Maximus Michael Ho (born March 16, 2001), known professionally as RED or Red Banzino, is a Chinese-Canadian rapper, singer-songwriter, designer and underground artist. RED is best known for his songs “Expensive Taste” and “Friends (with Jay Sav)”, where he continues his R&B/Hip-Hop journey despite debuting his drifting style in 2017. Born in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, Maximus lived between the Toronto and London, Ontario stages, which impacted RED’s early experiences, and in turn, his music. RED continues to grow more and more by embracing change in all aspects as it evolves as an artist.
With its single and music video, “Expensive Taste,” we took some time to learn more about RED. Read below to learn more about RED, the story behind their single and what’s to come.
Hiring! Let’s start with how did you get your artist name?
RED was derived from a rebranding of my original name “Red Banzino”. This name was a representation of a past version of myself, in a place around me and within me that no longer matched who I was or what I wanted to present to my listeners and the world. RED has several meanings – one of which is the subjective perception of the color red itself and the other represents love, but the representation is nothing without the perspective of the individual. RED is also a spiritual means in the sense of being rooted, of being in this human existence, in this temporary experience that we each call life. While I remain on this earth, in this body, creating the art in which I express myself in this lifetime, I have for now, is RED in essence.
What city are you from and where do you currently live?
I was born and raised in Woodstock, Ontario, then expanded my artistic abilities while living in Toronto for a few years before moving to London where I now reside.
When in your life did you decide to pursue a career in music? How did you start?
I made my first song when I was fourteen as an experience during a strange and depressing time in my life. It was an expressive and experiential experience that I later began to expand beyond a few of my friends, beyond myself, and beyond this world. I started with a $30 microphone from Amazon and the free Audacity program on my laptop. Over the years as I started to invest in myself, I upgraded from a Blue Snowball to a RODE NT1 microphone and also upgraded to FL Studio as my favorite DAW. I experimented with producing my own instrumentals and then started selling leases on the side to help reinvest in my own music as well. It has been a learning experience and I have been in love with the musical and expressive art form for as long as I can remember.
Did your upbringing play a role in shaping who you are and defining your sound today? If so, how?
My upbringing has played a big role in who I have become as a person, as it has for anyone else – even without me realizing it. During adolescence, we absorb everything around us into our subconscious, and I was truly a sponge. Traumas, certain experiences and perceptions of ideas have all shaped me in my past, but since becoming aware of my own “IDEA” of me, what has shaped me as a person and as a musician i have reprogrammed this subconscious mind and consciously become a loving, expressive and transcendental artist who has nothing to share but love, wisdom and ideologies of happiness and peace .
How would you describe your sound to readers who may not know you?
I would describe my sound as a comforting familiarity, a voice we all have – not in our minds, but in our hearts. The need for love, the desire for affection, and the desire for passion are familiar emotions we feel, but I want to present the truth about love. The unconditional, absolute and non-dimensional connection between each human-animal-tree-rock unit. My music presents itself as a young vibrational space of love and lust for the mind and the heart. With expressive, Pop-style Rap, mixed with conscious lyrics beyond the idea of spirituality, I want to connect the listener with themselves. I want to connect the listener with everyone and everything. I just want that unconditional love to flow through everyone and everything, inside and out.
Do you have any hobbies outside of music? What do you do to stay creative?
Apart from music, I explore this life experience. I reconnect with the roots of nature. I find myself and I lose myself. I meditate regularly and become aware of what we are unaware of. I create art by all means either on the canvas, or on the microphone, or in the words I write. I seek information from the world around us, the physics of the universe and the secrets of our system – quantum physics, spirituality, science, biology, philosophy, all ways to expand consciousness and presence self. Besides what I find most passionate, I love playing – Apex Legends in particular, especially with my girlfriend, Amélie.
What are your main musical influences?
My main musical influences are quite general, but for different reasons:
JADEN – for his love and openness which he programs and projects into his vibrational and loving music.
88Glam, NAV – for their impressive melodic influence, especially for Toronto.
Pnb Rock – For its popstar Rap style melodic music.
What are some of your future music career goals?
