At just 20 years old, Maya B has already gotten the cosign from DJ Khaled, sat in the studio with Pharrell, and signed a deal with a major label. Hailing from Los Angeles, the singer, songwriter, painter, overall creative artist is a walking testimony of someone who went after her dreams, and didn’t stop until she turned them into a reality. Read more…
With the release of the “Selenas” visual, she showcases a diverse palette of sounds, paired with an unwavering passion and talent of bringing her art to life. Equipped with a clear vision of using her platform for a greater purpose, it’s crazy to think Maya B is just getting started.
For those who don’t know, who is Maya B?
Maya B is a 20-year old-creative who just loves art.
You’re a baby!
I literally am. I feel like that every day.
Where do you fit in the realm of hip-hop and R&B?
I kind of strive to not fit into any realm. I strive to create something new. With this upcoming record “Getting Whoa,” I really want to have people listen to it and be like “wow, this is like pop trap, what is this?” And create that own little lane.
You’re from Los Angeles , how does that play into your life and career?
I grew up in Pasadena, and then I lived in Santa Clarita, the school district. Then I just actually moved into the city and that was freakin’ crazy. I moved from a house with 7 people to living completely by myself in a studio apartment. I thought that I was actually going to go crazy, but I learned a lot about myself. [laughs]
Did you move for your career?
Yeah. 4 months before I got signed, I moved to Hollywood. I was renting a room from this lady — no comment. Then I got my own studio apartment right after I got signed.
Talk about getting signed and that whole journey.
First, Soulshock, who produced for Whitney Houston, Tupac and a whole bunch of greats, he found me. Well, more like I found him. [laughs] Because I hit him up for like 8 months straight until he listened to my music.
No way, like how?
Seriously. I emailed and DM’d him stuff like crazy. Then one day, I posted one of my paintings and he was like, “Oh wow, this is really cool.” I was like “oh thanks!” He was like, “Are you still doing music?” I was like, “Honestly, it’s not going too well right now.” He asked if I wanted to have a meeting, and I was like “fuck yeah.” That’s kind of how everything started. From that meeting, I met my manager, and then Manny Marroquin hopped on board.
We just kept making records. We let out “Kiss On My neck” last September, and then DJ Khaled shouted it out. Since then, a whole bunch of record labels were hitting us up. We did the whole New York trip, met everyone and all the different labels. I still feel like this was like yesterday, it was literally last year.
Talk about your decision signing with Capitol.
They were actually my very last meeting. After we were done, my team and I just looked at each other and were like, “That feels right.” It was crazy because we had flown from New York and did the whole thing. Then when we came back, Capitol was the last meeting. It was just down the street, like how easy was that?
How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
It’s exciting. At least because I grew up out here, so I feel like it’s such a connection to everything. I’m actually so happy that I didn’t go to New York because everything is so familiar. Like KK, who you just met, and Diego, everyone is so involved in the city and everything. It’s such a part of my vibe too, like I can’t imagine living anywhere else. It’s just perfect.
What was the inspiration behind keeping your real name?
You know, it’s funny, because I had a SoundCloud and I had a fake name. But when I met Soul and everyone, he would always say “give me that Maya B shit! Come on, give me that Maya B shit.” How do I say this… when I made music when I was much younger, Maya B was my name. Then I had a year where I was kind of discovering who I was. I was making all these weird disco beats and fucked up, Massive Attack kind of vibes. I was releasing all that stuff on SoundCloud under this name called Layloux. Then when I actually got discovered, I was like, “I want this to be me.” I want everything that’s released, whether it’s disco, hip-hop, pop, or whatever, it’s still parts of me. I just wanted to keep it because it’s all coming from the same place.
Who are your biggest influences?
I love this folk singer, her name is Angel Olsen. I love Missy Elliot. Ugh, I love her. Just her boyish sensual vibe is so dope. Besides them two, I think The Drums. They’re like a surf band, I really love them. They have really good lyrics. I love that they’re so specific in their lyrics. They’re not afraid to say anything. And Connan Mockasin. This is so weird. He’ll have the weirdest sound going for like two minutes, and you’re just like “wtf is happening?” It’s just that freedom of not overthinking it.
The “Selenas” video sees you wildin’ out. Talk about creating the record and visual.
