Maximus Michael Ho (born March 16, 2001), known professionally as RED or Red Banzino, is an underground Chinese-Canadian rapper, singer-songwriter, designer, and artist. RED is best known for his songs “Expensive Taste” and “Friends (featuring Jay Sav)," where he continues his R&B/Hip-Hop journey despite beginning his lane-drifting style in 2017. Born in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, Maximus has lived in between the scenes of Toronto and London, Ontario, which had impacted the early days of RED’s experiences, and in turn, his music. RED continues to grow more and more embracing change in every aspect as he evolves as an artist.
Hi RED! Let’s start with how did you get your artist name?
RED was derived as a rebranding from my original name 'Red Banzino.' That name was a representation of a past version of myself, in a place around me and within me that no longer suited who I was or what I wanted to present to my listeners and to the world. RED has many meanings to it - one of which being the subjective perception of the color red itself and one of which represents love, but representation is nothing without the perspective of the individual. RED is also of spiritual means in the sense of grounding, of being in this human existence, within this temporary experience we each call life. While I remain on this earth, in this body, creating the art in which I express in this life, I have for now, is of RED essence.
What city are you from and where are you based now?
I was born and raised in Woodstock, Ontario and later expanded my artistic ability while living in Toronto for a few years before moving to London where I reside now.
At what point in your life did you decide to pursue a career in music? How did you get started?
I made my first song when I was fourteen years old as an experiment during a strange and depressing time in my life. It was an expressive and experimental experience which I’d later begin 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. Throughout the years, as I began investing in myself, I upgraded from a Blue Snowball to a RODE NT1 microphone and also upgrading to FL Studio as my preferred DAW. I experimented in producing my own instrumentals, and later began selling leases on the side to help reinvest in my own music as well. It’s been a learning experience, and I’ve been in love with the musical and expressive art form for as long as I can remember.
Has your upbringing played a role in shaping who you are and defining your sound today? If so, how?
My upbringing played a large role in who I became as a person, as it has for anyone else - even without realizing. During adolescence, we absorb everything around us into our subconscious minds, and I was truly a sponge. Trauma, certain experiences, and perceptions of ideas, have all shaped myself during my past, but since I’ve become conscious of my own ‘IDEA’ of self, of what has shaped me as a person and as a musician, I’ve reprogrammed that subconscious mind, and consciously become a loving, expressive, and transcendental artist with nothing to share but love, wisdom, and ideologies of happiness and peace.
How would you describe your sound to readers who may not be familiar with you?
I would describe my sound as a heartwarming familiarity, a voice we each have - not in our minds, but in our hearts. Need for love, desire for affection, and the lust for passion are familiar emotions that we feel, but I want to present the truth for love. The unconditional, absolute, non-dimensionally bound connection between each human-animal-tree-rock unity. My music presents itself as a young love and lust vibratory safe space for the mind and heart. With expressive and 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 simply want that unconditional love to flow through everyone and everything, within and without.
Do you have any hobbies outside of music? What do you do to stay creative?
Outside of music, I explore this experience of life. I reconnect with the roots of nature. I find myself, and I lose myself. I meditate regularly and become conscious of what we are unconscious of. I create art of all means either on the canvas, on the mic, or in the words that I write. I research the information of the world around us, the physics of the universe, and the secrets of our system- quantum physics, spirituality, science, biology, philosophy, all means of expanding the consciousness and presence of self. Besides what I find most passionate, I enjoy gaming - Apex Legends specifically, especially with my girl, Amelie.
Who are some of your main musical influences?
My main musical influences are quite general, but for different reasons:
JADEN - for his loving 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 his popstar Rap style melodic music.
What are some of your future music career goals?
My future music career goals are to reach as many individuals as possible. I want to convey a message of love, wisdom, and philosophical approaches in a digestible manner to project happiness, wellbeing, and a higher conscious state within themselves. I have no materialistic goals. I have no number of fans that I want to achieve or any amount of money as that does not solve any problems or provide any sort of satisfaction for myself, only my ego. I want to connect with higher conscious beings, with those who have a deeper connection and understanding of themselves and the universe. I want to inspire others through the heart.
