Underdog, Winner...BLACK EXCELLENCE Queen
If you love old school R&B artist such as Chaka Khan, Donna Summer, Dawn Tallman, Cece Peniston and Vivian Green- Slay Mayas is who you need to listen to. Giving us high powered songs with intriguing lyrics and things to really think about. She's giving us anthems that encourage self love and appreciation for who you are. Songs like "Winner", "Black Excellence" and "Graceful" don't only get your body moving but feeling like the true King/Queen you are! The Philly R&B singer shares with us about her journey and growth as an independent artist.
Fe: Slay Mayas! How did you get started and where are you from?
Slay Mayas: I am from New York & Philly. I left NY when I was 12 with my mom because she wanted to move. I’ve been singing since I was 14. I’ve had a background in Creative Arts ever since I was little. My mom knew because I was just a wild, crazy kid. She would put me in anything to preserve and kind of expose my energy. I started off wanting to be an actress and then when I was 14, I was singing. I like to say that Mariah Carey was like my first vocal teacher because I was listening to The Emancipation of Mimi at the time and We belong together and I would just sing along with it. I didn’t even know that I could sing, I was just singing. I was having a good time and it was hot music and then my friend stopped me and was like, ‘You sound really good. I was like ‘Really?’. We were in the bathroom and I sang and I was like, ‘ alright, I think I like myself better just singing. I wanted to do acting but this made me flutter in my chest area. I like it and it feels good.
Fe: Absolutely. So that’s how you got started
Slay Mayas: Yeah, that’s what made me start doing music and from there I started writing my music as well. I writing my songs. Going to the studio. I even have recordings of when I was 16. They sound a mess but I like to call them the development stage.
Fe: Of Course. That awkward teenager stage
Slay Mayas: Yeah, I sounded like a squeaky mouse. Damn, I was young! Oh my goodness. From there, it was literally like a light. Almost like when somebody lights dynamite. That song was just crazy. I’ve been obsessed. I signed to a label before, I’ve been on American Idol, I’ve been through the wire. I’m finally at the stage where I know myself artistically, as an artist and I understand things. I used to be waiting on people subconsciously, I didn’t even notice I did that but I wanted someone to save me and help me do a thing. I do know everybody needs help to get to where they desire. There are so many things in this generation that we have whereas you don’t even need to have a label to help you. You just got to know the right things. You just got to explore and from my experience, you have to be willing to make mistakes. Every time you think you found that “yes this is it”, something else happens and it keeps you on your toes. You tell yourself, ‘Alright, alright, we do this for real. Just stay the course’. You got this because this is the time now.
Fe: Absolutely. You mentioned Mariah Carey, who would your top five artists?
Slay Mayas: So I listen to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, right now I’m in love, well I’ve been in love with him, Bruno Mars oh my god! I did an interview the other day and things change fast you know and I could not think of who I wanted to collaborate with. Do you know who I would collaborate with though? Bruno Mars. He is everything. I grew up with Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, I love me some Bruno, Kelly Clarkson. I would say more but you said 5 so I'll just leave it at that.
Fe: Yeah, you’re naming the top ones for me too. I was a big Christina Aguilera fan but I fell off of her because I feel like she lost her authenticity. I’m not so much of a fan of her latest stuff but her earlier music. Definitely!
Slay Mayas: Yes, the album Stripped. Oh my god! Don’t even get me started
Fe: Bruno Mars though!!!! Being a musician, I am naturally drawn to artists that can understand keeping the integrity of the music. The artist who does not just put out music for popularity or capitalizing on the "what's hot now". Artists who are true musicians. I like H.E.R as well but I like her more as a musician than I do as an actual artist. Primarily because I did not like her second album. Her first album I thought was AMAZING! Her second album I didn’t care for too much. A Lot of artists get into the industry, do great but they sometimes lose their sound or passion and get caught up in the mainstream industry and stuff. I think it is very important to keep that integrity in your sound and be authentic as you can be.
Slay Mayas: You just got to be real. When I watch the artist and everything, this is how you know. I was having a conversation the other day with someone that real recognize real. Artists like Bruno Mars, his music is going to be around by the time that I am 50. Even when you are 50 because it's timeless. That is a true artist. I’m not talking about anyone else. Only a true artist can make true music and not look weird.
Fe: Yeah, I agree. Absolutely.
