We caught up with Maya Damaris, the charismatic lead singer, songwriter and producer of Alternative Rock band, Wax on Water...
Your new album is due out in June, was it written & recorded during lockdown? What was the process like? Yes I started writing Nov 2020 and already have about 50 songs which I’m in the process of refining down to an album’s worth. I love writing, it’s one of the most exciting things for me, so it was a salvation during lockdown when the boredom of staring at the same four walls became truly tedious. In terms of the process, I decided to force myself to write all the guitar driven songs on an acoustic guitar and not on my electric – as everything sounds great through a Les Paul and an amp (laughing). I am also making myself write all the lyrics before I go into recording other instruments and doing any production…I usually leave lyrics till the end, but this time the story telling aspect will inform how things are played so I’m changing it up. It’s good to adapt your approach I think – otherwise if you always do things the same way you just get the same result.
The first two singles deal with the dark side of relationships, is this theme continued on the album? There is another track on EP2 that will be the next single ‘The Wrong Way’ that is in that theme, but it’s more tongue in cheek, it’s a bit lighter than the other two, but there is a natural division in the album between all 3 parts – EP1 is like me saying I am surveying the landscape of all that is not right and what I am rejecting. EP2 is more self-reflective – both sides of that. On one side, the single ‘You Know When You Know’ is about a belief in finding true love after coming out of relationships that haven’t worked – so it is about hope. The other songs on the EP like All Over Me are me recognising what has to change in me to effect REAL change
You live in Camden, which was a hotbed for the 90s indie scene – did you enjoy that genre of music? What do you enjoy most about living in Camden? Yes I love Indie and alternative music – Camden has always been a great place for bands because of the amount of venues, rehearsal studios and it’s a centre for alternative culture and goth, which I love. I’m glad to see that in spite of the pandemic that the live venues are - to the most part – still going. Thank god for that.
Which bands both historically and currently influence you the most? When I first met up with Steve Blessing, Wax on Water’s guitarist, we had an epic conversation about both 90s grunge and 70s rock and he said to me that they were the two crucial periods for what we are doing and I couldn’t agree more with him. At that point, it solidified he was the right man for WoW! Nine Inch Nails have always been one of my favourite bands along with Led Zep, David Bowie and other 90s grunge bands like Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana.
You are a classically trained musician, how does that translate to rock/alternative music, or do you tend to separate them? The thing that I tried to get away from when I first started writing music, was not thinking like a classical musician because otherwise you think ‘oh I should go to this chord progression’ because that is what is accepted, rather than trying new things out. So for the song construction, I don’t rely on my classical background. I think perhaps in arrangement, it has more of an influence – particularly as I like to use string arrangements around the big guitar sounds.
Have you managed to play any live shows or attend any live shows since the first lockdown? I went to my first gig in over 2 years last weekend! I saw Nate Smith (jazz drummer) and he was really great. In terms of WoW playing live shows, I’m hoping to start pencilling dates from the summer and probably starting in the UK, but we shall see…we’re still not out of the pandemic with regard to live shows in Europe, so I don’t know when that will happen yet.
What plans do Wax on Water have for 2022 aside from the album release? My focus other than The Drip album being released is to get the live side up and running and I’ll also be recording album 3 towards the end of this year. After 2 years of the world being in paralysis, I don’t want to wait around anymore, I’m just going to keep pushing and releasing music – I figure just do what you love, life is too short.