Mayda is a young, yet seasoned multidisciplinary artist based in Minnesota. Her R&B-infused pop swings between pared-down acoustic struts, full-band funkadelic blasts, and electronic drumbeats and synth flourishes, resulting in a slick, expansive, and evolving pop sound.
We talked with Mayda ahead of her show with Venus DeMars and Ingeborg von Agassiz at The Cedar on June 29 about communicating through music, her upcoming one woman show, and breaking down social and political barriers. Read the full interview below and get tickets and more information about the show here.
Can you give us a little background on yourself and your roots as a musician in Minnesota?
I was adopted from Korea when I was 3/4 months old. I grew up mainly in St. Paul. I started to love music dancing in the crib; searching through blues and funk music owned by my relatives in Southern Country Virginia; then intensely playing classical piano from the age of 5 yrs to trying to find my own voice by blending my favorite contemporary artists with my favorite older artists such as Nirvana, NIN, Sly and the Family Stone, Beck, the Velvet Underground, Jimi Hendrix, and Big Mama Thornton etc.
A lot of your music features themes of justice and resiliency. How does the songwriting process help you cope with feelings of injustice?
One of the main reasons I write music is to communicate. I feel that I have the hardest time getting my points across by just talking, so music allows me to be open, honest and creative. Plus, music is universal. Not everyone understands English or other languages by them selves. However, with music, everyone knows that a major chord translates to happiness; everyone understands that minor evokes discontentment or sadness. With the power of music on its own, I can “speak” to a broader audience then just English speakers, or Midwesterners for that matter. To be able to connect with more people, HELPS ME to feel more complete. I would hope that would be the same for others no matter who you are no matter who you identify with. When you connect with others, you open up the doors for understanding. Maybe that would lead to more empathetic conversations than ignorance and war. Being able to perform my own music, makes me strong enough to get through hardships from my internal to external.
What about the current state of the world is motivating you to speak out?
I think that EVERYONE is not happy with the way things are panning out. The events that are occurring are so appalling to a point where some people are protesting, some people are speechless, some people are so distraught but still go about their life. Murders, Unjustful law decisions, corruption of police and government… I understand why some people especially celebrities and highly regarded artists are taking their own lives. A lot of those people I have followed, adored and looked up to for my own art and humanness. They all had something to say but had a hard time getting enough to continue. I am a person who will just keep climbing if the wall keeps on getting higher. You put a door in front of me, I will kick it.
You have a one woman show coming up called “ReMayda’d 2.0” July 12-15 at The Bryant Lake Bowl. Can you talk a little bit about the concept and how the project began?
I have always been a fan of skit comedy like SNL. Gilda Radner, Lucille Ball, the Golden Girls and Judy Garland were my women idols. I woke up to them for comedy and performance. I started working at the Guthrie Theater in 2012. I was able to see most of the shows. I sat in the back and just soaked it up like a sponge. M. Butterfly starring Randy Reyes was the game changer for me. At that point I started writing skits. Music was not enough for me to tell my story, so I started writing little scenes. I knew that I didn’t want to write a linear play, but something more like SNL with a story line. I took my need to say who I am and ran with it to the theater.
How does it feel to have a platform to tell your story in a new way?
It is amazing. I feel very lucky to even have the chance to step on a stage for music and theater.
What can people expect from your performance at The Cedar?
You can expect a funky pop rocking realness with human imperfection. (And the bassist is really cute)
What feels special to you about being a part of this lineup with Venus DeMars and Ingeborg von Agassiz?
I am super honored. This is a very eclectic trio. I am nervous to stand with these 2 amazing artists.
Your music is known for its diverse range of influences and sounds. What’s been influencing you lately?
Lately, the shamelessness and bravado of some of the female rappers and the talent of producers are keeping me on my toes.