Get to know D-Max, one of our Youth Music NextGen Fund Round Three creatives
D-Max's story is an inspirational tale of strength and perseverance. From moving countries to transitioning and following his musical dream, his artistic journey has been about both finding balance and coming into his own.
D-Max had no idea that the dream he had kept all to himself would one day become a reality.
Read D-Max's original case study here, written by Zana Liptak for True Cadence CIC.
Although he loved singing in private, it wasn't until D-Max's friends and grandma overhead him that he got the encouragement he needed to take those first steps.
Soon, D-Max was writing his own songs in his native French and uploading them to YouTube and Instagram.
He has been diligently working on his debut EP 'Amethyst', with help from Youth Music's Incubator Fund-supported programme, True Cadence CIC, and the NextGen Fund.
However, it has been a long and challenging road for D-Max to get where he is today.
Born a female named Diane in Chad, Africa, D-Max was abandoned by his mother at only eight months old, and he was raised by his grandma.
When D-Max began his transition, his grandma stood up for him when the rest of his family turned against him. Throughout his childhood and teenage years, D-Max endured much pain and rejection simply for being himself.
Before coming to the UK to study, D-Max first moved to Tunisia and then the Ivory Coast, but he still carried the weight of his pain and insecurities wherever he went.
It was in fact his grandma's idea that D-Max move to the UK, where he pursued Film and Digital Production in London. She did whatever she could to support him financially, even after she had retired.
Once settled, D-Max began looking for ways to enter the music industry, so that he could develop his singing and launch his career.
By chance, D-Max came across the Expression Project on True Cadence’s Instagram page and decided to join.
However, because of the hardships D-Max had faced throughout his life, he was very shy and filled with self-doubt. In his first True Cadence performance, he sang the entire song rooted to the spot, a hat covering his eyes.
For D-Max, the hat acted as a form of protection; something would wear to "become another person".
As his confidence grew, D-Max knew it was now time to convince his grandma that he was serious about following his musical dream. But, he had promised her his focus would be on his degree, with music as a project on the side.
To win her over, D-Max wrote his grandma a song. When she heard him play it, she was overwhelmed with joy and gave D-Max her seal of approval to pursue music.
An opportunity presented itself to take D-Max’s music to the next level: True Cadence directed its participants toward the Youth Music NextGen Fund, and D-Max started working with his grandma on the application. Shortly after, she died.
Feeling completely despairing after losing the most important person in his life, D-Max almost lost his way. However, True Cadence's founder, Emmanuel (Manny) Ebokosia, encouraged him to keep going and honour his grandma.
So D-Max gave it everything he could, and was overjoyed when he was successful in his application for the Youth Music NextGen Fund.
Since then, D-Max has been working hard on his debut EP 'Amethyst'.
The project is dedicated to his grandma, whose birthstone is an amethyst, as she was born in February. The stone also represents their relationship, and the strength they had to overcome all of their hardships, never giving up.
On the EP, D-Max sings and raps in French, but the record will also feature British musicians.
Now, when D-Max performs, he is an almost entirely different artist. He sings confidently, dances and openly shares his emotions with people. At a recent session, he even took his hat off.
“It is fine to share emotions, but it is not something I want to do all the time – sometimes I wear a hat when I feel like it is time to keep it for myself, and other times, I will share it”, D-Max said.
Finding True Cadence changed everything for D-Max. Now, he is surrounded by people who believe in him, especially founder Manny.
“True Cadence is a family I have never expected to have, so being a part of it is more than I could imagine – it is a victory”, D-Max says.
Youth Music is supported by the National Lottery via Arts Council England.
The Youth Music NextGen Fund has been made possible thanks to generous support from TikTok, Turtle Bay, and players of People's Postcode Lottery. We are also grateful for our vital support from the National Lottery via Arts Council England.