Upstart producers, popping up out of the woodwork almost unannounced and delivering gold-standard music, are becoming a bit of a trend. Maya Q, a London resident, is one such producer: in her gold-label 12″ for Third Place Records, the fledgling producer shows both great strengths as a musician.
Maya Q may not have years and years of experience, but her originality and dedication ease any gaps in the resume. Brushing shoulders and being friends with DJ Pitch led to her quality 2021 debut, ‘I Just Wanna‘, for the notoriously great All Centre label Pitch runs. With just a year’s worth of further experience under the belt, it’s a small shock to hear the boost in quality audible in ‘break rev‘ for fellow Londoner Will Hofbauer’s Third Place imprint.
We should hardly be surprised. A member of the adventurous Co-Select co-operative community seeking to put “balance behind the booth” by supporting emerging non-cis male talent in London and beyond, Maya Q certainly seems to be swimming in all the right circles when it comes to broad interest and diversity of sound.
Her IA MIX sees her put to test those spheres of influence, and with a left-of-centre track selection and fluid, engaging mixing style, we’re moved beyond doubt of her own talents. In our interview, we talk about her involvement in the Co-Select and All Centre fellowships, her approach to building sound and more.
Interview by Freddie Hudson
"I’m not much of a goals person when it comes to music at the moment, I just want to make things that I enjoy on my own terms and feel a sense of technical progress"
Hi Maya. Firstly, thank you for the mix, and for answering our questions. I’d like to start by asking you to introduce the mix to our readers quickly — can you shout out some of the artists and sounds you have selected, and why you picked them for your IA MIX?
Hi, thanks for having me! This mix is a collection of some vocally melodic old and new favourites that I don’t get to play out at clubs much and are linked in my head with my friends and favourite places. Shout out to artists who I’ve been listening to a lot of Tom VR and Mikey, and friends DJ Pitch and hazlo.oOo.
The mix is a great summertime ride. Have you been playing out and attending festivals, after the rather disjointed last two summers?
My summer has been relatively quiet in terms of clubbing actually! I’ve recently moved and changed jobs, so I’ve been focusing a lot on sorting out general life stuff and find it really difficult to balance that with music. During Covid, I spent so much time producing in my flat, so it’s been nice to focus on other parts of my life.
This summer I’ve been mostly going to smaller nights and festivals that my friends are involved in, so this year has had a very strong sense of intimacy and togetherness for me. I’ve spent a lot of nights at Spanners. We just had a joint Third Place EP release party the other weekend with Nowt, which was fun and really silly.
Next, we have to say a big congratulations on the release for Third Place Records. It matches the calibre of the label well, and got us excited to hear more from you. Can you tell us a bit about how the release came to be?
Will has been giving me feedback since I started producing, so he’s heard the full spectrum of demos I’ve made for better or for worse. This EP just kind of happened naturally in the last year or so — I put out a track on a Sticky Tapes compilation that Will really liked, which turned into swapping demos more formally, which then eventually turned into an EP.
The whole experience has felt really effortless and the tracks just kind of fell in place, plus Will is the most enthusiastic, supportive person to work with as well. I think he cares more about the EP than me. He is super open to whatever and any ideas and really encouraged me to reach for this one. A very big thank you to Marlena as well, who did the dream music video for ‘break rev‘.
While there are some easily identifiable tropes in the stylistics of the tracks (breakbeat for one), there’s a lot of subtlety to the EP material. I’m particularly in love with the frenetic but calm style of ‘love song’ — what’s the story there, with regards to influences and the “intention” behind the track?
Around the time I was writing it I was listening to a lot of 2000’s pop, like ‘Girl‘ by Destiny’s Child, and there was a lot of uncertainty and tension in my life for some personal reasons, so I think the song reflects that. It wasn’t originally planned to be part of the Third Place EP either – at the time there was a lot of pressure on me to act a certain way or to do certain things, so I’m happy that it’s eventually come out on my own terms on Third Place.
You’ve got a number of releases out, besides this one for Third Place, that are out on pretty enviable labels: your debut release for All Centre release from February 2021 in particular caught our ears. Despite that, you’ve not been producing for a very long time period. I’d like to ask about how you began with making music, and how you are refining yourself in such a compact time frame — do you have goals or targets as a producer that you work towards, or do you just have fun?
I started producing around 2.5 – 3 years ago now. I have a background in playing classical music which helped with just having a vocab around really basic concepts like tempo and intonation in the beginning, but I really owe my start as a producer to Will, who has always encouraged me and given me 100s of pointers, and Sangre Voss especially, who showed me how to use a DAW and just about everything else. It felt very full circle and special to be able to release on Third Place because of that.
As for goals or targets – I’m not much of a goals person when it comes to music at the moment, I just want to make things that I enjoy on my own terms and feel a sense of technical progress.
Can you talk to us a bit about the collective you’re a part of, Co-Select? How has being a part of this collective shaped you musically, either as a DJ or producer? What opportunities do you think you would not have had, were it not for the network?
Co-Select started a few years ago from a big group of friends from University with a couple of people joining over the years including me. It’s been a really gentle way to get involved in running nights and producing. I don’t know if I would have started producing as soon as I did if I hadn’t joined.
I’m grateful to have such a nice group of people around me who are so incredibly encouraging and supportive. It’s also quite a mixed group of different music tastes, interests, aspirations, so that’s quite fun as well and interesting to see how everyone has changed from the start to now.
Do you have any advice for anyone wishing to set up a similar network, or to be (more) involved with an established one?
Do whatever feels right and don’t take anything too seriously.
What are you setting your sights on next in the musical world? Do you have more releases lined up or on the way, or some major gigs upcoming?
I don’t really seek out DJ’ing outside of very occasionally doing a bit at a friend’s night or something like that. I’ve got one remix for a really fun project soon, and then maybe one more around the end of the year, so this feels like the first real break I’ve had where I’m not trying to get a release out or finish mix downs. I’m looking forward to just producing with no pressure, no expectations, no plans again!
1. Mikey – Whoever You Are
2. Organ Tapes – Condition
3. Planet 1999 – Crush
4. bladee, ecco2k – amygdala
5. ELLES – end of the nite
6. Sofia Kourtesis – Estación Esperanza
7. Atro ft Hence Therefore – Because Of U
8. Maya Q – Soft
9. Tom VR – Couldn’t Find the Words
10. Ada – You and Me
11. hazlo.oOo – Rider
12. Suzi Analogue – Tightrr
13. Maya Q – Love Song
14. Taz & Meeks – Obviously
15. DJ Pitch – Cold Like Shires
16. OCA – HeavenCent