Emerging UK singer-songwriter Eliza Mai talks musical highlights, future plans and her latest release ‘Straight Up’

What inspired you to begin a career in music?

Although music doesn’t run in my family, I have grown up listening to a variety of music such as, jazz, soul, R&B, funk and reggae (from my dad). This was where I started to enjoy different genres of music. At the age of 10 I started learning the piano (independently), learning different covers on YouTube. When I started to improve and take it more seriously, I asked to start having lessons. This led on to me learning a range of covers and then songwriting.

What differs you and your sound from other upcoming artists in the music industry?

I would say my rich soulful vocals help to single me out from other artists.  I have also been told that my voice is very  mature for a 16 year old, which I see as a compliment. Given I have been performing from a young age, I have worked really hard to master my stage presence, which I believe helps me stand out.

Another trademark I have is playing keys. Every time I perform live, I accompany myself on keys . In my opinion this is quite unique in the current urban industry, as most female vocalists perform to backing tracks or instrumentalists.

Everyone experiences good days and bad days, as a musician, when you have a bad day, what motivates you to keep moving and look ahead to the future?

For motivation on a bad day I look back on all the achievements I have made so far in my career. I constantly visualise how things would be if I continued to work as hard as I have been. I imagine the ground breaking achievements I could hopefully make if I just continue to just work hard and stay focused on my goals.

As Koffee says, “Lowe di L, take di W” [laughs].

Throughout your musical career, have you experienced any ‘wow’ moments? Those moments that you stop to reflect and can’t believe you are where you are?

When I performed at the amazing ‘Future Yard’ festival. I really enjoyed the experience. Initially I didn’t know what to expect as I was honoured with the opportunity to perform there and it was also a brand new festival – the venue was amazing. The festival took place at the Birkenhead Town Hall. It was so beautiful and grand. I was also amazed by the headline artist, Anna Calvi. Her stage presence felt like she was casting a spell over the audience, it was like we were hypnotised by her mysterious aura. Future Yard has really opened my mind up on using the stage and the way to captivate the audience successfully. From watching these performers, I have incorporated their performance techniques into my own performances. For example, improving my eye contact with the audience, to ensure that they connect with my music.

Your latest release ‘Straight Up’ is out now, can you please describe the creative process and the concept behind the single?

Straight up is about a past, toxic relationship where both partners struggled to communicate and show their emotions to each other. This relationship led me to write this hip-hop, R&B inspired track. The song started off where I discovered the beat on YouTube, I fell involve with the old school hip-hop drum beat and ambient synths. I then wrote straight up to it and bought the beat. After, I sent the stems to my producer and went in the studio, to re-work the beat and record the vocals. As the song was being mixed and mastered, I completed the art work and the the song was ready for release.

What artist / artists would you like to work with in the future? Are there any collaborations coming up anytime soon?

A collaboration is definitely on my bucket list this year. In the future I would love to work with artists like; Koffee, Darkoo, Ray BLK, Wretch 32 and many more. My dream artists to collaborate with would be Lauryn Hill or Rihanna. I love all of the above’s music and I think they are very original and stay true to themselves – they are the trend setters in their genre. I do have a few collaborations coming out this year, I can’t say too much right now as it’s early days, but definitely stay tuned.

In your own opinion, what is the most meaningful song you wrote? What makes you say that one?

I would say my most meaningful song I wrote is an unreleased, original called ‘Feelings’. This song is what I’m currently working on now. I’d say it’s the most meaningful as the lyrics are very direct and raw, there’s no beating around the bush, just a confession of real feelings. This song is a way of me telling the person how I feel, without literally telling them (face to face, talking). I have only shown this song to my sister and she has said that it’s the best song I’ve ever wrote, but it’s also different to all the others which is interesting. Perhaps it’s different as I really wrote from the heart.

What personal advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue this career?

Personally, as a female artist in a Male dominating industry, be strong and have a solid group of people around you, who care more about you than the money. This is really important as the music industry can be lethal if you don’t have the right support. It’s also important to focus on yourself, and what makes you unique as that will be what makes you stand out from the rest. Other artists are already taken, so you can’t copy them, therefore focusing on them is waste of time. Lastly, I just want to say, the easiest way to stand out is to be yourself, don’t over think it, sing the way you want to sing and dress the way you want to dress.

What does the foreseeable future hold for you as an artist?

As an artist, I want to continue building a body of work that will enhance and build a fan base looking for music of the highest order. I also would love to collaborate with new artists and producers and hopefully to release a new EP.

‘Straight Up’ is available now via all major platforms.

Connect with Eliza Mai

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