At Coachella and Beyond, DJ Maya Jane Coles Can Move a Dance Floor

AFTER COACHELLA, MAYA JANE COLES GETS SET TO RELEASE HER DEBUT ALBUM, COMFORT, IN JULY. By Jimmy Lee, photo by Thomas Knights.

 

When Maya Jane Coles takes her spot in front of her laptop, a mixing board and two turntables at illustrious venues such as the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, her slight, just over 5-foot frame is hard to see behind all that equipment from across a dance floor. You can barely make out her asymmetrical haircut, with the left side of her head shaved close, floating above the top of the MacBook Pro.

But then she drops a house beat and a pre-recorded male voice offers up a brief introduction — “Give it up for Maya Jane Coles” — and immediately there’s no mistaking her presence, because the crowd is soon a dancing frenzy, like the night she deejayed at the downtown Los Angeles club, Exchange L.A., back in March. From just after midnight to well past 1 in the morning, bodies are in constant motion, and overseeing it all, with her head bobbing to the beat, as if nodding in approval of the hip-shaking as well as the lip-kissing between couples that the insistent rhythms seem to engender, is Coles.

Amid today’s landscape of globe-trotting DJs dispensing irresistible dance grooves, Coles is distinguishing herself with the ability to move a dance floor. But being a club DJ isn’t even her primary focus. “I definitely consider myself a writer and producer first and a DJ second, though I couldn’t live with either,” says Coles.

Born in London of British and Japanese ancestry, Coles grew up in a household hearing Jamaican dub and reggae, Brazilian bossanova, French classical and American jazz, courtesy of her music-loving parents. She learned how to play the guitar, drums, cello and saxophone, even though “I’m not great at music theory; I’m better playing instruments by ear,” she says. So Coles taught herself the bass and keyboards, as well as how to use music production software.

By the time she was 15, she was using that knowledge to produce hip-hop and trip-hop tracks. The electronic dance music that she would come to create resulted from a growing girl’s partying ways. “I would say I started making more electronic music after I started going clubbing in East London at around 17,” says Coles.

“I was just really inspired by the music and wanted to create my own take on it,” she adds. “Making music is my favorite thing to do in life; there is nothing I would rather do.”

Coles has remixed artists from Ella Fitzgerald and Florence & The Machine to Massive Attack and Little Dragon. “I just listen to the track and decide if I have a good idea for it that I think can take the track into a new space,” she says. “Where possible I try to be respectful of the original, too.”

She has also crafted recordings that forgo the pounding beats of a club track for songs with a more relaxed, seductive vibe. And she’s also applying those keyboard-, guitar- and bass-playing skills to her own original creations, which will be part of her debut album, Comfort, scheduled for a July 1 release.

“It has tracks on it that were started four years ago, to tracks that were literally done a week before mastering,” says Coles. “So it’s been a really long process until I got it to a place that I felt happy enough to draw a line and say, ‘Finished.’”

Comfort will also be released on her own label, called I/AM/ME. “I didn’t have to make concessions creatively,” says Coles. “I like the satisfaction of doing it all myself and knowing I had full control of the outcome. Making an idea in my head come to life or reshaping an idea into something new is the most exciting part of the process for me.”

 

This story was originally published in Audrey‘s Summer 2013 issue. Buy it here.

 

 

Sweet Sounds: Music Picks for Summer 2013

 

Zedd ft. Foxes – “Clarity
This summer’s answer to Avicii’s “Levels.”

Rihanna: “Right Now
Summer hits and Rihanna just go together (“We Found Love,” anyone?). This David Guetta-produced track hits all the right notes and is a perfect summer club hit.

The Neighborhood: “Sweater Weather
Though the title may be misleading, this would fit in seamlessly in any episode of “The O.C.” making it immediately summer-worthy.

