Maeta Is Conquering Her Fears

"When I’m recording, it’s a sacred place for me..."

Maeta fully immerses herself in her art. As a songwriter, a vocalist, a performer, there are no half measures – her music and her life are intimately intertwined, like the double-helix in her DNA. Rising to prominence on the back of those early SoundCloud demos, the Indianapolis-born singer’s talents were evident from the start – soulful in the deepest sense of the word, each note felt bonded to her heart.

Yet new project ‘Endless Night’ rips up the rulebook. Swapping R&B introspection and lovelorn balladry for something steeped in club energy, the Kaytranada production pushes Maeta into a different space. And you know what? She’s loving every minute of it.

“I’m naturally a deep-lover-girl. I love to cry. I love to be in love. And I love those kinds of feelings,” she tells CLASH. “But I think that this was a nice break from that.”

Much of Maeta’s previous work focussed on love lost; 2023’s ‘When I Hear Your Name’ for instance was a scorching evocation of betrayal and grief born from giving your heart to someone who doesn’t deserve it. Now, though, she’s done with mapping out old scars. “I’m ready to let that go and just own myself and who I am and take control of my life. I feel like I gave myself to another person and I just lost who I was. This project is just me.”

“I just want to have fun. It’s summer, I want to fucking date and be single and have fun and not be stuck in this dark place. I just want to embrace newness and fun and change and freedom and all that.”

An oasis of calm in her life, the studio sessions with Kaytranada were initially only meant to birth a few songs, but it quickly became something more. “One thing that I like about myself, I guess, is that I’m very good at adapting to different things. I get bored easily, so I like trying stuff out.”

“It kind of became such a bigger thing that it was supposed to be, which I’m proud of, and I’m happy with… We just all loved it so much that we made it more of a deal than it was supposed to be.”

With the energy flowing, and with Kaytranada’s creative support, Maeta finally felt able to put the past behind her.  “I think spiritually, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me because I was in a very dark place like six months to a year ago… I was seriously in a horrible place. And right now I’m so happy!”

“I’m working on my next album already, and it is definitely going to be soulful… there’s a lot of ballads, a lot of love and those kinds of things. But this was the perfect break for me, emotionally speaking. It all happened for a purpose –  but the purpose was that there wasn’t really a purpose, in a way.”

Maeta and Kaytranada seem to connect on an intimate level. The two first worked together in 2020, and they’ve kept in touch ever since. “It just works. I don’t know it just feels free,” she wonders. “it’s just always effortless with him. Like every song was done within a few days. It felt seamless.”

Working with alacrity, Maeta is driven by a sense of purpose in both her life and art. She’s learned to shut down outside voices in an attempt to focus on her vision. “When I’m recording, it’s a sacred place for me,” she affirms. “There are things about my music that I just can’t explain… but you feel it in the music. It’s like my soul in a project.”

“While I’m making a project I do live in that world,” she says. “And I think my life always kind of becomes it, you know? A lot of my songs are about things that I want to happen. And then my life ends up becoming that.”

Continually moving her life forwards, Maeta thrives on new landscapes, and fresh boundaries. “One thing that I respect about myself is that I love being uncomfortable. I have this tattoo on my body: comfort is the enemy of progress. And I think just doing things that terrify you and make you uncomfortable is the only way to grow.”

Right now, she’s focussing on her growth as a live artist. Performance hasn’t come naturally to her – in her early shows, Maeta would battle against nerves, attempting to retain control. Over time, she’s learned not to be afraid, and to accept the warm, convivial cooperation of her audience. ”My biggest insecurity as an artist has always been performance,” she explains, because I get so scared onstage. I get so nervous. I used to get so scared to just move my body… and now I’m walking around and I have a little dance!”

Completing a huge Stateside run with Chris Brown, Maeta returns to the UK to perform at All Points East in London later this year. “We’ve even ordered studio equipment for the bus,” she explains, “so I can keep on recording.”

It’s a far cry from her debut live appearance as a child – desperate to sing in her local church, she froze when she finally got the opportunity. “Oh I had dreamed about it!” she laughs. “But when it got time to do it, I was so scared. But I’ve grown past that a bit! I’m making my way.”

While Maeta’s work isn’t spiritual in the religious sense of the word, there’s definitely a line to be drawn between her songwriting and gospel as a whole. “I love gospel music, and I love how gospel music feels. There’s elements of gospel music that you can bring into any type of song and just make people feel things.”

Ultimately, that’s been Maeta’s dream all along – to place her feelings on record, and have that resonate with other people. Her ambitions are coming true on a daily basis, it’s just that she’s hard to work hard to ensure their realisation. “I feel like my whole life has been manifested,” she affirms. “I think manifesting is so real. I’m living things that I manifested when I was 18… and then forgot about it. And now I’m here!”

‘Endless Night’ is out now.

Words: Robin Murray
Photography: Juliet Wolf

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