One of the biggest inspirations from the underground, MAYKO, is back at it with his newest single, “SELF.” Continuing the themes presented in this year’s prior release, “YOU GOT IT,” this newest song is bigger-than-life; it’s momentous, and a tribute to the strength that is found within.
Given that it’s Mental Health Awareness month, we were excited to sit down and chat with MAYKO about what it takes to start over–to persevere–again and again, through all sorts of trials and tribulations. You will learn that giving up is not in the rising star’s vocabulary; this California-based producer is tenacity personified. He has grit, he has courage, and most of all, he has this incredible, unbreakable faith in himself that carries him through even the darkest times of his life. He also gives phenomenal advice on how to best take care of ourselves during tough times, and gives his thoughts on whether or not true art “is suffering”.
Buckle up, and enjoy.
The making of a star: MAYKO talks mental health, “SELF,” healing in the face of tragedy, and more.
Ambur Masen The Electric Hawk: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us here at The Electric Hawk! Would you please take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers?
MAYKO: Hey! Thanks for having me! My name is Michael, and I produce multi-genre electronic music under the alias “MAYKO.” I’ve been producing music for almost a decade now. I was born and raised in San Diego and studied music composition at San Diego State University. I incorporate much of that knowledge into my music today.
AM: You just released “SELF,” which is one absolutely massive tune. It’s beautiful. Somehow, you were able to blend together a lot of different styles into one seamless journey. It’s almost like magic–at least to me, a mere non-producing writer [laughs]. Do you care to comment on your new single and what went into its creation? How does it demonstrate your commitment to making “music uninfluenced by anyone but [yourself]?”
MAYKO: Thank you so much! This new track is so special to me, and I’ve been so happy hearing how others have connected to it from an emotional standpoint.
I finally wanted to start incorporating much of the musical influences around me in San Diego. Being around so much great 120-140 music, I felt it was time to finally create something largely intertwined with that world. Some artists I drew inspiration from include Ross From Friends, Lapalux, Four Tet, Prospa, Stephan Bodzin and BRONSON.
On top of that, I also wanted to pay homage to my younger self. This is why I chose to incorporate many acoustic instruments, such as piano, electric guitar, and rock drums. The rock section in the middle is very reminiscent of M83 and The 1975. I was a huge indie-alt fan in high school and will continue to incorporate more of that in future tracks.
In terms of influence, I just want to stay true to myself. I want to only draw inspiration from my true feelings, what I truly gravitate towards. I will never be able to convince someone of a feeling I do not possess. Therefore, I will only create music inspired by “myself,” inspired by what truly inspires me. And that can be any combination. Nothing’s too crazy.
Stream “SELF” on Spotify:
AM: In terms of sound, “SELF” differs quite a bit from your previous release, “YOU GOT IT.” Content-wise, if I’m remembering correctly, “YOU GOT IT” was written during a pretty dark time in your life. You once referred to it as “a true timestamp within my healing process.” Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I was wondering if you would be open to talking a bit about your relationship with your mental health, and what your healing process looked like post-incident last year?
MAYKO: Yeah, last year was definitely a turbulent year for me, but one that forced me to grow in ways unimaginable. In March of last year, an intruder broke into my house and stole my laptop. I, unfortunately, didn’t have anything besides client work backed up, so I lost a lot. And on top of that, one of my musical mentors scammed me for $12,000 a few weeks prior and left to who knows where. So yeah, it took a while for me to grieve, process everything that had happened, and rebuild.
I created “YOU GOT IT” during a period in which I was longing to be the confident creator I was before the incident. I was only creating sad music for so long, and I didn’t want to be sad anymore. “YOU GOT IT” was practically a word of advice to myself; I shouldn’t be attempting to speed up my own grieving process. I should validate my current feelings, and at the same time, have faith in the fact that I will get through this phase of my life. Time heals everything.
Stream “YOU GOT IT” on Spotify:
MAYKO: “SELF” was created as the follow-up. This piece reflects my realization that I will actually never be the creator I was prior. But I can become something greater if I choose to see the circumstances that way.
For so long, I was down on myself. Feeling like so much work was now gone. That I had missed out on so many opportunities. Like, so much negativity. But I slowly began to re-discover what defines me as not only an artist but also as a human being.
