Open Letter From Chaotic Pop Singer-Songwriter Max Lawrence – 'Speak In Tongues'

It's been a massively engaged year for singer-songwriter Max Lawrence so far: the multi-instrumentalist dropped praised single 'Gasoline' alongside its whacky video back in April, and is now ready to welcome 'Speak In Tongues' into the world.

Max Lawrence

'Speak In Tongues' is as beautifully chaotic as the artist behind it, reminiscent of Prince's 'Kiss', featuring a crafty, catchy hook and a beat too sexy to resist a groove to. It's a love letter to queer nightlife and the freeing, healing powers of the dance floor.

Paired with the new track is a 'Queers At Home' music video featuring members of Melbourne's queer community lip-syncing the lyrics, including The Beastie Girls (Lazy Susan, Zelda Moon, Benign Girl), Bathsheba, Victoria Bitter, Alex De Porteous, Enigma and more.

“In isolation I've really missed queer club spaces and the amazing drag performers and community surrounding it,” Max says, “so I wanted to bring us together in virtual space to stay connected and continue to celebrate, even while Melbourne is in lockdown.”

Here, Max pens an open letter about the inspiration behind 'Speak In Tongues'.

“Queer club spaces are very, very important to me. Those four simple walls, glitter-littered floors and sacred stages harbour a sense of liberation and pure euphoria for any that may seek it. They’re a place where we can show up and be fully seen and celebrated for who we are and who we desire to become, a place to revel in the pleasures and delights of this earth, and to share in them with creatures cut from different cloths, yet with the same creed.

I only started to truly love my adult self when I dived into queer nightlife and was embraced with open arms, finally finding those people who think the same, who feel the same and who paint their lives using the entire spectrum of sexuality, gender and desire. One of my favourite things to do in the club is to just stop dancing for a second, and observe the room in quiet bliss at the kaleidoscope of loving energy, and how it takes its physical form in the baby queen’s first night out in drag, or the hunky leather lovers with feminine energy dripping from their curvy lashes or the punky gender fluid kids writing their own rules with the way they swing their hips. These people are pure joy to me.

'Speak In Tongues' is about a time on the dance floor when one of those beautiful deities shot glitter clad daggers of desire straight through my heart and possessed my mind. My will and words were gone, and the only sensation that existed to me was a stinging attraction like I’d never experienced before.

Now I’m actually kind of shy, and as a result can sometimes stumble over my words, but as they approached suddenly words didn’t exist anymore, and language became a thing we did with our hands, with our hips, and finally our lips. The kiss was like a blessing from a higher power, but not of heaven or hell, it was from an earthly force that shook me from my shackles and said ‘I see you’. We never said a single word, but we didn’t need to. 'Speak In Tongues' is about those moments, about communicating passion and desire with our touch, and the ancient, carnal language we’re all united by: our senses.

Growing up in catholic school and later discovering my queerness, it was only natural for my mind to combine those opposing worlds into a new hybrid I chose to worship in my adult life. A god of desire, of sensual exploration and of celebration for the wonders we can experience with each other as human beings. I came across the concept of 'Speaking In Tongues' in a catholic textbook as a teenager, and was fascinated by the image of the holy spirit taking a hold of a person's body and conjuring up a tongue of flame above their heads, causing them to scream out ancient, indiscernible languages. I mean come on, that’s heavy metal sh.t.

Often I feel possessed by my own senses and desires or at the whim of other energies, and I thought tongues of flame above the head was a really cool way to represent that feeling. Musically, the track is underpinned with this fun retro new jack swing groove that’s heavily inspired by the likes of Prince and The Jacksons, and it felt right to honour that feeling of desire in a playful yet groovy way.

The blissful unity of queer club spaces and dance music are my saving grace, I feel the most seen, the most powerful and the most full of love in those sanctuaries, and I wanted to write a song that kept us tethered to those worlds while we’re out of them, stuck at home during this pandemic. I want people to imagine they just locked eyes with a cutie in the club and feel that special surge of passion that lights up your body and makes you feel so alive. When COVID is all over, we’re going to boogie, celebrate and kiss SO hard. I feel like I’m gonna hug every single soul in that room and just say ‘we made it!’ To you, reading this, please use this song to keep your boogie spirit alive, until we can all boogie together once again.”

'Speak In Tongues' is out now.


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