The right to be as powerful as you feel you can be: Q&A with MAYA
Near death experiences on a bike, jazz music, Girl Squads and Andre 3000; welcome to the life of MAYA, an up and coming singer from Melbourne who is fiercely carving her unique pathway as a musician and embracing diversity in all its forms.
Speaking to Twenty Something Humans, she highlights some of our millennial worries - like
fixating on the future and not embracing the moment - she encourages us to work hard, do what we gotta do and have a bit of fun with some blue eye shadow. With the release of her new song ‘What After Now,’ we were lucky enough to chat with this talented human about her musical journey.
What do you love about music and why did you decide to chase a career in this particular industry?
It’s always been my love, it’s all I ever wanted to do since I was a child. I decided I wanted to be a singer. No one ever thought I would do it but I just never stopped singing.
When did you realise you were starting to ‘make it’?
It’s hard because you always feel like it’s not happening but now that I can just sing and afford my rent, I do feel pretty successful. It’s taken nearly 10 years of performing to get to where I am.
The video clip for ‘What After Now’ looks like an Instagrammers heaven. What was it like shooting the video in this pastel heaven? Does this reflect your personal style?
Yeah, at times. I’ve always dressed a little bit hippy-ish, all the clothes are ours (my sisters and mine). I really wanted to create interesting imagery and catch people’s eyes. Also, I just love the 60s fashion, it was so much fun dressing up and adding our own flavor.
It looks like you've got a pretty awesome girl squad with you in the video (watch out Taylor Swift). How important have your sisters, friends and girl squad been in your musical journey and your life?
Ah, I love my girls, but I’ve always been a bit of a boy at heart. We’ve always been ‘girl guys’. We probably seem pretty girly in this clip but we’re tough at heart. My sister and I didn’t actually grow up together but we’ve always had each other.
Who’s the eldest?
I am. They’re both taller than me though! At least I could convince them to be in my video clip.
Your music, and the identity that you portray through performing, generates an aura of ‘girl power’ and female strength. Has performing and playing music helped shape you as a person?
Completely - as women and as people, we have the right to be anything and as powerful as we feel we can be. The thing with makeup and hair, it’s to make us feel better within ourselves, as a musician I have to help people understand that. This applies to guys and girls, because I know there are guys out there that don’t feel like they can be themselves. This is just one segment, makeup and dress ups are great, but you just have to be yourself.
I’m excited for future music and segments I’ll be bringing out to highlight these different thing. You do you. There’s all this judgment around, if someone wears makeup, if someone doesn’t wear makeup, we just have to remember that they have a reason for their choices and decisions and we should accept each others uniqueness.
I did a bit of an Insta stalk and I noticed your bio ‘Australian, African-American, Hungarian'. Has your background shaped your music and the messages you’re putting out there?
Yeah, my grandmother is Hungarian. It’s helped me tackle different genres without being afraid. There’s so much fear out there. I was bullied for being Jewish and for having red hair. I felt a lot of that discrimination. I feel like we’ve finally reached a time where we can accept ourselves and our differences. All my life I felt like I had to hide it but now people are so accepting of my roots. People are now grouping with their love for things and not necessarily what group they ‘belong’ to.
I completely agree. I actually have red hair myself and remember the days of being teased at high school…
Rangas unite! Our time has come. It’s coming to a time in life where there is so much discrimination and hate but people congregating and saying we don’t even care what you think, we’re going to do us. Red heads are leading the way!
What advice would you give to yourself when you were starting out, that could help others pursue their dreams or a career in music?
Just try, go for it, don’t stop. It’s all about hard work, keep on pushing and people will notice your hard work, even if you don’t become hugely ‘successful,’ it won’t go unnoticed. Fame isn’t the only important thing, just keep doing it.
It’s not very common to see many young women, especially in Australia, in the soul/jazz/RnB genre. Do you have a female musical idol that has inspired you to pursue this particular area of music?
I have a lot of influences. I grew up listening to music from the 60s -80s era like Etta James and Nat King Cole. I just love the organic sound in the recordings of older music. I love that you can hear the raw and real feeling in someone’s voice. I feel that people appreciate it but it’s hard to sell. I think it’s just hard to make your own music, Amy Winehouse worked so hard and Michael Buble as well, you have to be able to forge your own way.
You've mentioned that this song is about our generations obsession with ‘the now’ and freaking out about the unknown future, what inspired this?
My dad, he’s such a trooper. He would always ask ‘what are you doing on your phone, stressing about tomorrow, how do you even know if you’re going to reach it?’ I actually had a few near death experiences on my bike, that could’ve been the end. Especially with so much war and conflict, I just wanted to write a song about something important. There are a lot of artists singing about love and all that stuff, but we need people out there talking about this. Ah – I could talk about this for days.
Other than music, what fuels you creatively?
I love art and I love exercise. My sisters and I always make stuff, but I’m actually and exercise-aholic. Just music, parties and exercise.
You've got a killer voice, can you play any other instruments?
A bit of piano, and the cello. I would love to be able to smash out some killer cello and double bass.
If you could perform with any artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Andre 3000 because his lyrics inspired me beyond words. He’s my man.
What’s your ultimate comfort food?
Where’s your dream location to perform?
Some type of beautiful high rise in New York.
If I was about to give you a tattoo, right now in this moment, what would you want it to be and where would you get it?
‘Jokes on me’ and I could get it on my back.
Adelaide is a twenty something human and yes that is her real name. She doesn’t go far without her Doc Martens and a skinny cappuccino. She loves travelling and thinks it’s the best way to meet exciting men (people). When she’s not at uni or daydreaming at the beach, you will find her writing for her blog A Worldly Addiction.