1.LH Thanks so much for your time today, Maya! Let’s set the scene for when I type this up, can you describe where you are talking to me from please, pain a picture like a good country song does!
ML Yeah! So I’m speaking to you from my family home in London, where I grew up, and I’m actually in the room where a lot of my songs have been written!
2. LH Before we chat about your stunning debut single ” Still the Same”, I’d like to ask a bit about your backstory, if you don’t mind.
It appears from the “tennis racket” anecdote (Maya’s father bought her a racket when she was 4 and she held and strummed it like a guitar!) that your interest in playing guitar started very young. Can you remember who you were trying to emulate at that early age?
ML Well I grew up listening to a wide range of music, but the things I really caught on to and instantly loved were Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan… all the 60’s/70’s folk/country artists
LH Wow even when you were that young you were into them? That’s amazing!
ML Yeah! I’d be singing along in the car tho not really know what I was singing along to! But age 4 I also had an obsession with The Sound of Music which is quite strange because I’m the least musical theatre person I think! But I think it’s because they told so many stories in their songs so that was probably a big influence as well! I didn’t watch kids TV but I think I watched that film every day for about 2 years!
3. LH And how long was it before you got an actual guitar and started playing?
ML About 2 years later …I think a year later I got a small, baby one that was pink, and then I started guitar lessons when I was 7 or 8.
LH . I imagine that singing went hand in hand with that, did you have any formal vocal lessons as well?
ML Yes, I started them about the same time, I went to a really supportive, creative primary school so was really encouraged to sing which was nice.
4. LH Are any of your family musical?
ML No, not at all!! My parents love listening to music but don’t play anything ..
LH So you’re not the Von Trapp Family Singers then!
ML Definitely not! My sister plays drums but when we’ve tried to collaborate it hasn’t gone to plan and we end up arguing!
5. LH And when did you begin writing songs?
ML I’ve been kind of writing for ever! My Mum says I’d make up about everything when I was little! When i went to bed I was always the kind of kid who wanted to know what was going to happen the next day, and we’d make up a song called “Tomorrow’s Going To Be A Fun Day” ! But I probably really started around age 11 which was when I started doing live shows and considering that music was what I wanted to do.
6. LH That leads nicely into my next question! It’s fantastic to see that you have already secured both publishing and recording deals… when you knew you wanted a career in the music industry was it initially your dream to write for others or was your ultimate aim always to be an artist in your own right?
ML So at first it was very much wanting to be an artist and that’s still the focus, but after signing my publishing deal I do write for others and I love that because I now realise I have so many songs I can’t record them all! And often I write a song that I love but isn’t quite my sound . I don’t think there was a time I never wanted to be a singer, but it was really around the transition between primary and secondary school …I started sending out emails to promoters requesting to play at festivals and gigs from the family laptop! And my Dad would obviously read over them …I am a bit dyslexic… and most places I couldn’t even play aged 12! But I managed to get quite a few gigs that way!
7.LH So, turning our attention to your single which was released a few weeks back…what were your feelings in the run up to that Friday, quite a mixture of emotions I’d imagine?
ML It was definitely a BIG mix! I’ve worked with my management for a long time now, and it’s been 4 years of going in and properly writing and recording with them, waiting to release something. I remember a couple of years ago I had a song and thought it was the right time to release it, but they were like “no, be patient, let’s see what happens” and it obviously ended up not being the time for a release! So when it came round to release week I was on the one hand super excited because I couldn’t wait for people to hear all the things I’ve been working on for the last 4-5 years but as it got closer I was a bit concerned that it was completely the right thing and what would people think of it . I pour my heart out in my music and you feel like your giving away a piece of yourself almost. But the response has been amazing …I kept telling myself if I like it and my management like it there are going to be people out there who connect, resonate and who will love listening to it and I think luckily that’s been the case!
8. LH It definitely is a very relatable song in my opinion, had you maybe already tested the waters with it with your existing fanbase on your social media channels to see the reaction?
ML No it was totally new! My best friends were like “you won’t even let us listen to it!“. With this first single (and the EP) no-one heard it except my family and my management, although people had an idea of my sound as I post clips of originals on my Instagram. But I think it paid off, me keeping it secret and a surprise to everyone!
9 . LH Indeed, and as you’ve said it’s received such a fantastic reception already …including getting played by Baylen Leonard on his Absolute Country radio show… has it all sunk in yet or are you still floating on cloud nine?
ML I think a bit of both, I’ve taken time to be present and soak it all in. I do a lot of journaling, so I’ve been writing about how I’m feeling and trying to enjoy the moment of this first release, because I’ll never get this time again and it’s been a long time coming! But it’s definitely quite surreal, especially with the radio play! We were listening to that while we were eating dinner on Sunday, and it was surreal to hear my name on the radio …when it starts playing you have to reming yourself that it isn’t just playing from the little voice notes on my phone, it’s really out there!
