Maya on living in the moment, family and staying true to yourself

Maya’s rich jazzy vocals are instantaneously striking for their beauty and individuality. Her unique sound, a mix of electronic and acoustic elements, is largely a product of her background, a cultural cocktail of Australian, African American and Hungarian roots.

“I have so many different aspects to my culture, and it builds such a versatile sound. It’s really meant that I’ve never felt like I have to be stuck to one way. As I get older, as this world changes, it makes me happier. The weirder, the better.”
Maya – real name, Maya Weiss – has not always been so content in herself, and is quick to admit she’s fallen victim to pressures to fit in and bullying over her 22 years on the planet. It’s only over the last three years, since leaving school, that she claims to have progressed beyond those feelings of self doubt.
“A lot of my childhood I really tried to change myself. I dyed my hair, I told people I was a freak. I never wanted to be in my own skin. But bullying, and all the aspects of that experience make for a stronger person.”
Her latest single What After Now is a anthem for living in the moment, something she felt compelled to write in response to the constant grind for more that underlines so much of the modern age.
“It means to live in the moment, to be free in who you are, to not stress so much. It’s a song to remind people that you can’t control our future but we can control our present.
“My dad was always saying that to me and my sisters, ‘What after now?’ It would always come into my head when so many of my friends were trying to control their futures and control their time. So much that when they get to their goal they don’t feel it, they’re not excited anymore. I had to create a song that made people feel whatever they were feeling right then.”
The accompanying video features Maya’s sisters as they glam up and sing in a dressing room, a deliberately chosen setting that illustrates so much of who she is.
“I dressed up when I was a child, and looked in mirrors and stared, and I wanted to capture something different, something that was still semi lyric, because I wanted people to concentrate on the lyrics, but also something that looked fun. I needed to capture my sisters at this age all together, so it’s a look into my life.”
That look into her life will continue on her extended EP, slated for release this year. “That’s my story, that’s everything. I use samples from albums that my father and I made as a child, and I can’t wait to release it.”
In the process of creating the record, she’s worked with some of Melbourne’s best producers, including Haxx and Jan Skubiszewski to refine what she wants to create.
“They’ve been amazing, they’ve taught me a lot. My last song Sinners, was a sound that I took on in production, and I didn’t feel like it was as much what I wanted to represent myself, and my EP, and my work with Haxx.
“He’s allowed me to be me. The music I’m making now may not be radio worthy, but it’s what I feel.”
Maya may be relatively new to Melbourne’s music scene, but melodies pulse in her blood. Her father is a musician, and she grew up being fed a diet of Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, strengthening what she’s always known, that music is her passion.
“For my whole life, since I was a baby, I’ve known. The minute I could speak I was singing, it’s all I’ve ever loved.”
That love is never stronger than when on stage. When talking about performing, she perks up and brims with palpable excitement.
“Performing is my everything. I would perform day and night if I could. That’s my dream. All the recording and writing is the build up to that moment on stage. I change things on stage. I get so swayed. My songs feel more at home. I connect with the musicians, people vibrate off the sound, and it takes me to another place.”
By Claire Morley

Maya will launch her single What After Now at The Toff In Town on Tuesday April 25 with Kwasi, Liotis and Darcy Justice.