SheBoss, brought to you by Flourish, chats with Singer/Songwriter Maiah Wynne, winner of the 2019 Music From the Moon Contest. This worldwide music competition was sponsored by Huntsville-based Listen Local, ToneWoodAmp, RCP Companies & FAME Recording Studios. Her song ‘Show the World’ was chosen among hundreds of submissions. Maiah Wynne is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and actress based near Portland, Oregon currently residing in Gresham. Maiah captivates audiences worldwide with the alluring and enigmatic duality present in her music. An award-winning singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Maiah delivers powerful and universally resonant lyrics with a hauntingly beautiful voice layered in sophisticated and emotive folk/pop soundscapes. Her vocal quality conveys a rare combination of opposing elements that contribute to a timeless and genuinely unique signature sound with wide appeal – simultaneously delicate and strong, light and dark, “pretty-but-raw.” (The Missoula Independent)
She Boss with Maiah Wynne
Megan: Hey guys, as promised, we have a lovely young lady who’s joining us today, her name is Maiah Wynne. So Maiah, we are so glad that you get to be part. So I’m just going to share a little about how we had a chance to meet. So for those of you that were under a rock in 2019, there was this little thing called the Apollo anniversary and being in the Rocket City, everything was all about space exploration and the Apollo 50th anniversary, and what we did in 1969, and landing a man on the moon and all of those wonderful things and Flourish had a phenomenal opportunity to partner with a lot of community organizations and Listen Local Huntsville, and RCP, Tone wood Amp and Fame. All of these amazing people put together an international music competition called Music from the Moon.
The competition was based on soliciting different musicians and artists to create something beautiful that was inspired by the moon landing. I think over 270 submissions were provided and we had a lot of amazing people who judged different submissions, and the winner of that competition was Maiah Wynne. She wrote a song called ‘Show the World’, which you’ll hear in just a minute but part of that competition led her to come to Huntsville. She got to hang out in the south and got to meet all of the amazing people that are in our community. She got to perform her song at the homecoming dinner in front of a ton of people under the Saturn five, the Space and Rocket Center, which was amazing, even though we had a little issue with the power. Do you remember that that night? It was a lot of fun. We all celebrated a little too much that night, but it was fantastic.
I am so excited and so honored that we have the opportunity to chat with Maiah today as part of our She Boss series. So welcome to Flourish.
Maiah: Thank you
Megan: So excited that you’re here. I have to pinch myself. I know all of us have become huge fans. We’ve been a fan for a very long time. But not only did she write this beautiful, amazing, inspirational song. But since then and even before then she has done so many amazing things. You’re a young woman who has just blossomed into this amazing singer, songwriter, and artist and it’s just mind blowing. Preparing for this discussion, I was just bringing myself back and listening to your music, and it’s beautiful. It is absolutely beautiful. Your voice is that of an angel and I know that sounds really silly, but it’s true. You’ll get to hear it in a minute. So why don’t you just share with us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to where you are today. Then I’ll just ask you a couple of questions and we’ll go from there.
Maiah: Yeah. Wow. I was born in 1996. Actually, I grew up in Washington, I moved around a lot in the Northwest and music was always a huge part of my life. I started learning the piano when I was just three years old and some of my earliest memories are just figuring out notes. That’s how to get together and being really excited about that feeling. Music has always felt magical to me and I think even from a young age, I knew that it was something that brought me joy and was sort of that it just clicked. And growing up, I just kept playing and teaching myself new things. Then I started to teach myself guitar and drums when I was thirteen and it blossomed from there. I’ve taught myself over 15 instruments. I love it so much. I would spend so many hours after school just immersed in it and playing and learning and singing and writing songs and improvising songs. And it’s just such a huge part of processing my life and I don’t think there’s any way I wasn’t going to do this, this was it for me. It’s led me to some beautiful places and it led me here. And I love it. I love music so much.
