Born and raised in Baltimore, Max Marshall studied fashion before moving to London to launch her music career. The daughter of a theater teacher -- whose students included Tupac Shakur -- and a tour agent whose bus was regularly hired by big-name acts such as Ashford & Simpson and Earth, Wind & Fire, in her youth she often saw those artists perform and got to meet them backstage, sparking the desire to become a performer herself. After her mother bought her a guitar, she began writing songs and traveling to music conventions, at one of which she met and was encouraged in her career choice by rapper Beanie Sigel.
After studying fashion in Philadelphia, Marshall decided to move to London at the age of 18, working in fashion as a designer and seamstress -- including a stint with Charlie le Mindu designing wigs for Lady Gaga -- while attempting to get her foot in the door of the music business. Her mixtape Forgive Me and 2013 debut single "Don't Trip" drew comparisons to neo-soul artists like Jill Scott and Erykah Badu, but the Pressure EP had a more electronic, dance-oriented sound. It drew the attention of stadium drum'n'bass duo Matrix & Futurebound, who recruited Marshall to sing lead vocals on their single "Control," which peaked at number six on the U.K. singles chart in January 2014, giving Marshall her first real hit. She also began work on an album that was more guitar-based and would showcase her folk, country, and indie influences. ~ John D. Buchanan