All about Dutch singer Maya Mae

vor 3 years

Let us introduce you to Phoebe de Beer, better known as Maya Mae:

A young, Dutch musician and video director who writes songs that make you feel empowered yet sensitive and kind of sexy, all at the same time. In her latest song “Delusional” Maya Mae addresses sexual objectification, and in her lyrics of “Breath Me” she reveals a very personal side. With her angelic voice, Maya Mae creates a sensitive and gentle sound; perfect to listen while enjoying your Sunday blues. Her goal: Making you feel like a fucking goddess.

Your last song ,,Delusional’’ is about the sexual objectification of women on a daily basis. This song not only tells your personal stories but those of many others. Can you tell us a little bit about the process of writing the song? It sounds like a very personal and emotional project to work on as a young woman.
Yeah definitely. The song came out pretty easy because I already knew what I wanted to say. I wanted to write something about this topic, because when I talk to my friends, everyone has these nasty, uncomfortable experiences. The song is written for me but also for all the women around me. In my opinion, there are never too many female-empowering songs! I always feel very empowered when I listen to such songs, so I wanted to write something too, especially in these times. Sometimes I talk to people and they are like: “have you really experienced that?’’. Especially men aren’t aware of our experiences with sexual objectification, but it happens on a daily basis and I wanted to point that out.

Did you have the idea to start a conversation with your listeners after you released the song?
Yes, some women approached me after I released the song and told me that they can relate to the song and it makes them feel like a fucking goddess. For me, this is exactly how I wanted to make them feel, so mission accomplished! Obviously, I was trying to start a conversation but you never know how people are going to perceive your songs. Some people just listen and think it’s a cool song and then some people actually listen to the lyrics and can relate to what I say. Those are the people I write it for. The song is just a reminder that you are not alone but at the same time, sexual objectification shouldn’t be normal.

Cool that women approached you after!
Yeah, those messages mean the most to me and make me so happy.

You produce and direct all your videos yourself, I can imagine this gives you a lot of creative freedom in communicating a certain story. How do you start this process of creating a video? Do you for example already have a visual in mind while writing the song or is this something that comes after?
It depends, it’s not the same process every time. With my last song, the visuals came in a later state. But mostly it’s when I listen to something, I automatically see visuals. I take these and start to create a story around them. I always want my videos to portray a different angle to the story than I tell in the lyrics. I don’t want my videos to be too literal. Sometimes it also happens that I come up with visuals and create a song around them. The only thing I am always repeating in every project is having a conversation with myself. I’m asking myself questions about the song and the video. After, I am answering them. I have sooo many files filled with questions and answers. For me this dialogue with myself is super important to understand what I am trying to say, what the song is about and how can I make it as beautiful as possible.

Besides directing your own videos, you are also directing videos for others. Is this something you want to do more extensively in the future
Yes, I would love to become a video director for all kinds of artists. I mean, how cool would it be to make videos for creatives I find very inspiring? One day, I want to make a video for The Weeknd.

Haha, that would have been my next question – Who is the dream person you would want to make a video for?
The Weeknd!! I have loved his music forever and with his music, I feel so many things at the same time. I remember being so addicted to his first albums. Right now, I am finishing creating a video for an upcoming artist. After that project, I am planning to do two more so actually, I am already making videos more extensively. I just notice that it’s very hard to balance it with making my own music. But I feel blessed to be able to make beautiful stuff for other people and that they actually want me to direct videos for them.

When you say it’s hard to find the balance, do you secretly love doing one more than the other?
For me, making music and directing videos are going hand in hand, but it’s hard to grow in doing both. If you want to make it in the music industry, you have to give a 200% and if you want to make it as a video director you also have to give 200%. That would mean I always have to give a 400% and this is tough. But I want to believe it’s possible and I will do everything to make it happen. The love for making music and for making videos is very equal.

