Unwrapped: Maya Yenn – Sour Grapes

Maya Yenn continues to showcase her quirky appeal and storytelling flair on ‘Sour Grapes’

Writing captivating, memorable alternative pop bops that take you on these fully realised, immersive narrative journeys has become Maya Yenn‘s calling card over the last few years, with each track coming in its own unique flavour with a story and personality to match.

The latest release from the artist is ‘Sour Grapes’, another track that masterfully matches quirky, colourful indie pop catchiness with a poignant sense of heart and narrative flair. The track explores the sobering reality of adulthood and its anti-climatic mundanity, set alongside a backdrop of nostalgic quirks and the artist’s signature charm. From its memorable catchiness, to its fluorescent charm, to the artist’s winning, distinctive sense of charisma and appeal, ‘Sour Grapes’ is another emphatic statement from Maya. We had a chat with the artist to find out some more about the release and what inspired it.

Hey! We love your new single ‘Sour Grapes’, what more can you tell us about it?

Thank you so much! So Sour Grapes is about the irony of looking forward to becoming an adult and then getting there and realising you actually had it better as a kid. It’s also about comparing yourself to the successes of others, the disappointment when you don’t meet your own expectations and being generally fed up with adult responsibilities. It’s all set to very upbeat music though because I’m kind of making fun of myself for being a bit of a brat but also earnestly frustrated with how hard being an adult often is.

What was the process like putting it together?

I set my intention for the song before I even started writing it which really helped. I knew I wanted to write about adulthood not being everything it’s cracked up to be in a tongue in cheek sort of way. So then choosing chords, instrumentation, melodies, production etc all flowed on from that.

I love songs where the lyrics tell a different story to the song’s sound and that’s definitely something I find myself going to a lot when songwriting and producing. It’s something that Glass Animals and Jungle do very well for example and they were two big influences for the song’s sound.

Where did the inspiration come from for the track’s quirky, nostalgic soundscape?

Part of my nostalgia for my childhood definitely comes directly from my disenfranchisement with adulthood. When I’m feeling fed up or frustrated with the reality of the day to day I find myself reaching for old TV shows, films and video games I loved as a kid. So I felt pretty strongly that there should be a lot of samples in there that hark back to childhood; so there’s a lot of Gameboy-style bleeps and bloops, arcade game coin SFX, mouth pops, zippers sliding up and down, the bass itself even sounds 8-bit. I also saw a poster recently that said “adulthood is basically like a video game you thought you’d be good at, so you skipped the tutorial and now everything is terrifying and the controls don’t make sense” which I think sums it up pretty well!

You’re growing known for your narrative-heavy, immersive songwriting, is that something that you strive for you write?

Definitely. I started writing songs at 14 and the first song I wrote was about this little old man that used to walk down our road everyday. I imagined what his life was like and what he did in a day and wrote about that. I find it easiest to write about characters and stories (real or imagined) when songwriting so that’s probably where it all started. That’s why reading a lot of books, watching films, theatre, poetry and music definitely helps!

What else do you have planned for the near future?

We’re just starting out on making a music video for Sour Grapes but still ironing out the details. I was thinking it could be fun to come up with different characters that are all facing different challenges in adult life kind of as a nod to the “Choose Your Character” thing you’d get in old video games. The other idea is to do a one-take music video à la Ok Go though so we’ll see!

Beyond that, I actually just started writing an EP. I’ve wanted to create a body of work for the longest time so I’m really excited to finish it. You can expect more allegorical storytelling coming out of that for sure! But I also want to explore some more personal stuff in it. Sour Grapes is probably my most vulnerable song to date, there’s stuff in there about me that I’m actually pretty embarrassed about like desperately wanting to be on TV when I was a kid and counting calories because I never feel thin enough. Even though it’s scary I want to write even more honestly in this EP and in the future because those are the kinds of songs I find myself going back to time and time again as a listener myself.