Max effort leading to music success

Kozol performing with the Upper Merion Marching Band 2019

TOWAMENCIN — As Max Kozol’s dad was lounging around in the house one day, he heard a startling sound come from the next room. When he went to investigate, he found his 3-year-old son beaming with excitement as he held his arms over his head, ready to play more music on a drum set.

At that moment, his dad knew he was continuing a legacy.

When he was 3 years old, Kozol was gifted his own drum set by his dad, who was a drummer. Early on in his life, he followed his dad’s footsteps and learned to play multiple percussion instruments. At around 8 years old, however, he wanted to go in a different direction in music. That’s when he discovered the bass guitar, and from that point forward, his life revolved around him playing the bass guitar.

He attended music camps like Rock & Roll After School, practiced with private teachers, and performed with different groups. In middle school, he learned to work with the choir to gain more experience.

Like most musicians, it started off as a hobby. It wasn’t until late 2017 where he began considering a possible career in music.

“I picked up a six-string bass. I found it in a guitar shop—the crappiest thing I’ve ever played—but it made me happy. And I just started trying to write my own songs. I tried to have melodic ideas and make them cohesive and interesting,” Kozol said. “I started recording. I would put my phone up to my speaker cabinet, press record, and just see what came out. My parents have always been my biggest supporters, and they helped me set up my own little studio. From there, honestly, the studio has just been growing.”

Kozol began posting his recordings on YouTube and his Instagram. The quality of his recordings was nowhere near where he wanted to be when he started, so he made an effort to learn everything he could about recording and production. Some of the things he had to learn included using a digital audio workstation (DAW), specifically the different tools it provides and how to manage level settings. He also had to learn how to use different VSTs which allows you to work with different sound effects and sound distortions. Most importantly, he had to make sure he knew what he wanted to produce.

“You need that spark to get something down in the first place. If you don’t have that spark or gist of what you want, it can get very frustrating,” Kozol said. “I’m trying to produce an album and my original intent was to release it at the beginning of the school year, but I’m not disheartened by that at all. You need to know what you want and you need to be willing to have the patience for it.”

You need to know what you want and you need to be willing to have patience for it.”

— Max Kozol

It’s one thing to know how to play an instrument, but it’s another thing to know how to craft your own music. 

“It’s completely different from a band setting where they put the sheet music in front of you and you have to try and play it note for note. The whole idea is that you have to create what you like, and if you don’t like it, why are you making it in the first place? It really just comes down to I was just humming this little song in my head, I really liked that, and I want to see where this goes. You take that and you try to expand upon it,” Kozol explained. “What really helps is actually outside opinions as well and getting advice from other people who may have suggestions and things like that. You just help it grow and become even more amazing than it already has been.”

Kozol has made a major effort in creating a social media presence with the goal of sharing his music with others. His main music productions go on his YouTube Channel, but he posts snippets of them on his Instagram to promote. He also has a website where he links different productions and posts forums or polls. 

“Originally, [his Instagram] was just my own little account. I posted pictures of my cats or a new bass that I got every once in a while. I probably posted once every month,” Kozol said. “But when I started focusing more on my music and what I wanted to do with it, I wanted to share it and I thought that would be a good place to do it.”

On top of having to learn about the ins and outs of recording and production, he also had to learn how to network with others. He did research and found a logo maker, so he can have his logo on his own merchandise. He also met talented musicians and artists and began working with some of them. All of the connections he’s made thus far has helped his brand grow.

Recently, he’s been giving out guitar lessons. He sees it as a great way to improve his skills and help others along the way as well.

“Constantly trying to keep people interested can be very daunting because people lose interest very fast. If you keep trying to make things that people will get excited about then they’ll still keep you in the public eye or at least in their eye. You’ll still get your brand built up and eventually if you just keep working and working, you may not even have to try and promote yourself so hard,” Kozol said on trying to build his presence. “It’s really challenging to make sure that you cover everything because on top of just maintaining a presence and constantly keeping up with posting something and just keeping people interested, you need to, at the same time, keep your productions going and try and make yourself look more professional. On top of music production, you also need to get videos and photos, work with people for album art, and make sure that you know your editing skills well and put together unique videos that are not just a picture. It’s very tiring, but I think the effort is worth it.”

