Music Stars Maximilian and Anastasia of The Haunt On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Music…

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Music Stars Maximilian and Anastasia of The Haunt On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Music Industry

…Maximilian: It’s funny because honestly, I don’t remember almost anything before the band. I was so young. I have memories before the band, but I don’t remember too much about our relationship because it’s been like most of our lives. We’re always close. I think this has definitely made us the closest we could possibly be. Yeah, I’m sure if I had a different job and she had a different job, we would be a little less close. But I think it’s also been a huge benefit for the band itself because it’s always been this kind of thing where no matter what we argue about, it’s not like you’re arguing with a friend. It’s like you’re arguing with someone that you’re going to go home to. Even if we don’t talk for like a day, I’m pissed off, I’m mad at you. We’re going to figure it out. We’re going to live in the same house. We’re going to work it out. So yeah, I think that we’re… It’s definitely a little bit of an advantage to be in a forced proximity relationship.

Anastasia: Yeah, and I think the closeness kind of just was a lucky thing because we could have been in the band together too and then just ended up hating each other because of it. And I think the exact opposite happened. I hope it continues forever. I hope it only gets stronger…

I had the pleasure to talk with Maximilian and Anastasia of The Haunt. Florida’s alternative rock quartet, The Haunt, brings a fresh blend of cinematic soundscapes that fuse smoky and soulful vocals with a blend of rock, synth, and gothic electronic elements. At the heart of the band are siblings Anastasia Grace Haunt on vocals and Maxamillion “Max” Haunt, contributing with vocals, guitar, and production expertise. Their narrative-driven lyrics delve deep, exploring themes like toxic relationships, drug abuse, and revenge.

The group’s journey began with the momentum generated by their 2018 self-titled EP, leading them to tour with notable names such as Palaye Royale, The Hu, and The Struts. By 2019, their track “Cigarettes & Feelings” garnered considerable attention, clocking in almost 13 million streams on Spotify. Their collaborative efforts in 2021 with Matt Good on the Social Intercourse EP were met with widespread appreciation. Today, with an impressive accumulation of over 20 million streams, The Haunt is recognized by leading media outlets like Revolver, Outburn, and Alternative Press for their unique sound and raw energy.

Their newest EP, “Dead on Arrival,” set to release on September 8th, promises to be another captivating addition to their discography. This collection, boasting contributions from producers Maxamillion Haunt, Nick Lewert, Grammy Nominated Kevin Thrasher, and Seth Reger of the Grammy Award Winning production group The Stereotypes, signifies their evolution as a formidable force in the alternative rock genre.

For further information and press releases about The Haunt, visit the Nettwerk Music Group website or follow @NettwerkPublicity on Instagram.

Yitzi: Anastasia and Maximilian, it’s a delight to meet you. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn about your origin stories.

Maximilian: Well, thank you so much for having us. Yeah, we are siblings. So we started the band when Anna was about nine years old. She started playing open mics and stuff like that, even though she was really shy and struggled with social anxiety.

Anastasia: Yeah, and back then, Max was like my emotional support, you know?

Maximilian: Yeah, I would sit on the edge of the stage, not playing any instrument, just being there while she did those acapella open mics and such. But eventually, I thought, “I need to play an instrument if I’m going to keep doing this. It’s getting out of hand.”

Anastasia: So, he already knew how to play the piano, and he started with that. Then he picked up the guitar, and we sort of built the band piece by piece from there. We really got going as a proper band around the time I turned 12.

Maximilian: It wasn’t something we planned; it just kind of came together naturally.

Yitzi: It’s unbelievable. How about you, Anastasia, what’s your origin story with regards to music?

Anastasia: It’s the same exact thing. I was just too shy to do it on my own. He has been playing a few instruments, like piano and some other random things. I’m 20, and Max is 24.

Yitzi: Amazing. So you probably have so many interesting experiences, so many fascinating stories, and everything. Can you share with our readers one or two of the most interesting memories or stories from your professional career?

Maximilian: We started our first tours with Palais Royale back in 2017 and 2018. You know, the year before that, we put out our first EP, which we recorded when she was around 15 years old. It came out in 2017, when I was 13 or 14. We were playing local shows and doing a lot of underground stuff in Miami, which was the music scene back then. We played in grunge and punk venues.

Anastasia: In the beginning, I was really young and had to play in these 21+ bars, and I’d have to leave immediately after performing. That was the deal for us for a long time because we were both underage at the start of our careers. We got to a point where we were one of the biggest bands locally, headlining packed events, but still had to follow the same routine. It’s one of the funniest consistent things that happened in our early days, though it doesn’t happen as much now.

