when Max Byrne opens his mouth to sing, stand back and try not to be swept over.
Aged just 13 his bold voice bursts out, sounding like someone much older.
A recent performance at the Smokefreerockquest Central Otago regional competition with his selfpenned song Avalanche won him first place in the solo/duo category.
This year due to the Covid-19 pandemic the competition was held online with submitted videos.
When he saw the email telling him he had won Max did not believe it — ‘‘I thought ‘is this fake or something?’,’’ but then he was ‘‘speechless’’ about his win.
Music has been part of Max’s world for much of his life. ‘‘I’ve probably been playing for about six years.
‘‘My granddad got me into music. I started off playing the ukulele.’’ Now he mostly plays guitar. ‘‘I can play a bit of bass as well’’.
His musical influences were varied — ‘‘I like all music to be honest’’.
When Max writes his own songs he always begins with the music. ‘‘I create a chord progression first, then I basically go from there.’’
He then thinks of a topic and writes some ideas. ‘‘I write them down and if they sound good I keep them.’’
His song Avalanche described being trapped in snow and trying to get free, and another called Fire and Flames used imagery of fire to poetic effect in his lyrics.
Writing lyrics involved a lot of trial and error. ‘‘You keep playing it over and over and then if it just doesn’t work for you, then you scribble it out and try to think of some new ones.’’
His aim was to ‘‘come up with some ideas that are catchy and interlink’’.
Lyrics came to him at any time — ‘‘I just randomly get them to be honest’’.
He enjoys singing and performing his songs. ‘‘I just love to do it.’’