Megan: So let me ask you so what a couple things. What’s your favorite instrument, buy
Maiah: The piano I think, I love stringed instruments, I love the guitar and stuff the piano makes you feel so huge when you play it. You know you can be so loud and so dynamic and it’s such a large instrument you just feel like you’re connected to it and there’s just so much dynamic you can create with it. And that’s why I love the piano.
Megan: Yeah. Did you play in the school band growing up or anything like that?
Maiah: I did choir. I did do band a couple years, we had a really small band, and I did drums and saxophone for one year. But I mostly just acquire and taught myself instruments.
Megan: That’s amazing. Yeah, now, did you have an influence of music growing up from your parents or anyone in your family?
Maiah: A little bit, nothing crazy. My dad played the piano and he taught me the songs that he knew. And my grandpa plays the mandolin and the banjo. And so he sort of brought in a little bit of that bluegrass folk side of things. But other than that, it was mostly just me and most of my family’s like engineers and professors. I’m very, very musical.
Megan: That is just your thing. There’s no other. So if you if you didn’t take the music path, what do you think you might have fallen back on? Is there anything that’s like a secondary love to you other than music that most people don’t know about?
Maiah: I think the thing that I really wanted to do; I really love natural history, and like paleontology and archaeology. I love like, dinosaur bones, giant, sloths are so cool. That’s probably what I would have been passionate about other than.
Megan: That’s really interesting. So you’ve had the chance to work on some amazing projects and partner with some amazing people. For anybody who doesn’t know the band Rush, they’re pretty huge. So I know you did some collaborative efforts with Rush. Tell us a bit about that.
Maiah: Yeah. So over the last actually four years, Alex, the guitarist from rush and Andy Curran, who was the bassist from Coney Hatch, which is another sort of Canadian rock band. I’ve been collaborating with them on an album, and we’ve almost finished it, we have I think, 10 or 11 songs finished. And it’s just been this amazing collaboration totally outside of my normal genre, outside of their normal genre. We sort of met in the middle and made this new thing and I’m really excited to see how it turns out and see if people like it, because I really love how it’s really, I don’t know, it’s found its own sort of voice. And it’s been so much fun to collaborate with those guys. Alex is so kind and they really just been so welcoming and silly, super silly.
Megan: So Coney hatch was a band that I wasn’t really familiar with. But they’re a rock band, right from like, 1980s, and big hair, big band and like shared stages with like Judas Priest, and Peter Frampton, and all of these amazing artists. Did the relationship kind of come through Andy, is that how that started?
Maiah: And it’s so fun to hear their stories, because you sit in a room with them, and they just name dropping all of these incredible artists. That’s crazy. But Andy, super kind- It’s so funny. When I first got in contact with him, it was through a different contest that I had won, and I won a mentorship session with him like a video call. And we had a video call, and neither of us really knew what that meant, so we’re just talking. He was super nice and I didn’t really know who he was at that point. I was just like, “oh, he works in the industry.” I knew he worked at like a music company called Olay. And that’s kind of the extent of my knowledge. And he was like, “oh, yeah, I’m working on some music. You know, we’ve been trying to find a vocalist.” And I was like, “Well, you know, I sing. If you ever need a vocalist” and he took me up on the offer. He sent me some stuff and I wrote some lyrics and sent him some vocals and he really liked it and it blossomed from there. But I really was so naive about the whole thing. I had no idea. So one day when he called me it was like, “hey, so I showed this to Alex and he loves it. He wants to play on some stuff” and he had to really explain the whole thing.
Megan: Are you listening? And you’re in probably in shock, right?
Maiah: But I think that was like the best way to go about it in a way. I’m really glad that I didn’t know anything going into it because it’s just a really genuine interaction. And I think that’s one of the rare things to come by in the music industry, especially probably for those guys, when everybody knows who they are. Everybody knows who Alex is and I’m sure everybody wants something from them, you know, right. I was just totally them.
