RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW MAYZIE WHAT HAPPENED?
Hiya Mayzie thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
I’ve been playing music since I was a kid, forever! I played classical music growing up, but figuring out I could create the music, not just learn it, was incredibly freeing.
Introduce us to you and your musical history.
My name is Mayzie! I’m from NZ, born in Christchurch, and live in Melbourne. I started on the Clarinet around age 7, and then changed to Viola.
During high school I learnt heaps of instruments because I’m a goody-good and I didn’t wanted to skip school without getting in trouble. I took up the Flute, then I did a year of French horn, and a year of Cello, as well as Trombone and the Double Bass. I wasn’t very cool, I played in a band but it was an Irish band and we loved wearing our hair in plaits. I did singing lessons, but my singing teacher said she didn’t think it was worth it, I wasn’t very good.
I picked up a guitar around 16, and just learnt a few chords so I could play Emmylou Harris songs. When I moved to Melbourne in 2012 I was planning to audition for the Melbourne Con with the Viola, but I broke my ribs slipping down some stairs and couldn’t really play for ages. So I got back on the guitar and tried to write songs and kinda found it pretty easy and very fun! I practiced heaps, taught myself one of The White Stripes’ albums and then desperately learnt a Roy Montgomery record (‘Songs from the South Island’) until I could play it (or close enough!).
I met Matt (Hosking) at a party in 2014, we bonded by playing ‘Alison’ by Slowdive while almost blackout drunk. I joined his solo project VHS Dream after that and we had a great couple of years, played with great bands like Lowtide and Flyying Colours, and put out a record. I moved home for a while in 2016, and started writing solo music. In 2021 I joined Oceans. We now cowrite that and it’s a real husband and wife endeavour (we met in the band and got married about 2 months after).
Mayzie is my solo moniker, I have heaps of ‘little here and there’ projects, but even in Oceans I always feel like Mayzie is the artist, contributing my sound to various bits and pieces. I’ve had great band members for live shows, including Claire McCarthy (Pretty in Pink), and Andrew Stark (Vital Sparks) among others.
What was life like for you before music?
Honestly I can’t even remember! Music is all I’ve ever really done. Classical music is a different beast though, it’s practice practice practice.
It’s really about playing things absolutely perfectly and nailing every note, performing as true to the composer’s intentions as possible. It’s creative but in a different way. Contemporary music, writing music is freeing, it’s like breathing I think – it’s like dancing! Or walking, or screaming, it’s an extension of ourselves.
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
That’s tough but I think it’s Micah P Hinson – ‘Close Your Eyes’. I lived in Chile for a year when I was 17 and I totally lost my mind. I dunno, growing pains and isolation, and perfectionism and internalized sadness, just all came to a head. I used to put that song on every night and just cry to it on repeat. So cathartic. I can barely even hear that song nowdays, it’s just too much.
Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?
That’s quite a hard question! I think being a little older, and wiser, I’ve realized that you just have to do things that feel good, and that sit well with the person you want to be. My psychologist (shout out to Jake who is a real godsend), always makes me think about the Mayzie I want to be. I guess the Mayzie I want to be is part of the community, is multi-disciplinary, is the autodidact, and the wizened. I’ve always been a late bloomer!
Whats the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry?
How not to act! And how to act! I think an important moment for me was watching a show where the artist made a lot of jokes at the audience’s expense. They went on to tell us how disappointed they were with the turnout. I didn’t feel particularly interested after that.
The contrast to that was Sid O’Neill, who is the best live performer I’ve ever seen, hands down. I first saw him in this tiny little venue in regional Victoria, and he literally played the most groundbreaking show, to an audience of about three people. It changed my life. Honestly, the lesson is to just give everything your all, you don’t know what could happen.
Tell us two truths and a lie about you.
I speak Spanish. I’m a vegan. I have a kid.
If you could wish for one thing to aid your career, what would it be?
Sadly, probably money. Making music takes time, and energy and it’s really hard to do it. I juggle it with a full time job, and I’m incredibly grateful but it’s also so insanely demanding. For music to be sustainable on it’s own would be brilliant, but probably not that likely!
Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture? Discuss….
That’s an interesting question. As individuals and as a society, we are constantly growing. Cancel culture I think can oversimplify very nuanced and complex issues, and has very little thought for that growth, or the passage of time.
Learning is an ongoing process. Listening is important. Being respectful of others is essential. You don’t have to understand everything right now. You can ask questions but do it with care. Don’t make it all about you – it’s not!
I want my words and actions to align with my values. That makes me outspoken I suppose. Many people can’t speak up. I am privileged, I can in relative safety, and so I feel like it’s my responsibility to do so. I’m sure I get it wrong sometimes. It’s human! Sometimes we have to apologize. Sometimes we shoudn’t!
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? If no why not?
I have ADHD…
(if you know you know)
What was the worst experience on stage?
Oooh! Probably using in-ears for the first time.
My voice easily gets cancelled out by guitar frequencies, so I’m super used to singing without any foldback. One day I thought I’d try my friend’s ones, but they were wired. If I’m not playing guitar, I like to “roam” around. The in-ear cable kept getting tangled around my leg and tripping me up! I felt so claustrophobic!!! I ripped them off mid-set and just sung without anything. Couldn’t hear myself at all. I’ll try them again some-day but it was pretty freaky!
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about?
I’m an accountant by day (and not the fun kind).
What makes you stand out as an artist?
I guess it’s having a bit of a unique perspective. My music taste and background I think helps me be quite nimble. Maybe I love talking so words come easy! But I think really, it’s just having figured out who I am and what I want to be as an artist. I am not really interested in music that is passive, I want it to absolutely captivate me, so the music I make should do that too.
I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.
Well! It was inspired by getting very taken advantage of by someone I thought I could trust, and it really pissed me off. It’s a lot about the imbalance of power that is so rife in the music industry (and everywhere). Those that hold it, use it to taunt, to bribe and to control those who do not. Everywhere you look there are (mostly straight/white) men who are using that power as a bargaining chip, to take things they are not entitled to. Worse than that it’s so insidious that even men who aren’t directly engaging in that way, refuse to acknowledge that such an imbalance could exist, it’s wrong.
Anyway, the song is about that ☺
What was the recording process like?
The recording process was great! This track was produced by Lindsay Gravina, who has worked on most of my favourite records (Roland S Howard, Contrast, Magic Dirt, the Meanies, HTRK). He’s such a brilliant engineer, and has a way of seeing through the artist’s eye. It’s tough though, he doesn’t let you settle for mediocre. All in all, it was fun, but hard!
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tune?
It was easy to write, music always comes quick for me when I’m emotional! The trickiest bit was probably figuring out how to emulate my stage rendition in the studio. It’s performative, but I wanted the vocal sound to really capture that. It’s also a different style than my usual which is much more layered dream pop. So much fun to do though, and I loved every second!
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Honestly hindsight is 20/20 but I think you just have work with integrity and see everything as a moment in time. I’m grateful to get to make music.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world.
Music is a community. Someone else’s success has very little impact on your own. Be supportive. Be kind. Be respectful.
And realize that just because you don’t personally like it doesn’t automatically make it bad. Everyone is on their own journey, and it’s all good!