Maximilian: Even when we came to LA and did our first headliners at the Viper Room, they locked us in the green room and told us we couldn’t come out until it was our time to play. As soon as we finished, they threw our stuff on the curb and said we couldn’t stay. It’s not their fault; it’s part of being a young rock band. But it’s a pretty unique experience that not many people had to go through for as long as we did. We understand it; they didn’t want to be liable for a young girl in the bar, and I was underage too. It’s a different standard, but it’s understandable.

Anastasia: It was a big shift when we toured with Palais Royale. After the shows, we’d meet the crowds every night, and it was a completely different experience. It’s a funny duality that I think not many bands fully experience.

Yitzi: That’s great. How about you, Anastasia, do you have any favorite memories or stories?

Anastasia: That’s really hard. We just got back from a tour, so we’re finally decompressing and getting our act together. It’s challenging to pinpoint one thing because we’ve been through so much chaos these last couple of weeks. We’ve been kind of screwing our heads back on because this last tour was absolute chaos. It was a ton of fun, but it was definitely the most chaotic tour we’ve been on. So, we got through the tour, and we’re not the kind of people to give up just because things are hard. We said, “Okay, this is hard, and we’re going to get through it.” Now that we’re home, we’re just reflecting and taking it all in.

Yitzi: Can you explain for our readers what it means when you say the tour was chaotic? Most of us don’t experience that, so what is it?

Maximilian: It involved a lot of obstacles, nothing internal or too crazy, just a lot of unexpected challenges coming our way. We had to persevere and, in a way, it was a test of faith. But we pulled through.

Yitzi: It’s been said that sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Do you have a story about a humorous mistake that you made when you were first starting and the lesson that you learned from it?

Maximilian: That’s a really good question. I mean, we’ve made so many mistakes, I think. We try to do everything. We were in a really fortunate situation. Our parents are very…

Annastasia: What was the quote that you said?

Yitzi: Sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers.

Annastasia: Yes, but also they can be our greatest songs because we wouldn’t have any of our songs if we didn’t mess it up a little bit. Our songs are about mistakes, whether it’s romantic mistakes or trusting people that you shouldn’t mistake or anything like that. I think that’s why we have music. Our music is kind of like our therapy, our way to vent our mistakes, even if we know we’re making them. I think that we’re in a pretty fortunate position as far as the band as a career goes because we have a lot of people that we really trust around us, and they help us make the best decisions. Sometimes everyone’s best-educated decision is still kind of… You look back at it. You’re like, I wonder if we should have done this or we should have done that, but you kind of just have to trust your instincts and trust the people around you if you have a good team around you to make the best possible decisions. All of it’s kind of a gamble. You’re just doing the best that you can every day and trying to make the best decisions that you can.

Maximilian: I think most of our mistakes are in our personal lives. Listen to the album. I think our mistakes might be other people’s best teachers because you could listen to one of our experiences through our songs and not do the same thing, maybe. Hopefully, we can help. So you can tweak the quote, sometimes our mistakes can be your teachers. I personally won’t be learning. Maybe you can.

Yitzi: Is there a person who made a profound impact on your professional life? And if there is, can you please share a story about that person?

Maximilian: Well, I think Palais Royale was the first. I mean, it wasn’t the first time that someone had helped us, but it was the biggest. At the time that it happened, it was the biggest help that anyone had ever given us. It got us out of the local scene, and they took us on tour with them to Europe and then the US. Then it went so well that we went back to Europe with them again. The band was the same age as their entire fan base at that time, and it was just completely life-changing for us to be able to get in front of that audience and play for them every night. They were really gracious to not just take us on the original two that they intended to take us on, but then we’re like, “Yo, come back for a whole third one too.” Them, and then also The Who, the Mongolian band The Who, and our team helped set that up. It was a really great opportunity for us and two tours. Anytime that you plan on going on one tour with somebody, and they’re like, “Let’s do it again,” it’s always an amazing feeling because it’s like, we did our job well. They liked having us as an opener. We always want to be as helpful to the tour and as out of the way as possible, not make anyone’s life hell. And I think it’s always great when we’re able to go back on the road with somebody. It always feels like such a great opportunity to be in front of the same audience again.

