Hi Maya, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
I am great, thank you!
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Favorite Song”?
You ever have a favorite song, or artist? Then, the breakup! After you part ways with your awful ex, every time you hear your favorite song and artist, it now just reminds you of the ex? It’s like during the breakup, they took your favorite song!
My new single explores this idea, turning the sad fact of betrayal into a humorous tale of “good riddance, but why’d you have to mess up my favorite song?” I’m a big fan of the artist Anthony Hamilton – his voice and songs were once my soul-soothing past time. That is, until I found out my ex was a “lying cheating creep.” He got the boot, but took my favorite song with him! It is still hard for me to listen to my favorite artist because of that fool.
“Favorite Song” is my tale of finding healing after my bad breakup, but still a little salty that my favorite song went with the ex.
Any plans to work on a new video for the single?
I just had a long phone meeting yesterday about my music video. I believe we will produce this in April. We will make sure you are one of the first to get the video when it is ready!
The single comes off your new EP Unleash Me – what’s the story behind the title?
“Unleash Me” is the name of my forthcoming EP, and title track. I realize that both the song and overall theme of my project is about overcoming various obstacles, and entering in to my/our greatest potential. I explore this theme by sharing my own stories of self-doubt, pain, wanting to give up, feeling held back, and maintaining the faith and endurance to not give up – to keep striving, and be free to fly…. unleashed. I feel every song I wrote is an anthem of empowerment.
How was the recording and writing process?
At this point I have 12 songs recorded; 10 were produced by Sonix The Mad Scientist, and two by legendary drummer/producer John “JR” Robinson (Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan/Rufus, Daft Punk).
Sonix essentially A&R’d the whole project, which is a big step forward from my last full-length album. A multi-instrumentalist with diverse background in music production and composition, Sonix has equal facility in Hip Hop, Rock, Pop, R&B and Gospel. He’s worked with everyone from Sean Puffy Combs and DMC, to members of Motley Crue and Guns-N-Roses. Sonix also has an executive background in the Music industry, in various roles, and was able to help me achieve my vision for my project.
We worked on this for two years. I wrote my lyrics and melodies, Sonix coached me at times to streamline my lyrics, and challenged me to bring my melodies to the next level. As a producer, he creates a musical landscape that elevates my voice and songs to their best. The writing and recording has been a lot of fun, and I think we have a super compatible working relationship. I’m very proud of what we’ve created thus far, and many times it feels almost effortless. I think we are a great team!
What was it like to work with Sonix The Mad Scientist and how did that relationship develop?
I was brought to Sonix’s attention about three years ago, by a mutual friend. They knew I needed a capable producer and wanted to know Sonix’s thoughts on my artistry. In his words he thinks that I am “the truth,” yet my recordings at the time were not conveying my range. Lucky me, he believes in me and saw fit to invest much time in building the new sound.
How did you fall in love with Soul music and would you mind talking about your “breakthrough” sound?
“Falling in love” with Soul was not a process. It always was. Soul music was what was around me growing up, and I was always drawn to singers with big range, and songs that have musicality. Soul music is like home to me. This includes Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire, Prince, etc.
My new sound is a fusion of styles. I always have admired Prince and Stevie Wonder for genre-jumping – From one song to the next you might expect elements of Funk, Rock, Reggae or even Classical. I think you will find this to be true of my new sound. It is eclectic, yet feels cohesive as my vocals are identifiable and my lyrics have their signature passion and inspirational themes.
What have you learned from your traveling and performance experiences from Haiti to Russia?
So far, in addition to more obvious destinations like Europe, I’ve had the privilege of performing in very diverse places including Burma, Croatia, Bosnia, China, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Haiti, India, Tanzania, Honduras and Russia…. My audiences ranged from children in remote villages, to Dignitaries and Presidents. I have found that Music has an incredible power to bring people together. I’ve witnessed people who do not speak my language, to people who do not speak to each other, come together and unify around my music. This is a privilege and a power I have great reverence for.
Any plans to hit the road?
I make my living by touring. So, it absolutely is in my plans to “hit the road.” I would like to take my new “Unleash Me” project around the world.
You are also involved in a few organizations fighting domestic violence – how did you get involved and what drew you to this project in particular?
I believe that my calling is to help people through my gift of music. Because of this, I feel in service of any worthy cause for human rights, empowerment of oppressed peoples, and the protection of the planet we live on. I’ve participated in countless benefits and sung in the name of many a great cause.
Domestic violence awareness has risen to the top, most likely because I am a survivor of a very abusive relationship. Feeling protective of those who are suffering from atrocious abuse of their bodies and safety, I also relate very personally. In my darkest hours I even had a nervous breakdown. I celebrate those who are survivors, and I try never to forget what I’ve walked through to be standing here today. I also would like any young woman who may be currently stuck, to know that there is peace, joy, love and possibility after an abusive relationship.
I became familiar with several organizations that empower women and support services for victims of abuse and rape. Through building these relationships, CONNECTnyc.org asked me to join their executive board. I am very proud of their work, and am especially impressed with their unique outreach to counsel men who are abusers.
How can people help?
How can you help the cause? Remember that you don’t have to become a public figure to make a difference. Start from exactly where you are, and know that you can impact change right around you. Do not underestimate your value or your power. Start with what you have within your reach, from your family, to the block you live on, to your school. You can also donate money, or services, to organizations you believe in.
How can you help me? Follow me on social media. Buy my new single. Share my posts. Stay connected. I plan to build something great. Join me.
What else is happening next in Maya Azucena’s world?
I am so excited and proud of my new project. The debut single from my forthcoming EP will be available on March 15th! I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. Get “Favorite Song” on iTunes, or any digital outlet for music. I plan to tour extensively, so I look forward to seeing you out there! Thanks Guys!