Megan: I think there’s something to be said for that, though, that almost a lack of experience allows you to be very vulnerable in situations but when you surround yourself with a great team, and you keep an open mind, you’re oftentimes presented with some opportunities that maybe you hadn’t seen. And I would imagine what their experience they’ve probably seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. And they’re really recognizing the importance of just being a resource or being a mentor or something like that. And that’s done- amazing. What a great opportunity for you. So is the album done yet? Will it be released later this year, or what?
Maiah: Yeah, we’re hoping for either later this summer, or in the fall this year. And it’s like, ninety percent done. We’re in the final stages. I just have a couple more things to finish vocally. But we have almost everything recorded. Most of the songs are completed. It’s really cool. It’s a very eclectic group of songs. They are very different vibes throughout the album, I think.
Megan: Yeah. That is awesome. And one of the things too, that we’ve, again, if you’re a Hunger Games fan, which I’m a huge Hunger Games fan, the books are ones that you cannot put down at all. But you did a lot of songs based on the prequel book that was written. So tell us a bit about that.
Maiah: So if you don’t know, there’s a prequel that came out for the Hunger Games books called The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. And one of the lead characters in the book is a singer, songwriter. And we were reading the book, Heidi, who’s my close friend and manager, she’s reading it, and she’s like, “I can’t imagine these songs. There’s all these songs in the book and they’re just lyrics.” And even the audio book was just awkward poetry not really singing the songs. And so she was like, “Can you do something with this would be very exciting?”
Megan: Because to get it out of her head and put it in, yeah,
Maiah: Because she just couldn’t imagine what it would be like as a song. And so I sat with it for a while, and I arranged one of them. And we’re like; “We should just put this out there.” And because I’m sure other people are struggling with it, and would want to hear an idea of what it could sound like as an actual song. I think a lot of people are really searching for that. Because if you’re not really music minded, you look at lyrics on a page, and you’re like, “I don’t know what to do with that”. “My brain doesn’t know what to do with that.” But for me, you know, reading the book, I just kept hearing different melodies and possibilities with the lyrics and so I think a lot of people really connected with it. And it’s such an amazing fandom. So many of the Hunger Games fans sent me really sweet messages, made fan art, they covered my arrangements of the songs, and it just really blew up into this really cool and wonderful community and I feel really grateful for that. I feel like people say that I’m the Lucy Gray of the fandom, and they’ll make fan art of me as Lucy Gray which has been really cool.
Megan: That is so cool. So if you’re going to be playing Lucy Gray in the next movie. No spoiler alert, I think but I love that though, how you just take your talent and apply it to scenarios where other people wouldn’t necessarily think to even do that. And being a musician and being an artist, the way that you view things is through a very different lens than what most people view them through. So being able to add your touch to things and bring it to life that way other people can be able to connect amazing. That’s amazing. I wish I had that skill set. But that’s pretty awesome. It’s such a cool thing to be able to do that and you see something through, again, a very different perspective than everybody gets to see. So that’s amazing. One of the things too, speaking of Lucy, that I love so much is that you recently wrote a song or recorded the song based on the words to a children’s book, which I love because I have three young children and so they’ve all been through reading different books and little blue truck is probably one of our favorite ones. But ‘Lucy’s blooms’ is such a beautiful story. So tell me a little bit about that.
Maiah: So the person who wrote that book, Dawn Prochovnic is actually based out of Portland. So I met her, I did a house show at her house. She’s super sweet, kind, lovely woman and she was writing her newest children’s book. She has two other children’s books that are adorable, super cute. And this newest one she reached out was like, “Hey, would you be willing to like maybe write a song or something”. It was so cute. She had lyrics ready to go and I just did a couple little tweaks to make it work, rhythmically and I really enjoyed it. I’ve always considered maybe doing a children’s songs album because I don’t know at that. That’s definitely a part of me as a person like I love singing lullabies or just really sweet, uplifting songs, you know, and I have that in me, and I love doing that. And so, I really enjoy doing it. And I think there are so many children’s songs out there that are just like, abrasive and not pleasant to listen to. So I feel like, it’s kind of a goal of mine to make it something that you could listen to at any point in your life and it would be nostalgic, maybe to your childhood, and calming almost like a lullaby. But not something that you’d be like, “Oh, I’m never going listen to that, again, once I’m an adult”, but something that anybody could listen to, or even the adults listening with their children could also just something pleasant and lovely. And I felt like it really matched the vibe of the book to which is just really sweet and uplifting.
