Maya Jane Coles is a 25 year old British-Japanese Producer and DJ we first featured on Tokyo Indie last year ahead of her DJ Kicks mix release and appearance at Womb. Returning to Japanese shores for Fuji Rock on July 27th, the second time this year after the Big Beach Festival, her international reputation continues to grow. Maya’s hugely anticipated debut album ‘Comfort’ is due to drop in early July and ahead of her appearance in Japan, Tokyo Indie was given a very special chance to get our hands on an advance copy of this upcoming release.
The first thing that strikes you upon listening is that the album is very much a personal affair. Maya is renowned for taking full control of her music; often writing, producing, mixing and engineering everything herself. In the case of the album she has taken this a stage further – playing every instrument, providing vocals on some of the tracks and even creating the album artwork. The only outside influence on the album comes in the form of guest vocalists – including the likes of Tricky, Miss Kitten and Hercules and Love Affair’s Kim Ann Foxman.
The opening, and indeed title, track ‘Comfort’ sets the tone for what is to come; transporting us to a dazed early morning space somewhere between the club and sunrise with almost Portishead-esque vocals. This feeling is continued into ‘Easier to Hide’ which lets us breathe outside for a moment with the mumble of voices and the twitter of birds before reeling us back into a hazy corner of clubland with a typical rhythm that displays her dance floor credentials. Her increasing confidence in her own vocals is encouraging to see. It is a moody sound which draws obvious comparisons to The XX; Maya’s sultry voice spins whispered late night tales of melancholic love.
Maya has hand-picked a mix of established and fresh artists to compliment her own work. On ‘Blame’ she couples a heartsick guitar riff, (again XX-like in its execution) with the husky tones of Nadine Shah, who is a new recruit to the R&S sub-label Apollo. Tricky, the master of dystopian lyrics, appears on ‘Wait For You’ which is an eerie lo-fi number that throbs with a brooding intensity.
Comfort is not an album which spends all its time skulking in the shadows however. The aptly named ‘Burning Bright’ and ‘Take a Ride’ provide some real highs which I can imagine working really well when played live. Kim Ann Foxman and Miss Kitten respectively deliver vocals to lose yourself in a moment to.
The lead single to be taken from the album is ‘Everything’ – a deep house groove cut with Scandinavian songstress Karin Park’s supply of icy vocals. Her style evokes that of the The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Anderson and indeed Park’s solo album was part-produced by the other half of The Knife, Christoph Bergen. The music video for this track deserves a special mention for its uneasy portrayal of ornithological obsession, not for the faint of heart. The video’s director Thomas Knights also appears on Comfort with a beautiful soul vocal on the down tempo ‘When I’m In Love’.
This is obviously an album by a dance music producer but by no means could all of the tracks be described as ‘dance’ music. The album is reflective of Maya’s broader musical influences both in and outside the electronic world, showing a broad range of colours in Maya’s musical palette and full of inky heartbreak and bleary-eyed introspection. It is an album which gives her a chance to step back from the DJ booth and lends more freedom to work with vocals and pop sensibilities, a task which she carries out with aplomb. As she casts her net wider into the spheres of house, hip hop, dub, indie and techno, Maya Jane Coles’ dominance of the upper echelons of the electronic realm shows no sign of letting up.
Comfort is released on her own I/AM/ME label on July 22nd. For more information please visit the Maya Jane Coles website.
Maya Jane Coles will be appearing at Fuji Rock Festival (26th – 28th July 2013).
Weekend ticket: ¥42,800
(inclusive of tax)
Day ticket: ¥ 17,800 (limited to 10,000 for each day)
For more information and details on how to buy tickets, please visit the official Fuji Rock Festival website.
Words: Mark Birtles
Translation: Iona Nagata
June 24, 2013