January 24, 2018 at 11:48 am EST | by Joey DiGuglielmo
QUEERY: Max Ernst
Max Ernst, gay news, Washington Blade

Max Ernst (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

SHAED is a lifestyle for its three band members who are Max Ernst, his twin brother Spencer and Spencer’s girlfriend/fiancé, Chelsea Lee, the lead singer.

They all live together in Silver Spring. They get up, work out in the morning, make music, go on walks. Chelsea cooks “amazing food,” Max says. They play cribbage and do their band stuff full time.

“We have a daily schedule that we adhere to pretty diligently,” the Silver Spring native says.

SHAED, formed in March 2016, is a soulful, electro-pop outfit known for Lee’s strong lead vocals. Max plays piano mainly but also bass, guitar and drums. He and Spencer both contribute backing vocals and co-produce. They have 10 tracks currently available — one six-song EP (“Just Wanna See”) and four other singles. But they’ve been writing and recording “a ton of new songs” that they plan to release in 2018.

SHAED is headlining the D.C. Music Download Anniversary six-year show at Union Stage on Saturday, Jan. 27 at Union Stage (740 Water St., S.W.). Nag Champa, Fielder and OG Lullabies will also perform. Tickets are $16 for the 9 p.m. event (doors at 8). Details at ticketfly.com. Find out more about the band at shaedband.com.

The Ernst twins formed their first band in second grade and have been making music together ever since. Max knew he was gay in middle school but found it tough to come out in his all-male Catholic school.

“I was the lead singer of a pop/rock band at the time so being a gay lead singer with a mostly female fan base seemed out of the realm of possibility,” Max (he’s the one with the short hair) says. “As we started to evolve musically, the walls I had built up around me started to come down.”

They spent about five months of last year on the road and did three national tours opening for Bishop Briggs, Marian Hill and Sir Sly and also a co-headlining tour on the East Coast. Max says they have strong hometown support in the D.C. area and have won fans by touring. Spotify, he says, has “been huge for us in exposing our music to people who would never have heard of us otherwise.”

Max — look out — is single. He enjoys hiking, camping, playing charades, going to shows and museums, gin and tonics and watching nature documentaries in his free time.


How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

Spencer was the first person I came out to. I was 19, so this was about eight years ago. Telling him I was gay was one of the most intense, terrifying and liberating experiences I’ve ever had. He had no clue even though we had spent 99 percent of our lives together up until then. I don’t blame him for this though. No else really saw it coming. Getting that off my chest and his total acceptance from the second I told him was a huge step in our relationship.


Who’s your LGBT hero?

Marsha P Johnson, founding member of the Gay Liberation Front that formed after the Stonewall Riots.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?

Tied between Nellie’s and Flash.

Describe your dream wedding. 

Haven’t thought about this before. I would want a low-key wedding and I’d put all of the budget into hiring a dope funk band to play the reception.


What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? 

Developing renewable energies to combat climate change.


What historical outcome would you change?

The war on terrorism post 9-11.

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? 

Watching Michael Sam make out with his boyfriend during the NFL draft.

On what do you insist? 

That fresh oranges are readily available in the kitchen.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? 

Promoting our show at the Union Stage on Saturday, Jan. 27.

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“The Time I Dreamt Trump was President”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

Find the potion and pour it into Mike Pence’s drink.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

I’m comfortable in not knowing but I do believe in karma.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Listen to the youth.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

Trader Joe’s cookie butter ice cream.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

The “all gay men are fem” stereotype because I find a lot of gay men feel the need to clarify that they are “masc” or looking for “masc guys only.” That bothers me because it creates division in the gay community.


What’s your favorite LGBT movie?


What’s the most overrated social custom?

Handshakes. I prefer the “shug” — half handshake, half hug.


What trophy or prize do you most covet?


What do you wish you’d known at 18? 

To invest in Bitcoin.

Why Washington?

I travelled to almost every major city in the U.S. in 2017. D.C. is still my favorite city because of its diversity, art culture and the energy here.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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