The Fancy Sessions: 2 – Madame Fancy Pants

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The Fancy Sessions: 2

Maxwell Apse

Job Title: Composer, Sound Designer and Model

Pronouns: They/Them

Max wears the Mia Dress by Blak, and the Retro Flower Earrings by Denz

It’s been an odd year! What is your overarching feeling on the year, and how are you feeling?

My 2020 was, like a lot of people's, filled with such massive highs and lows. I lost a job I loved, the entire country went into lockdown, and became very scared for my friends and family overseas. There were also some good parts though, small moments of joy and celebration, and that's something I tried to focus on. I'm feeling cautiously optimistic for the year ahead, hoping that things are getting better.

You recently wrote the music for The Glitter Garden, a drag musical for kids. Tell me about that experience, and what it was like to see the work on stage.

At the start of 2020, I was asked if I'd be interested to come on board as composer for a drag musical for children, and I couldn't say yes fast enough. This show was everything I loved about theatre. The spectacle, the music, the message, and being asked to join such a talented team was such a gift. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was a master of their field, it could be a little intimidating at times. You'd come in for a production meeting and see these elaborate costumes and sets by people who were such talented, visionary artists that you just had to bring your all to match their energy, it was amazing.

There's something funny about composing for musicals, you spend so long listening to these songs before you put on the show, finding the powerful melodies, obsessing over every lyric, imagining the choreography that could go with every track, that after a while, it becomes hard to tell how people will feel. Sitting in that opening night audience, listening to the kids laughing at our jokes, the parents crying at our sweet moments, seeing the joy people were feeling from our story set on Pride Parade was such a magical night for me, and for all of us. I hope we get to put it back on and show more people!

What art is exciting you at the moment?

Recently, a lot of my friends have gotten more into video games which has been so wonderful for me because I've always loved the medium but felt a little ashamed about it because of the reputation it has, as being this very aggressive, shallow kind of culture.

But over lockdown, a lot of my loved ones became as captivated with the art form as I am, which has renewed my passion for it!

I recently played a game called "Foldable Beasts" which I'd highly recommend to anyone looking for a peaceful game about animals that has some of the most exquisite sound design. One of my dreams is to compose music for a game, so if any game designers are out there, hit me up! I'd love to make your game magically musical!

What do you find inspiring about living in Wellington?

I grew up in Wellington, though I feel I'm constantly finding new communities of artists making amazing work. It's such a great city that, though it struggles with a lack of funding, it still manages to produce some outstanding work. In particular, I want to shout out the Drag scene in Wellington. Every time I see a drag show, I think, this could be a musical, this could be a film, this could be a tv show, all the pieces are here, they just need some money. If someone gave this community $100,000 to make something for an international audience, they'd make $1,000,000 back, easy. They're experts at makeup, costume, dance, comedy. As an artist, you can't help but look at them, then look at your own work and question why you don't know more about all the different aspects in your own skill set, and work to be better. So much aroha for that crew!

How would you describe your personal style, and who are your influences?

If you had asked me 8 years ago, I would've said Pink, my style is everything pink.

If you'd asked me four years ago, I would've said Bisexual, my style is everything Bisexual (Lots of cuffed jeans, cuffed blazers, lots of blues and pinks).

Nowadays, I'd describe my personal style as LOUD! LOUD AND IN YOUR FACE! I'M TRANS, AND PRETTY, AND BISEXUAL AND PINK!

My queerness is a huge influence on my fashion, I remember seeing people living their authentic selves, and how it signalled to me that I could do the same, so I try to pass that feeling on to the people around me.

As for my influences, I have to say it's my friends who inspire me the most. They've always supported me on my journey, and they also happen to be some of the prettiest people ever, so I take a lot of cues from them! (Also, my partner has a very cute dress sense, and since we moved in together, our wardrobes have doubled which has been awesome!)

What has been your biggest revelation/lesson of the last year?

There were so many it's hard to choose! I think one of the biggest ones was the lesson I learned from my "Year Of Pretty". At the beginning of the year, I decided instead of having a resolution, my year would have a theme. A whole year of "Pretty". This gave me the push to try all the things I'd wanted to try but always felt hesitant to. Getting my ears pierced, dyeing my hair, wearing dresses. It was such a wonderful time, and I think that freedom is what really allowed me to question my gender identity. What I think I learned most from my Year Of Pretty, is that there are really no rules. The reason I felt I needed a theme was so I could justify to myself and others these big changes, but now I'm on the other side, the year over, I'm still doing what I was before because you don't need to justify living your authentic self to anyone.

What wardrobe item is your can’t live without?

I've got a really boring answer, but my bike shorts that I wear under my skirt! Thigh chaffing sucks, and it can turn your favorite outfit into something you dread, so I'd highly recommend a good pair to help you feel comfortable and confident!

You can find all of Max's links here. 

Photography by Sarah McEvoy 

Ice cream from Duck Island, Cuba Street 

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