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|This week the New York Optimist had the special treat of meeting and Interviewing
The Beautiful and extremely talented artist Maya Solovey in Prospect Park Brooklyn on a
beautiful sunny day in this last week of summer.
TNYO: Maya Solovey, tell me a little bit about your name.
Maya Solovey: Solovchek is my grandmothers name, she was born in Latvia. Solovey means nighting gale in Russian.
TNYO: How Long Have you been playing music?
Maya Solovey: Well I started playing when i was about 5, I started playing piano first and played for many years until i went to high school and
piano was a little cumbersome and then I left that behind for a while. I started writing songs about age 15 or 12 I guess somewhere around there
and I'm 25 now.
TNYO: When did you start to pick up the guitar?
Maya Solovey: Around that time, I mean started writing song lyrics kind of randomly they were very distinctly song lyrics so the piano didn't feel like i
could translate into songs very well and i figured well I'll just get a guitar and learn three chords, thats what everyone else does or I thought
everyone writes songs that way. The chords grew in number over time.
TNYO: And what age was that?
Maya Solovey: That was 15, I wrote my first real song.... Ya that was 15
TNYO: Did you start by performing for your family and friends?
Maya Solovey: I was just writing and learning a few of my favorite songs like Simon and Garfunkel and songs of that nature.
I didn't decide to become a performing artist till I was 17 and I got a job at this restaurant club and was hanging around there and they had an open
Mike night, and I remember it was memorial day weekend in Western Massachusetts a very big vacation town and it was opening weekend of the
summer and they had this big open mike night and there were slews of people and I got up to the stage and I decided to do this song that starts out
accapela and there was this one note that I held for a very long time and I held this one note and the place was really noisy and the whole bar just
shut up... I mean it was dead quiet for the duration of the song.
I don't know maybe it was an ego thing but that was the moment.
TNYO: You were directly touching people with your musical talent and they felt it.
Maya Solovey: Ya... Thats probably true. That was the moment I decided I was going to do this. I started making my first record at 17.
TNYO: Your first record at 17 wow thats young to have started recording a record.
Maya Solovey: I don't tell a lot of people about it, you know it was my first songs
I don't know how I got away with half the shit i pulled but theres reasons i don't tell anyone
about them, I started recording my first record ... I actually got into college even though I
got kicked out of high school but then I dropped out of college after two weeks I just wasn't
in the mood for academia at the time.
I just really wanted to focus on my new record and forming this little career.
Singer song writer.
TNYO: What did you record that record on?
What was the process?
Maya Solovey: Oh well i guess this was 2001 so digital was around and prevalent
TNYO: Did you use an eight track machine?
Maya Solovey: No i didn't record on an eight track no... But ill probably do my next record
on tape now.
TNYO: Like on a cassette tape ;- ) Like on a boombox hahaha ?
Maya Solovey: No on two inch tape.
TNYO: What is that two inch tape ?
Maya Solovey: Thats how they recorded records for many years its magnetic tape
and it records the information on to the tape I don't know exactly about all these process's
but its how records have traditionally been recorded.
Your performance has to be really on when you do it.
TNYO: What was the first guitar you owned?
Maya Solovey: It was a $100 classical guitar pretty humble, I was in Ecuador and I bought
one of my first guitars there that was my baby for a few years.
About four years ago I found a seven string and thats been my baby.
TNYO: What is the seventh string for?
Maya Solovey: Its a low string in the normal guitar world its tuned to B but I detune my
guitar a whole step across the board, in Brazil the guitarist plays the bass lines and the
guitar so that's why they have the extra base string.
TNYO: Do you work with that well?
Maya Solovey: (giggling) Well enough yo know... I'm not a big fan of my guitar playing um i
don't consider myself a guitarist I'm more of a songwriter who writes on guitar I'm not a
musician like a steady musician, a guitarist just practices guitar forever.. I don't, I should
but i don't.
TNYO: Do you play with all ten fingers?
Maya Solovey: I don't play with my thumb on my left hand
TNYO: Jimi Hendrix used to use his thumb for base lines sometimes
Maya Solovey: On his left hand?