Writing, producing, and releasing music can take days, months, or even years. While he’s writing a song, he’s constantly thinking about all of the tiny details that make a world of a difference. He looks out for small mistakes and thinks about harmony because it’s more enjoyable if people can sing it.

“A lot of people, when they hear a song, they think it’s all done in one take when really, it’s a million micro takes to make it sound really good. But if you’re doing video and audio at the same time, you have to get it right the first time or you need to do it all over again. On top of making that, you need to learn how to produce the video using editing software such as Final Cut Pro or DaVinci Resolve, which is what I use,” Kozol said. “From there, just releasing the thing, you need to set a date, you need to have a plan for what you want to do and how you want to promote it, how many days you want to promote it, and then put it out there basically.”

However, while it does take a lot of planning and organization to produce a song, Kozol is a spontaneous person and doesn’t like to work on a strict schedule.

Sometimes, I have to push things off, but I know in the end, it’s worth it because I have an end goal that I will reach.”

— Max Kozol

“My dad will hate me for saying this, but I am against scheduling yourself when you’re trying to be in the creative process, honestly, unless you’re obviously on a schedule where you need to have a deadline,” Kozol said. “When you’re trying to make something that you genuinely enjoy and love, you need to take the time to really appreciate what it is or you are not going to be happy with it at all. And I just wait for that moment when I’m ready to just go out there and get it on and just do it, just so that way I can really get the best product.”

Other than producing his own music, Kozol is also a part of the wind ensemble, symphonic band orchestra, men’s choir, and Navy jazz band at North Penn and he’s a part of a band called Q***K (pronounced quack). His day by day schedule consists of working on music, going to work, and doing his schoolwork, but he manages to balance it all.

“Honestly, it’s by trying to keep a level head and bouncing on a shoestring, as well as my parents keeping me straight. It’s my parents who are able to help me stay on track and focus. It’s a lot of work. I mean, on top of producing my own music, I’ve been doing things like trying to attend all state nationals and I have my schoolwork,” Kozol said. “I try to focus on the most important aspects over the less important ones. I want to produce this album and get it out as soon as possible, but I need to get my homework done first. Sometimes, I have to push things off, but I know in the end, it’s worth it because I have an end goal that I will reach.”

Kozol has earned numerous awards and achievements for his musical talent. He won best soloist at Cavalcade of Bands Jazz Festival 5 times and joined PMEA District Orchestra and Band. He was in both district and region choir all last year. He also made it into All-State vocal jazz. Most recently, he made it into the NAfME all national modern band.

Currently, he is in the release phase of the first single, “Forever and Always,” off his album. He’s working on marketing the release and getting as many people to spread the word about it as possible. It’ll be coming out on February 26. 

Other than preparing for the release of “Forever and Always,” he is working on his second single where his girlfriend, Caitlin Beecham, will be the lead vocalist. He’s also working with his friends Ben Heck and Alex Paino with their newest band.

In the future, he hopes to attend college to further his career in music. He recently got accepted to Berklee College of Music and is waiting on a few more schools. 

I want to thank the people that helped me get where I am. I feel like if I didn’t have all the support from my friends, my family, and my girlfriend, I wouldn’t be here.”

— Max Kozol

“The big thing is I’m not looking to become a big rock star or anything like that. My goal is to just be what’s called a session musician where I can go and just play any type of music I want,” Kozol said. “One day, I could be in the recording studio recording a country song, and the next day, I’m doing a hip hop performance at a live venue.”

Kozol’s friends, family, and girlfriend have made an immense impact on his musical career. They pushed him to go beyond his limits and reach for the stars.

“I want to thank the people that helped me get where I am. I feel like if I didn’t have all the support from my friends, my family, and my girlfriend, I wouldn’t be here,” Kozol said. “I wouldn’t be applying to music colleges that I think are really top tier and very competitive if they didn’t give me the support for so many years in the first place. I wouldn’t have tried to produce my own brand if they didn’t support me and told me to go for it.” 

Personal website: https://maxkozol.weebly.com/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_4nKxBioGqjFuz4DD3Ii6Q

Spotify Pre-save for “Forever and Always (feat. Alex Paino and Jeff Kozol)”: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/maxkozol1/forever-and-always-feat-alex-paino–jeff-kozol

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/42wxt8xAX1Z5d8oukuipBV?si=Rbwy4C9oTqSo5san-oTR8A

Q***K YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iK6RY7tIVSg