10. LH I looked at your co-writer Jonathan Quarmby’s bio, which is pretty extensive to say the least! How did your paths cross?
ML That was through my management. The first session I was supposed to go in with him got delayed by about 6 months because of covid and everything shutting down. Which was a bit of a blessing in disguise, I think me having that time during lockdown gave me time to work on my craft and sound. So by the time I went in with Jonathan… I think we wrote “still The Same” in August 2020…it just flowed really quickly, we wrote it and demoed it in 4 hours. We clicked as creatives and people.
LH I see he produced the track too… were you involved in that aspect of the process? Is that a side of the business you hope to explore in the future?
ML I was there for all the recording days and we discussed loads about inspirations, and luckily he really gets me and my direction. So we were on the same wavelength with production ideas . I don’t produce myself, but over lockdown I got better and learned a bit more about how to do it, but before lockdown I was useless and couldn’t download my vocals or anything! I’m still not the best, but it’s something I’m trying to improve on. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to have even more input!
11. LH And the track’s accompanying video has been out only 6 days but already has over 5k views on YouTube… can you tell me a bit about filming that? (update…it’s now been out 10 days with 22k views!)
ML So we filmed that just before everyone went on their Christmas break in 2021. We shot it in this beautiful riverside apartment in Bristol. We went up with the director, the videography team were already there alongside the actor, it was an amazing day!
12. LH And you’ve already mentioned your upcoming EP, I gather it’s due for release later this year. How near completion is that, and is this single a good indication of what we can expect from the other tracks?
ML Yes, so the EP is definitely finished, we have lots of music planned! I think ” Still The Same” is a good indication of what the EP sounds like, I’d say it sort of floats in a space between country, folk and pop. It crosses genres, and I love how nowadays you don’t have to stick to just doing this or just doing that. You can kind of experiment a bit more, so the EP is a nice variety of that.
LH Yeah, I think genres are definitely blurring these days, which is good as you don’t get pigeon holed and your music can hopefully reach a wider audience because of that.
ML Yes, it’s more accessible .
LH Is that the next music we’ll hear from you, or are there plans for another single ahead of the project?
ML We have a couple more singles, then the EP will be out before the end of this year, so lots of exciting things to come!
13 LH. And now live music is back again, are you planning any shows or festival appearances in the coming months?
ML Yes, I’ve actually got a meeting with my live agent next week! I’m supporting someone on 21st April and then I think we’ve got a couple of festivals coming in at the moment. I’m really excited to be playing shows again though, I actually did one two days before the single release which was really fun, that was the first show I’d done with my band.
LH Ah, I wondered if you performed solo or had a band, so that answers that!
ML I do a bit of both now. I originally started out playing just me and my guitar, from when I was 11 ’til last year, and then as my sound developed and I wanted to do a bit more with it we decided to get a band. We’ve been rehearsing for a couple of months, they are both incredibly talented musicians and super professional, super nice people, so it’s all working really well. It’s really nice for me to be able to play some songs whee it’s just me and my guitar and some songs where we’ve got a track, guitar, keys, bass, whatever …and with some songs I don’t have to be holding a guitar, I can move around, it’s nice to experiment with that whereas before I couldn’t do that when I was by myself. but now i can create this variety of sounds which is super fun!
14. LH Outside of music, your other passion is fashion I notice. Will that be reflected in your merchandise in the future… will you be designing your own t-shirts etc?
ML Oh yeah! I’m SO excited for merch to come! I’ve got my Pinterest and mood boards ready! For me, fashion is such a special thing, I find I can really express myself through it, it helps me feel confident and so I would love to be able to design things that other people can feel confident in and love to wear as much as I do!
15 . And finally… I always like to ask artists who are starting out on their musical journey some “Bucket list” questions, so here goes…
Bucket list co-writer?
ML Oooh…OK, that’s really hard..I’ve got a couple… gosh that is SO difficult… Ok, I’d LOVE to write with Kacey Musgraves
LH Bucket list duet partner (male or female)
ML I think duetting with Harry Styles would be very cool. We both love fashion, and similar sounds.
LH Bucket list venue to play live?
ML For me one of the bucket list venues is Shepherd’s Bush Academy (now the O2) because I’ve seen so many artists there, it’s probably the venue I go to the most. While I’ve got a lot of bigger venues I’d love to play some day, when I get to play that one it will be a very special moment.
LH That’s brilliant! Thank you again for your time, I can’t wait to hear more of your music and hopefully get to see you play live before too long!
ML Thank you so much!
For more information about Maya and links to her socials go to mayalaneuk.com