Megan: It’s very sweet. And I think introducing beautiful music at such a young age does a lot development mentally speaking. I mean, it really does, I think for kids, and to be able to put that soothing melody, I don’t know, behind the scenes, I think is something that is beautiful. And it’s like you said, it’s uplifting, and your voice is perfect for that, because it’s such a beautiful voice. So, a little bit of a cliché question. I know I mentioned this earlier, but what inspires you, musically, what inspires you to write?
Maiah: I feel like I get inspired by a lot around me. I’ve written songs about other people like, if my friends are going through things, sometimes I’ll sit and I’ll process that and I’ll write a song about it, even if it’s not a personal story. But a lot of times, it is just a personal experience or feeling. There have literally been times where I’ve been just so frustrated. And there was a song that I wrote that was just angry, and I just started strumming the guitar, and I wrote an angry song, and it turned into something that actually wasn’t just me sounding angry. But I just overthink a lot. I think that music is a way for me to take all those racing thoughts and over complications of things and just distill them into something that is easily comprehensible and a feeling because you can explain anything in words. But there’s something about music that really expresses a feeling more than just a word and I think that when I don’t have the words, I’ll find the music for it. And when I don’t quite have the feeling I’ll sit down and write the words. And there’s something so beautiful about being able to distill all of these emotions and complex thoughts into something that is shareable.
Megan: Did you write poetry when you were a kid or do you journal a lot?
Maiah: I do. I write poetry. A lot of my poetry is really dark. Not a lot of my poetry turns into songs. It’s like a different, different experience to write poetry. When I write lyrics, a lot of it starts as just improvisations. And it’s like, I’m sitting there with a melody and I almost always have a thought in my heart and something will come out and that’s how I’m feeling. That’s what the sound is. That’s what this feeling is and then all sort of build from there. So much of songwriting is finding a cadence and rhythm and rhyming words that fit in within that. So many times I’m going on to rhymezone.com, trying to find something that rhymes with this one.
Megan: That’s funny. You have participated in the Tiny Desk contest a couple of times, some people who aren’t musicians don’t really know what the Tiny Desk contest is. So tell me a bit about that.
Maiah: So NPR is a pretty big radio station and news outlet of course. Every year they do what’s called the Tiny Desk contest and they have a huge music series with big artists like anywhere from, Lizzo and Taylor Swift, they’ve done Tiny Desk concerts, and the winner of the Tiny Desk contest, gets to perform a Tiny Desk concert and do a tour with NPR and it’s a huge amount of exposure. And I think every year they get over 7000 submissions from independent artists all over the country. I think it’s even just the US it’s not even open across the world. But it’s a huge thing and just amazing artists that some admit to this, but I always submit every year knowing that-
Megan: This is the year.
Maiah: I’ve got my fingers crossed. It’s such a drop in the bucket of how many people are submitting, but I’ve submitted every year for the past, I think, three years. As always, really fun and I always have my fingers crossed maybe they’ll see me this year because I do feature their favorite artists every year. So I did just do one and that was my song, ‘Overboard’ that we were talking about earlier.
Megan: I love that song so much. It’s such a great song. I do. We talked. It’s such a great song. And when you were here for the Apollo anniversary, WLRH, who is our NPR affiliate here in Huntsville, absolutely adored you. Brett Tannehill, their general manager loved you, had you in the studio and you recorded your song and it was just it was phenomenal. They’re huge supporters of you. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed for you too this year, but ‘Overboard’, I really connected to that song though too. I thought maybe it came out of quarantine a little bit but before we started this, I know, you wrote that a couple of years ago, but it was something that I think a lot of people can relate to given what’s unfolded over the last year.