Mariah Carey ft Miguel: “#Beautiful
Very “90s Mariah,” “#Beautiful” was one of the first songs of 2013 deemed “summer-worthy.” Miguel’s feature on the track is the perfect compliment to the seemingly effortless vocals of pop music’s reigning Queen. With an earworm of a guitar hook and an easy-to-remember chorus, this will be stuck in your head for days (if it hasn’t done so already).

Fat Joe ft. Ashanti: “What’s Luv
One (of two) 90’s throwback track(s). You know (and love) this track. Don’t lie.

Bruno Mars: “Treasure
Bruno Mars is known for emotional, soulful records (ie “Grenade”, “Locked Out of Heaven,” and “When I Was Your Man”) , but this upbeat throwback track strays away from his previous singles and is pop perfection, just as simple as that.

Jay-Z ft. Nas, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, Swizz Beatz & Timbaland: “BBC
They’re a team made in hip-hop heaven, and this track lives up to the hype that each of these heavy-hitters brings to the table.

2NE1: “Falling in Love
YG Entertainment’s girl group is finally back with this fresh track, just in time for summer (even if the track was originally supposed to be released last year as a follow-up to “I Love You”). With YG planning on releasing more tracks from the girls until October, we’re excited to see what else they have planned up their sleeve.

Jay Park: “JOAH
Challenge: Just try not bopping your head to this K-Pop hit. Just try.  (Like this song?  Check out the Jay Park-approved cover by Quest Crew member and YG Entertainment producer, Lydia Paek.)

Justin Timberlake: “Strawberry Bubblegum (Allure Remix)
When “The 20/20 Experience” came out a few months ago, “Strawberry Bubblegum” was continuously on repeat with its cool R&B feel and Justin’s smooth vocals. French DJ Allure puts a new spin on the song, transforming it into a pop, disco-esque track, perfect for those hot summer nights.

Destiny’s Child: “Say My Name (E-603 Remix)
We didn’t think it was possible, but this mix has made us fall in love again with this classic DC hit (can you believe it was released almost 14 years ago?!). If the heavy bass, smart synth and the girls’ voices don’t pull you in, we don’t know what will.

Though these are some of our picks for the summer, what’s on your playlist this year?

Audrey’s Artist to Watch | Ryan Wang, 5-year-old Piano Prodigy

At the age of five, most of us were learning how to properly write out the alphabet, play duck-duck-goose,  and strategically avoid getting cooties. Ryan Wang on the other hand? This five-year-old piano prodigy was spending his days getting ready for his performance in New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall.

At the age of three, Wang’s parents noticed Ryan’s affinity and natural ability with the keyboard. Without missing a beat, the two decided to send him to piano lessons. While many people would assume that three is far too young an age to adequately master an instrument, Ryan’s talent proved everyone wrong. After a mere year and half of lessons, a prodigy was created. Of course, Carnegie Hall was not the only one to notice this amazing 5-year-old. Ellen Degeneres asked him to come onto the Ellen Show and dazzle her viewers. Clearly, Ryan didn’t disappoint:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiFlbuYPcqk

Even more recently, CBC Music Studio invited Ryan to perform in front of his biggest fan, Dorothy. The 101-year-old family friend was touched to discover that Ryan would be performing just for her. Not only does Wang prove to be mature in his musical abilities, he showed quite a bit of emotional maturity. Understanding how important this performance was to Dorothy, Ryan was moved to tears (and brought us all to tears while he was at it):

Easily becoming a prodigy favorite, Ryan Wang is scheduled to tour Italy and China this summer. Be sure to keep an eye out for this amazingly talented young man.

(source)

The Voice’s Judith Hill dishes about her style

Judith Hill: Those are my own clothes! I actually found that fringe at a store in Sherman Oaks. It’s a fun, poppy, nice introduction. Because it was my first performance on The Voice, I wanted people to know that I’m into fashion, textures and patterns.

 

The Voice - Season 4

Judith Hill: That was for the Nina Simone song “Feeling Good.” To me, that song is one of the most powerful songs in music history. I wanted to feel like I was this woman that represented all women in the world. I could be from Asia or Africa or any part of the world. I wanted to be like Queen Aphrodite in a long dress with the Asian hair coming out, [singing] a down-to-earth, soulful, bluesy cry from the soul.

