INTERVIEW: Glam rock, 80s inspired The Venus in Scorpio on new single and sexual liberation

Growing up in a small town can have its benefits. Surrounded by a close-knit community, it is a place where everyone knows your name and everything feels familiar. On the other hand though, you can feel like you are trapped in a bubble, just waiting to burst free. The Venus in Scorpio perfectly illustrates an internal desire to break away with their new single “Roam”. Highlighting effervescent 80s vibes and energetic vocals, the track possesses a New Wave sound indicative of bands like Tears For Fears and Depeche Mode.

An agender, sex-positive and queer artist Maxim Faster of The Venus in Scorpio didn’t always feel accepted in a small-town environment. With so much of the world to explore, he found the freedom he had been searching for in his escape to a more liberating life. The daring, dark synth talent has attracted fans through a masterfully moody sound and carefree persona.

Now Berlin-based, Faster focuses on production and engineering and has currently produced their third EP, This Place Is Killing Me. The bold messages of self-love and sexual empowerment ring true throughout the release. Culture Collide had the pleasure of speaking with Faster on small-town confinement, being out as agender and more.

Hi Maxim, congratulations on the release of “Roam”. The track is about the need for liberation. Do you feel a similar sense of liberty having now unveiled the track to the world?

Thanks so much! Yes! Definitely feeling liberated. This one was brewing for a while and it’s packed with more energy than what I’ve done in the past so I was really excited to get it out there.

There are many people who can relate to the overwhelming emotions of feeling trapped in their small hometowns. Do you have any advice for those who may need a push to leave and seek opportunities elsewhere?

Just do it! Worst case scenario you just end up back where you started, so there’s really nothing to lose. You only get one life and you’re not here for too long so shoot for the stars! And it’s never too late to start over but this is something I wish I had done sooner. When I was a teenager I felt so much restriction in my little bubble but the safety of it kept me in this comfy limbo. I’m a late bloomer and I ruminated at my own pace but there’s so much going on out there in the world that I wish I had joined from the get-go. Everything has a time and place though… The world is experiencing such an incredible collective shift, it’s the perfect time to try out a new life!

As an LGBTQ+ advocate, you speak openly about being agender and sex-positive. Could you tell us more about this and the hurdles you’ve faced on your journey to where you are now?

All of that’s really new to me! I’ve never been totally comfortable hearing myself referred to as “he” and I never questioned why until recently. I don’t identify with the male world or the expectations that are implied and I feel the structures of maleness need to be dismantled and recreated. I feel comfortable with the masculine parts of my outward expression but the internal is all feminine with me. From the time I was a kid I have always felt like I was a girl wearing a boy costume. I’ve grown to love and express both components and it wasn’t until recently that I kinda threw all of it out the window and realize I identify as something quite beyond the spectrum. In a way I feel more of a connection to the unknown and the mysteries of life and my (lack of) gender is the latest exploration of that. It makes me feel more interchangeable, which is more comfortable for me. I’ve always been a shapeshifter, I never let myself soak too long in one identity.

Tell us what can we expect from your upcoming EP, This Place Is Killing Me?

Pure moods! Lush vibes. A flavor for the entire squad! The production is a step up for me, Louie Diller really polished this one off and I’m beyond proud of how it came out. There’s the booming pop feels on tracks like “Roam” and “Blissed” which my mom is a huge fan of because they’re more upbeat. “Aura Quartz” is another sexy little bop that you can definitely boogie with. The other three have more water sign energy, if you will. “Sheets” is danceable but it’s about looking for qualities of your dearly departed ex in the living and struggling to make that connection. Haunted by the past and projecting unreasonable expectations into the present. “Cody” rocks a little darker and harder, it’s a little bit more raw. I was really pissed off in that one, still feeling the scorch of this very messy and abusive relationship I found myself in with this complete psycho. I scream a lot in that one! The conclusion is with “Goodbye Cruel World”, a track I wrote in the first wave of the pandemic. I was feeling lots of apocalyptic doom but also having a major crush vis Snapchat. It’s a little melancholy but it slaps like a true synth-pop banger.

If you could collaborate with any artists, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Oh my god, so many. Gwen Stefani, because she was my first love as a child. Grace Jones, because it would be like feeding LSD to my music. Charli XCX because we could take a trip back into that dark side of her earlier days. Sky Ferreira because her vulnerability and fearlessness really touches my female side, and I really miss hearing her voice. Santigold because she’s a badass, and so versatile; she’s never stuck to one genre. Karen O because she’s the most rad and bold frontwoman of my entire generation and hugely influenced my stage persona. Shirley Manson because she seems like the sweetest and most nurturing person in music and we are both Virgos. Brody Dalle because we recently started connecting on Instagram and my inner child is screaming for a duet with her. Yoko Ono because she’s a legend and that would make my parents so proud. Lady Gaga because I think we could get very weird and queer together. Peaches, because she inspired so much of my earlier tastes and I really look up to her; plus she’s here in Berlin! This list could go on forever but I could truly be fulfilled making insane magic with any of these women.

What’s next for The Venus in Scorpio?

I’m in Berlin writing my first album! It’s called American Dog. It’s a few hits of everything I’ve explored so far but this place has been such a different injection, I’m finding lots of inspiration from the new and unknown. Everything is really chill right now because of the pandemic but it’s a good time to lay down some roots and connect with the community here. It feels like I’m really tapping into my freak side and I feel safe to go full queer in this way that I don’t think LA was ready to fuck with, sadly. There’s such a limited space for queer voices there and you’re competing with so many cis dudes. I’m also currently in Belgium writing a few songs in a haunted Airbnb! I took a train over here to meet my Instagram crush in real life (the aforementioned Snapchat lover) and that’s been a tremendous inspiration, very romantically charging. He inspired most of the tracks on this third EP and meeting him in real life was really crazy, felt like I was hanging out with a celebrity or something. When I get back to Berlin I’m meeting with this really rad female producer and hoping she wants to work together. What’s next is really anyone’s guess because the collective state of the world is so strange! I’m gonna wrap up but this total reconstruction of society as we know it has really inspired me as an artist too, we’re in the midst of a really exciting shift and things just won’t go back to normal. I think and hope it’s for the better and that’s how I feel about my personal life too. Things are in flux, I’m just going to have the most joy i can and connect with as many other souls as possible.