Singer-songwriter Maya Delilah opens up about her new single "Thank You", working with Samm Henshaw, her upcoming EP, and why she believes everything happens for a reason.
Maya Delilah – even her name sounds like a song. It’s this innate essence of musical ability that seems to course through Maya’s very soul – and you can certainly hear it in her music. Whether she’s posting groovy covers on YouTube, teasing original new tunes on Instagram, or jamming in a studio with her collaborators, you can’t help but stop and watch. This is what seems to be one of Maya Delilah’s biggest draws – she’s just such a natural that you can hardly imagine her pursuing any other path but music.
Breaking through during the pandemic, Maya’s soft vocals intertwine with a blended mix of jazz, pop, and classic soul to create a potent mix. Only releasing her debut single, “Tangerine Dream”, last year (still one of her most popular songs to date), she’s gone on to carve a niche for herself with graceful, time-halting numbers filled with angelic harmonies, harp introductions, and delicious guitar licks reminiscent of Tom Misch.
This year, Maya’s released four singles, “Gravity”, “Need A Word With Cupid”, “Break Up Season” with Samm Henshaw, and now, “Thank You”. The latter trio of singles are tasters from her sophomore EP, which is set to drop soon. With all songs written within the space of a month, the record covers everything from heartbreak to empowerment as we go on a journey with Maya after a breakup.
Dive into our conversation below as we discuss the healing power of music, creative inspirations, dream collaborators, and much more.
Your new single “Thank You” is described as “the ﬁnal chapter” in your breakup journey. Was the process of writing it healing? Or was it a painful catharsis?
The process involved a mixture of emotions. From the instant I heard the chords played, it weirdly felt a perfect match to how I was feeling, and having already written the other songs from the EP, which cover empowerment, heartbreak, and bitterness it was clear that this was gonna be the sincere one which matched perfectly with the tone of the chords. Because of it being so simple and sincere there was deﬁnitely a pressure to nail exactly what I felt in the small lyrical section, but having said exactly what I wanted to say I deﬁnitely felt a large sense of healing. It’s the beauty in songwriting – getting to say what you couldn’t necessarily say or get the chance to say. There was of course elements of pain as I was still very present in my breakup (having written it only a month later).
Do you believe that catharsis is necessary after pain?
Personally, I believe yes, however, I am fortunate to have the luxury of a creative outlet where I can channel my emotions to achieve catharsis whereas many don’t. I deﬁnitely used my songwriting to let out my feelings and start getting over that chapter of my life and I can now say how happy I am because of it all. I think it’s necessary to try and ﬁnd areas to overcome the pain and not dwell in it if you can help it – otherwise, how will you move on with life? But like I said, I am lucky that I have an obvious outlet and feel for those who don’t.
When you go around your day-to-day life are you always aware of how you are processing emotions or experiencing situations, from a creative songwriting perspective?
I am always jotting things in my notes, whether that’s an emotion, an interesting situation I witnessed, a line from a movie that made me think etc. My mind seems to naturally switch on as soon as I experience something that I believe could be turned into a lyric or concept for a song.
How are you feeling about the upcoming release of your EP? What are your hopes and fears?
I am sooo excited for it. This EP has been a year in the making – every song from it was written in the space of a month and each song outlines exactly how I felt each step of the way through my breakup. Because this one means so much to me and feels so personal, I hope it does well and people enjoy the songs, but mostly I hope that someone who goes through the same thing can relate and ﬁnd some peace or help in listening to it. I remember always taking comfort listening to other artists’ breakup/heartbreak songs as it made my problem feel so much more universal so I hope this EP has a similar eﬀect for someone.
Which artists or records have been instrumental in shaping your sound, both then and now?
Weirdly for this EP we didn’t reference any artists. We basically didn’t have time to reference anyone or anything, I just went in and whatever emotion I was feeling it all kind of naturally progressed to shape around that. I don’t remember once pulling up an artist and referencing them (which I do a lot). Now I am currently writing my third EP, I am inspired by Anderson Paak, Tyler The Creator, Leven Kali, Vulfpeck and many more (ever-changing).
You recently collaborated with Samm Henshaw on “Breakup Season”. How did this come about? What was it like working together?
I met Samm about three, maybe even four, years ago and we said we’d get in a session and write but many things got in the way and it never ended up happening. Then, about 3 days after my breakup I decided to start messaging artists I really wanted to work with and just go for it. Samm was the ﬁrst person I messaged and he happened to be about the next week so we got in the studio and it instantly clicked. We wrote ‘Breakup Season’ that day and it was honestly one of the best sessions I’ve had. He’s super great to work with, easy-going, down-to-earth, fun, and of course insanely talented. We then went to book some more sessions in and that’s when “Thank You” was written.
Is there anyone else you’d love to work with – not necessarily another musician but producers, songwriters etc?
I mean, I have dream people like John Mayer, Anderson Paak, Tyler The Creator, Bruno Mars and soooo many more. I really want to start collaborating with more people this next year.
Do you feel like there’s pressure in the industry to consistently drop music? Does it aﬀect you?
Yes absolutely. There’s a massive pressure to stay present and current and consistently dropping music falls under that umbrella (that is largely dominated by social media presence). I however ﬁnd it a good pressure as I love the process of writing, recording and releasing music but it can become overwhelming when deadlines get introduced and more eyes are on you. But it’s all part of the job and most jobs have deadline pressure and at least mine gets to be making music with my friend and producer, Stephen Barnes.
Besides the EP, what else is in the pipeline?
Without spilling too much, maybe some more collaborations? Maybe some more shows? Maybe some more music?
What are you manifesting for 2022?
I am not big on manifestation, I more believe that things happen for a reason and also to work hard for the things you wish for. BUT I do hope it is a good year and my upcoming projects go to plan and do well, and also that I get better at baking.