Where are we going? In all honesty, if you have an answer to such a question then please elaborate because as it stands we all seem a little lost.
This is the very question posed by Maya, a prevalent theme within modern day society, let alone her latest album title. This, her third album, is a nostalgia-laden but developed follow up to her 2013 LP, ‘Between Two Selves’, which presented/postured* her struggle in dealing with coming out as transgender. Throughout these insecure, introspective stories, the music stands out as anything but, reflecting an attitude that’s caught the attention of tastemakers and party goers alike. Her debut in 2011 ‘Let Me See You’ covertly exposed her feelings at the time as she dealt with coming out as queer transgender, and a method she uses frequently after her debut album, ‘Rough, Rugged & Raw’ to reveal herself in an uncertain world.
“It’s (the new album) mostly about… post-me coming out, anxiety about the world in general. I feel a lot better as a person, all the time, but there’s still a lingering doubt about what is happening”.
If we want to know where we’re going then we should look at where we’ve/ Maya's come from. Under President Trump, a progressive society is uncertain, especially surrounding the rights and freedoms of minorities and the LGBT community. Areas of health and arts & culture are under threat too: the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), National Broadcast media such as PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) and NPR (National Public Radio) also have uncertain futures. It’s a worrying time but nothing new.
Born in Chicago in the late 80s, living there until 9 years old, Maya — then Mike — Bouldry-Morrison’s teenage years were spent in New Hampshire. It was the early 00s, she was surrounded by post-punk and rock, with friends heavily into the local band music scene, an era when bands like Rage Against The Machine were lauded for their politically charged music following the like of Fugazi, Dead Kennedys and Black Flag before them. But Maya was different; interested in drum & bass, breakcore and IDM, dance music hadn’t quite found its way out of the bigger cities into the wider realms of the state and she had to rely on the internet and CD imports.
“I didn’t have access to clubs or anything out there, I had local punk, hardcore and funk bands that I’d go see. I heard later that there was a rave scene there. Where? Tell me where? ‘Cos I don’t remember seeing any of that shit."
Whilst Maya’s music doesn’t orientate around a stereotypical punk sound, political ideology is present within her music, a motif apparent in her latest album, but something she’s broached whilst developing as an artist and transitioned from man to woman. Her formative years growing up where whilst George W. Bush was in power, the man who ushered in war in Iraq and the war on terror, whilst his Christian conservatism led to reformation in the Supreme Court and restricted LGBT and women’s rights. Obama followed, a President who promoted equal rights and helped change policy in this area. And now, under Trump, who knows, I doubt whether even he does.
“I came up with that title before Trump was in US office, but that also played very heavily into it. Things became a lot more unknown than before. And that’s why I try to have the record have dower notes towards the end, like a drift in ‘Where Are We Going? Pt. 2’ (as opposed to track opener ‘Where Are We Going Pt. 1’)."
A musical uprising does not happen overnight, it has taken time for Maya to realise her sense of self much in the same way as the world has evolved through political turmoil and chaos. Perhaps, soon enough we too might learn to recognise uncertainty and difference without fear, but open mindedness and encouragement.
“I like the openness to multiple narratives. I like titles that are questions and the openness that affords. A lot of it is about me being out and wondering what’s going to happen next because the things I see happening around me aren’t exactly great.”
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