When you say 'conscious,' what do you mean exactly?
Where I refer to ‘conscious’ or ‘consciousness,' I simply mean the awareness we each have as individuals. It is a simple concept, yet the mind of common man has fallen to a level of consciousness without the awareness of our truth as spiritual beings within this earthly existence. Is that considered spiritual? Sure. Though, spirituality is no box, nor is it an absolute definition as perhaps a political party or religious label. It is the subjective experience of consciousness that we each experience day-to-day. It is the gateway to blissfulness as it is the exit to suffering. It shows us what we do not generally see. My message is simple: Be conscious of your consciousness, and you will see with true sight, unclouded by ego or mind. Explore beyond your perception and into the true sense of your self.
Now onto your release, 'Expensive Taste.' What inspired this song?
'Expensive Taste' - opposing to what I’ve previously mentioned, was a materialistically inspired song, based heavily on my external surroundings in Toronto - shoes, cars, girls, money, social status, etc. While the Hip-Hop industry is heavily saturated in these topics, RED (Red Banzino at the time), was inspired heavily by the Rap industry as a whole, my external influence, and also my false values of materialism as a whole.
What is 'Expensive Taste' about in your own words?
In my own words, 'Expensive Taste' is a representation of materialism and the subconscious-egoistic values of societal destruction and attachment. It is understandable how society has been programmed into material values, and the idea of ‘owning’ objects - the matrix is a complex structure! But, with a big picture perspective, I can say that expensive taste is nothing more than my anthem of society, of materialism, and of egoic, pleasurable false values.
How did the music video for 'Expensive Taste' come about? What was your vision for the video?
The music video for 'Expensive Taste' came around after I came across Samureye, the video’s amazing director and team. I believe that I came across him after a Tory Lanez music video (also a musical influence of mine), and I thought it was time to invest in myself to have a professionally made music video for new fans. My vision changed since making the song, and it had become a sort of poetic meaning to me - to send off this version of myself, the shattering of the materialistic Banzino and transformation of RED. The video turned out amazing. I had no idea 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 old version of myself and my music.
What message do you hope fans take away from your music and from 'Expensive Taste?'
The message that I hope fans take from my music (presently), and from 'Expensive Taste,' is that (contradictory to the words portrayed), is that materialistic gain, ownership of object, values of money, designer brands, and egoic pleasures are all nothing to satisfy us. We subconsciously think we will be happier or fill some sort of hole with these objects, but they do nothing, but temporarily please and boost our egos. We are beyond these items. Of course, we may desire nice things from time to time, but they are no more than that. Do not live for anything material for it will cause your inner self destruction. Love yourself for you, love others for them. Hold your judgment and strengthen your unconditional conscious love.
What’s one of your proudest moments of your music career so far?
My proudest moments of my music career was promoting the 'Expensive Taste' music video. It felt like I took a leap into the industry and established myself further as a part of the Toronto music scene. I am forever proud of each project of mine, but what I am proud to offer the listeners, the fans, and the culture, is a glimpse into themselves.
What would you say are the greatest lessons you’ve learned so far?
The greatest lessons that I’ve learned so far in music is that it is so unbelievably important to remain consistent and to remember who we are. It is so unbelievably important to keep to the self because in this industry, it’s easy to lose the self. Be real, be original, and be yourself.
What’s next for you? Are you working on any upcoming projects that we should be on the lookout for?
I’m currently marketing my latest release, 'Champagne Sunlight,' which is on all platforms, while I currently work on my next release, 'Dopamine,' accompanied by an animated video (made by myself and my girl Amelie) which is something entirely new to us. But, we love the process more than the destination and learning how to do something for ourselves is something beautiful.
Where can we follow you on social media?
TikTok (spiritual content): https://www.tiktok.com/@redbanzino