Maiyanai is an alternative R&B musician and producer who’s based in Tel Aviv, Israel. She recently released her unbelievable new single, ‘Fine’, and we at Indie Top 39 have had it on repeat ever since our first listen! Her music is a beautiful melting pot of sounds and ideas, and we were so thrilled when she agreed to be interviewed! Chatting to us about the deeper meaning behind ‘Fine’, her love for the late Mac Miller, and what she enjoys most about being a musician, please give a big welcome to Maiyanai.
We’re so excited to “present” you to our audience today! Could you tell us a little bit about your musical journey, and when your love affair with music started?
So, first of all, I want to thank you for having me. It’s exciting for me as well.
I think my love affair with music started at a really young age. I remember in kindergarten, we did a year-end musical performance and I just didn’t leave the teacher alone until he agreed to give me the lead role. But there was a moment, I think I was 12 or 13 years old and my grandma couldn’t be with me or something, so my cool young uncle took me to work with him. He was working in gym maintenance at the time. It was winter, Toronto, Canada. He asked me to stay in the towels room and to not go out. He just gave me his headphones and told me something like, “I make music Mai, can you listen and tell me what you think?” I was blown away. I was shocked. I just sat there for hours – just staring at the winter outside and realizing that it’s possible.
People are allowed to try to make their dreams come true. That’s when I realized what my dream looked like.maiyanai
You recently released your brand new single ‘Fine’ and I just have to say, it’s an absolute banger of a tune! Super fresh and just an exciting sound all-around! How proud are you of the track?
Yesss thank you! I’m really proud of this one. Usually, I start to work on a new song alone at my home studio and when it gets to the producer’s studio it already has shape and body. In this case, we made everything together (Roey Bitan and I ) from head to toe. Lyrics, music, production – everything. It was a new experience for me, we pushed each other’s limits. I think it did well and made us come to an outcome that we wouldn’t have reached any other way. Big up to Roey Bitan and also to my dear friend Ariel Shalom who mixed that song in a very precise way.
I’ve heard you describe ‘Fine’ as a “dancing the pain away vibes” song. I love that description! And I know that, lyrically, the song isn’t as happy and funky as the production. What does the song mean to you?
Wow, great question. You know, the main reason why I make music is that I want to have the ability to make people feel less lonely in their life experiences and in what they’re going through. Music is a lifesaver for me. ‘Fine’ is like a confession song to me. I just say out loud all the shitty, bad things that I feel and think about myself, just let it all out, let it go. I think that being vulnerable is a great power and a super important skill. I wanted to find a way to convey the liberation and beauty of the experience of confession so we made a song that makes you happy, makes your body move, and only if you pay attention to the lyrics, the “heavy” part, the “dark side” is revealed. It’s like Yin and Yang you know? We play the game of life and finding the right balance in everything is the goal.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process? Not specifically for ‘Fine’, but in general. How do you take an idea and turn it into the finished product?
It’s very flexible but I think that most of the time it starts in my head. Sometimes it’s a melody line or just a sentence or even one word and then there are two options – one: it just fades away, or two: it survives the three-day rule and I get obsessed with it. Then I start to figure out what I have and where it needs to go. I can start working with the piano first and I can open a new project on Ableton. It depends on my mood. Then the magic happens and a new song comes to life, most of the time it will be a bad one or just won’t work and it will stay there, and sometimes I feel like something special just happened and I fall in love.
Your overall sound is such a beautiful melting pot of genre-blending ideas and soundscapes. Who are some of your biggest musical influences? And who did you grow up listening to?
I grew up in a house with lots of rock and folk music classics. Hebrew and English.
Suzanne Vega, Nora Jones, Jhodit Ravitz, Bob Dylan, Arik Einstein, The Doors, Janis Joplin my love, Bon Iver, Ben Howard, The Beatles, The High Windows, Yonatan Gefen and more and more. Then I discovered hip-hop and I fell in love so hard. The way they put the words on the music is breathtaking. Through hip-hop, I learned to love jazz.
If I had to choose one artist as my biggest influence it would be Mr Mac Miller (RIP). No doubt.maiyanai
I actually came across your cover of Mac Miller’s ‘Conversation Pt. 1’ on Youtube. It’s incredible! I must confess, I’m a massive fan of the late rapper. Why was this particular song so inspiring to you?
It moves me that you chose to ask about this cover. As I mentioned earlier, Mac is one of my biggest influences and just like you I am a huge fan. I find the late hip-hop genre the most interesting and inspiring to listen to and Mac is at the top of the list. I think the album Swimming is a masterpiece. Conversation Pt.1 specifically is a song that I can relate to. To me when he says money, he means something bigger and deeper than actual money. Money is a symbol of commitment to hard work, ownership of the way, modesty and adherence to the goal. Plus the production and the repetition of this song are genius to me.
OK, Maiyanai – desert island time! You’re about to be cast away and you’re allowed to take 3 albums with you. Which do you choose?
Swimming – Mac miller
Revenge Of The Dreamers III – Dreamville
Life For Rent – Dido
Unfair question though 🙂
What is your favourite film or documentary that is about music?
I love all Rick Rubin’s documentaries. Fantasia by Disney is the best. Hamilton the Musical is craaaazy. Also, I loved the Taylor Swift documentary, Miss Americana.
Einstein famously said, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician.” If you were not a musician, what would you be?
IDK, maybe a secret spy?
What does success mean to you?
To be able to live with dignity and make money from the thing I chose to do. If that happens it means that I’m doing right and that I can keep dreaming and chasing goals.
What are your thoughts regarding the music industry of today? And, if you were able to, what changes would you make to it?
This is a tough one. I think I need more time and experience within this industry to answer that properly but I can say I wish the path to initial exposure was more organic and real and less full of strategies and money. Then the quality of the product – the artist, their music would be the ones who determine whether they’re in or out of the game.
What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
When someone tells me that my music helped them or made them feel better, it means everything to me.maiyanai
Also, to be on stage and feel that magical energy, hearing people singing the lyrics with me, what it feels like when a new song is born.
You’re allowed to collaborate with one musician or band. Who do you choose?
J. Cole. Haaaa, in my dreams! I can die after that.
What does your long-term musical future look like?
Just keep doing what I do. Growing, expanding, and increasing my audience. Working hard, doing lots of shows, and new songs. Never stop trying to be a better version of myself!