Debuting with intimate gem ‘TipToe’ – In Conversation with Maya Yenn

London-based producer and songwriter Maya Yenn debuts with a spooky, Billie Eilish-like intimate single, the haunting gem ‘Tiptoe’. The track started as a pure beat on a Tik Tok video, which later blew up, amassing more than 500.000 views. This led to Yenn finally releasing a vocal version, to the same acclaim from the audience. Keen to find out more about Maya’s curious story, we sat down with her to find out more about the project and the future!

YMX: Hey Maya, how is it going? some of our readers might not be familiar with your project, how would you describe yourself, in a few words? 

YENN: I’m an independent alt-pop artist and producer based in the UK. I’ve been writing songs for years but finally bit the bullet and just put out my debut single ‘tiptoe’. Back at the beginning of the pandemic, I moved back from London to my parent’s home in rural Staffordshire thinking I’d be here for 3 months max but of course, I’m still here! I write and produce all my songs myself so ‘tiptoe’ was created entirely from my childhood home.

YMX: Your current work is the result of a long journey; What first drew you to making music? 

YENN: My Mum bought my Dad a rickety upright piano for his birthday one year when I was a kid and before I knew the first thing about music theory or how notes worked I was spending hours coming up with little compositions and songs. I just loved the language music gave me to express thoughts and ideas. I think that’s what’s amazing about music, to me it’s just emotion + magic. In terms of my producer journey, I started producing songs in Audacity when I was 15 and have slowly upgraded from there. Producing is another level of magic for me, I’m constantly impressed with how one small production choice can completely transform a song.

YMX: What would be your dream collaboration? 

YENN: Oh man there are so many! I’m a huge fan of On Planets who’s a Canadian artist and producer. The production on his song, ‘Too Bad / So Sad’ was one of my main influences for ‘tiptoe’. I’m also really into Audrey Nuna’s stuff right now, her vocals are incredible. I think it’d be so fun to produce for her. Honestly though I really love working with artists full stop. There’s something so gratifying about helping someone else achieve their vision as a producer. One thing I’m really good at is using structure and arrangement to bring the colour out on a track in a way that’s authentic to the song. I really love doing that for other artists.

YMX: You recently released the self-produced gem ‘Tiptoe’. Can you tell us how that project came about? 

YENN: Well like a lot of other people bored during quarantine, I created a TikTok account and started swiping. I wasn’t planning on putting out any videos but after a while I got the idea to create my own beats using household objects and upload that. So when Halloween was coming up last year I thought it would be cool to make something that sounded ‘spooky’, so I recorded myself lighting a candle and blowing it out on my phone, snapping twigs, running a stick across a railing. I bought a pumpkin and recorded it dropping onto the kitchen table, I even found a particularly creaky door in the house and recorded that. I wasn’t expecting the videos to get as much attention on TikTok as they did but it was amazing to see it snowball. I spent the next few months working on the track in my childhood bedroom. I already had the chorus thanks to TikTok, but I needed to figure out what the rest of the song was going to be about. I’ve struggled a lot with anxiety over the years, and I know a lot of other Millennials and Gen Zers also suffer with anxiety so I knew I wanted to write about that feeling in some way. I imagined anxiety as a person, and what they might say to me if we were playing a game of hide and seek, which formed the basis for the rest of the song.

YMX: What inspires your songwriting work? 

YENN: I find if I sit down to make a song that sounds like something specific, it won’t happen. I have to just jam around until something comes out organically that I like and let it lead me from there. I’ve written songs inspired by nightmares I’ve had, characters and stories I’ve invented. Usually I have a story or image in mind when I’m writing and then I build the rest of the song from there.

YMX: We are all missing live music at the moment. Once on the other side, which music venue would you choose for your first gig? 

YENN: I think I’d like to play at a really intimate venue next. There’s something magical about small venues and particularly after the year we’ve all had, I’m really missing being with people! Somewhere like the Moth Club in Hackney would be cool, that said I’ve always wanted to play EartH too! It’s a fairly big venue, but the atmosphere there is always magic.

YMX: What’s your band strategy in terms of music promotion? Direct-2-fans or via the “big dogs”? 

YENN: Honestly just whoever wants to hear it! I don’t know that I have much of a strategy apart from just putting it out there and carrying on writing. I’m just trying to make music I like really, that feels like the most authentic place to start from and if other people like it too that’s amazing!

YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future?

YENN: I have three more releases planned after ‘tiptoe’ so I’m really excited for the year ahead. I write, produce and engineer all the music myself so it takes a lot of time and effort but I love it more than anything. I also have plans for a music video for ‘tiptoe’, I’m making it myself on a shoestring budget so I don’t know exactly when it will be out, but it’s definitely coming!