by Joiah Luminosa

mayo is an innovatice force, traversing an unpredictable yet coherent path. A skilled DJ, producer and performer, able to solder her own modular synths and add a unique touch to her signature sound. Her mixes and initial release defy easy categorization, skillfully blending downtempo electronics, EBM, and techno into a seamless array of styles. Her debut EP “Sad Violin Music” on Carista’s “United Identities”, followed by the “Frenemies” EP (Fides) and a haunting remix on Berlin’s R.I.O label, showcase her unapolagetic approach and meticulous sound design. In 2023 mayo launched a live show combining drum machines, synths, and her vocals blending existing releases with fresh material. This marks a pivotal moment in her career, heightening anticipation for her future projects.

Listen to her exclusive mix here

How did your background in playing multiple instruments shape your journey towards DJing and music production?

My journey into DJing and music production was totally shaped by my early experiences playing a different instruments.I started at the age of five with music lessons, then later got into guitar and drums, which gave me a pretty diverse musical foundation. My early musical exploration wasn’t limited to just playing instruments; my environment was a big deal, too.

Growing up, I was surrounded by a mix of rock and roll, metal, and Latin music at home. My parents used to throw these  dance parties, which definitely further diversified my musical taste. While I was into playing in bands at first, I eventually started DJing. I thought it would be a good way to meet people in the music scene who were into the same things.

But, funny enough, I ended up finding the perfect “bandmate” in my computer after downloading Ableton Live. It was going out in places that mostly played techno and electronic music that got me hooked on those genres and led me to start producing. And, now there’s also funny twist, I actually met my close friend Cas Hieltjes back then, and we’ve recently started a band/live project called “A Spiral Walk.” It’s a total mix of all these genres, and we’re releasing our debut album this autumn.

Can you describe how your debut EP “Sad Violin Music” reflects your unapologetic approach to music?

My EP is a blend of musical styles like dark wave, EBM, and techno, which shows my DIY way of making music. The three tracks are basically “jams” driven by my self-built modular synth.  My background in more punk/metal based music for example comes through in the track “Human Engineering.” I’m still super grateful that Carista was so open and gave me the freedom to explore all of that.

What inspired your eclectic mix of musical styles, from punk and metal to hip-hop and reggaeton, in your electronic punk sound?

As a musician, I’ve always been inspired by so many different types of music, from the energy of punk and metal to the rhythms of hip-hop and reggaeton. Growing up, my musical influences were all over the place. I was listening to everything from Mobb Deep and the Misfits to the Black Angels and Aaliyah or Joy Division. This eclectic mix of styles has definitely shaped how I create electronic music.

I don’t like to overthink things when I’m making music. I think it’s better to let sounds come together organically.

mayo

How do you navigate the boundaries between different genres, particularly in your DJ sets and productions?

I don’t like to overthink things when I’m making music. I think it’s better to let sounds come together organically. For me, DJing and production go hand in hand. When I’m DJing, I get ideas that I can use later in the studio, and producing helps me train my ears, which makes me a better DJ. This gives my DJ sets a kind of free-flowing feel when it comes to genre. My releases are similar; they don’t really stick to one genre. Some have described my music as a mix of EBM, breakbeat, techno with some heavy sound design. At the end of the day, I make music to make people feel good and maybe give them a moment to forget about the difficult things in life.

What challenges did you face in developing your signature sound and style?

I’m not sure if I’d call them “challenges,” really. When I’m creating, I feel super free and just make whatever I feel like. Sometimes I’ll give myself a little restriction to try to push a track in a certain direction or genre. I guess you could say that’s a bit challenging because I don’t really stick to one musical template like typical house or techno.

Can you discuss the significance of your self-built modular synth in shaping your sonic landscapes?

My modular synth is like my secret weapon. It’s a huge part of my creative process and how I create my sound. I like soldering some of the modules myself and then just getting lost in the sound. It’s really satisfying. The whole thing feels super personal to me. Learning to do all this stuff myself has helped me a lot in finding my own sound.

I made my debut EP, “Sad Violin Music”, using my modular synth. Most of the time I use an Elektron Octatrack to sequence the synth and as a sampler, then I record everything into Ableton Live to tweak it.

How does your live show in 2023 represent a milestone in your musical journey?

My live show in 2023 was a big deal for me! It was the first time I was on stage with drum machines and synths, mixing my releases with new material and using my own vocals. Before that, I’d only DJed, so this became a whole new dimension. I premiered my live show during Amsterdam Dance Event at Melkweg and Paradiso. It was a combination of my existing tracks and live improvisation. In the past months I have been upgrading the set and it feels nice that it can be an ever evolving thing.

What can audiences expect from your future projects and performances following the success of your live debut?

I’m going to be doing a few select live shows alongside my DJ bookings. I want to keep it special and make sure it happens in the right places. My next one is at Dekmantel in August. Next to that I’m also working on building a live show with my band/live project, “A Spiral Walk.”

How do you approach blending existing releases with fresh material and your own vocals in your live performances?

I try to find a good balance for the audience. I play stuff they know so they can get into it, but I also like to throw in new sounds that are closer to where I’m at musically right now. That way I stay in my comfort zone but also get to take some risks and try new things. Plus, it keeps things interesting for me, too!

How do you incorporate your uncompromising disposition of character into your music and performances?

I want my music to make people feel something, even if it’s a bit intense. I create tracks that can be dark and heavy, but also experimental and meditative. It’s all about helping listeners get lost in the music and escape from the everyday.

My punk roots are definitely there in my music. It’s this mix of gritty EBM and techno with punk and acid influences. But I also try to keep things fun. I think a good dose of dark humor is important, and that’s kind of how I approach life and music in general.

Talent: mayo

Photography & Art Direction: Great Expectations