Anastasia: Well, at the stage that we were at, especially when we went on the first Palais Royale tours, it was definitely kind of a great kindness on their part. We were a baby band at that point, and it took us to the next level and really put us in the position to open for bands like The Who and The Struts and all these other bands. So it was really… It opened a lot of doors and kind of got a lot of recognition, recognition and relationships and stuff like that because they’re very well known and respected in the music world. So it was definitely a huge boost for us, and we’re constantly grateful for that.

Yitzi: Let’s move on to the next topic. Let’s pretend that you were the king and queen of the music industry, the rulers of Nashville. You could snap your fingers, and things could happen. What changes do you applaud that happened over the past few years in the industry? And what changes would you, as the king and queen of the industry, have set in place moving forward? What are you happy about seeing? What would you like to change about the industry?

Maximilian: I think that the biggest changes over the… And it might have been this way forever, but the ones that we’ve seen, obviously, is that we’ve kind of stepped into the TikTok and Reels era of music, which is a double-edged sword, I think. I think that there’s like… It’s really amazing how many legitimately really good artists are able to make huge careers out of those platforms. And I also think that there’s a lot of people that aren’t musicians that are crowding the platform and making it really difficult for people who are. So there’s like… And I’m not trying to be the judge of who that is and who that isn’t, but I definitely think that there’s like an overwhelming amount of artists and then an overwhelming amount of opportunity. So it’s a double-edged sword. I don’t think that I would change it. I think that it’s the natural progression. Things have gotten more and more accessible over time for musicians. But it’s definitely… I feel like we’re definitely now in the weirdest time to be a musician ever. I’m not saying that that’s a good or bad thing. It’s just something interesting that we always talk about and kind of point out. As a band that’s been doing this for 10 years, we existed in the iTunes era. So to see it completely change over this course of this time, it’s been a total dramatic shift and not really for the better or worse, but just something worth acknowledging, I guess. You know?

Yitzi: What would you say, Anastasia? What would you change about the industry?

Anastasia: I think I would make myself the biggest band. (Laughs)

I think probably would take a lot of the sexism away and probably try to sort some of that out quicker than we are right now. I feel like it’s still so prominent in the music industry and such a problem, an active problem that people just push under the rug and don’t really talk about. But it goes on every day on tour, in the studio with producers. We’ve experienced it firsthand in the studio with producers, and it was not a fun experience. And I couldn’t believe how blatant it was when it was happening. Not like any of us could. We’ve always heard about it, but we didn’t really experience it so firsthand. So it was definitely a crazy experience. And it’s kind of what pushed me to become a producer. And now I don’t just work with our band. I work with a bunch of bands, mostly female artists because I love trying to take them to the next level. I want to create the music that they want to create. And I feel like a lot of people don’t take women seriously in the studio. I don’t know. But I feel like… And also just to create a safer space to have all these people expressing their ideas and soul to someone. I think he’s been super helpful with that. But we probably need to… I can’t do it alone. Spread the word.

Yitzi: So when you say sexism, do you mean that women aren’t taken seriously and that men are given more opportunity?

Anastasia: Not enough. Not seriously enough. And also definitely… I think that that’s the best way to put it. When a woman has an idea in the studio… And this isn’t everywhere. We work with some amazing, amazing producers. Kevin Thrasher. Yeah, he’s one of our favorites. So this is not like… Yeah. But we’ve definitely been in situations where if a girl, especially a young girl, but it happens to anybody, says something and they haven’t already accomplished something, it’s like, relax. Right. It’s like, I have all the ideas and you calm down. It’s very crazy how blatant it is sometimes. And we’re like, okay, we need to do this ourselves now from now on.

Yitzi: All the power to you. I didn’t realize that. To me, it seems like all the big acts are women, but I guess I’m not really in the industry.

Anastasia: No, but even then, even the most famous female artists you can think of right now have their own stories about it happening. Not even coming up, but happening right now on a grander scale with more important people than us locally. So I think it happens regardless whether you’re our size or Olivia Rodrigo or… Right. And I think that there’s also just this overwhelming push for every woman to… If you’re not performing well enough musically, time to be a sex symbol. And so there’s a lot of those things going on, and I don’t think it’s equal. I don’t think that they tell guys the same things that they tell women to go borrow a talk or this or that. No, I think it’s kind of unfair. Some women just want to make music.

Maximilian: As you were saying, the producers push women to become a sex symbol. I’ve heard stories specifically like the one that pops in my mind was Halsey when she was putting out her record, which was a legitimately incredible record that she made with… I’m forgetting his name, Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor. And she made the record with Trent Reznor, and her label wouldn’t let her put it out because they didn’t believe it was pop enough, first enough. Then eventually she fought to get it out. And once she put it out, her label was forcing her to make TikToks. And then when they weren’t performing well enough, they were like, make more sexual TikToks. And she was open about that, and not a lot of people are because they don’t want to risk their career, but it’s definitely a real issue and people kind of need to be acknowledging it more.

