INTERVIEW: Maebh –
Maebh is the solo project of singer-songwriter and producer Maeve Brayne. The Newcastle born now London based artist has many strings to her bow, and since releasing music in 2019 has had many successes come her way. Her gentle, genre-blending and dreamscape textures saw her recent single ‘Kitchen Tiles’ played on Jo Whiley’s BBC Radio 2 show, which is full of layered harmonies and Maebh’s soft yet commanding vocals, making for a hugely enchanting and captivating listen.
Releasing a string of singles, the latest being ‘Kodak’, there is a clear sound radiating from Maebh, and that is fresh and intricately weaved alt-pop, with her traditional folk sensibilities sitting so seamlessly alongside. From playing the fiddle growing up to now self-producing her own songs and bodies of work entirely, Brayne has a clear direction sonically of where she wants her music to sit, and leaves some elements up to interpretation which is what makes her songs so brilliant.On the verge of releasing her debut 7-track EP, ‘By The Way’ brings three new tracks to the fore, with the beautifully laid out lead single ‘Wild Strawberry’ perfectly encompassing everything that makes Maebh an artist that stands out above the now ever growing crowd. Layered harmonies, airy synths and floaty guitar lines soak you in a wave of dream pop, and she created a space that is entirely her own.
Hi Maeve, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hello! I’ve been very well – pretty buzzing to be honest!
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Wild Strawberry”?
Wild Strawberry is probably my most sassy and playful song yet- it’s about stable love not being enough and being hungry for more. The strawberry is a metaphor for a crush. Like all the songs on the EP, it’s full of layers of dreamy harmonies and a fun bassline. Think hazy hot afternoons in the garden full of longing.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
I wrote the track during lockdown number one at my parents’ in Cumbria- my mum was bringing me handfuls of tiny wild strawberries she found, so I guess that the image was in my head! I’m definitely inspired by the sweet little quirks of nature and rural life.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
I’ve got a lo-fi video coming out to go with the track, all shot on a noughties camcorder which goes with the slightly retro feel of the music. I’ve done the video myself and I wanted to make something colourful and lighthearted to go with the song. I had a lot of fun with it and it’s not meant to be taken too seriously.
The single comes off your new album By The Way – what’s the story behind the title?
By The Way is the name of a song that’s quite special to me- the last song on the EP. It’s the only one I didn’t write during the pandemic- it’s actually about 4 years old now! It has layers of harmonicas in it and it’s quite an emotional song that gradually builds up. I find it quite a cathartic song and it’s taken me years to get right, so I’m so glad to be finally letting it go.
How was the recording and writing process?
For this project the writing process is so wrapped up in the production process, and I’ve been slowly chipping away at the tracks for the past couple of years, changing arrangements and lyrics a lot over time. I usually start with the chords and the beat and then end up writing the song in stages, rather than writing it all in one go and then deciding on the sound afterwards. It’s been quite a long process with a LOT of time spent cooped up in my room at my makeshift studio. I have the tendency to keep adding layer upon layer, but when it’s done you just know!
What role does Cumbria play in your music?
Being back home in Cumbria (The Lake District) is definitely a huge inspiration for me. I feel constantly excited by all the beauty and I like writing about relationships and stories with the backdrop of nature. Drizzle Drizzle, for example, is about changing weather and changing moods and Mountainside is about the choice between city and rural life, and the difference between these two worlds.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Relationships definitely inspire me, but on a few of these songs on the EP I’ve just made stuff up (I won’t tell you which ones!) or at least exaggerated things I do feel. There was obviously way less to write about in lockdowns so I just thought why not imagine it?
What else is happening next in Maebh’s world?
I’m currently getting ready to perform live which is really exciting, and I also want to get cracking on my next EP which will be some more electronic songs. I feel like I’m just getting into my groove and there’s going to be lots more to come!