“A Blessing and a Curse to Understand; Activating Océane.” by Ania B. Holland

Photography by Noah Guerin

Sifting through her Logic X projects folder, Maya opened her logic session,  showing a multilayered track stacked with vocals. Each sung at a different pitch intertwined with an extra set of reversed vocals sitting underneath the backing harmonies of a demo version of what would be her debut single, “I’ll Try, “under her rebranded identity as Océane.

She continues to take me on a tour of her session piece by piece. The session was full of logic stock plugins, a mixer filled with EQs, pitch correction and compressors, multiple synthesizers, up to her intricate vocal arrangement. “I want to create worlds with the music,” Maya Lopez kindly speaks. A quiet and observant creator, Maya, who doesn’t frequent social media, introverted by trade, a typical outlier of traits for musicians who let their work speak for themselves. While Maya might not be the loudest in a room. In our virtual interview, her face was beaming through the screen. She so quickly and openly shared her artwork. 

“My name is Maya Cherie Océane Malamba Lopez”, Maya declares. “I just loved that name because it really tells the story of who I am and all the cultures that make up me, Puerto Rican culture, Gabonese culture, and Black American culture.”She proudly announces. Born and Raised in Chicago, Illinois, she is a singer-songwriter-producer while also a multi-instrumentalist, most of her writing starts on the piano. Unwilling to conform to a genre, Maya traces her music’s sonic field of having Jazz and Orchestral influences to musical theater and neo-soul. Growing up, Maya states her individualized taste ranged from  Nina Simone to Bjork and Solange. From camps to after-school programs, she’s participated in school orchestral and Jazz ensemble groups.

“My music teacher was like; we need a bass player. Can you do it? And I was like, sure, why not? Maya recalls when a band teacher made her pick up the bass guitar to strengthen the band’s rhythms section. Maya, without hesitation, learned bass with ease. 

“There was always this emphasis on how we as artists have the power to do something with the art too, to have a positive impact on the world, with the things that we create. And to me, that was really; it just connected with my curiosity about just learning about the world in general.” Maya says as she dives into her love of learning about the world. That curiosity has continued to fuel her creative pursuits. Within her music and her visuals it’s almost easter-egged throughout.  

Having immersed herself in countless performance opportunities, programs, instruments, and artists. It wasn’t until the summer of Maya’s senior year of high school that she decided that she wanted to make her art a career. “I would experiment with having bands. I tried to have bands, but I went to college prep school. I didn’t go to an art school because my parents are all about, you know, academics, academics, academics, and you can have these creative hobbies. Right. Well, at least that’s what it was then.” 

Almost three years later, after making the decision, Maya doesn’t have any regrets. Now a rising junior at The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. Earlier this year, she released her debut single, I’ll Try, under the artist name Océane. “I’ll Try” is just one out of a collection of songs being released from the singer-songwriter’s full-length project. “Th3 Curs3 of Und3rstanding” Each piece deals with a different aspect of something that I’m trying to gain a deeper understanding with, and then also find peace within myself, in order to continue to find ways to change things that could be better.” Maya states. 

As critical about the music Maya is, visuals are just as expressive and essential to her. While COVID posed many restrictions for filming, crew, and limited access to equipment. Maya made away with the help of her best friends and students in neighboring art departments at NYU. Maya filmed and self-funded, “I’ll Try.” The first video of “Th3 Curs3 of Und3rstanding.” Maya will be releasing her next single “Evolution” April 30th– a song that parallels a black woman’s experience in the ways the world treats them to the earth.   

Late last year, Maya decided to start a Kickstarter to help fund the vision she has for her musical world. Unknowingly the Kickstarter failed. As upsetting as the minor setback could be, Maya has used it as fuel. She used  her resources; friends, and family. She drew up a new game plan with a new goal and a new Kickstarter,  which went live on Monday, April 26th, 2021. Last year, “Th3 Curs3 of Und3rstanding” was in its developmental phase this year, Maya is ready to execute it by any means. 

To stay updated on Maya’s music Journey and to receive updates on Th3 Curse of Und3rstanding.

Connect with the Artist: Instagram / Youtube / Linktree

If you would like to donate to Maya’s Kickstarter check out the hyperlink.

“I’ll Try” 

Directed by Maya and Alexia Towle Cinematography and editing by Matt Liang

Ania B. Holland is an observant individual with a healthy blend of fire signs in her natal chart that allows her to become a social butterfly when needed. Originally from South Jersey, the twenty-year-old now resides in Brooklyn, NY, finishing the last few semesters of her undergraduate degree from NYU. A musician, poet, avid journaler, and a master chef in the making. Creating no matter the medium has been how Ania has learned how to use her voice and share who she is with the world around her.  @Ania_Holland

More of Ania’s work in Mixed Mag: 

Transforming Your Power: From XIMONE to Lord Scorpio (Issue 7)

The Allure of Abby T. (Issue 6)

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