Second Time Around With Singer Maiysha

I have those moments when I think to myself, “I wonder what (fill in the blank) is doing now?”

Consider this The Ride’s version of “Where Are They Now?” with a much more positive spin. I decided to catch up with songstress and Grammy nominee Maiysha, nearly one year after our first Q&A.

The Ride: It’s been about a year since we last chatted. You had just been to the Grammys having been nominated for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for “Wanna Be”. Now that the Grammys have come around again, are you getting a little nostalgic?

Maiysha: Yes…and no.  Obviously, my first Grammy experience was amazing, and the year since has gone very quickly…but it was also kind of a blur!  The experience of earning my first nomination for the first song I ever released was overwhelming, to say the least, so while I’ll likely be a bit wistful watching it from home this year, I think I’ll also enjoy being back in the spectator’s seat…at least for now.  I definitely plan to go back!

The Ride: What have you been up to?  I read that you have plans for recording a new EP and you will be recording it live.

Maiysha: Since the holidays, I’ve been engrossed in planning and rehearsing the live project, which I recorded at the legendary Blue Note Jazz Club on January 23rd, and will be released as a full-length album this Spring.  Additionally, I recently recorded a duet (which I also wrote) with platinum-selling French artist Chiméne Badi, which will be released on her next album, also due out this year.

The Ride: Why live versus in studio?

Maiysha: Well, I’ve been performing live since childhood, and it’s still my favorite thing to do.  Being an independent artist, I’m not yet able to bring my show across the country (or world), and really wanted to find a way to share the live experience with fans who haven’t been able to see me in that capacity.  It’s an entirely different animal than my in-studio work…but there will be a new studio album in the works soon!

Maiysha (photo: Courtesy of Maiysha)

The Ride: What do you have new in store for us with this EP?

Maiysha: Ironically, this album (which will actually be an LP) relies more on the old than the new. Despite the fact that I’m constantly writing new material, I started out singing jazz, which is all about reinterpretation. After the the fun I had covering “Sledgehammer” for my album, I developed a habit of integrating a lot of covers into my live shows. The audience response was really enthusiastic, so I thought it’d be fun to do an entire album based on covers.

The Ride: Why do you feel like now is the time to record?

Maiysha: It’s been over a year since This Much Is True was released, and though I have new songs in development, I really want to take my time to get my next original album together…I don’t think it’s something that should be rushed.  That said, I think it’s really important to stay connected with my audience, and to continue to communicate to them who I am, and what I have to offer, so I wanted to produce this project in the interim.  Although it’s not based on original material, I think it gives a very specific perspective on who I am as an artist and performer, and that’s just as important.

The Ride: By the way, do you have a name for it yet?

Maiysha: I’m calling it “Undercover,” which is both an obvious reference to the fact that it’s a cover album, and to the fact that I’m still an underground artist.

The Ride: Another thing I heard is that you performed on Monique’s show? How was that experience?  By the way, my mother saw it and said that you were very good. I’m sorry I missed it.

Maiysha: Thank your mom for me…The Mo’Nique experience was a great one…she and her entire staff were incredibly kind and gracious, and she, in particular, was very warm, supportive and encouraging…I feel truly grateful for the opportunity, and am rooting for her success big time!

The Ride: Back to the music. Who are your musical influences?

Maiysha:  I really have too many influences to name…which is one of the main reasons I did the cover album.  It’s so much easier to show than to tell, I think.  On a general level, I can say that my style is always based in a strong American soul tradition, mixed with a heavy dose of jazz, and a genuine love of rock-and-roll…I could make lists, but that’d just get tedious!

The Ride: What are some of your other sources of inspiration?

Maiysha: Love, sex, struggle, politics, growing up, and New York always provide me with plenty to think and write about!

The Ride: What are some of the lessons you have learned over this past year?

Maiysha: The lesson I always seem to be grappling with is patience…and balancing my expectations.  Mostly, my expectations of myself, my capabilities, and what I perceive as progress.  I’m a perfectionist, and really hard on myself, so patience and compassion for myself are always a challenge for me…but I’m learning.

The Ride: What’s the dream?  Where do you hope to be a year from now?  (Please feel free to include any information on upcoming performances)

Maiysha: The dream is always to be able to keep going, and evolving…to not have to choose between creativity and survival. A year from now, I’d like to be getting the next album ready for release, and as always, performing.  In my more immediate future, I’m looking forward to giving – and feeling – love on Valentine’s Day weekend when I perform at BAMcafé here in Brooklyn (February 13th at 10 p.m.) For details.

The Ride: Thanks so very much Maiysha.

Maiysha:  Thank you, Carla!

Maiysha on MySpace, click here.

Maiysha on Twitter (@maiysha)


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