(Guest post by Alice Cohen):
Following her 10-inch vinyl EPs “A” and “Y”, Brooklyn-based musician MAYa, who originally hails from the UK, has released her video-only EP “M”. “Four Unit Family”, the final installment in the four video set, was shot in a Berlin dance studio by Christoph Kube and directed by DFA artist/musician Delia Gonzalez.
According to MAYa, the video collaboration references “early Eurythmics videos, Fassbinder’s film “The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant", 70s-fashion perfume ads, and the duality between male and female characters”. The track was recorded in an all-analogue recording studio in Berlin, using vintage Russian synths.
“Four Unit Family” has a stylish, elegant air rarely seen in contemporary music videos. Gonzalez captures an introspective 70s european high-fashion vibe, with slow-moving close-ups bathed in a soft golden light, flowing gracefully with the mysterious atmosphere of the music. MAYa is visually striking in her double-persona; embodying anima and animus, and playing with concepts of self-reflection and role-reversal through costuming, mirrors and reflections.
The sparse instrumentation and cool understated vocals are at once comforting and unsettling, with a disquieting undercurrent lurking beneath the surface. Veiled lyrics such as “ignoring the holes in the fire as you try to keep warm”, and “so confused by his daughter’s place in your four unit family”, hint at a dark view of family interactions, while leaving things ambiguous. MAYa’s music shares a kinship with groups like Current 93 and Coil who were influenced by the surrealists. Taking a similar experimental approach, MAYa explores the depths of the subconscious to unlock hidden recesses of the psyche.
The other videos in the “M” series have an equally sophisticated aesthetic vision. MAYa has collected an exceptional array of filmmakers and performers to collaborate with: Kenneth Zoran Curwood shot “Embrace Comfort” on super-8 and super-16 film, using hand-processing to create psychedelic violet hues that highlight model Adina Fohlin’s spooky victorian garb. “Allyoueverwanted” was shot in London by photographer Michele Turriani, and stars Millie Kalvis, a charismatic young girl with red hair and hypnotic eyes, whom MAYa has known since birth. The lushly orchestral “The Takers” was shot and directed by MAYa’s frequent collaborator Sebastian Mlynarski, and features a stunning performance by artist Raul de Nieves in surreal costume, while hyper-colorful beads, pearls and paints float through strange liquids.
Although “M” is a highly personal work, MAYa has smartly enlisted a cast of talented friends to add to the mix; in addition to those mentioned above, she has worked with J.G. Thirlwell, Joe Budenholzer, and Iver Ask Overgaard. She is also active as a DJ and video-documentarian within the Brooklyn-based Live With Animals arts community. It is unusual to see an EP released in a video-only format, but this unique idea is yet one more example of MAYa’s commitment to an artistic vision which extends beyond the expected.
See below for the other three installments in MAYa's video EP "M":