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The rising-star bringing Portuguese-inspired disco, jazz and funk to Manchester

Meet Maya Blandy: the rising-star bringing Portuguese-inspired disco, jazz and funk to Manchester
Maya Blandy

Maya Blandy is a 21-year-old singer-songwriter born in Madeira and currently making waves in Manchester with her soulful and funky music.

Moving to the city after growing up on the Portuguese island, Blandy has fused the exuberant culture of her experience growing up with the vast, on-the-go energy of Manchester to create a signature, uplifting sound.

Maya Blandy

Catching up with Maya, the vocalist spoke about her inspirations, goals and style as well as what she loves most about our eclectic Northern city:

Could you tell us about your journey and what led you to living in Manchester today?

My family is a mix from all over the place but primarily English and Australian- however I was bought up on the small Portuguese island of Madeira.

I’ve always loved music and had a very musical family- my dads a DJ and my mum dances so I was always surrounded by music.

Portuguese culture is very festive, they love their parties, their music, they love going out and enjoying everything and I think all of those elements fed into me growing a love for music over the years.

I then studied piano and when I eventually turned eighteen decided I want to do this for life.

My parents were like “You need to get out of Portugal- it’s not the place where things are happening!”

So I applied and got into University of Manchester.

I’d never even thought about leaving home because I loved it and it scared me to leave but eventually everyone agreed Manchester was such a vibrant city and a melting pot of different cultures that it will feed my experience.

At first it was definitely hard, I had no element from home so I had to really get integrated or I’d end up sitting at home alone making myself depressed.

I think it worked out the way it had to, day by day and I got to go to all these jams and concerts and see just how talented people are.

All these people that I meet can have so many different opinions on things but when it comes to music- everyone can get along and everyone can find their comfort zone and peace of mind.

My dad used to be in the music scene and he had a friend called Jake Wherry who was producing.

Went down to London to work on some tracks that sounded really cool- experimenting with different sounds like disco.

We started to build on that and have created track after track that we’re starting to release.

Who are some of your biggest inspirations?

It’s so all over the place. It ranges from Brazilian singers and guitarists- recognising the samba and feeling.

Lady Gaga is another one- twelve year old me would carry around cans in my hair!

Donna Summer, Nile Rodgers and The Jackson Five. Even David Bowie, Beyoncé- there’s a bit of everything really!

Can we hear any of these inspirations within your songs?

When I write these songs I get inspired and lean on the type of music i’m listening to at the time.

At the time I wrote my first song Stardust I was listening to a band called Parcels that really layer their voices a lot.

They don’t do the most in terms of technicality and ability but the layering works so nicely with the instrumental.

You can definitely hear that. There’s an unreleased track that has Gorillaz influence- you can definitely tell I was listening to them at the time.

At the moment i’m hugely back into my disco music- Diana Ross is one you can hear in the music.

It’s eclectic and adds texture to the album.

Who are some of your dream collaborators?

I think one of my dreams would be to be produced by Nile Rodgers.

To be on stage and perform with him would be so cool.

There’s so many people I think about. Some Brazilian artists- something really soulful and intimate.

I’d love to perform with Chaka Khan too!

How do you want listeners to respond to your music?

I feel like people find artists that have a consistent sound and that’s the sound they expect all the time from them.

I don’t that’s very fair- I’m not going to be the same person always- it’s going to change and shift so I hope when people listen they full embrace the experience in terms of the lyrics, instruments, flow- and I hope they can relate to it.

It can remind them they’re human.

So your most recent release is ‘B.I.B’- what is the story behind the track?

I tend to write quite quickly- I grab a piece of paper and write down all my ideas.

The song was originally a jazz/ scat number who my producer sent me- who I love working with.

We remade the track and as soon as I heard it I was like “Can I do a version?” and I went straight into writing mode.

It’s a very jazzy, sensual, raw kind of feeling- a boost of confidence but also risky and a bit dark. I was thinking about a distorted or dysfunctional relationship.

The best reference is Harley Quinn and The Joker – I wanted it to portray a dynamic where someone’s so in love with the other person but it’s not reciprocated – so they’re going crazy.

Jumping into a pool of acid, I don’t care if you don’t see me- I’ll be your shadow.

I wanted to portray the dynamic of that in a film-like intense way.

What are some of your favourite things about Manchester after living here for the last three years?

At first it was very cold, but that’s almost the beauty of it. Once you get to know it well there’s just so much happening. At first it seemed scary just from coming from a small island- but there’s so much culture, the music scene is amazing every weekend.

A classical concert, a jazz superstar, a string quartet all the at the same time. It’s a big city- but small enough to grasp.

And the food is amazing- I can always get good food!

I love Fletcher Moss Park- I used to work near there I’d sit and lie down in the sun every morning.

I love how many second hand shops there are too. 

Which venues are you fond of?

I love Band on the Wall- I’ve performed their once and the people were so lovely it’s such a cool place. Love Matt & Phred’s too!

What can we expect from you in 2024?

I never expected to get to this point so quickly- it feels like I just moved here. I’m releasing the album this year in the Spring which I really hope people can enjoy.

I love performing and working with other musicians and once the albums out I want to create cool live experiences for people to enjoy. I’m doing acoustic sets with pianos and vocals.

I’m going to be doing jazz versions of my songs and doing events where people can paint whilst I sing jazz in the background!

You can check out Maya Blandy’s music on all streaming services now.

Follow Maya Blandy on Instagram @mayablandy for latest details of upcoming shows and releases.

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