I loved the long neck coming up. I wanted it to feel very exotic and high fashion at the same time. That’s always my thing: runway styles interpreted in artistic ways. And then when I came out of the audience, spotlight on me, all a capella, I wanted it to feel like a hush came over the room and it’s quiet. But because it was The Voice, everyone was screaming. [laughs]

 

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Judith Hill: This was the Michael Jackson “The Way You Make Me Feel.” Again, I wanted to strut that high fashion, structured look, but also have it be very fun, edgy and unique.  That hairstyle was something I emailed to the wardrobe department.

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I saw it on the runway, and I really loved it because it was so avant-garde. There were these two circles. And that’ s my thing: I love shapes in fashion. I love weird shapes and weird cuts anywhere. Any time I see a circle or triangle, I’m excited.

 

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Judith Hill: [for her performance of "#thatPOWER"] That was the most epic. That thing was so hard to wear! It was made out of hard material that bendable but very tough. It was all silver feathers in a cape that went all the way down. We found it in a showroom. I told them I wanted this to very tribal. High-fashion tribal. I wanted to be the Queen of the Amazon jungle. I wanted to feel like I was a goddess that was putting on this crazy rock concert in the middle of the ancient ruins.

The hair came from a picture I found online of that exact thing with the cornrows on the side and a huge afro. This is actually more tapered down. The one I sent was even crazier. I figured it was also very tribal and African, but rock star at the same time.

 

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Judith Hill: This was my last week [on The Voice], when I sang “Sweet Nothing” with Michelle Chamuel. That was just a simple classy look. It’s my natural hair look, how I usually wear it, plus a simple structured suit.

 

And an extra photo from Judith Hill’s Facebook page.

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Judith Hill: That’s me and my brother. He looks so much more Asian than me in this picture! [laughs] We look the same now. He plays the drums, but he’s an engineer. He’s the one in the family who decided to get a real job.

2NE1’s Official Comeback

You read correctly! The long-awaited 2NE1 comeback is now officially set for July of this year. Founder and Chief Executive Officer of YG Entertainment, Yang Hyun Suk, personally confirmed this himself. He added that instead of releasing the songs at once, 2NE1 will release one music video every month until their October showcase. This guarantees at least four songs for their album. The first song to be released is Falling in Love which is said to have a reggae feel and utilize oversea’s choreographers. Concerts will be planned after the release of the album in October, but no information regarding that has been released yet.

We’re more than excited to see brand new style and genre that 2NE1 plans to give us for this album. Could it be anything like their 2NE1 Loves teasers? Check them out for yourself!

(source)

Indie-Pino Underground Music Fest Brings Filipino-American Musicians to San Francisco

Golda + the Guns were one of the darker rock acts to perform at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' (YBCA) Indie-Pino Underground Music Fest (photo credit: Karen Datangel).

Of all the ways to spend a hot Saturday afternoon in San Francisco, the Indie-Pino Underground Music Festival was the number one outdoor spot to enjoy fresh live tunes from some seriously scorching acts and some tantalizing Filipino dishes and desserts too! The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) hosted the free event in their Sculpture Court on June 9th to coincide with their New Filipino Cinema program, and many folks came, went, and stayed to take in the music and food along with the nice weather.

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Summer ’12 Extra: Interview with Meiko

At 18 Meiko had trailed behind her sister to Los Angeles and landed a waitressing gig at Hollywood’s Hotel Cafe. Later, she emerged as one of the venue’s biggest success stories, alongside Rachael Yamagata and Ingrid Michaelson. Her first, self-titled effort — her moniker, by the way, a nod to her one-fourth Japanese heritage — debuted at No. 1 on iTunes’ Singer/Songwriter chart, before Meiko even signed to the now-defunct MySpace Records/DGC.