Anastasia: Knock on wood, we’re in a great situation. Our label has been amazing to us, and our team doesn’t push us in any of those directions, but we know what’s happening. We have a great team, but… We’ve become very self-sufficient so that we don’t have those things happening. We finally have a great team, but we’ve worked with plenty of people that weren’t as great or weren’t as respectful.

Yitzi: So you guys have so much impressive work. You guys are doing great things. Can you share with our readers exciting projects that you’re working on right now and releasing? What do you hope to be working on in the near future?

Maximilian: Yeah. So we just released our EP, Dead on Arrival, and we have… We’re super, super excited about having that one out. It’s the first EP that we kind of stepped into and mostly fully produced the album ourselves. And it’s kind of like, we finally feel like we’ve really stepped into the sound that we wanted to create, and it was a really fun time kind of releasing that album over the course of this last year. And now we’re kind of stepping into this next… By the time this comes out, we’ll have already started teasing. Our next single is coming out soon. It’s coming out on October 20th. It’s called Fuck My Life, FML. And we’ve been joking over the past couple of weeks that that last album was for the more sad and emotional side of us, and this next album is kind of the more angry side of us. And we’re really excited about that.

Yitzi: Do you feel that world events have influenced that? Have they made you more angry, more frustrated?

Anastasia: I don’t think that we’re genuinely angry or frustrated people, but I think that you get in moods and you get in… I think the reason that we’re not is because we’re able to put it into us all. You know what I mean? I think that’s really our biggest therapy and our biggest way of flushing out those emotions. And I think that this album really helped get some of those negative feelings out.

Maximilian: That’s great. Actually, what you’re saying is that you want this to be almost like a cathartic song for people that are frustrated. They could sing it and it’ll help them flush out their bad thoughts. And that’s kind of the whole theme of this next EP that we’re moving towards.

Yitzi: This is our signature question. Can you share with our readers five things you wish someone had told you or advised you about when you first started?

Maximilian: One thing that immediately comes to mind is the misconception that many musicians have. We often see other artists and assume they achieved overnight success. But in reality, they might have released songs before, which didn’t make the cut, and then suddenly one song gets a huge marketing push, and they become an “overnight success.” What I wish I’d known earlier is that success takes time. It’s essential to grow organically to ensure longevity in the industry. Another thing is, I wish we had been told to produce our own music from the start. It would’ve made a significant difference for us.

Anastasia: Starting out young, many tried to influence our musical direction. We faced resistance when we wanted to pursue rock because we were told women can’t have as successful careers in rock as men can. They suggested we shift to pop, which was frustrating. While we might choose to make a pop song or even a country song, that’s our choice. We’re here to make the music we love. Looking back, we did produce some songs that leaned poppier than our usual style. We still cherish those songs and now perform rock versions of them live. But the truth is, we wish we’d stayed truer to our original vision from the start.

If I could offer advice to a young musician, I’d say the time you invest in your art directly impacts the rewards you reap. We’ve dedicated countless hours every week to rehearsing, writing, and creating music. It’s been our full-time commitment since high school. Music demands time and dedication, but it’s worth it. Trusting your gut is crucial. Your vision might evolve over time, but it’s essential to stay true to what you believe in and detach yourself from the outcomes. When collaborating with others, my approach is to create art in the moment. Spending six to eight hours just making something can lead to genuine and authentic music, which is what resonates most with listeners.

Yitzi: Just talking to you guys, you seem like you’re so close. And I almost feel a pinch of envy. I wish I was that close with my siblings. Do you have a secret? Are you always so close? What do you do to…

Maximilian: It’s funny because honestly, I don’t remember almost anything before the band. I was so young. I have memories before the band, but I don’t remember too much about our relationship because it’s been like most of our lives. We’re always close. I think this has definitely made us the closest we could possibly be. Yeah, I’m sure if I had a different job and she had a different job, we would be a little less close. But I think it’s also been a huge benefit for the band itself because it’s always been this kind of thing where no matter what we argue about, it’s not like you’re arguing with a friend. It’s like you’re arguing with someone that you’re going to go home to. Even if we don’t talk for like a day, I’m pissed off, I’m mad at you. We’re going to figure it out. We’re going to live in the same house. We’re going to work it out. So yeah, I think that we’re… It’s definitely a little bit of an advantage to be in a forced proximity relationship.

