Maya’s rich jazzy vocals are instantaneously striking for their beauty and individuality. Her unique sound, a mix of electronic and acoustic elements, is largely a product of her background, a cultural cocktail of Australian, African American and Hungarian roots.
“I have so many different aspects to my culture, and it builds such a versatile sound. It’s really meant that I’ve never felt like I have to be stuck to one way. As I get older, as this world changes, it makes me happier. The weirder, the better.”
Maya – real name, Maya Weiss – has not always been so content in herself, and is quick to admit she’s fallen victim to pressures to fit in and bullying over her 22 years on the planet. It’s only over the last three years, since leaving school, that she claims to have progressed beyond those feelings of self doubt.
“A lot of my childhood I really tried to change myself. I dyed my hair, I told people I was a freak. I never wanted to be in my own skin. But bullying, and all the aspects of that experience make for a stronger person.”
Her latest single What After Now is a anthem for living in the moment, something she felt compelled to write in response to the constant grind for more that underlines so much of the modern age.
“It means to live in the moment, to be free in who you are, to not stress so much. It’s a song to remind people that you can’t control our future but we can control our present.” Read more
The Smith Street Band’s emotionally charged lyrics, often expressing the grinding torture and blinding emptiness of living with mental illness, have become a signature element of their presence on the music scene.
Frontman Wil Wagner’s experiences with depression and anxiety are consistently laid out for the audience in a heartbreakingly raw fashion, something he’s happy to do, considering his words provide hope for those in the audience that need it most.
“The fact that I have this relatively small platform, but a platform nonetheless, to talk about that stuff, and make people feel like they aren’t alone in the universe feeling these things, is so important and empowering for me, because I have those bands for me as well. If I’m feeling a certain way, I put that band on, and it comforts me. I listen to the band’s words and it inspires me. And to be that band for one person, I feel like my job on this planet is done.”
Suicide remains the biggest killer of young people in Australia, with suicide in men approximately three times higher than women, consistent across all states and territories, and other Western countries. Despite experiencing high rates of depression and anxiety, men are less likely than women to seek help for these feelings. These hard statistics are something that drives Wagner to continue to write with beautiful self-awareness and honesty, using his music to start a dialogue with the audience about mental health.
“I think especially because I am a big guy, I have tattoos, I’m sort of blokey, I like that I can express those things, and especially get young men to relate to those things as well. I am proudly someone who deals with all of those things in a quiet and extreme way, and sometimes it can have a pretty disastrous affect on me.
“Predominantly our audience is young men between the age of 18 and 25, who would be the least likely people in society to admit they feel anxious or vulnerable. That I can contribute to removing that stigma about being anxious and being sad, I really don’t feel like words can describe how much that means to me, it means the fucking world.” Read more
“Been waiting on change, but I don’t know if its coming.” – Brooke Fraser
If one year ago, you’d told me all that I would go through in the coming 365 days, I would have curled up and sobbed, perhaps laughed that it couldn’t possibly be that bad, but mostly expressed that theres no way in hell I’m capable of withstanding that level of pain. Guess what? I was.
I don’t know about you, but, besides feeling 22, my social media feeds are currently filled with sometimes long, mostly self-indulgent claims of resolution and determination. Well, that and jeering snarky remarks about how resolutions suck, (which they pretty much do).
This divide in social media discourse has made it hard for me to find a way to write on the topic without being just another wanker, thinking they’re so inspirational and wise, talking about their years, past and present.
I wasn’t going to write anything, but considering how excited I am that 2015 has finally taken a hint and fucked off, it seemed appropriate that I muse on what was the most excellent and awful year of my life.
I really, really hated 2015 at times. It was a hard year for not only me, but many people I hold dear.
I faced and continue to battle, some of the biggest challenges of my life thus far. I experienced pain at the hands of people I loved and trusted, and at the mercy of my own body. I’ve had my heart broken more than once, in many of the most painful ways. I lost my dog, one of my best friends.
I hit some points that were so low, I didn’t know they existed, or that I could continue to exist at such low mental altitudes.
But somehow, in spite of the utter shit that 2015 threw in my face, the son-of-a-gun had it in their heart to sheepishly toss me moments throughout the year that were undoubtably some of the most exciting and beautiful of my life.
I have experienced career progress this year that I didn’t know I was capable of. My work earned award nominations and garnered praise from my peers, lecturers, and an audience. As a reward for my hard work, doors have opened for incredible opportunity, and I am working every day to hone my craft further.
I felt my confidence leap and bound ahead of where it once was. Although I may still stumble along the way, I can firmly say I am in the best state I’ve ever been in.
I totally nailed eyeshadow blending, as well as the fine art of makeup, and in the process, found one of the most helpful techniques for dealing with my rampant anxiety I’m yet to find. I also wear black and purple lipstick out of the house regularly, like some kind of adventurous goddess.