Maiah: Yeah, it’s definitely what I was really feeling it when we recorded it. The song is just all about being overwhelmed and having too many things to do, too many things to think about. And right at that moment, like my cellist, Lauren, who is in that video with me, and she’s amazing. She has a really great cello solo, a rocking cello solo in it. We had just been on this crazy trip and we’d invested so much time into this project that didn’t end up, panning out. We were both just feeling so exhausted and overwhelmed. And we did that in one take. And we’re like, “Yep that was it alright”.
Megan: Oh my gosh, that’s impressive.
Maiah: All of those feelings culminating in that moment.
Megan: But if you could sum up sort of the what, what’s a little bit about that song? What would you say? What does it sort of share?
Maiah: As somebody who has anxiety, a lot of it’s just like that feeling of overwhelm of like, it reaching your tipping point of, that’s it, I’m, I’m overboard. This is it and I’ve got one too many things to do and kind of wanting to just sit there and yell about it for a little bit. That’s what that song is. Which I think that feeling of overwhelm is pretty prevalent right now. It’s everything that’s happening, and there’s just so much going on. And the world is crazy now.
Megan: It is crazy. I think we’ve all been pushed to our limits a bit in ways that we didn’t expect and especially as a small business owner. I mean, that was definitely something that was felt. It was a one two punch for sure which has been hard. It’s been hard for everybody, especially with artists, when you can’t go out and do shows anymore, and you can’t tour and do these things. How did you react to that? Did you do a lot of live streaming shows? I know a lot of artists did that.
Maiah: Yeah, I did do a series of live streams and it was a lot of fun. I had people send in requests but it is so different. You still get the live feed of comments but I think trying to connect to people through a camera versus in person is so different. There’s so much you communicate with people just through seeing their face and their eyes.
Megan: Seeing them sing along to you.
Maiah: Yeah, feeling their presence in a room. There’s just so much that you miss in the virtual world and I get so tired of the virtual world so quickly. I mean, there’s so much to do on social media, emails, and so much of our communication now is virtual. Sometimes I just want to get turned off. I really did value it though. I think it was a really nice way to have a connection with people. I know that I got messages from people saying, “hey, this was really a lifeline for me”, because I did it every week for a while there and we had a little theme song for my Wednesday.
Megan: Yes, I remember.
Maiah: It was really cute and it was really fun and there are some people that really needed that. I definitely value what it brought to me and to the people watching to you too because even if I felt self-conscious or awkward about the situation, the people on the other side didn’t know, It was a way to feel present for a moment in time and all this craziness and I think that that was really important. Yeah,
Megan: Yeah. A way to sort of shut the door on what was going on and escape for a little bit into a different reality sometimes. So I have a question for you about being an artist and your viewpoint on just being a musician and how the industry has changed over time. One thing that we are really thrilled about here in Huntsville, and we’ll have to take you over so you guys can go see. Huntsville Venue Group, which is part of an organization called Communion. One of the members at Mumford and Sons is part of it and they came to Huntsville and did a music assessment a couple of years ago. With that came this massive spotlight on Huntsville and the music community and how we really needed to create an opportunity for musicians to thrive.
One element out of that is we will now have an 8000 person amphitheater, an indoor amphitheater that’s going to be built right over by the camp where you guys will be this afternoon. So you definitely have to go check that out because it’s unfolding as we speak and it gets an amazing people behind the scenes making that happen. Ryan Murphy who’s over Huntsville venue group is adamant about it being about a musician and making sure that musician is being compensated and being recognized and it drives me crazy when you see you know, organizations that charge an arm and a leg to go see a show and it just drives me nuts.
So what are some of the what are some of the things that you’ve recognized just being a musician, whether they be struggles or things that have changed, or ways that you’ve had to adapt just to create a successful career for yourself?
