Up-and-coming R&B and Pop songstress Maya B only has a few released songs under her belt, but she’s already taking the industry by storm with her unique sound and creative approach to making music. She sat down to talk with us about her creative process, her love of painting, and touring with Summer Walker.
BTS: Can you tell us how you got started making music?
Maya B: My mom is very creative and she forced my sisters and I to learn an instrument. She would assign us songs and we’d have to learn them by the end of that week. I think the song that I learned that I was actually passionate about was “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera. I sang it to my mom and that was one of the first times she told me I was really good, which was a real moment for me. That was really the first time I thought “Yeah, maybe I can do this for a living.”
BTS: How would you describe your music in 3 words for someone who hasn’t heard it before?
MB: Oh gosh, in three words? Emotional, honest, and genreless.
BTS: Who are some of your biggest influences?
BTS: Growing up, definitely Missy Elliot because I liked how she would say stuff that was just out of pocket for a woman to say at that time. Timberland influenced me so much as a producer. I think those were the two people that really stuck out to me the most when I was younger. Now, I listen to a lot of Angel Olsen, who’s a folk singer. I really love her. I listen to a lot of folk music, which is really weird because I don’t make music that’s like that at all. Angel Olsen lyrically inspires me so much, and then sonically I get inspired by bands like Tame Impala and The Drums.
BTS: What’s your process like in the studio?
MB: It’s different all the time. I hate routine, it drives me crazy. Sometimes, I’ll have an idea or I’ll hear someone say something and that will inspire a song. I’m on tour with Summer Walker right now and we were in Detroit and we were at this sandwich shop and I heard this guy say “drag it through the garden” and I instantly thought that I needed to write a song called “drag it through the garden”. It comes in waves. Sometimes I’ll get into the studio and I won’t have any idea of what I want to do with myself and my producer will play something and it will be exactly what I need.
BTS: Can you tell us about your single “Dollar To A Diamond”?
MB: “Dollar To A Diamond” is like my story. I wrote that song when I was couch hopping before I got signed, so it means a lot to me that it happened to be one of the first songs I put out. Growing up, it was almost wrong to have ambition. It was almost wrong to say that I wanted to be the biggest artist in the world. People would tell me that I sounded egotistical and crazy, but on this journey I’ve found people that are just as ambitious as me and just as driven and love the fact that I won’t go to sleep until a song is finished. “Dollar To A Diamond” is my story, but it’s also me telling other people out there that you can actually turn a dollar into a diamond with persistence and ambition.
BTS: You do a lot of painting outside of music – does your music influence your paintings, or vice versa?
MB: I think the art is influenced by my music, because music is my main thing and then painting is like my side bitch. I feel like depending on what’s happening with my music, that’s what is happening in my brain so in turn it really influences my paintings. For example, there’s this piece I painted that’s yellow and it has a bunch of boobs on it, so that was inspired by this song I wrote. I was at this party and I was trying to talk to this girl because we were both alone and she was super standoffish and super rude to me for no reason. Then some asshole guy walked over to her and said “Do you want to show me your tits for $200?” and she actually did. I was so shocked because she wouldn’t talk to me who was trying to get to know her as a person, but she would do something like that. That painting was inspired by a song I wrote because that story was still on my conscious. Music is just my outlet, and whatever is leftover from that is what I paint.
BTS: How long have you been painting for?
MB: Seriously, probably 4 years. I used to be a huge doodler, and I would save all of my doodles.
BTS: You’ve been on tour with Summer Walker – how’s that been going?
MB: It’s been so much fun. We’ve hit Detroit, Chicago, L.A., Washington D.C., New York twice, and it feels really good. She’s the sweetest and it’s my first tour so I didn’t know what to expect. But it was better than what I expected. It’s tiring don’t get me wrong, but the adrenaline is what keeps me going.
BTS: What’s your favorite part about performing?
MB: Playing the unreleased records and seeing how people react to them. Every crowd is different and one crowd will like a song that’s already out and another crowd will gravitate towards a song that’s not even out yet. It’s almost like dropping a record without actually dropping it. It’s cool.
BTS: What can fans expect from you for the rest of the year?
MB: We have to finish the tour first. Then, I have an EP coming out soon, and an album is also on the way. We also just finished shooting the “Dollar To A Diamond” music video, so when I get back to L.A. we’re going to work on getting that out!