“Fuck materialism, fuck status”: why the 20-year-old star is uniquely suited for the present moment.

It’s very difficult to spot, acknowledge, and then appreciate greatness while it’s right in front of us. Hindsight is always 20/20 and that’s a frustrating reality critics and music fans are forced to confront in various capacities. The challenge of appreciating raw talent while in the moment is largely predicated on our ability to digest the art we’re given instead of absently consuming it. Critical listening can prove difficult given the constant onslaught of information, new artists and projects being pushed upon us daily.

The information and media overload leaves artists in a particularly perilous spot—artists who arrive ahead of their time struggle to be appreciated; artists whose sounds better match those of their predecessors are left behind. But there are the lucky few who arrive at the precise moment which fits them best. Maya B is amongst those who stepped forth into the industry at the right moment, armed with so much ambition and brazen creativity she’s impossible to ignore. The 20-year-old singer/songwriter/producer is making waves in the industry and is well on her way to be a certified superstar. 

Left: A self-portrait from Maya B’s latest zine “Her Pain / Her Brain.” Right: A portrait of Maya B. Courtesy of the artist.

Hailing from Los Angeles, Maya B is young but carries with her a staggering presence. Her latest release, “Sink,” which also features the Brooklyn-based rapper Saint Jhn, is a testament to Maya’s songwriting ability; it’s a smooth, polished, and powerful vocal performance. The stripped version of “Sink,” which was released in late May, proves Maya can hold her own on a sonically spare track. When asked what inspired her anti-consumption anthem, Maya responds simply: “LA.”

Maya’s been painting a lot more than usual while she’s in quarantine. She tells me this over FaceTime, sitting in front of a collaged wall in her bedroom. Maya’s hair is straight and falls neatly on either side of her face. Around her neck is a silver choker. She describes her aesthetic as “a mix between street and cinematic.” She goes through phases and is “quite dramatic.”

“Can I show you something?” She picks up a few phone cases decorated with her paintings and walks me through the artwork she made, displayed on her bedroom walls. Along with creating music, Maya is an avid visual artist. She released a zine titled “Her Pain / Her Brain” which is filled with self-portraits surrounded by spiraling words and phrases. She passed copies out to fans as a creative alternative to merch. Occasionally she’ll inscribe the zines for a fan’s birthday.

A self-portrait from Maya B’s latest zine “Her Pain / Her Brain”

I asked Maya how her artistic process differs whether she’s working on visual arts or music. “Songs are perfect by the time they go out,” she tells me. “If you fuck up a painting you have to go back and fix it. I think I adore them both because of that,” she ruminates.

Maya’s working on an upcoming EP; “Fuck materialism. Fuck status,” is how she describes its message. “I don’t think either of those things are bad, I just think [they’re] kinda played out. The records coming out mean a lot to me not only because they are bops, but they actually mean something.”

From the moment Maya entered the public spotlight she’s been swarmed by press and fans who are attempting to prep and groom her for stardom. She looks like a star and she sounds like one, too—she certainly will be one. But she’s not changing herself in order to get there. Maya is focusing on herself and staying present in these strange times; “it’s weird to exist right now,” she says with a laugh. What stardom will look like post-COVID is still very much up in the air. All we know is that Maya will be there.