Artist Spotlight - MAUMAUMAU
(Photo Credit - Nathan Tecson)
We were able to interview up-and-coming alt-pop artist MAUMAUMAU. He just dropped his EP 'Meow Meow Meow' today! So be sure to check out his awesome EP and our interview with him.
1. How did you come to pursue music, and how long have you been at it?
Well, when I was a wee little lad, I had a whole lot of energy and ADHD. My older brother had started to play the drums, and since he was my hero, I started playing too. It was one of the few activities in my life that helped me focus and demanded my full attention (with four limbs trying to be independent of each other). That's where it started, but I didn't show a talent for music until way later. In my early teen years, I fell in love with a girl who broke my heart. In the three years it took me to get over her, I started writing poems and learning how to express myself through words, rhyme, and rhythm. Eventually, I started writing songs. They were awful, but they meant a lot to me. One day, after finishing my first full song, I decided to show my dad. He listened to the whole song (I was like 15 at this point), and when I finished, all he said was, “it’s alright, but I’ve heard this song before, write something more original” (implying that the song sounded too much like something he had heard before).
I have ever since tried writing stuff that he would be blown away by. Stuff that he thought was original, hahaha. Dads, am I right? Anyway, that same song struck my mom differently, and my friends too! Some cried, others just nodded along, and for the first time in my hormone-ridden body, I felt understood. An ADHD kid that just couldn't get it right finally connecting with people through music really really moved something in me. So since then, I’ve been writing things to express myself and help others navigate and understand the feelings they’re going through. When it came time to decide on a career, I didn't fully trust the music industry would provide for me seeing as how competitive it is and all that. So I decided to study mechanical and electrical engineering. I lasted a year and a half before dropping out. I told my parents I wasn't sure what I wanted to study, and they were patient. When it came time, I told them, “I KNOW! I’m going to study industrial design!” My dad frustratedly said, “No, you idiot, go study music,” and my mom very patiently said, “Try challenging God. Think of the most prestigious contemporary music school and apply only to that school. If you get accepted, take it as a sign from God that that is your calling. So I did. I applied to Berklee College of Music and, somehow, got in.
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
My process changes depending on the song, but generally, I make music first. I sit with my computer and typically start with a tempo. With that, I either make a beat or use Splice to get me started. I pull out my guitar (electric or acoustic, depending on what I’m vibing with at the moment) or my keyboard and get some chords going. Once I get an idea of the progression, I go with melodies and fish for a concept. Sometimes I open a google doc that I call “song seeds,” and I pull a lyric or a theme from there to get me started. From there, it’s like a puzzle. I get obsessed with the puzzle. This is the first project where I got really involved in production. Most of the Meow Meow Meow EP was produced by me. I also turned to my good friend Fernando Familiar for some finishing touches on “Curveball Whip Cream” and “Happy,” and Bobby Bloomfield helped with them touches on “Famous,” but still, this was my first venture into producing songs through and through. So once I get an idea of lyrics and melody, I start adding instruments and transitions to get a full idea of what the song will sound like in the end. The process changes in order. Sometimes I’ll write lyrics first. Sometimes I’ll have a melody first. Sometimes I’ll write the whole song on just guitar and voice. Whatever gets the feels and the idea across most efficiently. I try not to overthink it and let the creativity flow. I find that when I force it, it takes me much, much longer to finish an idea.
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
Well, there are a lot of artists that have inspired me musically. Here are a few. First, the older ones that have been consistent through the years, and then some new ones that I think are changing the game. I’m not sure if I’ve been inspired career-wise by any artist. I’ve kind of always done my thing.
Radiohead, Dave Matthews Band (early years), Blink 182 (When Tom was still in it), Gorillaz (early years), The Mars Volta (when Jon Theodore was the drummer), Beck, Friendly Fires, Foo Fighters (early years), etc. Lots of 90s bands. Tame Impala, Everything Everything, Still Woozy, Emilie Nicolas, The 1975, Jawny, Billie Eilish, Chance the Rapper, Paper Idol, Mob Rich, etc.
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
I have an electric guitar (Elisha), acoustic guitar (Gianna), and a bass guitar (Bass) that I rely on heavily. The electric guitar was a custom guitar I had made by a friend who started a custom guitar shop called Equilibrium Guitars. At the time, I didn’t like Fender guitars and how shiny and plastic-y they looked. I wanted a more traditional looking fender telecaster where the paint comes off, and it can get beat up and still look badass. So he made Elisha. Named after my first ever celebrity crush, Elisha Cuthbert. Gianna was an impulse buy on Amazon. It has a beautiful wood finish, and I wanted a new acoustic. I named it after my now ex-girlfriend Gianna. She’s still one of my favorite people on this planet, so the name will stay.
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
Oooooo good question. I think as a performer; I take after the traditional frontman. I like to entertain and captivate. I also love to dance. So the vibe is very much an intimate show that feels like it should be in a bigger venue. The band is typically tiiiiight, and the pockets are deep. It's a rollercoaster of emotions as the songs tend to be, and the banter in between songs helps cold listeners loosen up and just be in the moment. Live shows are my jam. That’s where, I think, my talent really lies. I don't think the venue is what typically calls my attention.
I tend to really connect with people. I think my favorite thing about playing any venue is connecting with someone before the show and seeing their expectations shift once the first song starts. I’m kind of a dorky dude with a ton of energy that does not necessarily scream frontman, so when the music starts they’re always surprised, and I quite enjoy people going from, “cool, so you're in a band” to “Oh shit, you're in a BAND.”
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
I write it wholeheartedly and get more excited than they do when it's out.
7. Tell us about the writing, recording, and promotion of your new EP Meow Meow Meow.
It's been an interesting ride. Meow Meow Meow was what started this solo project. I have so much music that didn't make it to any of my other music projects that I decided I wanted to not overthink about music and its release and just put out music as a solo artist, so I finished my first EP on my own and just wanted to put it up on SoundCloud. When I finished the songs, though, I liked it so much that I wanted to give it the time it deserved to release it properly. It has been freeing being able to make my own decisions creatively and to fall in love with my music again. There's so much yellow tape when you’re in a band and with management and with a publishing company. Everyone has opinions, and it's hard not to listen to them. So Meow Meow Meow, to me, was a liberating experience. I felt underqualified and insecure, but as I kept producing, I liked the music and the process more and more. I have loved the process through and through, and I believe it has gotten me through the pandemic (along with my friends and Gianna) in a really healthy way.
8. What’s next for you?
Keep churning out more music and making noise until the industry can’t help but look my way. I have more music coming out this year and am always working on the next thing. I can't say too much yet, but Meow Meow Meow won't be the only release this year.