TNYO: He was lefty so i guess that would be his right hand on the fret board.
Maya Solovey: With the seven string guitar because of the width its very hard to get my
thumb around the top of the neck, like with the metal steel string electric guitars you can
use your thumb but with mine its just such a big neck and its so wide at most I can mute
TNYO: Let me see your hands, they don't look that big, well actually your fingers look long
enough to play bass right I mean for a chick.
Maya Solovey: (Laughs) Well i do have good hands you know I stretch, on the piano I can
do the Octaves easy.
TNYO: Do you play piano well?
Maya Solovey: Like I said, you know some people might think so but for me and my own personal standards I don't consider myself a great
TNYO: Whats your music about Maya?
Maya Solovey: Well when I was a younger song writer and I started to write songs I would approach songs like How do I feel..
more like personal therapy, but your songs can start about you but they cant end about you.
So as I have grown as a songwriter I don't really care about myself as much and I'm more interested in characters and i may well be one of those
characters in a song or parts of me or what have you.
I'm more interested in the dynamics of a relationship or the story of ..... you know someones story, what someone else might be feeling in a
certain situation so sure when I have gone through heart breaks they were still that way of translating ..... (giggles) its making something
creative out of that misery, which I'm great full for because it helps people relate.... when they hear a song and they are able to access the heart
of that song of the songwriter and relate to their own experience thats when the listener and the creator have made a connection. If its just me
emotionally masturbating so to speak, well then who really gives a shit.
So my aim in my songs is to be able to give something of value to whoever is going to hear it.
Its not about my own personal therapy as it might have been about in my teens.
So alot of it is relationships my piano songs more heart breaking their heavier emotionally.
My guitar songs and my Latin songs my songs in Spanish and Portuguese their kind of a whole different story cause I write in those languages
and their an opportunity to really explore music just on a purely musical level almost as if I were an instrumentalist, you know just a guitarist or a
wind instrument player you know melody for melody's sake chords for harmony sake.
Not exactly have to be focused on the way a phrase is delivered. Or in English, English is all about the way you phrase things.
But in Portuguese or Spanish I can write these melodramatic love poems and so its OK, ..... well.. its OK for me.
Sometimes the poems are weird ... images..... you know they span the gamut, most songs are about love and I'm no exception to that.
Life is about love its the thing that matters most to us, people have different values but I think what matters most to most people is their heart so
i tend to focus on that.
TNYO: Do you see yourself playing music thats more electronic
Maya Solovey: Like drum and base?
TNYO: Like Radio Head like Coldplay that kind of stuff
Maya Solovey: I used to be really obsessed with Coldplay during thier first two records I was a big fan that was in my late teens that sort of
emotional pounding drive was where I was at, you know 18 angst these emotional purgings so to speak that was my bag radio Head to on that
same tip I Loved Fiona Apple, Jeff Buckley, the emotional purgers or the crooners.
I have sang on other electronica projects of other people and sang at dj gigs and i would actually love to do an electronica record like a full out
electronica record, a combination of strings woodwinds and orchestration with beats.
Bjork is one of my favorite artists and she to me combined those elements really well things that she loved experimental and also the classical
world of traditional harmony string writing and what not and words later on.
Theres a lot of records I would love to do, I would love to do Appalachian Lullabies and I have been working on a Christmas record
Christian... I'm not Christian I'm Jewish but the songs to me are so beautiful um, an Americana record, I write allot........
I just finished my new record and I have three records just waiting to be recorded so there will be an Americana record and probably another
Latin record, their will be an all piano record.
Theres a lot of projects coming up, its all about the pipeline I think now what do you do with all this music I mean anyone can record but how do
you find other peoples ears to give it to.
TNYO: Tell me a little about how a working professional musician makes a living nowadays if your not signed to a record label.
