Name: Maya Lucia
Occupations: Singer, songwriter
Current Release: Maya Lucia's latest single, "ur ruining it !" is out now.
Recommendations: "Mt. Saint Paul" by Brennan Wedl – I love Brennan. This song is from her previous EP called Holy Branch Water. It gives me chills when I think about it. I listen to this song daily and usually have it on repeat a few times. Everything about it is beautiful.
Lean Forward (album) by Cody – We played with Cody in Denver during our fall 2021 tour. This album feels like stretching in the sun. I highly recommend giving it a listen.
If you enjoyed this interview with Maya Lucia, visit her on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, and soundcloud for recent updates, personal insights and much more music.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I grew up making up songs and little ditties. I think I “formally” wrote my first song around the age of 12. I watched a lot of American Idol as a child. That had a huge impact on me. I used to keep a note of songs I would sing on the show. I’ve always enjoyed performing.
I started learning piano when I was 6 and then got into guitar around middle school. Guitar was easier for me to write to, it felt infinite.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
I started stealing chords from other people. Most people seem to start that way. I would mainly steal from Beatles songs. It was a big phase for me.
I started with an acoustic guitar and didn’t start playing electric until after high school. When I first started, the fake British accent while singing was huge and I can totally hear it in my early songs. Most of that evidence is off the Internet now. I’m not fully sure what started clicking for me, but it just became more work to copy that much. Like my mouth was sore.
I then started playing with a band and at that point, I was like “Damn, this is really boring for everyone,” and transitioned my music. I wanted to jump around and my original sound wasn’t conducive to that. The change is subconscious. It just sort of happens as you become more comfortable creating.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
I find my identity through writing and being creating. It happens naturally, in my opinion. Expressing myself and listening to others express themselves allows me to discover more about myself.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
In the beginning, I didn’t have a band. That was an enormous challenge. Now I have a set of people – Samuel Stroup (Drums), James Duncan (Bass), and Melisande “Molly” Pope (Lead Guitar) – who are passionate about working together to create art.
The major challenge now is balancing our day jobs with making music and touring. We’re working to make music our full-time job, but we’re not quite in a place to do that.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
I started with piano. I hated it, but I think it just had to do with the teaching style and my learning style.
When I was in middle school, I started learning guitar. I liked that I was able to perform and move around with the instrument rather than being confined to a certain area. I like having lighter weight guitars, since I jump around a lot.
I play a Duo Sonic now and before I had a Stratocaster, which was much heavier.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
I knew nothing about interfaces or microphones like a year ago. And my bassist, James, was like “we need to get you a better set up,” once quarantine started.
We recorded our upcoming EP completely remote, so I had a lot to learn. It was refreshing to have someone be kind and give me pointers on what I should look for.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
Within my band, I let them have creative control on their respective parts. We collaborate on some framework, in terms of what I want it to sound like. But I let them lead. That’s how I prefer to engage with others as well. We work together as a team to craft a vision.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I’m in a period of transition. I temporarily moved back to Minneapolis, which is where I grew up. I’m still working to establish a schedule and carve out time to create.
I can tell I’m not taking great care of myself just because of how tired I feel. Especially since it’s winter and freezing, I just feel like taking hot baths every day and watching reality TV. I work on being patient and allowing myself to relax. I try to create at least once a day, but I don’t have a fixed timeline for how long I need to write for.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
Our show at First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry was huge for us. It was surreal to play at a place my bandmate, Samuel, and I, grew up going to shows at. We were booking for our Fall 2021 tour and Samuel was the one who reached out to the venue. It was one of the first shows we confirmed for it. It felt validating to play somewhere we’ve looked up to.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
It’s difficult to describe that. I like to be in my own little world. I write the best when I’m by myself, which is rare, especially because of the pandemic. If I know someone can hear me, I don’t feel limitless. I hold back. When I’m in an ideal state, I live in my own little world. I forget time. I just create.
I don’t think I’ve figured out a way to get into this state, other than entering it as “play time” and less as a time where I have to produce art.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
Music creates mental safe spaces. There are times where I’ve listened to songs on repeat just to ground myself or focus my mind elsewhere. Or if I feel like I need to let out a certain emotion, I’ll put on a specific song.
Writing music is a way for me to also process and understand my emotions. In those ways, I think music can bring about a range of emotions.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
Exchange and appropriation are different things. Appropriation is a complete lack of dialogue and understanding.
My thoughts are that there should always be a conversation when engaging with a culture you’re not part of.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
I think there’s overlap in all of it. When I’m playing guitar, I often let my hands feel where they want to go. My ears and my eyes work together with that to register what that chord might be or where it physically is on the guitar. It’s teamwork.
Same thing goes for lyrics or generating a story. I might want a specific feeling of energy created. There’s been times my fingers have totally missed a chord I meant to play and through that, I’ve found something else.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist? What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
I’m inspired by my environment. A lot of creating – for me personally – is activating subconscious or suppressed thoughts. There are moments where I initially turn to art as a way to talk about specific issues. But, like I’ve mentioned before, it’s generally after I’ve worked on a song that I realize a lot of other things.
As for what music can express, it’s a feeling. There are actions or sounds that create emotion, regardless of the words.