Maiah: It is extremely challenging, I think it’s more challenging now than it probably ever has been to make a living as a musician, I think, especially with COVID, and just how challenging it is to tour. But I mean, even just touring in general, before this, is still challenging, it’s hard too as an independent artist. It’s hard to tour and even just breakeven not even make money, but breakeven. The streaming services give you such a small percentage of what they’re giving. But I think there’s sort of a rise of alternative options that are happening to try to give independent musicians an opportunity. Bandcamp is a great website, like to purchase music and listen to music that gives a huge amount of that money to the artists. It’s a great website for that. I think there are other platforms that are starting to sort of- you have the Spotify and Apple music that are sort of these giants that are like giving such a small percentage to artists, but then I think there’s going to be a rise of independent alternatives that are going to gain popularity, because people want to support artists.
They listened through Spotify, because it’s easy, and that’s the main way to do it but I think if an alternative came about- I think people want to support their artists. They want to support the musicians that they love and I think we’re going to find ways to make it possible because music is important, having options for independent artists is so important.
I think that one of the great things about what you’re talking about creating more options for independent artists is that it really does make it possible. It’s so challenging. I’ve been through so many challenges just financially to make it through to the next step and yeah, I don’t know. It’s a crazy world out there. But on the other hand, I do think it’s more accessible now to be an independent artist and find success through social media through websites like YouTube than it ever has been and Tik Tok.
Megan: Yeah, well, not to age myself, you were born when I was in high school, but I missed the days of going and buying a CD and I missed the days of making a mix tape. Making a mix tape was the way that that I showed my true love to another young man. So, but physically making that purchase and opening it up for the first time and looking at the lyrics and all of that was something that was such an amazing experience. And now it’s just very different. So I think just because of that, we also as consumers need to understand that and adjust to that as well. And so it’s good that we have those options for sure. We’re huge fans, and we’re huge supporters, so everybody else needs to be too. There’s no doubt about that. Okay, so a couple questions just to wrap up. So who are some of your favorite artists that inspire you? Who do you listen to on Spotify as on your playlists?
Maiah: I’m always trying to listen to new music. I’ve been listening to Willow’s new album and she’s amazing. I’ve also been listening to Chloe and Halle and they had an album last year that was just amazing. As far as those are some of the newer artists I’ve been listening to. But I also I’m a huge fan of Norah Jones- there’s a band called, that’s just beautiful, Florence in the Machine, Radiohead, The Beatles, of course. There are so many amazing artists out there. Like there’s so much good music. And I feel like I’m trying to remind myself to stop and listen to music now, which is hard to remember to do sometimes is to go and listen to some new music. But there’s some amazing stuff out there.
Megan: I would have to agree. So as you know, the premise of this series is to really encourage, inspire anybody, but also other women who are kind of going through their own journey in life. So what are a couple pieces of advice that you might have for someone who maybe wants to take a leap, running into just some challenges on their own, or are just looking for some inspiration to just get going?
Maiah: I think one of the most important things is finding your community. I’ve been through a lot on this journey, but I couldn’t have done it like without Heidi, without Troy without my little pod of people. I think that’s such an important thing. Make sure you find your pod, find your support system. Then make it a reciprocal thing. How can you support their dreams, and they’ll support your dreams and find your little support group because you need that. It’s not always just a straight up journey. There are a lot of ups and downs and some of those downs can be really challenging. So, find your people find your ways to sort of get through those rough spots and the harsh critics and the internet trolls of the world. And just find your people find your support group and believe in yourself.
Megan: I love that. I love that. And to piggyback on that, I think it’s so important to let go those people who don’t propel you forward and lift you up. Because it’s amazing how people can just suck the life out of you sometimes and you don’t even recognize it. So, I think that’s great advice and I can say you have an amazing team behind you and behind the camera right now because they’re awesome. Emmy nominated, so, so, so proud of them and we’ve been just so lucky to get a chance to engage with you and we’re so happy that you’re back here in Huntsville. I’m so sorry that it’s 110 degrees or at least that’s what it feels like but we’re so happy that you’re here so Maiah, thank you so much for joining us.
Maiah: Thank you for having me.
Megan: Of course. We’ll see you guys next time.