The Kenyan R&B scene has produced some of the finest vocalists, Maya Amolo is one of them. The Kenyan Singer-Songwriter whose music plays around the harsh realities of love, while highlighting the sunny parts of it joins the Deluxe edition trend, pumping more emotions on her debut album. For iMullar, we caught up with her to talk about the creative approach towards the deluxe album, the stress it came with, and the new music.
Congratulations on Asali (Sweeter) Deluxe, Deluxe edition culture is not really a big thing in our space here, so it’s always interesting to see artists from here take up that trend. What was the approach towards your album in general?
Maya Amolo: So my approach to the deluxe was quite simplistic, I really loved my debut album “Asali”. I was exploring a lot in that universe, from love to the sweetness it comes with. Couple months after the album came out in 2022, I realized I wasn’t really done with exploring that space/universe, there were some other songs I had recorded with my producer Lukorito, it was just a further exploration of the space I was in during the time I created the album and I just went with it. So with the deluxe, I had fun playing a lot more, I had sweet features from Xenia, Bensoul, Zowie, more to dance, and more fun with my voice, but still all in the universe of “Asali”.
The songs that made it unto the deluxe edition, are they songs that were recorded during your album’s creation days but didn’t make the Final Cut, or songs that were made recently to trigger the need for a deluxe edition, how was the whole process like post-release?
Maya Amolo: So it was a mix of both, two of the songs I had in the archives, on a hard drive. The song with Bensoul and “Champagne Bubbles”, I knew I wanted them out but I listened to my album as it was, it felt “complete”, and the other song were songs I was creating, so once I started making new music, it was more apparent to me that I was still in the headspace for Asali, so it was a mix of both.
In one of your interviews, you said you thought you used to make the best music when sad and angry, but with time, you realized you make better music when honest, can you walk me through the shift in perspective that led to this change of approach?
Maya Amolo: When I started making music, this was in 2015/2016, most of the music I consumed was from a place of heartbreak, sad vibes, and pensiveness. A lot of Jhené Aiko’s music, you know the bad and good side of love, I also just happened to be in a bad space during that time when I was creating those types of records. Putting two and two together I’m like okay, I’m sad I’m making music which is good, so I must make good music when I’m sad but then the shifting perspective changed for me, coming out of that sad space and still being able to make music that I enjoy, so it was a shift in my own life that led to the shift in perspective with me creating music that’s just more so reflective of the time that forcing myself to be sad and antsy to make good music.
“Amazing” is one of my favorite songs on the project. How did that record come about?
Maya Amolo: Sometimes, I have this procedure where, actually several times where the first thing I write in a song is the hook, then I pen down verse one, and I’ll let kick have verse 1, then nothing else will come to me after, this happened with found me, “Drama Kwa Base”. So it’s now time to find a feature that was fitting. I was looking through and asked Mau to come and try a verse, it worked out and that’s how the song came to life. It’s one of my favorite hooks ever too.
Does Maya have any traditional ritual before hitting the stage?
Maya Amolo: I don’t at the moment, sometimes I do a couple of jumping jacks, maybe run around a bit, get some of the nerves and adrenaline going. Yell a bit, I don’t have a particular ritual, just a few warm-up exercises to ease the nerves, bite on a Snickers bar or something.
What next for Maya? Restructure and move or more music on the way?
Maya Amolo: Right now I am just enjoying the release, I was so nervous after my first drop, but having put in the work and all, it’s like I’m trusting the release to do its thing. Perform at a few shows, try and build community, and as always, new music in the future.
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