By AVA LIVERSIDGE
MAUMAUMAU debuted his solo endeavor with the witty and sonically vast EP Meow Meow Meow.
Mau cites “the underdog” as the impetus for his creative expression, to encourage and uplift with, sometimes, sardonic honesty. Over the six tracks, Mau explores a variety of genres that makes electronic more palatable and bedroom pop raucous.
California Rocker had the privilege of speaking to Mau about his latest project and picking his brain on the vulnerabilities and genre-melding that Meow Meow Meow boasts.
MAUMAUMAU x CALIFORNIA ROCKER
California Rocker: It seems as though everyone’s creative process and endeavors have been turned on their head during the past year and a half. Whether you’ve felt stunted or enlightened, how has this past period of turbulence influenced your debut solo EP Meow Meow Meow?
MAUMAUMAU: It was honestly a great opportunity for me to pace myself and reflect on what I wanted from the project. It allowed me to be creative through the pandemic on different topics and sit with Meow Meow Meow a little longer. I was also able to strategize and hone in my voice a little more in preparation for the release as well as my image and intention. It was honestly a great year. It was lonely and provoked a lot of internal conflict, but creatively, it was amazing.
CR: What does it mean to be making your introduction, your debut, as a solo artist as we all emerge from this rut? Is your art playing a role in the much needed music scene refresh?
MAUMAUMAU: I think so… but I’m biased. It was definitely not planned. I have just been in a bunch of projects that had other people in it and too many chefs with opinions and all that, sooo it was a much needed exploration for me. It also happened to be right when the world stood still. It also happens that most of my music is about exploring mental health and self awareness and self esteem stuff, which seems to be the themes of the pandemic.
CR: You seem to talk a lot about “the underdog” when it comes to your musical inspirations. Who exactly is the underdog to you? Who are you encouraging and why does your music speak to them?
MAUMAUMAU: Well, the cool thing about the underdog is that it’s not a perpetual state. It’s someone with all the potential in the world looking to take their shot and realizing the odds are against them. It’s a feeling we have all felt and we will all feel throughout our lives. I just love when I feel encouraged. Whether it be through relating to something or directly addressing something I needed to hear. I think anyone can feel like the underdog when trying something. Even Phelps probably felt like the underdog at volleyball, in a relationship or while taking on a new business venture. He might be the best at swimming but we all know the feeling of the odds being against us.
CR: Besides the few mixers and John Silos, what was it like to embark on a uniquely solo project? Was that reflective of the isolation period we’re all emerging from?
MAUMAUMAU: Well, I’ve definitely gotten to collaborate with a ton of people and it’s been incredible. Although this is predominantly a solo project, the amount of support required to make things happen has been mind blowing. It was more so a result of always feeling friction with other bands and wanting other people’s ideas to feel empowered and heard, even when they conflicted with mine. It made for lukewarm music and a lack of direction. With this solo project, I’m finding that most collaborators are stepping in fully knowing my style and sound and wanting to support that instead of informing it. Inevitably, they affect the sound and they pull it in their own creative way, but all under the guise of MAUMAUMAU and with that vision and sound to uphold. It’s been amazing. I’m calling the shots and pursuing all of my wacky unique ideas.
CR: Meow Meow Meow has a lot of fun with some strikingly witty, at times self-deprecating, lyrics; “Curveball Whip Cream,” “Famous,” and the “Alright” spoken interlude, all feel particularly confessional and freeing. Is that true to the process/the intention of the EP?
MAUMAUMAU: Most definitely. I feel like it very appropriately introduces the character of MAUMAUMAU. A silly, smart, dorky and inevitably self-deprecating dude that’s just trying to make something of all the mess of life. It’s intended to be vulnerable and also silly because even the painful stuff can be humorous. I want people to connect with something real and that has to start with me.Meow Meow Meow plays from front to back as a pretty succinct, tight five-track EP; no track sticks out particularly as an outlier or misstep, but the musical influence seems to really sprawl.
CR: There’s an obvious over-arching indie rock influence, but you incorporate some heavier rock, some bedroom pop, singer-songwriter, even a bit of electronic. What is it like to work through all of those influences as you were self-producing the collection and how did you arrive at such a seamless coalescence? Did you ever get overwhelmed by your vast influences?
MAUMAUMAU: Interestingly enough, I didn’t. This EP and most of the music I have been creating since, has felt pretty effortless. I feel like I have been a sponge for most of my life and I have explored many genres, styles, lyrical themes, etc. I believe that MAUMAUMAU is the culmination of all of those things and me just letting things flow. I am actually quite excited to share some of the music that is coming as I think it touches on some other sides to the MAUMAUMAU coin. Some styles I haven’t quite expressed and that I think people would really enjoy, yet it all feels cohesive. And that makes me happy, hahaha.
CR: This is more of a question for myself. I love the leading riff into “Alright”- those clipped guitar strums; it sounds like the perfect electronic parallel of an analog guitar recording. How did that come about?
MAUMAUMAU: I am a guitarist, but I tend to get stuck in the classic chords. I was exploring some of Native Instruments Maschine sounds and came across some beautiful guitar licks. I found a sequence that I liked and used the chords in the song. It’s the first time I tried using samples in my music. I have since learned the part but it was a nice refreshing way to approach songwriting for me.
CR: What is your history with performing live like? Obviously all musicians have been unable to perform live as of late. While you have performed with Night Lights, your LA based indie trio will this be your first solo escapade? Does your upcoming show on June 25th at Molly Malones (presented by Don’t Tell Your Mom) in Los Angeles feel like a big remerging moment for you?
MAUMAUMAU: This will be the very first live show I get to do with MAUMAUMAU. I did a stream show at one point and had a blast, but of course, there were internet issues and a bunch of lag stuff that kept the show from being incredible. But it was still special to the band and me. I have to be honest. I love songwriting and making music, but I think where I truly shine is in a live setting. I love performance. I get to share my energy with a crowd and feed off of theirs. I love being a frontman and dancing and just letting it all out on a stage. So yeah, I think this concert will feel like a big remerging moment. I’m excited about it.
CR: What does this bright, maskless future look like for Mau? After doing some live shows performing Meow Meow Meow, do you have plans for continuing with Night Lights or other solo endeavors?
MAUMAUMAU: Night Lights is on an indefinite hiatus. I still love our music and the friendships I built there, but I want to fully focus on this project and give it my time, energy, and creativity. I will be putting out a bunch more music this year and music videos to support the releases. It’s going to be a great year of sharing some of my highs and lows. MAUMAUMAU will be the main focus for sure. Thank you guys so much for the interview and for your platform. I am honored to be on and it means the world to me.