Who TF is Maya Yenn?

With ‘Better Luck Next Time’ proving to be yet another stellar release for the emerging artist, we caught up with UK alt-pop star Maya Yenn

When she released her 2021 debut single ‘tiptoe’, Maya Yenn immediately established herself as an exciting new voice in the UK alternative pop scene, armed with her uniquely poised vocals, thoughtful lyrics, and eccentric but accessible appeal, the artist has all of the characteristics to become both a cult and widespread hero thanks to her gorgeous cocktail of melodic pop and charismatic weirdness.

Following on from that initial release, the artist has released ‘How Much Sadness Can You Swallow?’ and her brand new single ‘Better Luck Next Time’, the newest being a wry and poignant assessment of hustle culture, and the warped view that is has given us of our priorities and our perspectives of the world. With her left-field production and immersive, picturesque storytelling, there is so much to love and dissect about Maya’s engaging sound and lush soundscapes, and we had a chat with the emerging artist to find out a bit more about her and her plans.

Who TF is Maya Yenn?

I’m an alt-pop artist based in the UK, I’ve got a quiet sort of voice – definitely not a belter – and I basically try to make weird pop music about things that scare me.

How long have you been making music?

My Mum bought this rickety upright piano when I was a little kid and before I knew the first thing about music theory or how notes worked I was spending hours coming up with little compositions and songs. I just loved the language music gave me to express thoughts and ideas. But I’d say I started seriously writing songs at about 14. 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 when songwriting so that’s probably where it all started.

Why do you make music?

To me, music is just emotion + magic. Music is a kind of language and it expresses thoughts and ideas in a way that spoken language just can’t. So making music is its own form of alchemy, it’s beautiful and transcendental and I can’t think of anything more fulfilling.

What are your biggest influences?

I grew up listening to a lot of Radiohead and Björk which hugely influenced me. Not to mention Kate Bush, Florence + the Machine and Lana Del Rey. I have a really vivid memory of listening to “Born to Die” in its entirety on the school bus, looking out of the window imagining I was in a movie haha!

In more recent years, the kind of music I listen to has expanded but I always make whatever kind of music I feel like. I listen to a lot of different artists but never strive to sound like any of them consciously and don’t feel beholden to one particular genre or style. I think that’s why alt-pop is a good catch-all for my stuff, it’s a pretty broad church!

What would you say has been your best moment so far?

Probably the music video for my last single, ‘How Much Sadness Can You Swallow?’ getting screened at the British Independent Film Festival. It was a really ambitious project that took months of work not least of all because it was just me and one other person who actually made it! So when we found out it had been selected we could hardly believe it our little music video was getting clout at a legit film festival (pun unintended!)

How would you describe your sound to somebody unfamiliar with it?

Pop music for the apocalypse.

What’s your dream “I’ve made it” moment?

I think there are lots of little “I’ve made it” moments you can have throughout your career, I’m just starting out really so I’m not sure what mine will be. I’d like to imagine it would be headlining somewhere cool like Ally Pally or Brixton Academy but I could just as easily have one hearing my own lyrics sung back to me in a dingy pub in Hackney, or getting a radio play on BBC 6 Music.

We love your new single ‘Better Luck Next Time’, what more can you tell us about it?

Thank you so much! Well in a literal sense, it’s about a guy on a plane who’s so focussed on work he’s still trying to get a report done despite the fact his plane is going down over the Atlantic. But really it’s an analogy for humankind’s self-destructive behaviour; our culture to work until we totally burnout and how our actions as a species are also destroying the world around us.

It’s essentially a song that takes that old phrase “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” as an analogy for the way we treat people and our environment, except in this case the deck chairs are a report with a deadline and the Titanic is a plane going down over the Atlantic. I just feel like as a species we’re always so obsessed with “progress” and that tunnel vision is so pervasive that we miss the big looming iceberg up ahead in the form of burnout or climate change, so I wanted to write about that.

What else do you have planned for the near future?

We really want to make a music video for ‘Better Luck Next Time’ but in the meantime I’m already working on my next single. It’s about growing up and realising adulthood isn’t the easy-breezy, fun-filled experience where you have total autonomy all the time like you thought it would be as a kid and now you’ve got to pay bills and take the bins out every Tuesday. I’m definitely making fun of myself a little bit in the song for being a kind of a brat but also earnestly frustrated with how hard being an adult can be.

And finally, who is your biggest fan right now?

I’d love to say it’s some impartial audiophile who stumbled across my stuff, loved it and is now waiting for every new release with baited breath, but if I’m honest it’s definitely still my Mum. She’s got good taste though so I’m alright with it.