And in May, Meiko reemerged with her first album in four years — cheerier and bolder sophomore effort The Bright Side, off Concord Music Group offshoot Fantasy. As she finished a bowl of vegetarian ramen in San Francisco, we talked Meiko about other ways she’s changed since her mostly acoustic Hotel Cafe days, thanks to a new label, newfound collaborators and a new boyfriend.

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3rd Line Butterfly: The Music Playing in Your Dreams

Kim Nam-yoon, Nahm Sang-ah, Seo Hyun-jung, and Sung Kiwan make up the Korean indie rock band 3rd Line Butterfly.

What comes to your head when you hear the words 3rd Line Butterfly? Most likely, you’ll think something associated with elegance and beauty. You’re correct, but if you are unfamiliar with them, 3rd Line Butterfly is more than just a pretty name—they’re a band that packs a punch and leaves you in its trance.

The South Korean rock quartet—consisting of lead vocalist and guitarist Nahm Sang-ah, guitarist Sung Kiwan, bassist Kim Nam-Yoon, and drummer Seo Hyun-jung—has been an indie music mainstay since their debut in 2000. They formed the year before when friends and musical collaborators Nahm and Sung were dismissed from their former bands and Sung called up Nahm to make some new music. Since then, 3rd Line Butterfly has released four full-length studio albums, an English-language album, and one EP and has toured North America as part of the Seoulsonic tour, which included performances at SXSW.

In support of their latest studio album Dreamtalk, which was released in October and won multiple 2013 Korean Music Awards including Album of the Year, 3rd Line Butterfly performed in front of international audiences, including the second night of San Francisco Music Matters Asia where we caught up with them.

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Personalities | Smitten with Solitude: Meiko

Though the Hotel Cafe alumnus has a new label and team of producers, Meiko isn’t afraid to walk alone. 

ISSUE: Summer 2012

DEPT: Personalities

STORY: Christina Lee

PHOTO: Leigha Hoonet

 

In April, Meiko trekked to Kahuku, Hawaii, for a gig and a few days of relaxation — alone. She’d asked two friends to join her, though neither of them was available. “I thought it was going to be horrible to be by myself, but now I’m getting more excited,” she says days prior, by phone. “I can go by myself, chill out and do all the things I want to do, without making sure that’s OK with everybody else.”

In 2007, Meiko transitioned from Hotel Cafe waitress to one of the name sake tour’s biggest success stories: Grey’s Anatomy played her songs and Perez Hilton praised her, which helped catapult her independently-released, self-titled and mostly acoustic debut album to No. 1 on iTunes’ Singer/Songwriter chart. Her latest, The Bright Side, released last May, comes courtesy of Concord Music Group offshoot Fantasy and a new team of producers. Along with longtime collaborators(Jimmy Messner, Greg Collins, Tony Reyes), Meiko enlisted Belgium producer Styrofoam — based on his remixes of Postal Service and Submarines songs. “I’ve always wanted to do that, mesh the acoustic, organic vibe with a little bit of electronica here and there,” she says.

Inspired by her current boyfriend, whom she met at the South by Southwest festival three years ago, The Bright Side also has Meiko breathlessly vowing to bake pies, declaring that she’d make a good wife, swooning. But when she rattles off this year’s traveling plans — snorkeling and eating shaved ice in Hawaii, flying to Japan to meet maternal relatives for the first time — it’s still easy to imagine her retreating to her childhood bedroom in Roberta, Ga., writing kiss-offs to boys and terrible friends. “I’ve tried to distance myself from negative people I was hanging out with,” she says, “and that’s actually why I spend a lot of time by myself, writing and doing a lot of soul-searching.”

— Christina Lee

Concert Recap | Nate Tao Wins Kollaboration LA

Winner Nate Tao. Photo courtesy of Kollaboration.

On Friday, seven amazing singers competed at Kollaboration Los Angles but only one came out the winner. Nate Tao, the Taiwanese American singer/songwriter stole the show and will compete at the Kollaboration finals in November.

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