Amber Maya Takes Flight
Amber might be new to this, but she is getting the hang of it pretty quickly. Guitar in tow, she formally introduced herself in April this year with “Fly by Night” and then went on to release the equally impressive EP of the same name in July.
I spoke to the Bajan-Kiwi to find out her transition from dance to music, the concept and execution of Fly by Night, and what’s up for the future.
Images via Amber Maya | Interview by Carlos Brathwaite
Carlos Brathwaite: Take us through your journey so far: Did you study music growing up or was it an organic path?
Amber Maya: No, I was very much a late bloomer. I didn’t study any kind of music growing up at all. I would have liked to, but the majority of my extracurricular life was Dance. That being said, music was always a very central part of my life. My mum had a huge music collection and was a true enthusiast, so I was exposed to a lot of different genres, and I knew and felt the importance of music in my life from a very young age. It wasn’t until I was 18 and I had to sing in an audition that I really made a shift in considering actually pursuing music.
Was a career in music something you always wanted to achieve?
It was definitely something I always wanted to achieve, in a ‘perfect world’ kind of way. It was a very big, but silent dream of mine – it felt entirely unattainable for a long time. To the extent that I don’t even think people around me knew it was something I was interested in pursuing.
Is this your first time recording your own work?
In a professional capacity, yes. The EP was my first time recording work that I had written completely. Prior to this, I had done a few small demo recordings.
How did the idea for Fly by Night come about, and how was the execution of the project?
When I decided to make the EP, I didn’t have any preset ideas of what I wanted it to be or sound like, I only knew that making it felt like a necessary step for me to take. I made it my main focus, and spent days writing songs on my guitar.
After I had a collection of material, I sought out producers, and luckily found Mike McCarthy. Once Mike got involved, it all moved quite quickly and seamlessly. He has an incredible ear, and was instantly able to find ways of bringing the songs to life while maintaining the simplicity that I wanted. The EP was finished in a period of 5 or 6 days.
I found it interesting that outside of “Watching My Back,” the song titles are related to nature. Is there a specific reason for this?
It definitely wasn’t intentional, but it also isn’t surprising for me. In all of my writing i’m constantly drawing inspiration from nature. Everything in nature feels like a metaphor for something else we experience in our lives.
As well as just being a part of this force that we really have little control over. It’s a constant thread in a lot of my writing, so I suppose those themes naturally found their way into the songs and thus the titles.
I see in the artwork for the EP, and its singles, you use old family photos. What was the motivation behind using that vintage aesthetic?
Fly by Night was like my waving ‘Hello’ to the music world. Using the old family photos felt appropriate to me because it was a small representation of who I am, and where I’ve come from. It was very important for me to honour that part of myself, and to honour the memory of the people who have shaped me in many ways.
A few of the songs on the EP are also based on events that have happened within my family, so it felt fitting. And visually I just love those images, and thought the aesthetic worked well with the sound.
Now that Fly by Night has been released, what’s in store for the future?
I’m back in the studio at the moment. I’m working on a new project with a really talented producer, James Risbey. It’s in a different vein to the acoustic based sound of Fly by Night, which is exciting for me. We’ve just released the first track “Higher Low,” so more of that will be coming soon. For right now, the future is looking like a lot more music, and more live shows – which is great!
Carlos Brathwaite is the Founder of 246Mixtapes. Follow him on Twitter.