The song was written out of frustration with a boy because he couldn’t lay off. He didn’t understand that I was trying not to date right now. He was just a little bit too aggressive. It was like “if you’re going to get aggressive with me, then I’m about to do the same to you.” The director Alan, and Diego, who edited it, they created really dope visuals to it. They made it this controlled chaos kind of vibe, because it is controlled chaos. When something like that is happening, it’s kind of like you are controlling the inside of you to not fucking go ham on somebody.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
Well, I lost most of my friends last year because I was going after this. I wasn’t even a bad thing, it was just that they didn’t understand my ambitious vibe. Now that I have it, they’re hitting me up. If anything, I want people to know go after whatever the fuck you want. Go after your dream because once you have your dream, everything will fall into place. The people you’re supposed to meet will be there, and the people you’re supposed to fall in love with will be there. I feel like once you are fulfilled within yourself, everything else will be just fine. Whereas for such a long time, I was waiting for me to have the right friends and me to have the perfect boyfriend, instead of focusing on myself and my dreams. Once I did that, everything fell into place.
What is your take on the music industry?
It’s interesting. [laughs] I mean, it’s always different from what I thought it was. But it’s been such a learning experience. Everyone I’ve been around has such a beautiful spirit, so I’m really blessed in that sense. But yeah, I’m just a little baby still.
What can we expect? Any collabs?
I have another single coming within the next two months, shooting the video for it now. There’s going to definitely be an album. Right now, I’ve just been writing like crazy. At the end of the year, we’re going to pick the singles and all that shit.
Can you bring us back to that studio session with Pharrell?
When I first walked in, that’s probably the most nervous I’ve been in a very long time. But then I played him “Selenas” and the next single, “Getty Whoa,” and I just loosened up. Because his reaction was so dope.
That’s a legend.
I was so shook. Even when I found out I got the session with him, I was calling my dad. There was an actual Pharrell dance for a week. I was so excited. The session went so good. He’s really easy to work with. He’s such a kind person to be around. He didn’t make me feel nervous, it was more like me and myself. But we vibed, we wrote on something, and we’re going to get in soon again.
What are some things you learned from the session?
I learned that everyone works differently. Like the way I worked with my producers now is different than how I worked with Pharrell. The process will always be different depending on the collaboration. I just learned that because he works off of energy. He’ll say, “Oh, what’s your vibe? How are you feeling?” We’ll have an actual conversation before we write. Whereas sometimes I’ll go in the studio and someone’s playing something happy, and even though I’ve had a shitty day, I’m like “alright, let me just hop on that.” So that was really interesting.
How did you guys link?
We have the same agent. I went to Outside Lands with my agent. She was like, “Oh I’m going to say hi to P real quick.” I’m like “alright cool.” We walk in to his dressing room and I had a conversation about his tattoos, getting sick, fishing, and just random stuff. That’s where we met, then we watched him perform. I watched him get off and he said, “We should work.” I was like “yeah, of course.” I didn’t think he actually meant it. Especially since I’ve met so many that say that, and I never see them again. But we actually worked, that was so tight.
How important is social media for your career?
I feel like nowadays more, it’s such a big thing. Especially for me because I do a lot of digital art. For me, it’s important to not only post selfies, or here’s me here, and here’s me here. It’s important to post stuff that has a little more substance. I try not to try to come off as someone who’s just going to post a whole bunch of selfies and stuff. It’s really important to show art and add that extra depth into it. Just so people can understand the music more and even understand me more, and so I can understand other people more.
It’s so dope. [laughs] Just last night, I saw this girl made one of my art pieces her profile picture. Because she liked something and I’m like, “wait that’s my photo.” I DM’d her like, “Yo, that’s so tight, thank you.” Because I’m glad it’s not a picture of me. I’m glad it’s a picture of my art, that makes me so happy.
3 things you need in the studio?
A vibe (that’s so fucking vague), incense, and candy. I love those red little sour cherry balls. People think they taste fucking disgusting (because they do). They taste like medicine, but I like them a lot.
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
Waking up at like 10am, going to the gym, eating breakfast. I’ll probably call someone on some stupid shit and be like, “What’s up, what are you doing!” Answering emails. I always try to either paint or make digital art at least once day. I call Diego and annoy the shit out of him. He’s a creative director, so we work on a lot of stuff together. Depending on the day, it’s either a shoot, interview, meetings — a lot of meetings recently. That’s usually what it is, Then I come back home and I party. That’s it.
Do you? Are you a drinker?
Hell yeah. I mean, I’m not 21 yet, so no. Of course not, I’m not a drinker. No.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
Probably fashion. I love design.
What advice do you have for an aspiring Maya B?
Don’t get lost in the sauce. Seriously. I feel like it’s really easy for people to see what’s happening and what other people think is cool. Like “oh, SZA is dope, that’s cool.” And “Doja Cat, she’s tight.” Instead of creating their own lane. Just sitting down and creating whatever’s in your mind, body, and spirit, you’re trying to do something that someone else is doing. I think that the real gem is whenever you channel you, instead of channeling your inner whoever.