Maeve, the Cayman Islands born, genre-blending musician, reveals her dream dinner party guest, plans for an immersive-gig experience, her upcoming EP, and much more.
Maeve bursts with energy and creativity both in her music and the way she describes it. Every question about her creative process made her eyes light up. As cliche as it sounds, she appears to truly thrive off of making music and the process that goes with it.
Through Maeve’s music, her vulnerable, often very gentle lyrical style runs alongside a multi-instrumental, loud production style. It’s an unlikely pairing but it just works. When listening to Maeve, it’s hard to pin her sound down; her commitment to being un-anchored by genre putting her in a lane of her own.
Maeve’s breathy, ominous new single, “Bleach”, has just dropped, and after years of building up a solid portfolio of singles, her forthcoming EP ‘Caravaggio in a Corner Store’ is finally out this June.
Whilst the pandemic is still rolling on, Notion had a chat with Maeve via Zoom. It pained me that I was only able to see half of what I’m sure was an incredible outfit. Dive in!
How are you feeling about your latest single “Bleach” recently coming out?
I’m so pumped this is out. Because it’s the first song I wrote about a year ago, so I’ve been waiting for it to come out for quite a while now. I’m so excited that everything’s coming to life and going out to the world.
Is it ever weird writing about something you’re experiencing and then the song not coming out for maybe a year later, where you may be over that situation or the circumstance has changed?
It is but at the same time, it sort of marks that kind of stage in your life that you were in at that time. So it’s almost like a memory, you still feel super emotionally connected to it as well. When you sing it, you’re kind of brought back into that emotion, or when you perform it or and you revisit the song, it all comes up again. Which is a good and a bad thing. It depends on what the song is about.
So, what’s the story behind the name Maeve?
Maeve is actually my middle name. I felt like I still wanted it to be part of my personal identity, because I’m writing about my life with an honest lens and writing about all my experiences every day. This project is almost like a diary of my experiences in my life. I wanted it to be something that was personal for me. It was a natural thing to just use my middle name Maeve.
You have quite a unique style, if you had to sum up your style how would you describe it?
It’s hard to sum up, because it’s a lot of things. I take inspiration from a lot of different genres, and kind of put them together. And a lot of that happens subconsciously, I don’t realise that I’m doing it. Because I’m self-taught, I never really learnt any of the rules, like you shouldn’t put this genre or that sound together. I just do it because that’s all I’ve known and I think it just comes naturally. I think it’s just a mismatch of different genres. I listen to a lot of electronic music. I love the trip-hop era of the 90s hip-hop era. And I love pop music in general, I grew up listening to really good written pop. I love a great pop song. And I also listen to great lyricists like Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits; I loved people who could just carve up stories. You’re almost transformed into their cinematic world when you listen to their music. I think I kind of just chaotically combine those aspects.
I get the impression sometimes that people shy away from calling themselves pop artists, so it’s refreshing you hear you speak so fondly of the genre.
I mean, you can understand why people shy away from it, because I think pop used to to be a lot narrower, but now, everything is basically pop, even if you hear a hip-hop song, it’s such a broad thing. And it’s actually really, it like allows you to get as many people into the room, but also kind of steer them in whatever direction you want them to go in. I find that really empowering, it’s great to get messages across. I love pop.
Could you tell us a bit about your new single, “Bleach”?
This song kind of came out of a time where I fell out of love with social media and being online all the time. It’s draining seeing all of these perfect pictures everywhere. But also, I feel like even the relatable pictures are constructed too. I wanted to make a song that sort of pokes fun at that and also say, this is a bit fucked up. But also, I just want to laugh at it and make a dance-sounding track which was actually quite sinister underneath. I think that reflects the squeaky-clean images that we all kind of put up. But underneath, there’s always something a bit weird going on.
By now, you must have written so many songs throughout your life, because I know you started quite young. But is there a song that you would say is your ride or die, favourite song you’ve ever written?
That’s really hard. It changes a lot. When I write a new song that I really, really love, I’m like, this is my favourite song – this is the best one yet! Then I write another one and I’m like actually no, this is it! It completely changes with how I’m feeling and the mood of it as well. And also, when I perform it live, the reaction and people connecting to it, that can change it as well. So, it’s just an ever-changing thing. But at the moment, it’s a song that I’ve recently just written, and it probably won’t be coming out for a while.
Are you excited to get back to touring? Do you have any special ideas for those shows?
I’m working on a live idea at the moment which I’m really excited about. I’m just thinking of different ways to create something that’s totally immersive and breaks down the barriers of crowd and performer a little bit more and gets people involved. I almost think that this whole thing is a world or a collective of people getting involved rather than just a stage and a crowd. I’m definitely thinking about a lot of things through video, through light and through set design to make it as immersive and otherworldly as possible.
That sounds amazing! When you’re in this creative headspace, do you ever get it where you suddenly have a lyric come to you and you have to write it on a coffee cup or you think of a melody in the shower?
All the time. this basically takes over my whole life, writing songs, writing music, like I’m never not writing a lot of the time. I’m super inspired when someone might say something that I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s a really cool word’. Or I might read something on a sign and just have to write it down. I’m just constantly writing lyrics, mainly just on my phone. I could be walking and a song idea might come to me, and then I have to run home because I need to finish the song before I get out of that creative flow. It’s quite hectic, like it never really stops.
In one of your songs you say, “This island is too small to hide your soul”. Could you talk us through this feeling?
That lyric kind of just came from the frustrations of being from such a small place. The Cayman Islands are only 25 miles long, you know everyone. If you go through a massive breakup, or if something really personal happens in your life, you can’t really run away from it, you have to face it every single day, and that can be quite draining. Something that I really, really love about living in London now is that you have your group of friends and the people that stick by you, but also, there’s this sense of being unknown, and just being able to observe everything without constantly knowing everyone.
- Jacket ELEANOR LOUISE JONES
- Top CHRISTIANA HAJIPAPA
- Choker B_DODI
- Trousers Erin Hayhow
- Boots Eleanor Louise Jones
- Bag Slipper UNTITLABTM
- Shoes Untitlab
It was great to see you being featured on the Radio 1 Introducing stage! Do you have a bucket list of things you want to achieve?
I have a really, really long list of achievements that I want to keep ticking off. And all of them try and go up to this one goal of creating this world of people who want to get their voice heard. People who might feel that we’re living in this unstable world and we don’t know the direction of where things are going but also have hope, and we want to keep our voices heard. I want to create a home but also make people think.
Let’s get to know you outside of the music. What does a perfect weekend look like to you?
I think it would probably still be to do with music (laughs), because I don’t really have any other life apart from that! But I’d probably just want to go somewhere with a group of my friends somewhere – maybe in the mountains or in nature, something really away from the chaos and the crowds and just go out there and create art and create music. And maybe create films or whatever, just do something creative, but away from everything. I think that would be great to do right now. I’d love to do that.
If you could have your dream dinner party with five musicians, dead or alive, who would you have?
I would have Prince, Grace Jones – because I feel like she would be like the best partier ever. I would have Leonard Cohen because I think it would be amazing to have a massive conversation about life with them. Probably Kanye because it will bring controversy. And who else? That’s so hard. There’s so many people. Oh, I know! Patti Smith.