Slay Mayas: Whatever genre. You just have to be authentic. You have to know who you are as an artist and what makes you different and just go with it. So many people as you said, get lost so easily but ain't nothing like an authentic person. It's just refreshing.
Fe: Yes. What motivated you to do music?
Slay Mayas: I realized over time, I have been doing music for so long and have been through so much dealing with people and situations. I literally, almost quit music because I didn’t understand marketing and all this other stuff. I can get people to listen and have a shot in this. What makes me do music is therapy. Instead of sitting on a couch in front of someone, I can just write about it. If life gives me lemons then I make some lemonade. I feel so much better and it’s healthy for me and it’s an outlet and it made me realize that this is what I should be doing. It is a release like you are sharing your healing with the world.
Fe: Interestingly, you said that because for me personally, as a songwriter I know that my first songs came from journaling as a teenager. I remember being so scared for anyone to see it. Not that I had anything crazy in it, but the fear of judged for your vulnerability. So to be safe, I wrote them as "letters to heaven"...I'd start with Dear God and write out my thoughts and feelings. Then I started playing the piano at church and just sitting at the piano and coming up with melodies eventually my dear God letters became songs. At first, I was a little shocked and eventually excited because of the whole creative process. Then I started to get into studying songwriting and how to growing as a songwriter and musician. It was very therapeutic for me too. When I was younger, believe it or not, I was kind of shy, and a lot of times people thought something was wrong with me because I'd talk so quietly but I was very shy and had a lot of anxiety as a kid expressing myself. Once I heard an adult say "children must be seen and not heard" I was traumatized and struggled a lot with verbally expressing myself. So my writing helped a lot! Then as I got older being able to communicate and express myself also helped me connect with people and it has been so beautiful meeting and connecting with so many awesome people!
Slay Mayas: Yup, absolutely
Fe: Speaking of all of that, I was reading your bio and you mentioned things that I feel are quite profound in terms of what people deal with. I say people because men deal with some of those things also and they don’t usually talk about it. Your bio says, “Representing the underdog is natural for Slay as she remembers what it was like being a wayward teenager. Her formative years were filled with self-esteem issues, self-doubt, and believing everyone has abilities except her. Now as a fully maturated 29-year-old woman, she now realizes it was meant for her to go through those phases to inspire others”. So highlighting that, in terms of self-care and self-empowerment, I think those are just fundamental shoes that we have to deal with in life. Dealing with your self-esteem, dealing with your self-doubt, and also realizing your worth and potential. Speak about your self-care, self-empowerment journey, and what that has been like for you?
Slay Mayas: And what a journey it is!!! It is way better than it used to be. I was very hard on myself. My younger self. I was just weird, I wasn’t a bad kid. I was just very different. I used to think that I was fat and I used to do weird stuff like wear jackets in the summertime to cover my body because I thought I was fat. Just "strange" things and I would always feel different for some reason. I used to sing in high school but never pursued it then. I would have visions of things that I would do for the future. I never had that before. I always wondered how I always have this dramatic thinking and it’s because of the household that I grew up in. I grew up in a single-parent household and just being a child on my own, watching my mother at times struggle as a single parent trying to balance her own emotions and parenting. Oftentimes people are not fully equipped for what they are faced with. They don’t have the tools and it’s not that they were bad people but oftentimes due to the lack of skills, a lot of appropriate things can occur. Someone with skills and tools wouldn’t tell their child how fat and dark they are.
Fe: Yeah, that is true!
Slay Mayas: I have a dog and I would never say that to him. As I've matured I've realized what it is and have a deep amount of empathy for her and other parents because they've tried their best. I’m a believer in God as well. I may not go to church every Sunday, I don’t read the Bible so much but I have my own experience. He let me know that he was real. People call it confidence, I call it God-fidence because I woke up one day and felt different. It’s almost like a page in a book, I woke up new. It shocked me. When did I do that or where did this come from, I just felt new. I have a song called Winner. I have an EP that I dropped back in September to my song called Winner. There is a line in there that goes“ I wasn't supposed to make it” and I mean that because it’s astounding. I have this conversation all the time with people. The wisdom and the knowledge that I have are from God. The things that I know as a 30-year-old woman. I met women who are twice my age who still don’t get it. It’s not a point to point at them but to just look up to God and say “ Thank You”.
