Up and coming RnB soul star MAYA (22) chats to Jordyn about performing with her musician dad, life on the road and the release of her debut EP.
J: I’ve read you’re a third-generation musician, suggesting that music has always been a big part of your life. What was it like growing up in a musical household?
M: “My dad’s a musician so it was great. I’ve always loved it, I’ve always had it playing. He’s really supportive of my career so it’s a definite benefit.”
J: Apart from being surrounded by it in your childhood, how did your journey as a musician begin?
M: “It just begun by playing when I was little. I’d get up in bars and perform with my dad and then I started handing out resumes to all these venues asking them to put me on. I’d play karaoke tracks because that’s what I thought it meant to be a musician. It’s now evolved into this, though. I just kept pushing and kept working- I made my own singles and forced my family to buy them.”
J: So you’d record your music onto actual CDs?
M: “Yeah! It’s hilarious. It was my own stuff, not covers.”
J: How old were you when you began song writing, then?
M: “I was really young. One of the songs on the EP I actually first wrote when I was around five years old or something like that. I just recorded it to a tape that my dad saved and had kept it ever since. I’ve always been making music. I started lessons really early as well and I ended up going to a whole bunch of different schools because I wanted to try all their music programs and work with all their teachers. I didn’t go to uni after school though which most people do. I just felt like I was better off doing it my own way.”
J: Was that song the first song you ever wrote?
M: “Definitely one of them! There was another one, I think it was called Cry For You. I didn’t even have a boyfriend at the time or anything, so it must’ve been a hypothetical love. Or maybe it was about my family. It was pretty cheesy.”
J: Do you play instruments as well as being a singer songwriter?
M: “I can play a bit of piano. I used to play cello. I was really bad though! I used to sit next to the really good musicians and try and play what they were playing but they were just so good so I was like ‘well I’m not even going to try!'”
Who are the musicians that you look up to and take inspiration from?
M: “People like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Peggy Lee, Ricki Lee Jones. I grew up listening to a lot of older music but now I’m moving towards some new people, so there’s a little bit of everything. I never had just one main artist, so it’s really tricky to pick people out. I’ve always loved girls like Lauryn Hill. I get inspired by so many different realms of music. I love listening to all different types of music.”
J: Your biography states that you have Australian, African American and Hungarian roots. How influential is culture in the production of your music?
M: “It’s not entirely based on culture. But we’ve come to a really beautiful time in the world where culture is such a highlight. It’s really only the last like five years or so that I’ve really come to embrace that. So I think now later in life it’s more inspirational towards my music but up until now it’s really taken me a while to appreciate my roots.”
J: What’s your overall, general song writing process? Or does it change from song to song?
M: “It kind of changes all the time. Sometimes I’ll write really good lyrics over someone else’s music and then make the music after. But then sometimes these sounds just come to my head and I work with that. It’s different every time. With What After Now, I just loved the statement “what after now” and wanted to write a fun song with that. I heard the beats first, it was just a continuous noise we were making in the studio that developed into the song.”
J: What was the inspiration behind What After Now?
M: It’s just about living in the moment. My dad used to say to my sisters and I like ‘What after now girls? Why are you trying to chase the future when you can live in the now and be here with who you’re with?’ So yeah, he probably was the main inspiration with it. I mean he’s a huge influence musically and he’s very supportive. He feeds us a lot of wisdom I guess.
J: Are you planning to collaborate with your dad anytime soon?
M: “Absolutely. He really helped me with the EP, he’s played on all of them and did all of the guitar in What After Now. There’s a lot to come out, so I’m really looking forward to it. We do a lot of shows together as well.”
J: How’s the process for the EP going?
M: “It’s really good, I’m just mixing the tracks and putting the finishing touches on. It should be ready for release half way through this year. Yeah, I’m really looking forward to it but I’m not rushing because I think it’s something really special so I don’t want to rush it just for the hell of getting it released. It’s going to be nice for everyone to hear though, I’ve been working on it for a long time.”
J: What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
M: “There’s been a lot. I went to New York last year for two months and played with this amazing blues band. I don’t know what it was but the energy of that for some reason was just my favourite thing. I’m one of those people that’s just like ‘let me sing with you!’ so I just sung with so many people. That was definitely the highlight of last year, trekking around Europe and America just singing with a whole bunch of different people and learning that you can just be a singer without being famous is probably the highlight.”
J: There would’ve been lots of interesting people that you met along the way, yeah?
M: “There were a lot. I met this lady who went by the name MAMA, she was crazy but great. There hasn’t been anyone who is the main influence yet, they’re all in my dreams.”
J: You’ve got a few shows coming up around Melbourne next month, including The Toff in Town April 25. What can fans expect from these shows?
M: “We’re going to have a big dance party! I’ve played there as a support, but this will be my first headlining show there. I’m always down for a jam, which is why it’s on a Tuesday. There’s going to art, dances, slideshows and just me being reckless. I always get super deep at my shows, so I never really know what’s going to happen.”
J: And just one final question question! After you release your EP, what’s next for MAYA?
M: “I’m going back to America, but I really want to focus on gaining a fan-base in Australia as well. It’s really hard for soul singers here, it’s easier to just go over to America. But I love Melbourne so much, so I’m just going to try and work it and get out there. I want to collaborate with more artists and do more performances and just have fun with it.”
You can check out MAYA at The Toff in Town on April 25. To purchase tickets go here.
Written by Jordyn Hoekstra