Mayaeni | Me
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about mayaeni

Early on, the self-professed shy hippie kid saw her future self filling a void. “I don’t know why that lane hasn’t been filled, at least mainstream wise. Why there hasn’t been a female black John Mayer or Gary Clark Jr. I became it, because I wanted to see it so bad.” Raised in a suburb just outside Detroit that she describes as racially “pretty segregated,” Mayaeni—pronounced mah-yay-knee—was actually born to rock. “Growing up in Detroit, I spent a lot of time not necessarily knowing where to fit in.” Her mom is black, her dad white. “So I ended up hanging out with all cultures.”

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history

Hanging out with her musician dad in the studio was Mayaeni’s form of grooming, with Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan and Hendrix records serving both as musical surrogates and soundtracks to her life. “I’ve always had this rock-soul thing going. I can’t escape it.” Not seeing many black women rocking out with a guitar, Mayaeni put herself on that stage. The instrumentally rich and electric songs she creates now are extensions of her rocker past. Her earliest material was recorded on her dad’s 8-track tapes. “I would see him rocking out as a kid, and I would get instrumentals from his tape singles and record over those.” Seeking independence at age 17, Mayaeni headed to London, where she made money under the tables selling clothes at Camden Markets. The cost-of-living struggle persisted when Mayaeni moved to New York, but those survival years turned out to be perfect preparation. “London was my first eye opener to being in the city. I didn’t have a plan beyond the two grand I saved. It was hard, but I had so much ambition. I didn’t want to go back home.” “I wrote a lot about struggle, not being able to pay rent and having a bunch of jobs, a lot about coping with pain. Hard times, heartbreak.” In New York, Mayaeni worked the open mic circuit, up to five times a week, hopping in and out of places like Village Underground, The Grove and Café Wha. The music is as edgy and raw as it is emotional, like the sounds of a guitar crying out, whether it’s the yearning in the mid-tempo anthem “Million N1” or the angst in the clamorous rock-out garage jam “Too Late.” It’s the sound of progress. “I like to think it’s classic.”