that we wanted. We are still always searching for more and more people so that our fans can grow, obviously. But to be able to build a small fan base that we were able to build through those tours was, you know, obviously life changing.
Any plan for a new tour coming up?
MH: Oh, yeah, but we can’t talk about them.
Okay, so there is something in the works to keep you guys out on the road.
MH: Absolutely. That’s our favorite thing in the world is being on tour.
I was just about to ask what do you think about being on tour?
MH: There’s literally nothing like being on tour. When you come home from tour you basically die for like a week. You fall apart. I remember we came home from being away, we went on three separate legs with Palayle Royale. We went to Europe with them the first time they headlined out there in Europe and then which was about a month, and then we did the US North America tour with them, where we were out for almost two months. And then we did Europe again. The third time when we came back from the third leg we paced around the house. Like was that North America or Europe first?
AG: On the two months American tour our dad decorated our house for Christmas while he was home.
MH: Yeah, he It was like we got back in December. We got back in December and our dad had decorated the house for Christmas.
AG: He did a really good job.
MH: We weren’t prepared for all that. So, we got home, and it was like, you know, the flight is roughly seven hours. And we walked in the house at like, 6am. We hadn’t slept and we’re just like, wow. He said we like painting the house like zombies is what he said. And then basically fully clothed, backpacks and shoes on we just like all went to our beds.
It’s draining. But there’s no experience more exhilarating than being on tour. Performing every single day for a new group of people and, you know, trying to win over people every single night. It’s definitely an incredible experience. There’s literally nothing in the world that even compares to being on tour.
Do you see any difference between touring in Europe or touring in the States?
MH: Yeah, there’s very minimal differences. You can understand a lot more people in the US. That’s basically the biggest issue. Europe does have like, I don’t know what it is, but they have like a slight more of an appreciation for opening acts and things like that. But we’re very appreciative for both the US and European fans.
Where do you see yourself going for 2020? What are your plans?
MH: We hopefully will release this EP I think almost definitely we released this EP over the next year, and we want to be on the road touring as much as physically possible as much as our bodies will allow, will be on the road touring and you know, making new fans and stuff like that.
If you guys could collaborate with anybody outside of your genre, who would it be?
MH: I know mine, Kanye West.
AG: Oh yeah yeah!
AG: I guess like I want to go big like Arianna Grande.
MH: We are from the same town.
I appreciate your time. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
MH: Everyone just follow us on social media so that you guys can be up to date on the EP and touring and merchandise all that. We are on every social media we are The haunt.
Good luck to you and Thank you.
THE HAUNT is:
Anastasia Grace – Lead Vocals / Piano
Maxamillion Haunt – Guitar / Lead Vocals / Piano
Nick Lewert – Drums / Piano / Backup Vocals
Nat Smallish – Bass / Backup Vocals