Friday, 10 December 2010

Maya Jane Coles Interview & Trax

As we head into a New Year, Maya Jane Coles finds herself riding pretty atop a wave of interest. We catch up with the girl everyone's talking about...

Although now on the tip of everyone's tongue in the wake of her organ-lead anthem, 'What They Say' on Real Tone, Maya Jane Coles has been doing this a while. Still only 23, she casually started producing in her mid teens, whilst the first releases proper have come in the last two years on Dogmatik and 1trax. Besides both a house and tech bent, though, there is also dubstep in Coles' arsenal, with chilling cut "Can't Hide the Way I Feel' (released under her Nocturnal Sunshine moniker) the proof she is to be bound to no one niche in particular.

Her Hypercolour EP, Hummingbird (five tracks of variously percussive, dancefloor, sultry and vocal house), is out now, and word is there are plenty more remixes and productions in the pipeline. So, we decided to get in touch with surely one of the hottest prospects for 2011, Maya Jane Coles...

What music did you grow up around as a child, what did your parents play?

I was lucky to grow up hearing all kinds of different music. My parents are very eclectic people so it opened my mind to a lot of different styles from a young age. Growing up I'd hear everything from Dub to Punk to Soul and Jazz to World to Classical music around the house.

When did you first hear electronic music? How did it make you feel and what was it?

The first electronic sounds that I got into was anything Bristol sounding. I remember the first time I ever listened to Portishead and Massive Attack I was absolutely blown away. I was also really into Drum & Bass as well back at school, and those were the first kind of parties I used to go to.
Did you start collecting records/DJing/producing straight away? How long after you started were you happy to play out/release records?

I started out as a producer and that's my main trade. The DJing came later off the back of the productions.

With the production I knew it was what I wanted to do from the first few tunes I ever made when I was 15. If someone had offered to release my music then I would have said yes cause I was so excited about it. Good job I didn't cause there'd be no taking it back now!

Why did you want to become a DJ/producer – what appealed to you most? The parties/making music/performing…?

It wasn't like "Oh I want to become a producer, I better learn how to make music…." It was more like, I played a few instruments, I loved writing music and one day I took it a little more seriously and realised it was what I wanted to do with my life. Actually creating the music is definitely the most appealing part for me. The parties and DJing are a bonus :)

Is making music/DJing a full time ting now? Has it been like that since you started?

Yeah it's a full time thing. Since I left education I've pretty much been able to get by spending most of my time doing music related things. I've also done things like teaching music and graphic design to help me to survive throughout the years.

Why do you have the many different monikers – why not just use one name?

There are two of us in She Is Danger, so it has to have a different name.

Nocturnal Sunshine is the alias I use for my dubstep project. I chose to keep this separate cause it's a very specific project. Everything else I do is under my name.

Can you tell us a bit about each (Nocturnal Sunshine, She Is Danger, your own name)– are they all influenced by different things and quite separate or?

She Is Danger is a collaboration between myself and Vocalist/instrumentalist Lena Cullen. We have worked together to create a very distinct sound and work mainly on full vocal stuff with a more conventional song structure compared to what I like to do with some of my solo stuff. Nocturnal Sunshine is a project specifically for my Dubstep based productions which have quite a dark sound with a hint of light (hence the name). And anything else that I do goes under my own name. All projects are definitely influenced by different things but at the end of the day you can definitely hear that they are all my own productions.

Contradiction by Maya Jane Coles

Do any of your aliases get more time than the other? When writing, do you think “OK, I'm going to do some Nocturnal Sunshine music today” or do you just write it and then assign it a moniker?!

I guess the MJC stuff gets the most time cause that's not genre specific. With the other stuff it's music that I usually plan to do (even though I'm rubbish at planning!), whereas with the stuff under my own name it's just whatever comes out. Although most of what has been released so far under MJC is House based stuff, the music I generally make in my own time covers a lot of different areas. I'm currently working on the MJC album and I definitely wouldn't class it as House music.
Do you think you have a distinctive style to your music? Are there any rules you impose on yourself in the writing/recording process?

I'd like to think I do! I don't really like to create too many rules for myself when I make music cause it takes the fun away from it. I guess it's just to make sure I finish anything to the best I can do it, cause my best is all I can do :)

So you DJ as well as play live? What sort of set up do you use? (Do you perform under all your different monikers?)

I DJ under my own name and play live as part of She Is Danger. When we perform I trigger FX and loops running Ableton, play some synths and do spoken word, and Lena does main vocals, plays synths, uses delay loop station and plays melodica, so we've got quite a bit going on between the two of us!

Where do you look for new music and how often? How must a record make you feel before you play it out?

A record's gotta make me feel some kind of emotion for me to play it or want to listen to it. Whether it's happy or sad or excited or just makes me wanna dance. I'm always listening out for new music to play. I like to play a lot of my own stuff and my friends' music in my sets.

How has your year been? What have been your biggest challenges?

My years been amazing! Didn't expect so much to happen before the end of the year. I've had some real highs and real lows but that's how it goes, and overall it's been fantastic. One of my biggest challenges recently was dealing with getting all my equipment stolen after a live gig. I lost loads of new stuff and work in progress. But I just had to accept it and move on. And to be honest it was just a push to make my new music better than what I had lost!

How have your musical tastes evolved for you this year? What has got you going?

My musical tastes evolve (or broaden) all the time. I love discovering new music and new sounds. At the moment I've been absolutely rinsing Warpaint's album "The Fool".

What have you got planned for 2011?

To take over!

Humming Bird by Maya Jane Coles


  1. LOVE IT!

  2. Maya was fantastic at Exit 2011 in Serbia... Very nice set which led to more deeper and darker acts into the morning... :)