Maiah Manser Interview: “I am not going to be a good, quiet lady and ‘calm down’ – ever”

With the release of her Second Skin EP in 2017, LA alt-pop songstress Maiah Manser made her mark on the pop scene with her outspoken lyrics and bold production.

Now, she continues her signature brand of power pop with the empowering and edgy new single “DoLL”.

We chat with Maiah about working with Mary Lambert, as well as the deeply personal meaning behind behind “DoLL”.

SheBOPS: What’s in your Recently Played list on Spotify?

Maiah Manser: Caroline Polachek, Charli XCX, phem and vōx.

What are your favorite sounds to incorporate into your music?

Field recordings and layers of me singing like cartoon characters.

What emotions do you hope your music conveys to the listener?

Every emotion… I want them to feel most that their emotions are valid.

What was the biggest difference in terms of writing and recording your newest project compared to your previous works?

Writing with other people and sharing that sacred space.

What is the message behind your new single ‘DoLL’?

I was angry when I wrote this song. I had dated a guy that was unfaithful and lied continuously, and somewhat realized this was a loop in my life. I had felt so loyal, quiet and made sure not to make a fuss in my relationships until I hit a breaking point. I didn’t want to be perfect little doll anymore for anyone and I made sure I wouldn’t be treated like one in a relationship due to their toxic masculine behavior. I am sarcastically asking over and over again, “Am I a good enough doll for you?” I hope this song can be another vessel of inspiration for womxn to feel empowered to hold space and be treated like human beings, not like trophies or another tally mark.

The music video modernizes iconic female archetypes throughout history featuring characters such as Swan Lake, Mary Had A Little Lamb, Virgin Mary, Medusa, Yoko Ono “Cut Piece” and is created by a 95% female team – what was the decision behind this?

I worked on this video with my incredibly talented friend Rachael Larkin. We started talking about this video nearly half a year before even coming close to filming. We wanted many different faces to portray these strong roles. The song is about overcoming a stereotype, and I guess we wanted to uplift the stereotype into archetype.

You previously toured as a backing vocalist for Mary Lambert, opening for artists like Sam Smith, Ariana Grande and Pharrell Williams – what did this experience teach you?

Mary taught me to treat the people that work for me very well, to have strong boundaries and to only hire people that I absolutely love.

Have you noticed any double standards when it comes to gender in the music industry?

Absolutely. I would say it’s gotten a hell of a lot better even in the last couple of years due to the power of the Internet. Only five years back, my male friends would dissuade me from upgrading my gear or trying to learn new production tools… like I couldn’t or something?? So, for being made to feel like I wasn’t smart enough, I didn’t start seriously playing with production until I finally let go of that nonsense. I know exactly what I want sonically in my productions, especially due to my music theory knowledge and background, and sometimes I still get attitudes from male producers telling me to ‘calm down’ – but it’s all noise and I move on. I am excited about my work and what I do. I am not going to be a good, quiet lady and ‘calm down’ ever.

How do you feel about the representation and portrayal of female musicians? Is there anything that you’d like to change?

My friends Blonde Diamond out of Vancouver BC have this amazing sticker that says “female fronted is not a genre.” Funny enough I have been feeling that same sentiment as someone who is a part of the LGBTQ community too. I feel like that is a representation I would like to see changed. I love all of the blogs empowering womxn and amplifying their voices and separate genres, but I do hope to see in my lifetime that we can all be equally represented.

As a woman, is there anything about the music industry that frustrates you?

Being expected to look like a teenager forever.

What challenges do you think female musicians are facing today?

I think it’s a similar challenge across all industries… being taken seriously and not being named bossy for taking charge of your work.

Are there any up and coming female musicians you have your eye on?

SO MANY… but vōx, Madge, VIAA and Monogem.

What advice would you give to young girls and women looking to work in music?

I don’t walk into a room solely thinking about the fact that I am a woman. I walk in thinking I am really good at what I do. There is no need to negotiate or sell yourself short before you even enter a space.

What’s left to come in 2019 and what have you got planned for 2020?

On top of my tour and this release, I’ll have another feature coming out on Mary Lambert’s new record in November. Hoping to release a full EP in 2020 too.

Maiah Manser on Spotify

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