We had the opportunity to have a chat with newcomer Maya Yenn — the alt-pop artist recently caught our attention with her captivating new single “How Much Sadness Can You Swallow?”
Out of hundreds of submissions we receive every week, there’s always one submission that stands out from the rest. And this week, independent producer, singer and songwriter Maya Yenn caught our attention with her latest offering “How Much Sadness Can You Swallow?”— a stunning track written in response to a particularly disturbing nightmare she had of “a vision of hell”. Although her sound is unique, its combination dark R&B, dark pop built over an electronic-centred production reminds us of the likes of FKA Twigs and BANKS— two of the most innovative artists alive today.
With her alluring voice, hauntingly beautiful sound and dark lyrics which instantly draws you in, it was only right to get to know Maya Yenn before she becomes a star. Read our conversation below:
How are you doing Maya?
I’m doing great, thanks! My sophomore single has finally come out so I’m feeling very grateful and happy.
Nice!Where are you from?
I’m originally from a little village in rural Staffordshire. There was only one bus in or out but it always had at least 3 working pubs so you know they had their priorities straight!
How long have you been living in London for?
About 3 years but I moved back to my parents’ home in Staffordshire at the beginning of the pandemic and I’ve been here ever since. Very much looking forward to getting back to the city though!
Oh cool.What made you want to move to London in the first place?
It’s such a vibrant city and I think because it’s so big there’s something for everyone there. I personally love that it has this incredible thriving music and arts scene and I’m a bit of a foodie so touring all the great restaurants has been a real dream – Mildreds is my personal favourite.
So true!And how have you found living in London?
I absolutely LOVE London! I was living in Hackney before the pandemic which is definitely my spiritual home. London has seen me through some really formative years and I’ve met so many great people. I think it’s a city that really amplifies whatever you bring to it – there’s a magic there I’ve not felt anywhere else.
Hackney is amazing, hope you come back sooner!What inspired you to become a musician?
When I was little my Mum bought my Dad a rickety upright piano for his birthday one year and before I knew the first thing about music theory or how notes worked I was spending hours coming up with little compositions and songs. I just loved the language music gave me to express thoughts and ideas. I think that’s what’s amazing about music, to me it’s just emotion + magic.
That’s amazing. Do you come from a musical background?
Not really honestly! I do come from a creative background though, my mum is a writer and storyteller and my two older brothers both work in theatre and TV. I’m the only musician though.
A creative family, love that!Who were some of your favourite artists you looked up to growing up?
I grew up listening to a lot of Radiohead and Björk which hugely influenced me. Not to mention Florence and the Machine and Lana Del Rey. I have a really vivid memory of listening to “Born to Die” in its entirety on the school bus, looking out of the window imagining I was in a movie! *laughs*
Legendary artists, and wow *laughs* — Let’s talk about your new single “How Much Sadness Can You Swallow”, what inspired you to write this song?
“How Much Sadness Can You Swallow?”was actually inspired by a nightmare I had years ago about what hell could be. I’m not a religious person at all but the concept of hell has always fascinated me. In the dream, I woke up in this old house and couldn’t remember who I was or why I was there. I was banging on doors and windows to try and escape but nobody could hear me and I realised I was in hell living the same day over and over again, my memories wiped overnight. It was completely terrifying! I had to write about it just to get it out of my system.
That sounds so spooky, but yet so cool.What message are you trying to convey?
I’ve had the song with me for eight years but now and after sitting with it for so long it’s taken on new meanings for me as I’ve gotten older; loss, self-blame, grief, new beginnings, self-love and power. I hope it does the same for other people. That said, I love how subjective music is and how people will inevitably take their own meanings from it. I recently read that the main message someone had taken away from the song was not to waste time on things that cause you pain which I absolutely love and is far more articulate than I could ever put it!
That’s a long time, but we’re happy it’s out now.The song combines so many genres which we love, but what genre would you call this? Or is it difficult to pick one particular genre?
Thank you! I do like to combine different genres. It’s electropop for sure but I think there are shades of R&B in there, and maybe a bit of dreampop and indietronica? Alt-pop is generally a good catch-all for my stuff though!
So eclectic!By the way, this is an amazing song. Will there be a music video for it?
Thank you so much and yes there will be! We’re in the middle of shooting the music video at the moment and have some really big plans for it. I’m a big fan of contemporary horror and sci-fi cinema so we’re being very ambitious and trying to make a music video that pays tribute to that – there’s going to be VFX and a LOT of running! James (cinematographer and editor) and I have been shooting it over Summer and running in 30 degree heat was not fun! We think it will be really worth it though, it’s already looking really cinematic.
Wow, that sounds epic!What’s next? Do you have any upcoming gigs?
I’ve already started work on my next single which might be my favourite song so far and combines two genres you might not expect…In terms of gigs it’s too early to say! I’m holding off as long as I can while the pandemic is still going on but very much looking forward to getting back to it once it’s definitely safe. My live setup features a lot of live-looping and triggering so I still create that same big sound on my own. I absolutely love performing so I’m really looking forward to getting on the stage again.