There’s an inescapable joy in funk and boogie and I love it.
Part of my role as the Community Outreach Coordinator here at CFMU involves hosting MorningFile, in which I (on occasion) play tracks from our new releases. While perusing our latest, I came across Never Dance Alone by Maya Killtron, which dropped this past March, and logged "Satin Sheets" in for on-air play. Within the first 30 seconds, I was already grooving along with an unconscious smile on my face. By the end of the song, I was ready for a replay or five! From then on, I was burningly curious about the mastermind behind an album that swept me up in its infectious hooks (without a care for who saw me dancing through the on-air booth's windows).
Maya Killtron is a Toronto-based artist and self-described "singer, DJ, violinist, writer, hard lover, mother of none". This artist of many hats will also be coming to Sous Bas here in Hamilton on May 24th which, I felt, made it the perfect time to reach out to her and ask a few questions of my own design about live performances, dream collaborations, Amy Winehouse, and everything in between.
You’re a singer, DJ, and violinist, which is quite a diverse skillset! How did you get into all those different areas? How do they affect your creative process?
My parents got me into violin as a kid and from there I was lucky enough to have great music programs in school so I ended up at an arts High School majoring in voice. (Aside - Hopefully Ontario can keep its arts in schools funding for future generations.) DJ-ing came much later, more out of necessity than anything else. I had great mentors who taught me the craft and I found my way into that field loving every second. Creatively I have a lot of tools at my disposal which can be great but I still have to sit down with a pen and paper and write out my words and ideas like everyone else.
LISTEN: Toronto-based artist Maya Killtron's newest release, Never Dance Alone
As a highly versatile musician and performer, you had many different genres to choose from when it came to your own music. What made you choose R&B/funk?
It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do. I’ve sung for a lot of different bands and projects over the years. Ultimately I took what I loved most from previous groups and what I grew up with and arrived at funk and boogie. I LOVE making people move, smile and dance. I wanted to make feel-good music. One of the best parts of boogie is that even the saddest lyrics still make you wanna groove. There’s an inescapable joy in funk and boogie and I love it. The title track Never Dance Alone sort of wrote itself and I knew then, this was where I was supposed to be.
I LOVE making people move, smile and dance.
Who (or what) is Never Dance Alone dedicated to? Is there a certain era, kind of person, mood, aesthetic, etc. you had in mind during its creation?
Never Dance Alone is less a dedication and more a chronicling of my love life. (Not re-inventing the wheel with the subject matter) Sometimes its good, sometimes it bad, sometimes is messy AF but ultimately my way of dealing with it was to face it but on my terms, with truthful lyrics and dance through it all. You always hope it can help someone else do the same.
What was the best part of putting together this album, and what was the most challenging part?
The best part was always hearing the final mixes. There’s nothing better than grinding away writing and recording then getting to hear it all glossy & whipped up. The challenging part is staying on schedule with every aspect from writing to press photoshoots. Even though its a solo endeavour, many many people are involved and in order to keep it all running, I had to be on top of everything. I’m organized enough to have a staff per se but not big enough yet to have someone run the show for me. I’m happy I learned every side of the business doing it all. That in an of itself was a challenge but also a great achievement.
There’s nothing better than grinding away writing and recording then getting to hear it all glossy & whipped up.
Visuals are an important complement to music. What kind of moods/ inspirations are behind the covers to your singles and albums?
I have a great visuals team and we worked really well together collaborating on ideas and concepts. We always tried to keep it fun with a nod to 80’s design. Colour played a big part of it. I wanted everything to be as bright and eye catching as possible - I guess except Bad Decisions which was just very very dark. LOL.
Fun, 80's inspired visuals: "Whiplash" & "Never Dance Alone" (Listen on Bandcamp)
If there’s one other musician you could collaborate with that you haven’t, who would be top of your list?
YES. Chaka Khan and Chromeo. I once saw Chromeo at the airport and I 100% freaked out and couldn’t go talk to them AND THEY WERE LIKE 12ft AWAY FROM ME. I’m just waiting for the opportunity to make up for that failed moment. I love them and I think they really are the kings of modern funk. Their music is 100% fun all the time and so is their live show. Chaka is just a damn Queen and is one of the great living voices of our time. If you want fun, listen to her new album. That. Woman. Is. A. God.
You played at an Amy Winehouse tribute show back in September. Is there a particular track/album of hers that inspires you?
"Cupid” and “You’re Wondering How” on her B-Sides album show a different Amy, her fun side. Something that was brief and fleeting but you can hear the joy in her singing.
How do you prepare for performing live? How does live performance feel different for you than being in the studio?
Live shows are always much more fun than studio. My perfectionist side loves the craft of singing in the studio, doing take after take, layering perfectly over and over again but performing for a live audience is much better. I love interacting with people. Like I said before, getting people to smile and dance is one of the driving forces behind this whole project and it’s the best feeling in the world when it happens. I think my best self is on stage. I’m braver, more charming and at peak joy!
I think my best self is on stage. I’m braver, more charming and at peak joy!
How do you feel about coming to sousbas in Hamilton on May 24th? Is there a message you have for Hamiltonians before your arrival?
I’m so excited. Its a great club that focuses on artists, music and positive safe space for all. Erika (the owner) does an incredible job of curating great music into Hamilton and is lovely to work with. I’m so happy I get to perform in Hamilton. My message to Hamilton is already THANK YOU for having me. Let’s Dance!
Olivia Fava is a newly graduated Linguistics student and the Community Outreach Coordinator at 93.3 CFMU. She hosts MorningFile as well as Rainbow Radio, a celebration of LGBTQ+ music airing every Monday night from 7-8. She is also a musician.