Maïa Vidal is a singer-songwriter who's gained a sizable following for her intriguing live shows where she sings, plays multiple instrumentals, and programs loops simultaneously. She already has two albums under her belt, but her third full-length, You're the Waves, which drops in September, feels like a real breakthrough.
To get people excited, Maïa released a six-song EP in April called The Tide. We're exclusively premiering the video for the titular track of that EP, which is a moody homage to her hometown of Ithaca. Watch it above and read the interview we did with Maïa below to get her thoughts on her new material and her creative outlook.
VICE: It seems unusual to release an EP and a full length in such quick succession. How'd that idea come about?
Maïa Vidal: I'm always rushing everything. This is my third album, so I'm trying a new process. I started writing the songs almost two years ago and finished recording it maybe ten months ago. Originally, it was just going to be an album. Luckily, I'm not sick of the songs yet. I wanted it to come out last fall, but the label wanted to get everything in place first. In the meantime, I've been figuring out how to play everything live. I play all the instruments on the songs, so how do you bring that to the stage?
You just need to figure out a way to get eight robotic arms.
I played all the instruments on my first album and when I played on stage I would play the accordion with my left hand and toy piano with my right. And then I would control a loop station with my left foot and a bass drum with my right foot. I wanted the arrangements to be just so and just wanted to do it by myself. Over the years, I found that if I wasn't working 17 machines and concentrating on everything else, that I sang differently. So it's been a challenge to balance the richness of instrumentation and also be relaxed on stage.
That's a lot to handle. How was your actual recording process different this time around?
I try to keep experimenting and producing stuff in a different way. I was sick of my second album after it came out, but I tried to find what I missed, which was the accidental aspect. You make good work when you're not trying to make good work. The second album didn't have the same freshness I felt originally. So after that, I started writing again immediately and experimenting with the idea of the "cult of the accidental." I put a lot of importance on the accidental harmonies that came out, and not overthink it.
That seems to be the good thing about working everyday where you can turn off your self-criticism to a degree.
Right. Things would just come about on their own. At that time, also, I was dating my drummer and co-producer, and fell in love with somebody else. That was pretty prompt inspiration, this intense crazy thing, dealing with feelings of a breakup and all that. And I wasn't able to spend time with this person right away, so I was just alone with my feelings all day. So I just kept writing songs constantly. It was a perfect serendipity type of thing. Since inspiration was coming so quickly, I would end up being on a plane and having GarageBand on my phone and working with beats and synths suddenly, which I hadn't really done before. It was only because I had to work so fast and deal with what I had. I've been immersed in this album for so long and I'm really excited to share it.
Tell me more about this video.
The guy who came up with the idea for the video is my ex-boyfriend from college. He helped me with my album art on my first couple albums and he hadn't done anything with video but we've always collaborated to some extent. He's my barometer for "cool." For the video we went back to Ithaca where we grew up and I drove an old Volvo around an abandoned gas station. When I tried to describe Upstate New York to people here in Spain they just say, "Oh, so it's like Twin Peaks?" [Laughs]
Right, anything that's not the city is Twin Peaks. Looks pretty cool, though. Thanks for talking to us about this.
Credits for "The Tide" by Maïa Vidal
Directed by Minka FK and Hayden Miller
Produced by Maïa Vidal
Production Manager: Noni Korf
AD: Miranda Hill
DP: William DeJessa and Minka FK
Gaffer: William DeJessa
Key grip: Pete Wetherbee
Additional camera: Jacob Yana Miller
Engineer/ Production Design: Hayden Miller
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