by The People’s Minister of Information JR
I have known about the music of Maya Songbird for a number of years, so it is long overdue that I bring this very creative and eccentric Bay Area based artist into the pages of the SF Bay View newspaper. Her debut album, “Writing My Life,” has just been released, and she has a number of gigs locally where people can go check her out for themselves.
For the people who like The Internet, Odd Future and musicians like Sza, Maya Songbird is right up your alley. I love being able to profile the diverse terrain of music and culture in our Black community. Check out Maya Songbird in her own words.
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell us a little bit about when you decided that you wanted to be a musician?
Maya Songbird: Well, I knew when I was a little girl that this was my career choice. It’s been a long journey and an uphill battle for the world to understand just that. I have nonetheless been faithful to what I love throughout all of the adversity – a serious test of patience!
I should have known it wouldn’t be the easiest, going for what I want with so many opinions set against me. And that started way early in my life, the opinions of my own family members. Every Christmas they would line us up and ask what the grandchildren wanted to be when they grow up, and my cousin would say marine biologist and here comes Maya saying I want to be a singer and being told that is more of a hobby, not a career choice.
So it always felt like some type of rebellion, and it started me on my journey for sure, you know, because I knew what I wanted to do and that is sing. So I did just that. And I am still doing it, but I have expanded so much into much more than I ever thought I would.
And I completely took it all on officially in 2009 after losing my third job in the course of three years. I was like, “OK, this is really funny the way life is turning out,” and the rest is history. I hope, not in vain, because surely that would be super lame and I don’t even know what I was thinking this whole time.
Some days I feel I would have been better off being a pediatrician or something because I am really great with kids. Can you picture that, Dr. Maya? Agh, well maybe next life.
M.O.I. JR: How do you define the music that you make? What does it sound like?
Maya Songbird: I would say SOUL in the context of nothing paradoxical. The music I make is in direct contact with my soul expression. My soul is a super rainbow attached to a black cloud. Pretty much always straight forward, you know, nothing in between ever.
Those who hear my music know that it is Maya’s Soul Expression, not Maya and five other people. That is Maya Ivy Spencer Benton’s (government name) Soul. The Songbird.
My music has no limitations. Never any boxes. I am always filled with unlimited expression. I never have a censor.
I believe in destroying comfort zones with a metal baseball bat. My music sounds real. I want to make the world always feel good.
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell us about the recent album that you came out with?
Maya Songbird: “Writing My Life” is the official debut. I have had many projects over the years, such as Mayasongbird.Bandcamp.com, yet this album in particular I am super proud of because it was done in a time of growth and transition.
Shit, life is so hard. Every studio session for this project was a complete release. So it’s a lot of my energy streaming through, also my strength and softness. Compassion.
M.O.I. JR: Who did the production? Why did you pick them to produce your sound?
Maya Songbird: This project is produced by the legendary Trippy Sanders, also known as Stephen Rigmaiden in the house world.
We kinda picked each other. It is weird how things work out, you know. I was friends with Trippy’s sister since forever and she was always like, “You and Maya have to work together.” And then, randomly, one day I ended up at his studio space, in 2011, not even knowing it was him – and the rest is history.
M.O.I. JR: Who is featured on it?
Maya Songbird: The project is mainly just Trippy and I, with the exception of Milo Hiroshima on the rhyming section of the last song on the project, “Perception.”
M.O.I. JR: Where do you see yourself as a musician in five years?
A lot of folks don’t know that I do primarily all of my video directing and editing with the exception of a few videos. So going more into the film territory with a Black mind like mine, I am destined to win and open a whole new portal of magic for those who are in tune and completely understand.
M.O.I. JR: Do you have any performances coming up?
Maya Songbird: I will be performing at Oakland Minds’ Hella Oakland Halloween party on Friday, Oct. 30, 685 35th St., Oakland; Saturday, Nov. 7, at Grease Diner in Oakland; and Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Oakland Convention Center.
Subscribe to www.MayaSongbird.com for all upcoming performances’ details and other fun.
M.O.I. JR: How could people buy your album? How can they follow you online?
Maya Songbird: My album is currently streaming exclusively at BadGirlConfidence.com.
You can find me online at the following places: Soundcloud.com/mayasongbird, Twitter.com/yomayasongbird, Instagram.com/wiredweirdent, Vimeo.com/mayasongbird.
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.