Based out of Portland, Oregon, MAITA is the full-band vehicle for the songwriting of Maria Maita-Keppeler. MAITA first appeared back in 2017 around the release of the Waterbearer EP, some three years on, this week will see the release of their debut album, Best Wishes. The album, made partly in the splendid sounding 100-year-old Ok Theatre in Enterprise, Oregon, is coming out via Kill Rock Stars, whose founder Slim Moon liked the album so much, he came out of a twelve year retirement to spearhead the release.
Much of the inspiration from MAITA came from Maria’s love of the indie-folk of the early 2000’s, channelling the emotional intensity of artists like Feist and Bright Eyes, which went against her own, “tendencies towards emotional restraint”. MAITA is in many was a release from that suppression, a chance for Maria to put herself, and her feelings first, a chance to, “demand the free space to say what I want to say”. Musically, across Best Wishes, MAITA expresses her freedom through an array of different sounds, it’s an album that blends lush musicality and moments of real visceral noise, a record that pulls them in with meandering dream-pop and then throws them crashing into driving riffs, clattering drums and raw, unapologetic indie-rock thrills. An eclectic, bold and exciting collection, Best Wishes is a record that celebrates expression, freedom and creativity, and channels them into a rather remarkable whole.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are MAITA?
MAITA is a Portland indie-rock project fronted by myself, Maria Maita-Keppeler. Though I started writing songs to perform solo, in the last couple years I’ve really felt drawn to and embraced the more dynamic, high energy presence that a full band can command. After I write the songs, my bandmates and I work on the arrangements and record together to create a cathartic expression of the songs that feels just as honest as they were when they were written. I’m incredibly lucky to have a creative, talented group of musicians to work with. At its core MAITA is myself, and Matthew Zeltzer, who plays guitar in the band and co-produced the record with me and engineered a large chunk of it. The record also features Cooper Trail and Nevada Sowle.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
I played so many open mics that it’s hard to say which show counts as the ‘first’ one. I can tell you that the first time I ever performed live in front of a group of people was in high school for an open mic, and I was singing this Elliott Smith cover, and I was so terrified I had to perform for one of my close friends alone before I could do it in front of others. I sat in front of her for about ten minutes trying to start and unable to because I was so nervous. When I finally performed I was shaking so badly I couldn’t get control of my voice–it was awful. This was when I was about 17.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
I practiced visual art my entire life–I even got my degree in Japanese Woodblock Printmaking in college. I love visual art, and will cherish the opportunity to do it forever, but there is something so inclusive about music that I cannot compare to anything else. I love that music can have a profound effect on nearly everyone, regardless of education level, socio-economic status, or even the language you speak. It’s something that you can feel and enjoy in your body and your mind without ever learning how to do it. The potent way that music can affect your emotions and your memories never ceases to amaze me, how music can make you happy, or sad, or nostalgic, in just seconds. It’s the most accessible and powerful form of therapy, and as a listener and an artist, it’s a world that I will always be a part of.
FTR: What can people expect from the MAITA live show?
Probably a louder sound than they expect! We love dynamics, the loud and the soft, the highs and lows–I love contrast in a live show, the ability to take an emotional journey that feels as varied as life itself. We do our best to serve the songs at their core, so we oscillate between the intimate and cathartic.
FTR: What’s next for MAITA?
We will be releasing our record in the middle of the pandemic of course, May 15th, and as expected we won’t be jumping into any epic album release tour. That said, we will be releasing some live videos in the next year to help remind ourselves what it is that we will be looking forward to in the future, as well as finishing up the next record. As soon as it feels safe and responsible to get back on the road, you can be sure to find us there. Here’s to hoping it won’t be too long!
They Listen To…
Nick Drake – Place To Be
Julia Jacklin – Body
Field Medic – OTL
Big Thief – Not
Oh, Rose – 25, Alive
Best Wishes is out May 15th via Kill Rock Stars. Click HERE for more information on MAITA.