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Closing Some Kind of Circle: Q&A with Maita

We spoke with upcoming 10X10 performer Maria Maita-Keppeler of Maita about the new album, playing live, and growing up in Eugene.

Grab your tickets to the upcoming show on October 15  for just $10!

Hult Center: Let’s talk about I Just Want To Be Wild For You, it’s a fantastic album, where did it come from?

This album explores the many ways disconnect manifests – within relationships, within one’s own identity, and within our world today. I find that beneath every moment of distance or disconnect, there is some fierce feeling of passion born of the desire to close some gap. I love writing about these moments because they are all around us, especially in this age of the endless news stream, or the endless scroll. 

I get a strong 90’s vibe (in all the right ways), I’m hearing Sonic Youth, Mazzy Star, and the forgotten but amazing LA noise pop rock group Medicine. There is so much to love, what do you listen to? What inspires your sound?

It’s so hard to say what specific nuggets of my listening library make it into the record. When I write a song on my own, it often sounds completely different from what we create in the studio. The sound of the record is crafted with creative input from everyone in the band, so between the four of us (Matthew Zeltzer, Cooper Trail, Nevada Sowle, and me) we are bring a myriad of bands and artists to the table. I grew up listening to a lot of the mid 2000’s indie folk (Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes, Iron and Wine) but also delved into listening to some more 90’s bands like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and The Cranberries. I think that combination may explain our mix of folk songwriter moments with heavier guitar sounds.

It’s only been 2 years since your debut, which is also great, but Wild For You feels tighter and confident. Is this a silver lining to the pandemic? Did this record have more time to bake?

We finished the bulk of the record before the pandemic began, so the sound of the record wasn’t really influenced by that period of time. I do feel like every record we make feels tighter and more confident as we all develop our sound and our understanding of music. We do a lot of the recording ourselves with Matthew Zeltzer engineering, and with every project we learn more. I really love hearing the progression of a band in that way. I still love the way Best Wishes sounds—it feels evocative of that period for our band, when we were first discovering what Maita sounds like.

Now I’m not alone, the response to this album is extremely positive, how does it feel?

We all become so close to the project while recording it, and at some point during every recording process we wonder whether everything is coming together or not. Our goal is always to create something that people can connect with, something that opens up a channel for emotion and communication. I’m glad that it seems to be doing that. 

woman laying on couch

How is performing it live; does it get a little louder? Do you like to turn it up a bit?

We try to be faithful to the record but of course a live setting always offers the opportunity to dig into the songs more, to expand upon the sound and bring new energy to them. The quiet moments are just as important to us as the loud ones, and the live show really allows us to explore these dynamics more. 

The pandemic kind of threw a wrench into your first release. What’s it like to have 2 albums to share with a live audience?

It does feel like a double album release year in some ways. People always ask me which record they should get and I can never tell them because both of them still feel very recent to me. We love having a large catalog of songs to draw from on the road. We try to mix in songs from both records, which keeps the set feeling fresh night after night. 

The album kicks off with Loneliness, a beautiful and bold song. Can you tell me a little bit about this track?

This song explores the idea of Loneliness as a lover. I wrote it about a time of intense loneliness I experienced living in Kyoto several years ago. It was a strange time filled with intense longing and intense beauty, and the relationship I developed with myself contorted, changed shape, became something I didn’t recognize. Looking back on it, I miss that time, the intensity of that period, the rapport I had with my own loneliness. I don’t often experience those feelings anymore; they feel very trapped in the past. The song seeks to honor them.

You grew up in Eugene, what’s it like coming back?

It’s always strange to return to your hometown. I moved away from Eugene to go to college and haven’t spent much time there since. It’s a place that defined so much of my childhood, but we all change as we develop into adults and often find it hard to truly “come back”. What’s more, Eugene has changed a lot in the last ten years as well. Still, there are certain parts of the city that will always feel familiar to me, certain parts of Eugene that bring out certain parts of me. I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing some faces I haven’t seen since my youth and reconnecting with the community that was such a huge part of my life. 

Do you have any Hult Center memories?

I remember going to the Hult Center for field trips to see the symphony or snippets of plays. It was such a huge space to me. I remember looking up at the ceiling in the auditorium and feeling dizzy at the height of it. I think one of the largest crowds I’ve performed in front of to date would have to be the crowd at my IHS graduation. I saw “I’ll be Seeing You” with a friend and was so caught up in the adrenaline that I accidentally sang her verse instead of mine, so the song repeated the same verse twice. I was mortified but I’m sure not too many people noticed or minded. I’m so excited to return with the full band, it feels like closing some kind of circle. 

Maita will be at the Hult Center on Saturday, October 15


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