Fe: Yes, “ Thank You”
SLAY MAYAS: It’s not even about me, it’s about other people. I think I understand, if I’m not mistaken, why, you know how they say the highly favored. There are people that are going through some stuff and they will be a blessing to someone else who is at a crossroad in their journey. I started watching people like Jessie J. I started watching her perform and that is where I got the confidence to perform because I used to do auditions as well like American Idol. I did all of these different auditions and I was so nervous and so insecure. I was looking at their face and they are looking at me like we wanna help you but you look crazy. I had to get out of my head and just told myself to chill.
Fe: You are right about that. That revelation, You are here for a reason. After everything we go through in life and how we get through it gracefully. You know it's the grace of God. I definitely am grateful.
Slay Mayas:You look up to the sky and be like You are there sir. You are all that!
Fe: Slay tell us about your song Black Excellence and what that is about and what that song means to you.
Slay Mayas: Black Excellence. I wrote that song in the middle of the pandemic. I dropped the EP in September. They say drop the singles back to back but the EP I dropped as I said, was my therapy session. I just had to get that out there. I thought to myself, I’m going to start moving a little differently as an artist. I realize I have something that people might like and I just need to get this out there and market out there. Black Excellence came about when there was a producer in South Africa who Dm’d me. I always get a lot of these Dm’s with producers that want to work with me or whatever the case may be. So of course, I agreed. I always want to create new music and keep it fresh, keep it poppin’, and stay consistent. He sent me a link to his beats store and I listen to the beats and I heard the one that you hear in Black Excellence and to me, it sounded like the beat was growling. This is hot, I don’t know what I’m about to do with this but this is hot. I like this one, send me the beat. I started writing the song and the first verse goes, “ Taught me everything I know/self-hate and sorrow/oh what a legacy/you have passed on/its time for me to go/breaking free from your hoes/spread my wings and fly”. Notice how it has a tone of oppression like somebody is trying to hold you down you keep pushing up. It started by talking about me and my mother's relationship because it “ Taught me everything I know, self-hate and sorrow, oh what a legacy you have passed on” and as I write it thinking about our relationship and as I am writing it, It started to be less and less about me. I was like this song sounds like oppression and black people and how they try to bring us down you know. Black History Month was around the corner. I was like “ do I dare?” .... it was just an idea in my head. There is a video for that song. All came into my head the moment I started writing the words. I wanted people to feel expensive. That is my whole reason as an artist, who can I inspire even if it is just a fun song, it will always have an uplifting tone. That is just naturally how it is. That's naturally how it is. I wrote the rest of the song and I knew it was right. I recorded it and shot the video and put it out for black history month and there was Black Excellence. I wrote it months before Black History Month and it started differently. However, I want myself to be in the realm of real artists and to be very real I have a lot of issues. So I said, let me talk about this racial issue. Everything that I said is what I think. It’s what I feel. We’re expensive, I know what they hate us because we are everything. Nevertheless, no matter what race you are, I want you to feel uplifted. I want you to know your worth. “I’m expensive” attitude you know.
Fe: You gotta have that mentality and everything we've experienced in life has made us more valuable over time! Good and bad and we have to remember that despite whatever circumstances we are presented with.
Slay Mayas: Yeah, so that is how Black Excellence came about. It was a hell of a ride creating it. I put everything together, I put the marketing behind it. I’m still putting marketing behind it. That was black Excellence. More to come.
Fe: Absolutely. So what can we expect from you and where can people find your music and socials so they can follow you?
Slay Mayas: I have three Ep’s out and this is the first single that I put out. I was just so passionate and putting in bodies of work. I told myself you are living the fastest life so you better keep it short and sweet and just keep it moving. I’m aiming for summertime. I wanna drop my next single around that time. I have a bunch of songs written already that I am looking forward to going to the studio and work on. God willing everything turns out well. Pretty much drop singles and create visuals. So we shall see.
Slay Mayas: It's the dream. Wake up, make some music, post the content, and live life.
Fe: Absolutely! Big Dream! I want the freedom of my time to do whatever I want! Mainly create and travel! Where can they listen to your music and follow you!
Slay Mayas: You can find me on SlayMayas everywhere. I’m on Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube etc its all Slay Mayas. My single Black Excellence is Available everywhere. Check out the video to that song, the visuals are crazy. The visuals were shot by, shout out to, Late bloomer cinemas, he is super dope and I’m working with him again hopefully on my next projects. So stay tuned, there is more to come. I’m so excited because this time around people are waiting on what I am doing. I love that energy
Fe: Thats the energy!
Slay Mayas: So Slay Mayas everywhere
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