IT has been great speaking with the epic Maya Lavelle...
about her new song, House on a Rocky Road, and how it came together. I ask about its video and shooting that; which artists and albums are important to her and whether there is a new artist we need to get behind.
Maya Lavelle discusses her upcoming album and reveals whether there are tour dates coming; which artist she’d support on tour given the chance and the advice she’d offer rising talent – she ends by selecting one of my favourite tracks ever.
Hi, Maya. How are you? How has your week been?
Jolly good, thanks! My week has been pretty exciting with a new release coming up.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I just moved to London from Amsterdam. I would love people to join me on this peculiar journey and experience the twisted reality portrayed with my music, to escape boredom. To convey the stories of remarkable characters and quirky places, I blend Classical and Electronic music styles that merge into Electronic, Cinematic pop.
House on a Rocky Road is your new track. What inspired its creation?
From my experiences whilst living in Amsterdam, London and Los Angeles, as well as traveling through Asia and Africa. Amsterdam inspired me daily in writing my music. The amazing architecture and gothic buildings, the mystery behind the Red Light District; plenty of undiscovered dark corners, the quirky vibe of the coffee shops; old wooden sailors’ pubs, the graveyards of bicycles; beautiful art galleries in the nine streets, Vondelpark (which is 5 minutes’ walk from my studio) and, most importantly, positive people who appreciate freedom and love to celebrate life – they were triggering a lot of my ideas.
I also get a lot of inspiration from going to the cinema, theater and through literature. In fact, just the illustration and reading the first few pages of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman spawned the idea that later evolved into House on a Rocky Road.
What was it like putting the music video together?
This video was shot in an old quarry and abandoned mine, which is today a remote cave. To perfectly portray the atmosphere of my songs, I tend to end up on difficult terrains for shooting the video because those are usually the ones that look the most mysterious.
I must say it was challenging to shoot in such warm weather, covered in dust from the erosion and bleeding from being stung by giant horseflies. Switching to the second shooting location in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, with a crew and cast of over seventy people wasn’t an easy task. But, everything went smoothly thanks to working with a very talented and professional team.
I understand there is an album approaching. Can you reveal anything about song themes/titles etc.?
My debut album, Hobo, took just over five years from concept to completion because of creating very rich arrangements in perfect counterpoint to convey the journey of peculiar places and edgy characters that you will find scattered throughout the album.
All the characters are lonely searching for love and care - just like Hobo and they all meet in House on a Rocky Road in Darkwille County.
Were there experiences and particular stories that influenced the songs on the record?
Zombie Town represents a post-apocalyptic future we are heading towards by neglecting the outcome of global warming - and I wrote this out of great concern from current events that are taking place. Ben is a song about my dog that passed away and I wanted to bring him back to life, which I kind of did through the song.
Hobo is a song about a man who failed to fight the system and who lost everything but his soul. The character was inspired by what I recognised in the eyes of a stranger I met whilst walking down Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.
You hail from the Netherlands. What music did you listen to as a child and when did you decide to pursue it as a career?
As a child, I would listen to very diverse music from Jazz to Electronic to Classical and film soundtracks. I only saw one path for myself: music. It was like I didn’t have a choice. I went to music school when I was six and started playing piano and, soon after, I was writing piano compositions and songs.
Do you think there is a way to describe your sound – or do you feel like it is hard to categorise?
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
I have many good memories...but one of my favourite was when I won an award on the Young Composers Meeting in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, for one of my compositions. I enjoy when big ensembles perform my music live.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Kate Bush - The Kick Inside
Dead Man’s Bones - Dead Man’s Bones
Björk – Utopia
Because I still didn’t get bored of them, even after playing them hundreds of times.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
AURORA. My rider would be to have a French bulldog puppy in the dressing room.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
I don’t think I can give any advice, because everyone has a different path, but you’ll need to grow a big capacity for hope and not let anyone else tailor your destiny.
Do you think there are going to be any tour dates coming up?
When my album is published in June I am hoping to tour.
IN THIS PHOTO: SEVDALIZA
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
She is not a new artist, but you should check out SEVDALIZA if you don’t already know her
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I feel like music is like one of my organs. If it wasn’t there I would fall ill. I relax by watching T.V. series/films and going to the theater.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Kate Bush - Babooshka
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