I’ve met people who have become the greatest friends to me, and I am lucky to have such a divine selection of the most beautiful humans on this damn planet on my team.
Although it was the toughest twelves months I could’ve imagined, each and every step I took outside of my comfort zone proved to me that I am so much braver than I believe, stronger than I seem, and smarter than I think. 2015 was the year I became a proper, fully fledged adult-person.
I could sit and dwell on the bad things, but theres no point. When I look back on 2015, I can’t help but think of the bad things, but the beautiful things were the most significant of all. I like to think that in the great scheme of my life, I’ll remember those precious moments more than the pains.
If one year ago today, you’d told me all that I would accomplish in the coming 365 days, I would have cried with happiness and utter disbelief, exclaiming that there is no way I’m capable of achieving so much, and to such a high standard.
And I’m so unbelievably proud of myself.
“A toast to the lessons not yet learned, and to the trials that will teach them.” – Brooke Fraser (again(because there’s no such thing as too much Brooke Fraser))
There’s nothing wrong with caring about your appearance. If you want to take an hour in the morning to do your makeup, do it. If you like wearing tight dresses, go right ahead. If collared shirts are your thing, don’t listen to that girl you’re seeing who ribs you about it. Just because you like to feel good about yourself, doesn’t mean you’re vain.
If in doubt, wash your hair.
It’s important to make time to play musical instruments, and enjoy music. Don’t talk about how you’d like to learn to sing, or play the drums. Go out and buy the damn instrument, and get the damn lessons. It’s a lifelong skill, and in 30 years when you can still find the same level of enjoyment through music that you do now, you’ll be thankful you invested time and money.
Family members don’t always have to be there, they don’t owe you anything. Just like anyone else, they can disappear if they really want to. So appreciate the ones who are here, and don’t ever take them for granted. Conversely, just because someone is family, doesn’t mean they deserve your respect.
No one owes you anything. So don’t go expecting things.
There are few things as refreshing as simply going outside. For extra special bonus points, go for a walk, or to the beach, or a walk on the beach.
It is important to listen to other people, and heed advice from those who have either been in similar situations, or have the benefit of outsider perspective. Be intricately aware of your own fallibility.
Doing things for yourself, or being a little bit selfish, doesn’t make you a bad person. It is necessary to think of yourself if you’re ever going to be capable of helping anyone else.
There is no substitute for hard work. But there is also no substitute for talent.
Crying is one of the most beautiful, natural things in the world. Don’t be ashamed for releasing the emotion. Its whole purpose is to help when you’re feeling shit, so go on and enjoy.
There is no such thing as a guilty pleasure. Do what makes you happy! Be proud of every little idiosyncrasy that makes you so gosh darn unique, and revel in the beauty of individuality.
There is nothing better than a best friend.
Asking for help does not demonstrate weakness. It’s a sign of strength, courage and maturity. Even though it almost never feels like it.
It’s important to step outside your comfort zone, and do things that scare you. Start a degree, go on exchange, become a commentator, start a blog. All these things may seem impossibly hard at the beginning, but I can’t remember a risk I’ve taken that didn’t pay off somehow.
Natural brows are best. Eyebrows make the face. Don’t go too thick. Don’t go too thin. Pluck and wax minimally. Bold brows may be on trend, but practice filling in those motherfuckers to avoid looking more Bert from Sesame Street than Cara Delevingne. Also, Claire, be thankful for those naturally nicely shaped brows. Be really, genuinely thankful.
Scars are just scars. The flesh is so genuinely unimportant in comparison to the other parts of a person, and as cheesy as it is, the right people will love you for the right reasons, deeply and unconditionally.
It is never, ever okay to abuse or put up with abuse, whether emotional, verbal, physical, or financial. The good never, ever, ever outweighs the bad in an abusive situation. If you feel like you have to lie to cover up the bad parts of someone, then you need to gtfo.
Seasons change. Things might feel enduringly, unbearably painful, but in every hard situation in my life thus far, things have either improved, or I have come to accept the situation for what it is, and proceeded to move forward onto better things.
Appreciate the moment, right now, this very second. Time goes stupidly fast, and forever wishing away the day results in nothing more than depression at the lack of productivity and perceived happiness. Be mindful, be present, just be.
No one is as perfectly jubilant as they appear in their online presence. Absolutely fucking no one. Don’t sit at home, staring at the computer, and hating yourself because of your comparison to your “friend’s” profiles. Never forget that the Internet is a carefully curated space.
A cup of tea is always a good idea.
You need to be kind to yourself. You are your own worse critic, by a long, long way. You have achieved so much, and every day you need to take a moment to appreciate that. You are so much more capable than you feel. You truly can do anything you put your mind to.