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16 February 2022

Maxim Q&A: “Prince once said to me: Own your own music”

The artist and Prodigy frontman on Nelson Mandela, Salvador Dali and why he's happy right now.

By New Statesman

Keith Palmer was born in Peterborough in 1967. Best known by his stage name, Maxim, he is the vocalist in the electronic group the Prodigy. He also exhibits art under the name MM.

What’s your earliest memory?

Being in infant school aged four. At the end of the day the teacher would tell us a story, hand round a tin of bonbons, and one lucky child would get to ride on the rocking horse. I always looked forward to the end of the day.

Who are your heroes?

Playing football aged ten or 11, I used to say I was George Best. As an adult I always admired Prince. When I met him in person I was confused what to say when he advised me: “Make sure you own your own music.”

What book last changed your thinking?

The Wisdom of Your Cells by Bruce Lipton. Really, it confirmed what I already knew: that your cells have their own intelligence and will adapt to any environment.

Which political figure do you look up to?

It has to be Nelson Mandela, for everything he went through. His captors tried to break him, but he wouldn’t be broken.

What would be your “Mastermind” specialist subject?

The Prodigy: 1991 to the present day. And I would probably still get 50 per cent of the answers wrong!

In which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live?

In the time before colonisation and the transatlantic slave trade. That was when black people were truly free and equal.

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What TV show could you not live without?

It’s not a TV show, but the movie Scrooge. I watch it every year at Christmas and it reminds me of my childhood.

Who would paint your portrait?

Salvador Dali. I would hate to see a portrait that just looked average!

What’s your theme tune?

The soundtrack to The Professionals: it’s fast-moving and always sounds like it’s on the edge of something exciting. That’s how I want every day to be.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The line “Tomorrow is promised to no one” from “Truths and Rights”, a reggae song by Johnny Osbourne. Live your life to the fullest today; you don’t know if you’re going to be here tomorrow.

What’s currently bugging you?

In this Western world people believe a doctor has all the answers to their problems. Yes, certain medications and science are good for us. But I believe people need to look out for themselves with a healthy lifestyle, meditation, good food and enough exercise. They will find that a lot of their problems will disappear. They have the cure inside.

What single thing would make your life better?

I don’t need anything else. I’m very content with my life. Every day is a lesson. I wouldn’t rush my journey.

When were you happiest?

Now. I’m breathing right now, so I’m happy.

In another life, what job might you have chosen?

A film director. I would love to work on an epic movie like The Matrix or Alien.

Are we all doomed?

Eventually, because man only knows how to destroy things for his own gain. As soon as he realises that it isn’t the right way, someone else sees that weakness, destroys him, and then they take the reins and continue on that path of destruction. Stupid humans.

“The Hope Project”, a collaboration between Maxim and Dan Pearce, includes sculptures, a short film, exhibition and EP release. Find out more at maximart.co.uk/hope

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This article appears in the 16 Feb 2022 issue of the New Statesman, The Edge of War