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INTERVIEW: Maya Lavelle

Hi Maya, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi, I am fabulous. How are you VENTS?

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “House On A Rocky Road”?

“House on a Rocky Road” is a song that reveals unconditional love hiding in the darkest of places. Next to us there is a whole Universe full of quirky paths and peculiar creatures that are magnificent but misunderstood. All my songs are based on characters and places I got to encounter in real life but then I like to twist their reality and put everything into my musical perspective.

The undead lovers Harry and Mary are partially reflecting the personalities of my grandpa, who was an honoured man full of style and dignity, and my grandma, whose personality I reflect.

The arrangement I wrote is meant to portray life in a graveyard presented with a happy atmosphere, electronic samples, strings, church bells and guitars.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Yes, it was the Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman that I got from my flatmate. Just from the illustration of the cover and reading the first few pages, I headed straight to my studio.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

I found this the most challenging project I experienced physically; long hours shooting in extremely hot weather while climbing up the mountain, wrapped in dust and being stung by huge horseflies. I even had to chase my car down the hill at some point because it was not made for such rocky, steep roads. Despite the difficult terrain, thanks to such an amazing team of talented people, we managed to create a real experience for you in this remote cave and an abandoned mine with a crew and cast of over 70 people. The experience for me was tremendous, I can’t wait to do it again!

The single comes off your new album Hobo – would you call this a conceptual record?

Yes this is a conceptual record. The overall concept is an escape from boredom, inspired from my experiences while living in Amsterdam, Los Angeles, London and traveling.

All the characters I’m singing about in this album are lonely, searching for love and care, just like Hobo. They’re all coming from different dimensions to meet in the “House on the Rocky Road” which is in “Zombie Town”, a capital of Darkwille County. Hobo is the only character who can travel through all the dimensions and he changes the light bulbs on the streets of the whole of the Universe.

What’s the story behind the title?

The title Hobo is about a man who failed to fight the system and lost everything but his soul. I recognized this in his eyes while I walked down the Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and I thought it was quite charming.

How was the recording and writing process?

To create a phantasmagorical world with peculiar places and eccentric characters, I produce my own samples like recording the insects and birds in Brazil and blending with a string orchestra. As well as being the singer-songwriter, I also compose and produce the cinematic arrangements, creating a very colorful and unique identity. To make arrangements more unique I would build my own instruments for example: between piano strings I would experiment with hanging some jewellery, hairpins or my brother’s plastic airplane and then record myself playing the keys.This was then followed by countless days and nights spent in my home studio in Amsterdam crafting the songs in Logic Pro, scoring for all instruments and then spending many days of recording in a professional studio.

How do you blend your classic background with your modern influences?

This record is like a play of various dramaturgical situations which I could musically portray with blending electronic and classical music styles. Stemming from my education in the field of contemporary music, to my personal exploration of the vast music field, I have always been inclined towards experiments that, regardless of commercial success, brought something genuinely new to music, providing musical elements that are challenging, exciting and original. Hence, I am not imprisoned by standards and trends in music and my sound, just like my identity, wonders freely without ever needing to identify with one particular style.

What role does The Netherlands play in your music?

Most of this debut record was written in my studio in Amsterdam. What I love about The Netherlands is that It’s full of contradictions just like me haha, but yet it’s ordered. You’ll get an amazing architecture and gothic buildings that inspire me daily, the mystery behind the red light district, plenty of undiscovered dark corners, the quirky vibe of the coffee shops, old wooden sailor’s pubs, the graveyards of bicycles, beautiful art galleries in the 9 streets, Vondelpark which is a 5 minute walk from my studio and most importantly positive people who appreciate freedom and love to celebrate life.

Once when I cycled through the canals in Amsterdam, in the winter, I had my high heels on and the city was covered in ice and snow, the chain fell off and I skidded, repeatedly pressing my bell for people to move out the way. It was pretty extreme but the sound of wheels rattling through snow gave me an idea that I had to record and produce the sound which I later used in my song.

How did your travelling and other experiences influence this record?

The lyrics and melodies were inspired surrounded by majestic landscapes and places, such as the Grand Canyon, the lights of Las Vegas, driving through Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, missing a plane in New York and ending up on a Liberty Statue boat ride instead, the funny hairstyles of the palm trees in the Indian Canyon in Palm Springs, a confusing encounter with a rattlesnake, the Mayan Ruins of Tulum in Mexico, a tent in the Masai Mara in Kenya, on the beaches of Rio and walking through the Iguazu Falls in Brazil, cycling along the canals of “The Nine Streets” in Amsterdam, getting lost in the Devonshire countryside in England, wandering the streets of Notting Hill in London, a water villa in Maldives. And inspired by characters like smiling capoeira dancers, dodgy street vendors, scary taxi drivers in Nairobi, people living on the streets of San Francisco, New York and LA.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I am a big fan of going to the movies. Cinema inspires me the most, next to the theater and literature. Sometimes I would go to Pathe Tuschinski, a remarkable old cinema in Amsterdam – one of the oldest in Europe. I would just go there by myself, with only the cute mice to keep me company, and watch a movie with a glass of champagne and some popcorn. I must say that I was amazed by the movie theaters in Los Angeles, which I went to while living there. I went to El Capitan theater where the audience were so interactive with the movie, like they were at a rock band concert.

Any plans to hit the road?

Once my album is out in June, I hope to do a tour in USA and Mexico where my music is played the most.

What else is happening next in Maya Lavelle’s world?

Editing of my new music video for a new single Dancing with a Bottle, which we shot in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Palm Springs.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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