Interview – Maya Lakhani

Proving that lockdown hasn’t killed creativity, Maya Lakhani has grabbed the opportunity to launch her solo career and is emerging as one of the most impressive breakthrough artists of the last year. Catching the eye of BBC Introducing and new music champion John Kennedy, Maya’s musical journey looks set to go from strength to strength. We chatted about production, protests and plans for the future…

Hey, how are you and where are you right now?

Hello! I am doing well thanks. I am currently listening to some music with a cuppa in hand.

Despite lockdown, you’ve managed to launch your solo career and be involved in pretty much every aspect, writing, recording and producing yourself – where do you start?

When we first went into lockdown last year, I was very aware that I would never get that much spare time in my life again. I had always wanted to launch myself as a solo artist, so I decided to use the extra time to figure out how to do that!

I have definitely done a lot of learning in lockdown. Before working on my debut, I spent a lot of time doing online courses to get all my recording and production skills up to scratch. There is so much resource online, I truly believe if you want to learn how to do anything, you can! I am super proud to have made my songs entirely from my bedroom, but I work hard for that not to be audibly obvious.

I have been writing more than ever this year. Once I have a rough idea of song structure, I record a demo into my laptop. I begin layering different vocal, guitar, bass & drums sections until the song is fully recorded and produced. I love having complete control over my music and am super excited to be on this journey!

Tell us about your latest single Walk Alone…

I wrote Walk Alone in March, when much of the media conversation was centred around women’s safety. I was angry, sad and frustrated that still in 2021, women can’t walk alone without fear. I was furious at the victim blaming that I saw. I just felt really compelled to put these thoughts & emotions into a song, as songwriting is a key form of self expression for me.

The chorus is very simple, it just features the lyric “All I want to do is walk alone”. I wanted to make the point that still in this day and age, women feel fear over such a basic human right.

The last year seems to have heightened protests about a variety of issues, do you think people are listening and things are changing?

I am hopeful that media coverage pushes people to have much needed uncomfortable conversations around these important topics. I hope that parents are speaking to their children about it. However, it does sometimes feel like it’s ‘trendy’ for the media to cover a particular topic, and then it gets forgotten about. But with the rise of social media, I think that important issues are kept in people’s consciousness more, which will hopefully lead to change.

Social media plays a huge part in creating awareness of everything from music promotion to worldwide news now – which platforms do you use and do you feel it’s generally a positive or negative experience?

Social media is definitely a big part of getting your music out there. I’m on all the platforms, because as an artist, you just have to be to get yourself heard. I do find that Twitter has been an amazing place for discovery. So far, I have found my social media experience to be positive. Being active on those platforms has helped me to connect with listeners and other artists too.

Who’s inspired you to do what you do?

So many different artists throughout my life! Going all the way back to the Spice Girls, who were my first inspiration as a small child, instilling that girl power message! I really got into songwriting and rock music when I started listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers when I was around 10 years old. Not long after, I started my first band, which helped lay the foundations of my music experience. I saw a live performance of PJ Harvey on YouTube when I was a teenager, I remember being so inspired to see a powerful woman on stage wielding a guitar and having the crowd in the palm of her hand.

What were the first and last records you bought?

I remember buying Stan by Eminem when I was young. I think I was a little shocked by all the swearing in it, as I had only heard it on TV or radio prior! The last record I bought was Chemtrails over the Country Club by Lana Del Rey. She’s one of my favourite artists, and it’s a really interesting and brilliant record.

You received lots of airplay for your debut single The Line – how does it feel to hear yourself on the radio?

It’s an incredible feeling! The first radio play I received for The Line was on BBC Introducing. It was such a special and surreal moment, I actually cried tears of joy! I have been involved in many musical projects in my life, and none of them have led to serious and consistent airplay.  So for my debut solo single to receive lots of airplay was such a special and affirming feeling. Hearing it on national stations like Planet Rock & Radio X was just amazing. Still pinching myself over that! Walk Alone was recently picked by John Kennedy as one of his ‘X-Posure Hot Ones’ on Radio X too, beyond my wildest dreams!

Have you got plans to gig when things open up?

Yes! I cannot wait to gig. As I have produced these tracks in isolation, I haven’t had the chance to hear them live! Getting the opportunity to play my songs with other musicians and to hear it in that way will be very special!

And assuming restrictions keep lifting, what does the coming year hold for you?

I can’t wait to keep releasing more music! I have lots of songs that I’m currently working on, so I’m really looking forward to sharing those soon. I cannot wait to start planning live shows too, fingers crossed that can happen before the end of the year!

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You can find Maya’s website here and catch up with her on Facebook, Instagram and TwitterWalk Alone is available to purchase on Bandcamp.

Interview by Siobhan
Photos via Sonic PR

19th May 2021