AS we move into the new week...
I have been speaking with Maya Killtron about her recent album, Never Dance Alone, and how it began life. I ask whether she has a standout cut from the record and what comes next - she highlights some rising artists we need to get behind.
The songwriter tells me about her favourite memory from her career and which albums she holds dearest; whether there are gigs coming along and what she does when not making music – she selects a classic anthem to end the interview with.
Hi, Maya. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi, there! It’s been a busy week but good. It’s finally spring in Toronto!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
My name is Maya Killtron. I’m singer, songwriter; violinist and D.J. based out of Toronto, Canada. My music is Funk, Boogie; R&B - but more easily described as fun, dancey music about break-ups.
Never Dance Alone is your new album. What inspired its creation? Was there a particular moment that provided catalyst?
The album started with the title single. The producer and myself were just writing and trying things and that some just happened in a day - and we went with it 100%.
Is there a song from the album you count as a favourite?
I’m not sure if I have a favourite. That’s like asking a mom who here favourite child is. I guess there’s always a favourite though, isn’t there? I’d have to say Red Dress is a favourite to perform live. It always gets people dancing and that is the greatest achievement for a live show in my opinion.
Has music always been a big part of your life? Were you encouraged to take it up as a child?
I’m adopted and my adoptive parents knew my birth-mother was a violinist. They made sure the violin was a part of my education from age five. Even though I’ve never met her, I get to carry that part of her with me forever.
The fact you are a multi-instrumentalist and D.J. gives your music a certain confidence, breadth and conviction. Does this talent give you more variety and choice a songwriter?
It certainly gives me a unique perspective. As a club D.J., your main objective is to keep people dancing and to keep the party going. I took the same approach with this album. I wanted to keep people dancing, feeling good and smiling from end to end. No slow jams.
What plans do you have for the rest of 2019?
More music in the works already and, now that the album is out, I want to tour it as much as possible. It’s great being in the studio, in your little cave; in sweatpants, many snacks; take after take, working out every detail…but I love performing the music to an audience. Seeing their reaction, partying with them out under the lights. That’s where I want to be for the rest of 2019.
Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a great career as a musician from performing my own music to recording, writing and touring with other great artists. I’ve had a lot of great moments just being a back-up singer. If I had to pick one, it was the first time I sang my own music and the audience sang the lyrics back to me. I’ll never forget that. It also happened to be my birthday so you can’t beat that as a birthday present.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Purple Rain – Prince
It’s all the fun, dance, sex and camp you could ever want crammed into one album. And he had strings; bonus. He is perfection.
Voodoo - D’Angelo
A disciple of Prince but entirely unique. D. is a genius and every note of that album is pure effervescence. Nobody sings harmonies like him.
Mariah Carey – Daydream
An unmatched voice of my generation. I wore my cassette out and had to buy it twice.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Chaka Khan or Chromeo. Very different but the same Funk family. Both are currently touring and I love them so much. After taking care of my band and crew with some sweet rider food, drink and accom., my only request would be to share a song on stage together every night. I think, if I actually got to sing a song with Chaka Khan, I might burst into flames.
What are your other plans regarding gigs/touring?
Right now, the plan is to tour close to home. Get back on the road locally and then aim for my first solo push overseas this fall and early-2020.
Is the stage somewhere you feel at your most alive?
Yes, absolutely. I’m no different than many other performers. I’m mostly an introvert in day to day life but on stage I can do anything and be the dream version of myself. Confident, daring; brave, magnetic. It’s never not fun. Even if a crowd isn’t really engaging at first, I love the challenge of first getting them to smile, then move; then all out dance, eyes closed with hands in the air. There is nothing better than sharing that.
Is there any advice you’d give to upcoming artists?
Nothing can ever replace good old-fashioned hard work. Sometimes, there are shortcuts but most of time there aren’t. All of those ‘overnight’ success stories were actually years of hard work, planning; trial and error. Work hard, harder than everyone around you. Nobody can ever take that away from you.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Tanika Charles is about to release an amazing new album. Maylee Todd is not only an innovator; she’s a community leader, educator and has probably the most creative approach to music I’ve ever seen. Aphrose is working on her first album after the successful release of great singles and videos. Bywater Call is an amazing Canadian Blues act set to tour the E.U. in early-2020. And the enigmatic James Baley - voice, vogue and fashion. He will be the next Gaga but better.
IN THIS PHOTO: Bywater Call
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I don’t get a lot of time to chill but, right now, I’m on that GoT (Game of Thrones) bandwagon. I got sucked right in and it’s near-obsession. I think with all the Night King scenes…I wouldn’t call it ‘unwinding’ but it’s definitely not working on music.
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).
The Best - Tina Turner. No explanation needed…
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