My future music career goals are to reach as many people as possible. I want to convey a message of love, wisdom and philosophical approaches in an digestible way to project happiness, well-being and a higher state of consciousness within themselves. I don’t have materialistic goals. I don’t have a number of fans I want to reach or an amount of money because that doesn’t solve any problem or give me any kind of satisfaction, only my ego. I want to connect with beings of higher consciousness, with those who have a deeper connection and understanding of themselves and the universe. I want to inspire others from the heart.
When you say “conscious”, what exactly do you mean?
When I say ‘conscious’ or ‘awareness’, I simply mean the awareness that we have as individuals. It’s a simple concept, but the common man’s mind has fallen to a level of consciousness without the awareness of our truth as spiritual beings within this earthly existence. Is it considered spiritual? Sure. However, spirituality is not a box, nor an absolute definition like perhaps a political party or a religious label. It is the subjective experience of consciousness that we all experience day to day. It is the gateway to bliss as it is the exit to suffering. It shows us what we usually don’t see. My message is simple: Be aware of your awareness, and you will see with true sight, not clouded by ego or mind. Explore beyond your perception and into the true sense of yourself.
Now let’s get to your output, “Expensive Taste”. What inspired this song?
‘Expensive Taste’ – contrary to what I mentioned earlier, was a materialistic-inspired song, based heavily on my outside environment in Toronto – shoes, cars, girls, money, social status, etc. While the hip-hop industry is heavily saturated with these topics, RED (Red Banzino at the time), drew heavily from the rap industry as a whole, my outside influence, and also my false values of materialism as a whole.
What is ‘Expensive Taste’ in your own words?
In my own words, “Expensive Taste” is a representation of materialism and the subconscious, selfish values of societal destruction and attachment. One understands how society has been programmed in material values, and the idea of ”owning” objects – the matrix is a complex structure! But, looking at the big picture, I can say that expensive taste is nothing more than my hymn to society, materialism, and selfish, pleasurable false values.
How was the music video for ‘Expensive Taste’ born? What was your vision for the video?
The music video for “Expensive Taste” came out after I met Samureye, the amazing director and crew of the video. I believe I met him after a Tory Lanez music video (also a musical influence of mine), and thought it was time to invest in myself to have a professional music video for new fans. My vision changed since the song was created, and it had become a kind of poetic meaning for me – sending this version of myself, the bursting of the materialistic Banzino and the transformation of RED. The video turned out amazing. I didn’t know what to expect and I love how it was made. The whole team is amazing at what they do. I couldn’t have hoped for a better send off to the older version of myself and my music.
What message do you hope fans take away from your music and “Expensive Taste?”
The message that I hope fans will take away from my music (currently) and from “Expensive Taste” is that (contradictory to the words described) is that materialistic gain, ownership of object, values of Money, designer brands and selfish pleasures are nothing to satisfy us. We subconsciously think that we will be happier or that we will fill some kind of hole with these objects, but they do nothing but temporarily please and stimulate our ego. We are beyond these elements. Of course, we may desire beautiful things from time to time, but they are nothing more than that. Do not live for anything material as this will bring about your inner destruction. Love yourself for yourself, love others for them. Maintain your judgment and strengthen your unconditional conscious love.
What is one of the proudest moments of your musical career so far?
My proudest moments in my music career were promoting the “Expensive Taste” music video. I felt like I was jumping into the industry and establishing myself more in the Toronto music scene. I’m always proud of each of my projects, but what I’m proud to offer listeners, fans and culture is a glimpse of themselves.
What do you think are the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far in music is that it’s incredibly important to stay consistent and remember who we are. It’s incredibly important to be yourself because in this industry it’s easy to get lost. Be real, be original and be yourself.
What’s next for you? Are you working on any upcoming projects that we should watch?
I’m currently releasing my latest release, ‘Champagne Sunlight’, which is on all platforms, while I’m currently working on my next release, ‘Dopamine’, along with an animated video (made by myself and my girlfriend Amélie) which is something entirely new to us. But, we love the process more than the destination and learning to do something for ourselves is something beautiful.
Where can we follow you on social media?
TikTok (spiritual content): https://www.tiktok.com/@redbanzino