Following the release of the new single, ‘Nothing Without You’, we caught up with New Pharaohs lead singer, Maya Marie and checked out what she’s been up to since last we heard from her.
EP: Hi Maya, you spoke with our writer Matt Catchpole last October and talked about your single ‘Empire’, and how it was a “love letter to Lebanon”. Your new single, ‘Nothing Without You’ – is a love song of a different kind – is it written for someone specifically?
MM: Wow you don’t beat around the bush do you?! It’s about losing someone, or ruining a friendship or destroying something beautiful because you haven’t lived or achieved enough on your own. That’s all I’m gonna give you 😉
EP: What can we expect from New Pharaohs? Is there an album on the horizon?
MM: There are a couple of duets with other bigger artists; there’s a Lebanese/Arabian strings inspired slow disco track; I’ve written a couple of songs with the equally amazing Eugene McGuinness and Champs that are very special; and there’s a Tarantino-esque song about a Catholic school girl hell-bent on revenge. There is an album coming and hopefully it’ll be on vinyl too.
EP: If you could cast your mind back to your childhood, what would be your clearest memory? To what extent has that influenced your life?
MM: I have a very good memory through regular and meticulous diary keeping as a child. Some of the clearest memories I have though are random: when we would visit my Irish grandmother who lived in Yorkshire for summer holidays, I was amused by the square glass ‘cobbles’ in the pavements that would provide light to the cellars below. We didn’t have these in Beirut. It is a vivid memory but it hasn’t influenced my life much..although I love unexpected light wells.
EP: Speaking of influences, who do you consider to have had the most impact on your life? What about musically? Who are your greatest influences?
MM: My parents a.k.a. chalk’n’cheese have had the most impact on my life. I made a lot of vows to myself as a teenager because of them. Musically and especially when playing live in Sohodolls, Debbie Harry was a huge influence. At least my parents were in agreement over her! I loved her 1970s punk inspired attitude that was also feminine and glamourous. In New Pharaohs I’m drawing a lot from the Lebanese legend Fairouz, the Greek one Maria Callas and also The Eagles, The Pixies, The Bee Gees, and Serge Gainsbourg’s arrangements ONLY and not his dirty old man sleazy lyrics. New Pharaohs has chosen well with the French-born indie producer Dimitri Tikovoi who gets all of the 70s stuff and knows how to make it modern.
EP: How is the music writing process for you? Do you sit down and write with a specific theme in mind, and then find the music to match, or do you start out with the music already thought out and fit the lyrics around that? Are there songs you’ve got in the back of your mind that you keep going back to, that you still can’t work out how to write?
MM: It varies – sometimes I’m standing up. Other times I am seated with another songwriter or it’s just me and Logic or the piano. I keep a list of song titles and phrases that I pick up from conversations, films or night time thoughts. And yes like you’ve suggested, I do have some lyrics that I just can’t find the right melody or chords for. It’s really annoying.
EP: If you could do it all over again, what, if anything, would you do differently, and why? And what advice would you have for anyone just starting out in the music business?
MM: How long have you got?! I honestly don’t know where to start. I have done so many things the wrong way, it plagues almost nightly. My advice would be: work with as many different people as you can, don’t be insular. Try to get a good manager from the start but before you do, have something worth showing them.You need a concept, not just a bunch of good demos. It’s a shame that it’s like that now. I didn’t have access to MTV as a kid so for a while I assumed Radiohead were hairy bearded bikers over 40…but I still loved them.
EP: What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but nobody ever does?
MM: Easy – would you like some champagne?
EP: Thank you!
MM: De rien!