Mayda has exponentially grown into a music staple in stereo decks across Minnesota. If you have never experienced one of her vibrant performances, you surely have heard a catchy jingle she has written for commercial television, seen her face on flyers stapled to telephone polls across the city, or heard the gossip from your hairdresser how fierce her style is. Either way, there is no denying her sophisticated and funky demeanor.
Gimme Noise jumped on the chance to trek around the Twin Cities with Mayda to places she cannot survive without in Minnesota. In between some intense grocery shopping and an impromptu performance on the Lake Street Bridge, she still had time to spill the goods about how to find balance in life, what survival tactics are necessary for any pop star, and her newly found love for theater.
"Tusks In Furs" sounds intriguing. What does your album title represent?
Tusks in Furs is about survival. In times of hardship or disaster, whether it be environmentally, physically or personally, what do people do? What does one need in order to keep going? Do you fight or flight? People usually resort to what they know, to what feels comfortable. I feel that this album really encapsulates the past two or three years of my life. Government shut downs, tsunamis, floods, earthquakes to breakups and wars all have been taking place in the world. These happenings have really influenced me to create and to communicate, so Tusks in Furs is a reaction and a product of this urgency I felt.
With chaos going on all around you, how do you manage to find balance?
Writing music is a way to help me find balance- I see it as a means of support rather than a factor to weigh. I think that many things help keep me grounded such as peers, friends, family and life priorities (bills, jobs, and rent). I never go to specific places to write. Writing music is something that comes naturally, much like metabolism, or a cycle. Songs, melodies, and lyrics come to me at all times of the day. I just have to be ready at any time to remember it. Sometimes it comes at the grocery store at midnight or at a job interview when I obviously need to concentrate on other things. That said, I have learned to juggle and store thoughts while physically doing something else. I never relax which doesn't bother me. It's just my nature- I love to work.
What are your top five places in the Twin Cities that you wouldn't be able to survive without?
The Guthrie, Punch's Pizza, the Lake Street bridge, Shuang Hur Market and finally Cheapo Records.
The Guthrie: This is a local institution I truly believe in because it is where art, music and theater are joined for people from all walks of life. The Guthrie brings everyone together to create a great resource for not only our community, but for the world. It's pretty amazing to just walk inside and get lost. Plus, I work there for the same reasons. It isn't hard for me to support a huge blue building that doesn't involve Swedish Meatballs and furniture (wink).
Punch's Pizza: This place has to be one of the best pizza joints in Minnesota. It is cheap, and is good quality. The first time I bit into a Margherita, it was game over. Punch's also introduced me to fresh salami and green olives.
The Lake Street bridge: I am often back and forth between St. Paul and Minneapolis at least twice a day. The bridge is one of the connectors I travel on. And, you get a great view of the Mississippi.
Shuang Hur: This store is where I get the majority of my snacks and meals. Amongst the many Asian grocery stores in St. Paul, I believe this one is the absolute best. I love that there is fresh fish and ducks just hanging out. For Christmas, we had a roast duck, and I felt like a queen.
Cheapo: I have been getting records and CDs from this joint ever since I got an allowance. I love flipping through the records to find samples, all good stuff, both locally and internationally.
How does living in the Twin Cities shape your creative process?
I would have to say that some of the biggest things that make Twin Cities unique are the weather, the art, and the humor. These things are hugely influential to me especially as an artist. It can be 99 degrees with a dewpoint almost to 100 then the next day it can snow 12 feet. That has to make someone do SOMETHING whether it be writing a song, telling a joke or strangling a cat. Us Minnesotans are natural survivors. We always have to be ready for extremes because we never know what is going to hit. That is why we are such great musicians and creators. I guess I just lucked being a musician at heart.
What do you look forward to most in the coming years? Any exciting plans? Insider news for City Pages readers? Are you hoping to make music a part of your long-term life plan?
Recently, I have found a new love in theater. I am working on putting together a production that melds music and theater to tell an autobiographical story. I don't want it to be a full-blown musical like HMS Pinafore or a full-blown play. I also don't want it to be a show you go to at a bar or venue. It will be more like using music to tell the narrative. I have already written a script and new songs to go along with the piece. I want to try to direct and act without any knowledge or experience. It is scary to think about, being so unfamiliar with the theater scene, but I have contacts with folks who know what they are doing. I hope that it can be something to share with people next year. Music is definitely a long term plan- and besides, it won't leave me alone! I want to take [music] as far as I can and go, and as big as possible for as long as I can.
Tusks in Furs is available online, at your local record shop, and at the upcoming release show on September 24 at the Cedar Cultural Center, where Mayda will play a CD-release show with Maria Isa and Birthday Suits. All ages. $8 in advance/$10 at the door. 7pm.