RGM Introducing – We interview Maya Isacowitz

What made you decide to become an artist?

First off, it’s good to be here 🙂 More or less when my dad started teaching me how to play guitar at the age of 14, I also started discovering my voice.

That’s when I began writing and singing my own songs. I was a pretty shy young girl and I remember feeling so relieved to have this outlet. To pour my heart and soul out, pain, frustration (especially at that age…). That’s when I knew that I was going to pursue music. I felt that it’s my calling in this life, but only at the age of 21 I actually go for it.

Introduce us all to you and your musical history?

I grew up in a small communal village in the north of Israel, surrounded by nature and open spaces. My parents are South African and my dad is also a musician who builds musical instruments, so music was always a big part of our home. When I was 21 I independently recorded my debut album “Safe & Sound” and started performing. This album took me to places I never expected… It became a success in ways I had never imagined. After that, I moved to New York to record my second album and ended up staying there for 4 years. It was a roller coaster of emotions living there. On the one hand, it was a struggle and very difficult, and on the other hand, it was the most inspiring and mind-opening time of my life. Three years ago, after a difficult breakup with my previous boyfriend, I decided to come home back to Israel, and have stayed since. I recorded here my third mini-album that was released in 2019, and hopefully very soon will be releasing my fourth album!! 

We have just started RGM Isreal, sharing Israeli artists in the UK, what’s your thoughts on UK music?

At one point my dream was to move to London after I had a few shows there and just fell IN LOVE! So I very much love and appreciate music coming from the UK. A few of my favorite artists are Ben Howard, SOHN, Lianne La Havas, Jorja Smith, and Lucy Rose. 

What support is out there for new artists in Israel ?

Good question. I often feel like there’s not enough support, unfortunately. There aren’t many sources you can turn to as an Israeli upcoming artist, but there are a few. Some organizations have helped me personally along the way, such as Mifal Hapais and ACUM. When you’re an independent artist and don’t have a major label behind you, every help is significant. 

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

Wow. I think it was the show launching my previous album “Sparkle” at the Barby in Tel Aviv. The day of the show I was feeling sick and nauseous from excitement, I didn’t know what to do with myself and how I was going to pull it off or perform in that state. But when the show began all the stress was released in a BOOM. I stood on stage with my band that I love so much, and just let everything loose. It was a blast. Actually, since then I have taken a break from performing and have done only a few small intimate shows. 

What was the worst experience on stage?

There was one time that is still very fresh in my mind. It was the tour of my debut album “Safe & Sound”, a show in Be’er Sheva, and all of a sudden in the middle of singing I couldn’t hear anything. Like there was only white noise in my ears. I couldn’t hear or understand what key the music was in and I just froze. I was so scared to sing off-key that I just stopped singing. My cousin, who was my guitarist at the time, saw that something’s wrong, and he came close to me and nodded with his head that “everything’s ok, we got you”. Slowly I just came back. Since then I’ve developed anchors to help me deal with anxiety and those kinds of situations. 

Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about? 

I don’t know what people know about me so I have no idea what they would find surprising 😉 Perhaps the fact that I love Marmite, which is a South African spread that most people find horrible. 

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? 

Well, l very much think that what we hear on the news is often misleading and the information we receive is never the full picture. I wouldn’t say that I sign up for conspiracy theories, but, I also very much take the information I get as Ltd and decide what to believe. 

Name a four-piece band made up of legends – who would be in it? (drummer, bass, lead singer etc)

Rihanna on Bass and Vocals, Eddie Veder- Lead vocals, Anderson Paak- Drums, Ben Howard- Lead guitar. That should be pretty interesting.

If you could play any music festival which would it be?

Coachella 😉

What’s your biggest achievement as an artist?

That’s a really hard question… I always feel like my greatest achievement is ahead of me, but I think my biggest achievement is honestly continuing this journey in music, which is at times not easy. Persevering. Making music, releasing it, performing, growing as a songwriter and musician. Touching people’s hearts.

What makes you stand out as an artist?

Perhaps my raw emotion, especially when I perform. My heart is wide open and revealed. I guess also the fact that it’s my own unique perspective and point of view. After all, we mostly share the same kind of experiences but our point of view is what makes it unique. 

We recently reviewed your last single. How did you feel the review went?I really liked the review and appreciate your input. Thanks for that. 

Talk me through the thought process of the single/?

I was walking in the field close to where I live and I was thinking “I wish I could feel whole and complete with myself and with being on my own, without needing someone or something to fill a void.” It dawned on me that I could decide to treat nature like it was my companion and my partner. It may be a strange thought but it actually gave me so much strength and empowered me. From that place, I wrote a love song that’s a different kind of a love song. Nature is my hood, I’m alone but I’m good. 

What was the recording process like?

It’s the first time that I’m also involved in the production process and that’s super exciting for me! I recorded part of it in my small home studio, surrounded by nature, and decided to record my sweet nieces and nephew (Noam, Ella & Neta) for the chorus. I really wanted the chorus to have a sense of joy, innocence, and freedom, and that became the main leading sample of the chorus. After that, I sent it to my music partner Omry Amado and he did his magic and took it to the next level, that’s when it truly became the song that it is. We worked together in his studio in Tel Aviv. Recorded vocals, additional instruments and finished the entire song. Our collaboration is very special to me because it started after I decided to take a long break from music and had no intention to perform or release anything new. I felt kind of worn out from the rollercoaster that comes with the business side of the music, and I stopped everything. I went back to writing songs from the place that I did when I was a teenager- simply pouring my heart and soul out with no expectations that it needs to be something. It was a tremendous healing process for me. 

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

Nope 🙂 And not because it’s all perfect, but because I did the best I could with this song and I feel good with it. I’m continuing my journey and soon you’ll hear the next song!

What are your plans for the year ahead? 

My focus is finishing and releasing my fourth album, writing more songs, getting better at playing guitar, teaching vocal lessons (which is a new passion that I absolutely love), and maybe down the line also getting back to performing. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

When I was living in New York I worked at a cute restaurant and met someone from Nepal who worked with me, Rai, he told me that the word Maya in Nepali means to love and compassion. It kind of became my mantra, I also tattooed it on my shoulder. I try to remind myself to operate in this world from a place of love and compassion, even when it’s hard (and at times it can get really hard…). So I wish you and all of us to be a little more compassionate towards ourselves and others.