But that sounds like the right spirit! A while ago, we asked you to make a playlist to play in our offices (or anywhere else), can you tell us a little bit about the mood you wanted to create with this playlist?
Most of these songs make me feel nostalgic. Honestly, I love anthems and pop music. It makes me feel so good and empowered. But I am the biggest reminiscer, I don’t even know if that is a word. Sometimes I live a bit too much in the past, but not in a bad way. I often feel sad in a moment, knowing that it’s going to end. But instead of enjoying the fucking moment, I am occupied with this thought. But anyways, almost every song in the playlist gives me a nostalgic feeling and they say a lot about who I am as a person.

Well, thank you for opening up to us! I would like to hear about your experiences during the pandemic; did you discover something about yourself you didn’t know before?
I have been with myself and my thoughts most of the time, and this was a big confrontation for me. To be honest, for the biggest part of the pandemic I haven’t been feeling that well. I think, because there was this general fear amongst everyone. I tried to distract myself by learning to play the piano, the guitar, and the drums but unfortunately, I am also not very disciplined (I’m working on it, really). So for the first three weeks, I was like: “yeah, I will be so fucking talented after the pandemic’’. Well, let me tell you, it didn’t exactly go the way how I had it in mind. But I still want to become better at playing the piano and the guitar, even if it would only be for understanding music theories better. And next to that, lately, I’ve found comfort in being on my own. I even became a little bit anxious about social gatherings since it’s possible again to meet with more people. But I think many experience this as well. It’s totally okay to say that you don’t feel like it tonight, I don’t even make excuses anymore, if I don’t want to hang out with friends.

I can relate, no need for excuses anymore!

So, I know your real name is Phoebe de Beer; why are you presenting yourself as Maya Mae?
Not all the songs that I write are me, if you understand me? I want to have a certain distance between me as an artist, and myself. Because, when you see me in my videos, I want everything to be on point. I want my styling to be on point, my make-up should be on point, everything needs to be perfect and fitting to the music I make. But when you see me walking in the streets, I almost look like the opposite. I just feel that Phoebe is very different to Maya Mae, and I think it’s important to create a distance between these two, just to stay grounded and close to myself.

Would you say Maya Mae is your alter ego?
Yes, you could say that! As I said, I want to have a certain distance between Phoebe and Maya to stay close to myself. People think it’s just a stage name, but for me, it’s more than that.

Your first song “I just want to feel something” was a collaboration. Who would be the ultimate artist to do the next collab with?
Hmmm, I haven’t really thought about this. Let me think. James Blake or Tame Impala! Maybe you wouldn’t expect these two with the music I make, but I think they are so talented. I think they are real music geniuses. And, of course, The Weeknd.

Okay but what if you weren’t making music or directing videos, what would you do?
I would probably open my own restaurant. I love cooking!

True! I saw this on your Instagram, everything looks so good! What kind of restaurant do you have in mind?
Haha, thank you! I would probably go somewhere in Asia and open a breakfast-and-lunch place.

Where in Asia?
Maybe in the Philippines, it is so quiet and calm there. I would pick a very off-grid place. This is a good example of the difference between Phoebe and Maya Mae: Maya is in the spotlight and gets attention, Phoebe lives more off the radar instead of being the center of attention.

So who knows, maybe in the future you’ll be living in the Philippines, where no one knows where to find you. But what if we do want to find you, what would the name of your future restaurant be?
I haven’t thought that far. Probably something with the word panda, because pandas are cute. This would be a dream for when I’m older!

But since you are making music and directing videos, can you spill something about the (near) future?
Yes, I’m currently working on an EP and some singles! I’m not going to say anything more than that, but I am very excited to sing again after quite a while. The last time I released a song is already over a year ago, so I can’t wait to get that thrill again. One thing I can say is, it’s going to be different….

Different is good! We can’t wait to hear it!

Picture Courtesy of Jaasir Linger
Interview by Emma Hersbach

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