They made headlines with their mind-bending new genre of sci-fi folk -but now popular Huddersfield band, Maia, are hoping to reach the stars with a more poppy sound this year.
It can be heard on their most recent EP, Finite World, an upbeat four-track release which has already made a positive impact after entering the musical orbit last month.
It’s the latest bit of good news for the talented and eclectic quartet, who were the lucky benefactors of a number of popular and sold out shows across the country in 2013 and made their breakthrough onto the playlists of BBC Radio Two.
Talking to WoW after an incredibly tight and engaging show at the Holmfirth Picturedrome in their new collection of paisley shirts, it is clear how much the band have grown since they first met at the University of Huddersfield and began to tour the local circuit in 2008.
Lead singer, Tom Clegg, explained the band’s latest direction following the release of their second album Pepper Stars in 2012, their favourite moments over the last year and why they would be focusing on strengthening their roots in the north in the future.
“I think Finite World shows how much we’ve developed since we started out.
“The tracks seem a bit more upbeat and groovy to us and have a more poppy edge.
“We’d never stop describing ourselves as ‘sci-fi folk’ because we coined that term and we still like it but there are definitely a few more catchy elements that we think will appeal to a wider audience and I think its made our songs better.
“Having had quite a bit of time in between this release and Pepper Stars has given us the opportunity to develop our style and our own musical influences have had quite an impact on this one, such as David Bowie, who made some really great pop songs.
“In some of our earlier records one song could dart off in different directions due to all our ideas but now we’ve managed to create something that is a bit more traditional in structure but still interesting and quirky through the track choices.”
It’s something that they accomplish through the different styles experimented with in each of the EP’s four tracks.
Whilst title track, Finite World, opens with a mariachi-like fanfare, off-beat Maisie is led by banjos and ukuleles and Small High Whistle From a Bird impresses with its simple, stripped back vocals and lyrics.
Tom said: “We’ve such diverse interests that I don’t think we will ever sound like a conventional band but we have been able to refine what we do and become better song writers and performers as a result.”
The band has already begun work on its next EP which they hope to release later in the year and hope will be a bit darker in sound.
“Now that we’ve released this one we think we’ll try to make the next a little bit darker and more sinister sounding just to mix things up a bit - I think that it will help keep our songs memorable.”
Maia, who share the name of a star in the Pleaides cluster, have also changed their tack when it comes to live performances.
After spending their formative years establishing a foothold in London and in other locations further afield, this year they want to get back to their roots by focusing on getting more dates in the north and breaking into new territory in Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
“We spent the first three years of the band playing down south but this year we are doing the opposite.
“It was good to get a foothold in London but we want to make more contacts here now and there are so many great venues that we’ve not yet had the chance to play.
“But we’re also really excited to play some festivals that are further afield, like the Isle of Wright Festival, and are looking to go to Europe, maybe somewhere like Germany or the Netherlands, so watch this space.
“The band’s feeling really positive about this year, if the last 12 months are anything to go by.
“Quite a few of our best gigs were ones we where we weren’t sure how we would go down. such as at Broadstairs Folk Festival.
“The crowd was full of traditional folk fans but we managed to win them round and we ended up going down a storm, which was fantastic.
“I think that now we’ve had time to grow as performers we are able to put on more of a show that has more energy and audience interaction which helps us engage with and introduce a broader cross section of people to our music.”
Maia are supporting Stackridge at Brudenell Social Club in Leeds tonight and at Wharf Chambers on May 23.
To buy Finite World, which costs £5 on CD and £10 on vinyl, to view their latest music video for the title track and find out more about the band go to: maiatheband.com.
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