Maya Solovey: Well you don't make much .... I mean you can, you can make a decent living ... it ranges, the traditional ways used to be straight
up touring and record sales um... And licensing, publishing... You can still get income from that I mean my day to day cash comes from gigs
some buy my records online at bandcamp , private party's, weddings like yesterday I just played a community parks like a Sunday concert
series thats government money they have a budget they can pay. College's and schools they pay if you can get those gigs, I have a gig at a
high school, doing a workshop as well. Festivals pay so its kind of combined all together but you know we (Artists) nickel and dime it allot you
know. I haven't gone on to many tours but the couple that I have gone on I've done alright. I have toured Europe a couple of times they
definitely pay better. You can make money but most musicians, something like 95% of independent artists don't make their living on music and
sometimes I can and sometimes I cant, sometimes I have to do other things, freelance in other ways..... Not all the time but sometimes.
TNYO: Where do you see the music industry going?
Maya Solovey: My producer is a Grammy award winning producer, hes produced like 50 platinum albums hes been a part of the traditional
music industry for 25 - 30 years so hes been a part of that and what I have gathered through him is that the music industry has been populated
pretty densely by assholes and sometimes scum bags and because there is not the same type of business being done you cant like make a
quick million dollar deal screwing an artist through a deal with a record label, those assholes are weeding out so the playing field is definitely
leveled. You used to have to go with a label cause that was the only way your were going to get your music out there and you knew you were
gonna get screwed but thats still what you had to do that was the only avenue, nowadays everyone diy's it (do it yourself) which is great but I
think about just from experience I mean I cant do everything. I cant do publicity by myself I have to hire a publicist I cant mix my own record I
have to hire a mixer.
I think its really about finding your family, your business family people that are committed and that you share a vision with and that can do
things. I want to work with people that can do things better than I. I am happy to write songs and live in my fantasy world and putter around to my
gigs,but I have to work. Anyone has to work if they want to make a living.
So I think its like a small business you build it, maybe you find an investor maybe you find a family member that believes in you,
maybe you get a loan from a bank and make a business plan and speculate this our first six months this one year and you approach like a
TNYO hold on a second here looks like were being invaded by ants
Maya Solovey: where I'm sitting I'm OK maybe you were sitting on an ant hill''
TNYO: No just one little guy here looking to take up a residence on my arm.
Maya this has been informative and educational we would like to thank you for this interview and finally do you have a song that you can
recommend for our readers to groove on.
Maya Solovey: Here is the song I've been contently obsessed with since I heard it. :
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, "Home".
Download the new album... Pay what you please. :)
Facebook fan page: http://www.listn.to/mayasolovey
Facebook personal page: http://www.facebook.com/maya.solovey
"Here's a rarity: An original voice who really is original! Drawing inspiration from all over the map, Maya Solovéy has developed a deep,
enchanting sound that's unlike anything else out there right now." -- Tom Moon, on air critic for NPR, journalist for Rolling Stone, Spin
"Maya Solovéy is an exceptional songwriter, possessed of a voice that is haunting, soothing, and erotic all at the same time. Her music,
I'm sure , will change the world."
--Bassy Bob Brockmann, Multiple Grammy winning producer/mixer
SEPTEMBER RESIDENCY at Pete's Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St, Brooklyn NY- Tuesdays at 9:30pm! Accompanied by homemade food=
Introducing Culinary Concerts
9/7- "Indian Summer, Harvest Moon" (Lazy sentimental Americana songs, cornbread, lemonade)
9/14- "Saudade Night" (songs in Portuguese and Spanish, arepas, plantains)
9/21- Heartbreak Hotel" (songs on Piano, raw chocolate truffles)
9/28- "Fan Night" (Covers! Come to a prior show to submit your cover to be played on the final night! (Apple walnut spice muffins, hot
Other upcoming shows:
Saturday, 9/11, 10pm- Rooftop Party in Greenpoint, BK
Sunday, 9/19- 3pm, Great Neck Parks Concert Series (Great Neck, NY)
Sunday, 9/26, TBA Tinderbox Music Festival, BK NY
"Como Yo Lloro Por Ti" out on a FIFA World Cup compilation, July 2nd 2010
NEW Music Video "A Escultura"!
"Eu Vi" featured in the Ralph Lauren Runway show from Winter Fashion Week--