I’ve created so much new music that I never would have made, had it not been for the incident. I fine-tuned my skills by rebuilding templates, racks, samples, etc. I truly feel as if I am a more convincing artist than before the situation, and I’m really excited to present to the world the results of that rebuilding phase.
AM: I’d call you resilient or tenacious, but you’ve referred to yourself as “faithful.” How do you keep faith in yourself and your dreams, even when circumstances force you to start over from scratch? What does this ‘faith’ look like, or feel like, in practice?
MAYKO: I have ingrained in my mind for so long that I can do whatever I set out to do in life. It’s just a part of me at this point. I’ve honestly had so many rough stages in my life, but every single time, I’ve gotten through it.
In practice, it translates to being in the present. I am not worrying about what has happened in the past, or what may happen in the future. Faith shows itself when I sit down behind my desk, and the only thing I’m thinking about is creating great music in the present moment.
In addition, I know a few people who have gone through similar circumstances. For example, I know G Jones lost most of his works around the same time I did. Seeing him bounce back the way he did has been insanely inspiring. Like, the guy is dropping a full album next month. That’s amazing. And if he can bounce back, so can I.
photo (c) Tyger Dison
AM: Some folks believe that artists must “suffer for their art,” or that true art can only come from great pain. Do you have any thoughts on this concept?
MAYKO: Great artists are great because they “feel” more than the average person. Their highs and lows are internally felt much more dramatically. I do feel as if pain is necessary to create great art. Dark times are necessary to realize the beauty in positive times. Therefore, if an artist’s primary role is to convince a listener of a feeling, then yes, pain is necessary. Once you experience deep pain, you can truly express both sides in a more convincing manner.
“Sometimes you don’t even realize the story behind your work until you take a step back yourself.”Mayko
AM: In a similar vein, how does your art impact your mental health? And how does your mental health impact your art?
MAYKO: I feel as if art has huge potential to positively impact your mental health. It makes you feel less alone. It makes you feel as if you aren’t the only one going through tough times. It can show you a different way to view your current circumstances. It can also take your mind off of current circumstances and remind you that there is still positivity in the world, waiting for you.
On another note, I feel art is more-so an extension of my mental health. A reflection. So, whether my mental health is positive or negative at a given moment, my current art will reflect that.
From a consuming standpoint, art is up to interpretation. Therefore, I believe you will discover more about yourself by analyzing art, than about the origins/meaning of the art from the source. I’ve even discovered so much about myself from analyzing my own art after it’s created.
Sometimes you don’t even realize the story behind your work until you take a step back yourself.
AM: The idea of “self-care” sometimes has a negative connotation, but it’s imperative that we take care of ourselves in order to stay well. What are your #1 self-care tips that you’d like to share with your fellow artists? How do you avoid burnout?
MAYKO: I am such a huge advocate for meditation. That right there is the first tip I’d give to other artists. Being aware of and invested in the present moment is such a huge proponent of the creation of great music.
Another tip is to exert at least an hour of physical energy a day. Whether that be working out, running, playing a sport, doing yoga, the list goes on. I generally work out in the middle of the day, and it’s a great way for me to reset and get re-energized for my afternoon session. There are so many physical AND mental benefits of exercising every day.
photo (c) Maxfield Bonta
MAYKO: As for how I avoid burnout, I tend to take quite a few breaks throughout my sessions. Around every 60-90 minutes, I’ll take a 5-10 minute break. Read a chapter of a book. Go on a walk. Play an instrument. Watch a YouTube video. It really helps with avoiding burnout.
AM: And on the note of self-care… MAYKO, what is your #1 ‘guilty pleasure’?
MAYKO: Such an interesting question [laughs]. I’m not sure if this is a guilty pleasure (I don’t think it is) but I’m a huge fan of The Japanese House. Some of my friends think it’s a guilty pleasure but I don’t think so.
Saying I’m a huge fan of their music is an understatement [laughs].
Indulge yourself, the MAYKO way:
If you’re struggling, know that you’re not alone; it’s okay to ask for help.
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889
- Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.
- Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a reply within 24 hours
- Text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19
- helpguide.org’s Directory of International Mental Health Hotlines
- checkpoint.org’s Global Mental Health Resources
Keep up with MAYKO
If you’re looking for new music, keep up with our weekly Spotify Playlist, Fresh Hunts. Whether it’s something new from your favorite artists, some old school, or underground—we just want you to hear it!