Sitting Down with Max (SHEawase)

Max Ortner
マクシーン  オルトナー
The Boyish One
One of the many highlights in 2014 for indie group, SHEawase had been the addition of Maxine Ortner into their lineup.

After the graduation of Kristy Valdez, it left the group with its three remaining members, Melissa Shows, Tara Muchmore and Morgan Davis.

SHEawase made an announcement on their Facebook page for the beginning of their search for a new member on April 17, 2014.

After a 2-part audition process and going through numerous auditions from girls all over the world, the group and their staff made a decision. They finally announced the winner on their Facebook page on July 29, 2014.



"SHEawase and staff went through numerous applications and selected the 6 finalist to appear at Prismic Studios for the final audition. Girls 14-25 auditioned and each one brought something new and interesting with their talents, and each girl would have been a fantastic addition to SHEawase.
Maxine trying out her SHEawase costume
(Photo from her Instagram page, Gakurankun)

For this audition, SHEawase and staff decided to select just one with the possibility of holding another audition in the future. Though it was a very tough decision, SHeawase and staff came to a decision.

We'd like to extend a warm welcome to Maxine!"


Maxine made her debut with SHEawase during the the Tulsa Cosplay Celebration, where the group had performed a full one-hour concert.

People may probably will find her familiar as the cosplay/crossplay performer in youtube, Velveetaah or one of the former members of Oishii!Project.

(L to R) Max as Sakura Masayuki from Tokyo Magic Star
and Shouyou Hinata from Haikyuu!
Max has a talent for making herself look as cute as a doll or a swoon-worthy bishounen. As an avid fan of the cross-dress group, Fudanjuku, you can expect nothing but swoon-worthy.

I was lucky to be able to get the chance to interview Maxine the day after her debut and while I would have understood if she looked tired, she was still all smiles and laughter. She had an infectious energy and visibly couldn't wait to begin.

She's the group's Most Handsome member ...

... let's get to know SHEawase's Maxine Ortner:
 

10-year old Max cosplaying as
Vocaloid, Miku Hatsune.
Aidolizings: Before SHEawase, you've already been performing, right? What inspired you to be in the J-pop scene? Why not K-pop, C-pop or other musical genres?
Max: When I was very young, I had gotten into Sailor Moon and cosplaying. I was about 3-years old. Growing up, I kept going to conventions and other things. I saw, in a magazine that I had, Miku Hatsune. My reaction was, "She's so cute!" and the little ten-year old me thought she was the coolest thing!

I wanted to cosplay as her and do dance videos as her. I was like, "I WANT TO BECOME MIKU HATSUNE!" and received a bit of internet fame doing Miku Hatsune videos. Ever since then, I kept going doing J-pop. I did try K-pop, but I felt that I had to pay homage to my J-pop roots.

A: How old were you when you started performing?
M: I can't remember how old I was, but I remember the year. It was 2004 --- I want to say --- it was a convention in Houston called, Oni-con and I did karaoke just for the fun of it and everyone really liked it and that was really the start of it all.
Max cosplaying as Seimyouji Uramasa (Fudajuku) 
from Chenmen Tengoku MV.

A: What are three of your favorite bands or artists?
M: My number one favorite is Fudanjuku. My second favorite is Shinsei Kamattechan and my third is Kis-my-ft2.

A: Aside from music, has it influenced you in any other way?
M: I think it has helped me become a better person. I grew up seeing Hello Project and how silly and fun they were on their variety shows that they used to do. I always wanted to be that fun, carefree and silly type of person. I became determined to have that 'idol attitude.'

Jpop gave me inspiration and people to look up to and want to be like. So I believe that it has helped me become a better person.

A: What made you decide to audition for SHEawase?
M: The reason is actually similar to Morgan. I met them when they were first Happy!Project in 2010 and I watched them perform in a Maid Cafe and I thought they were so cool! I became this crazy, addicted fan and I had a shrine in my room dedicated to them!

(L to R) Max, Morgan, Melissa and Tara
at the 2014 Cosplay Celebration in Tulsa.
Back then, I was too young to audition --- I was around ten or eleven. Recently when they announced they were having auditions, my inner ten-year old was screaming, "Happy!Project" and I automatically sent my audition.

A: How did you audition? Did you send a video?
M: First, I had sent my application form and after that I got into Stage 2, which was the actual audition. My dad and I came to Oklahoma and auditioned at the recording studio.

A: Did you have any expectations before you auditioned?
M: I thought it was going to be a lot more strict. They had always looked so professional and I am not a very professional person. I thought, "Oh my gosh! What if I don't fit in? What if I mess up and get kicked out?"

I was really nervous --- but when I finally got it --- I was like, "Oh, nevermind."  
Max getting ready backstage
for the 2014 Tulsa Cosplay Celebration

A: Now that you are in SHEawase, did it mean those expectations?
M: I think it went beyond my expectations. I expected it to be a lot more work, but it is really fun. It is a lot more fun than work and I really like that.  We mess around a bit but still get work done. We do work hard, but I have fun doing it!

