“When I was a child, I was fascinated by women like Gwen Stefani in No Doubt, Enya, and Tracy Chapman, and I listened to a copious amount of sultry female jazz singers from the ’40s. Over the past 5 years, I’ve been inspired by a wide variety of female artists such as Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor, FKA Twigs, Kimbra, Björk, Cocorosie, Erykah Badu, Lady Gaga, Oh Land, Beyonce and many other powerful figures. Although I was raised Catholic, I think growing up in a very female saturated home has inspired me to search for other theories and ideas that I feel more in tune with and demonstrate how I want to view the world. I discovered that Wiccan culture seems to celebrate and welcome the female energy completely equal, if not more powerful, than what is usually depicted in a majority of religions.
There are some female role models I look up to in the music industry who have this dark witchy nature around them, but I suppose I look up to a lot of different artists and don’t put myself into one pot. I think I more so focus on being completely genuine to the whimsical creature I am. Additionally, I think music is one of the most peaceful ways to go about change and helping social movements. When I look at myself as an artist, I want to become the powerful female energy that I so deeply admired and still to this day respect and look up to. This is my way of continuing to develop equality between the sexes in the music industry and in general. I have many reasons as to why I do what I do, but the most important are that I am constantly driven to create art, and I want to be a strong female role model. Wiccan culture is just another addition that I find celebrates the growth of womankind.”
Here are a few examples of said influences and their impact on Maiah’s work:
1.KATE BUSH: I found Kate Bush after being directly compared to her back in 2012, and I soon discovered that there was so much to learn from her. I was a woman obsessed: I saturated myself with her music videos and documentaries. I still regularly watch “Babooshka,” which is definitely one of my all time favorite music videos. Her full commitment to her performance and her seemingly fearless emotional presence inspired me to continue being exactly who I am, and to give more respect to my artistry. Here is this strong woman, who has always made the art that she wants to make – most of the time going completely off the wall and untamed. How is that not inspirational in itself? This is the first single I put out after I joined the church of Kate Bush.
2.NINA SIMONE: Nina. Where do I begin? Her power is still so incredibly influential to this very day. My grandma would play me CD after CD of all the jazz hits when I was little, and I became very preoccupied with trying to sound like all those classic singers. Of course when I first heard Nina’s voice, I didn’t fully appreciate how distinct it was until much later. Her voice stands out among thousands; it is dark and mellow while still remaining full of energy. She meant every single note; which is the motto I tell myself every time I open my mouth to sing. In my complete admiration of her, of course I had to cover “I Put A Spell on You”, one of my all time favorite Nina Simone renditions.
3.GWEN STEFANI (No Doubt: Return of Saturn Era): When I was 9 years old, I begged for theReturn of Saturn album by No Doubt. Here was badass, pink haired Gwen Stefani on the cover looking like she knew all the answers to the universe. This album was a turning point for me as a little girl – I wanted to be just like Gwen. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night just imagining how I could stealthily dye my hair blue…or purple. She contorted her voice, her lyrics were strange and personal; musically, this album opened up my eyes to a world of possibilities. I didn’t feel like I had to be this cutesy, precious girl. I could be whoever I wanted and sing however I wanted. I have fond memories of playing this album on repeat while painting pictures of my cats and dancing around in my platform flip flops.
4.SADE: Some of my fondest memories are of riding in the car with my mom. Growing up with a single parent was not the white picket fence story a lot of the other kids seemed to have, but I knew she had to work very hard to be able to support our family. I think the car rides were so comforting because that was my time alone with my mom, and I got to listen to all kinds of stories and countless tokens of advice. There are specific artists that would be playing on repeat in the car – one was Tracy Chapman, another was Sade’s “Lover’s Rock” album. Listening to Sade still brings me great comfort to this day. Of course, this has plenty to do with my mother, but the velvet voice of Sade could probably cure even the slightest note of anxiety regardless of my attached nostalgia. Backed by smooth R&B beats, and layers of delicate vocals, her music has so much intention. Her voice is pure while sounding as if she has lived for 1,000 years.
5.FIONA APPLE: I found solace in Fiona Apple during my teenage years. I am not even sure when I quite discovered her – it almost feels like she’s always been there. Sort of like a new best friend that you feel as if you have already known for your entire life. Really, in my mind, Fiona is one of my best friends. Those teenage years were a huge transitioning period and I believe that the depth of Fiona’s music really helped guide me as an emotional safe haven in many situations. She inspired me to create honest art. Even if it’s brutal.
Maiah plays March 9th at The Triple Door with A Cedar Suede