Anastasia: Yeah, and I think the closeness kind of just was a lucky thing because we could have been in the band together too and then just ended up hating each other because of it. And I think the exact opposite happened. I hope it continues forever. I hope it only gets stronger.

Maximilian: Yeah, I hope so too.

Yitzi: Okay, this is our last question. Because of your amazing work and the platform that you’ve built, you are both people of enormous influence. If you could spread an idea or inspire a movement that will bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Maximilian: We’re really big advocates of loyalty. I kind of believe that most of the problems and most of the arguments and hatred and stuff like that that come out of most relationships, most interactions, are based on two major issues. People say they’re going to do one thing and end up doing another, and people refuse to hear any opinion other than their own. We try to be people who hear everyone’s opinions, even if we don’t agree with them, and be like, “Okay, that’s not how I live my life, but I understand why you live your life that way.” And sometimes you don’t even really need to. I respect that you live your life that way. The other major thing is loyalty. If you say you’re going to do something, don’t say you’re going to do it unless you can do it. Don’t commit to something if you’re going to fall through on it. And don’t turn on someone when they thought that you wouldn’t. Does that make sense?

Anastasia: No, for sure. Don’t turn on somebody to turn on them. Because when you rely on somebody and you’re leaning on them and they disappear, that becomes really hard… It creates a lot of problems, not just for the two people involved in that interaction, but for everybody surrounding it. And I think that that’s kind of what creates most of the problems in the world, the two major issues.

Maximilian: Loyalty also encompasses the idea of integrity, where you say something that has to be your bond, and you do it no matter what. But if you say you’ll do something and just disappear… It’s kind of dishonest, too. There’s always going to be situations where you say you can do something and you end up not being able to do it, but you have to be honest about that. And then it’s not always going to be the prettiest solution, but you work through it. But if you lie or disappear or ghost, it kind of creates like, what do we do from here? You know what I mean? And yeah, I think a lot of the bigger issues in the world come down to those two major things.

I think that the other one is the biggest, I think, just like hearing people and understanding the other side. Or even not understanding it, just respecting it, because it’s the way that somebody else feels is one of the bigger issues, like maybe the biggest issue that I think we face in modern society. Just kind of like, I don’t need to agree with you on everything. We can still be friends. You know what I mean?

Anastasia: 100%. He’s for the loyalty movement. I’m also for the loyalty movement.

Yitzi: I’m just curious, what is the origin of the name The Haunt? I love it, and I love that. Where did that come from? What are you trying to convey?

Anastasia: Yeah, I’ve always had, like, I don’t know, a soft spot for the darker things in life. I’ve always had this darker side, even from when I’m a little babe, little baby. And we’ve also had, and I’ve also had, plenty of haunted experiences and experiences with the other side.

Maximilian: Yeah. I feel like it more also came from, on a more topical level, it kind of more also came from the fact that when she was younger, she was such a creep. Her doctor, her pediatrician, when she was a baby, used to call her Wednesday Adams, and she would stare holes through people. So it’s not something like we just kind of sat down and thought of what would be our brand name. It kind of just makes sense. It fell into place. Like everything kind of with the band, it just fell into place at the right time, you know? Before that, we were just Anastasia Max. And then before we left for the Pallie Royale tours, we were like, I feel like we should have a better band name than this. And it fell into place, like, just at the right time, you know? The name Anastasia fits perfectly with The haunted. Same frequency, you know? A Victorian-ass name.

Yitzi: You know, also on a personal level, I’m so glad you’re doing rock and roll. I personally love rock and roll. I love 80s and 90s rock, and so sad that it’s not as popular as it used to be, but you’re keeping it alive, you know? We’re grateful to you.

Maximilian: We’re grateful for rock. This was the first year in the last decade that rock was actually the number one genre in the world again.

Yitzi: Oh, really?

Anastasia: Yeah, so it’s a huge comeback, and we’re definitely excited that we’ve been doing what we’ve done for the past 10 years and, you know, helping to bring rock back.

Yitzi: Beautiful. Thank you for this amazing conversation. It’s so nice to meet you. I’m excited to share this interview with you and the world, and I hope we can do this again.

Maximilian: We’ll definitely talk soon.

Anastasia: Thank you so much, you too, and thank you so much for having us.

Yitzi: I wish you continued success and blessings and only everything good.

Music Stars Maximilian and Anastasia of The Haunt On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Music… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.