A: I always thought that Melissa and Tara would be like prison wardens, always looking for you and Morgan then dragging you two away because it was time for practice.
M: Kinda! There was this one time the two of them had just woken up --- but Morgan and I were still asleep. They woke us up and told us that it was time to practice. Morgan and I just ran out of there and hid in the laundry room.

They would tell us, "We know you are in there!" and we would answer, "No! We are not!
Max having her solo
at the Tulsa Cosplay Celebration.

A: How was the audition? Was it difficult?
M: I made it out to be a lot more difficult than it was. One of my friends auditioned and she made it look so easy and breezy. Up until the very last day before auditions I was still trying to pick a song I was going to audition with. By the time I got there I didn't even audition with the song I picked!

By the time I got out, I realized that it shouldn't have been that hard. It was really easy by the time I got there, but before the actual thing I thought it would be very difficult.

A: In SHEawase, you're supposed to sing and dance at the same time. Was it hard for you to learn the songs and dance at the same time?
M: I've never been good at singing and dancing at the same time and I am not sure why. I have done a couple of performances where I go out there and dance all cool while singing at the same time. It just never works for me! So recently I've just been doing cues and walking around the stage with the microphone. When I got in [SHEawase], I realized I HAD TO SING AND DANCE.
(L to R) Tara with Morgan and Max with Melissa

The concert last night [Tulsa Cosplay Celebration] wasn't as hard as it normally was singing and dancing by myself. With the group, it is much easier because the other girls would be backing you up and you would be backing them up, so it is a big teamwork effort.

A: How many songs did you perform last night?
M: 12 songs.

A: When you found out you won, how did you react?
M: I was in my hotel room and my dad woke me up at around 1am. He told me to check my email. So, I checked my phone and just went, "Oooooooohhhhhh!!!!" ---- then I went back to bed. I was really excited but just really tired. 

A: What is the hardest part of being in the group?
M: I have to say the traveling. While I don't hate traveling, I have to ride a bus. I don't like being in the bus. It is a challenge, but a challenge that I am willing to take on. I am a competitive person, but competitive with myself. So if I could do better, I'd do it.

A: How many hours do you travel by bus for rehearsals?
M: About 11 hours and I start [traveling] at around 6 in the morning too. 

Haruka Kudo from
Morning Musume'15

A: What do you think is it that you bring to SHEawase?
M: This is so embarrassing and dorky, but I want to be the eccentric and energetic member. I also wanted to bring that boyish type. I always liked boyish fashion and ... I like boys. I really wanted to be the 'Haruka Kudo' [Morning Musume'15 member]. I wanted to bring a lot of energy because that is my strong point. I wanted to pull all of my energy together and show everyone, "I'm energetic! Look at me!"

A: What is your favorite song performing with SHEawase?
M: I think I am the same as Morgan. I liked performing 'Songs' by Morning Musume. It was the song I had the most trouble learning. Looking back at the performance though, I think I did really well and I am very happy with how it turned out. I hope we'll get to do it again sometime.

A: What is the best part about being a member?
M: The best part of being in SHEawase is getting ice cream at midnight during dance practice! We really practice until very late at night and by the time we finish --- we get hungry.  

A: Outside SHEawase, who is Maxine? In SHEawase you have this Danso [Boyish] character, are you the same person outside it?
M: I am. There is no boundaries with me. It used to put on a cute-type face. I went through a stage where I wanted to be the perfect 'waifu aidoru.' I wanted people to like me and I tried very hard. The more I looked at it, I realized that it couldn't be how it is. So I decided that if I am real to myself and everyone else, it would make everything so much easier. With no boundaries and having nothing holding back, it makes everything much more enjoyable. It made it more worth my time because I get to enjoy it too. 

(L to R) Melissa, Tara, Max and Morgan
A: What do you hope to accomplish this year? Both in the group and outside it?
M: In SHEawase, I just hope we have a successful tour and I hope we get a lot of really nice gigs. I want to have more ice cream! I really hope that our EP [Extended Play or single] that is coming out will turn out great and I really want some really great music coming out. I just hope not to disappoint anyone.    

Outside of the group, I just want to do well in school. 

A: Do you have a last message before we end this interview?
M: I want to thank everyone for supporting us and supporting me through the audition process! I hope I can become everyone's new favorite member. I hope everyone will check us out on our tour and continue to buy our merchandise. We have some cute, new stuff coming out. New photocards, CDs and maybe posters one day! We're rising up on the scale and we want everyone to follow us on our journey ...


Links:



SHEあわせ Website: http://sheawase.com/
SHEあわせ Facebook Account: https://www.facebook.com/SHEawase
SHEあわせ Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/SHEawaseOfficial
SHEあわせ Twitter Account: https://twitter.com/SheAwase

(Or) Address:

SHEawase
PO Box 950452
Oklahoma City, OK

73195

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