Creative powerhouse forging a new kind of pop
You never know what to expect when you try to step into an artist’s mind – especially, when their sound is as eclectic and multi-layered as Maeve‘s. So, as the London-based musician lets us into her home filled with larger-than-life art pieces and towering stacks of books crowning a grand piano, a fuller picture beings to form. Constantly morphing her interpretation of pop into hauntingly alluring musical universes, Maeve first caught the audience’s ear (and eye) with her EP Caravaggio in a Corner Store, and is now continuing to forge her own path within and beyond the genre. With references from Midsommar to Funkadelic, Maeve’s artistry is full-bodied and intriguing, always reflecting her immaculate attention to detail and quick-witted vision. Compelled to learn more, we sat down with the artist in the space of magic-making (namely, her home studio) to chat about growing up in the Cayman Islands, inspirations and current projects – with her Great Dane as an honourable guest.
Hi Maeve, excited to be here! Let’s get right to it – introduce yourself to us.
Hey! My name is Maeve and I’m a musician. I’m from the Cayman Islands but I lived in the UK for the majority of my life. I’m a visual artist and a creative – but all in all a musician!
Growing up in the Cayman Islands sounds like a dream. What was it like?
I definitely took it for granted when I was younger. It’s a really cool place to grow up because you can hang around nature, and you have all the freedom to just go off and explore with your friends. I only really appreciated that when I came over to London and realised that my upbringing on a tropical island wasn’t normal.
Would you say your childhood there has influenced your sound? Especially as you mention freedom – it’s definitely a word I would associate with your music.
Maybe not directly, but because it was such a tiny island, you were pushed to be super creative and think outside the box. There wasn’t many concerts or events, so you always had to make your own fun. I think it definitely fostered my creativity a lot.
A free terrain to let your imagination run.
Yeah, for sure. But also, there was no music to buy. I remember going to the HMV for the first time when I was in London and thinking it was the coolest place ever. It’s changed now, but when I was growing up there, it definitely had this old school island vibe to it.
On the line between playful and haunting, your sound is hard to pin down. I’ve read that your music has been described as ‘anti pop’ – how do you feel about that title?
I wouldn’t personally describe it as anti-pop. I love people who innovate and push things forward. Doesn’t matter what genre they’re in – as long as they’re doing something new and exciting, I’m down with it. I’m often on the left-field, experimental side of pop, so I think that’s why people would associate me with anti-pop. But I call my music pop music – I love pop!
Pop is such an all-encompassing term, and I suppose it’s about finding your identity within it. Who are some of your biggest inspirations?
A lot of people from absolutely different genres and places. I love Bjork, I love what she does with experimentation and pushing the boundaries. I’m also inspired by great lyricists – I’m obsessed with Patti Smith. I love poetry, and lyrics are such an important aspect for me. I actually wanted to be a lyricist before I picked up the guitar when I was fourteen. In film, I love David Lynch and surrealism, and I try to incorporate that sort of imagery into videos and visuals. It’s just a mishmash of amazing people from different mediums.
Speaking of surrealist imagery, you also self-directed the music video for Can We Just Had High?. How do you approach visual narration?
I think it comes very naturally. When I’m in the studio creating music and vibing, I’m already thinking about the visuals. I love creating whole worlds, which people can completely dive and escape into. It’s something that I’ve always had a desire to do –as a teenager, I used to film and edit these artsy videos with my friends.
You’ve also been busy taking the fashion world by the storm. Is there anything you’ve taken from the modelling industry that has influenced you music?
I got into modelling through editorials and my own work. I think the most valuable thing has been learning to collaborate with different creatives, photographers, stylists, and coming up with something completely new that you couldn’t have made come to life just by yourself. Modelling has definitely opened up a lot of creative possibilities for me that are reflected in my work.
Fashion seems like such a prominent aspect of your identity. What role does it play for you?
I’ve always been into clothes. I love dressing up, putting on different personas. I’m a pretty quiet and introspective person, so I love the idea of stepping into new characters. You can dress to your mood, or power dress – clothes always make you feel a certain way. Even when I was really small, I had the craziest costume collections.
What do you hope to bring to the creative industry?
It’s a big question, and I have a lot of opinions on it. There’s a lot of people right now who are doing everything – self-shooting, self-styling, self-managing. Literally doing absolutely everything. There’s definitely a dark side to social media, but it’s clear that often you don’t need a big team, a big budget, a big record label. I think it’s really cool, and you can always tell that it’s genuine. This spirit is something I want to nurture.
Time for a speed round! What’s the last note in your notes app?
I think it’s just a boring admin to-do list from this morning. I wish it was a lyric or a poem!
And where do you find inspiration for your lyrics?
Everything! If someone says a cool word, if I had just finished a book or a film. I can put myself in the shoes of the main character and write from their perspective.
What is your favourite book?
The first thing that came to my mind is Just Kids by Patti Smith. That book changed my life and made me happy about taking a creative path. It’s beautifully written, and just I love her.
If you could time-travel, which era would you go to?
I’d go to the 70s for the vibes.
Something you’re proud of?
The two tours I went on last year. One with Banks and one with Marina. I looked up to them so much when I was younger, and never in a million years would I have thought that I’d be touring with both of them all over Europe. It still feels so surreal.
What’s on the horizon?
I’m releasing an EP this year. It’s a large body of work for an EP, but I was writing a lot, and the songs really fit together. I can’t wait to put it out!