The 19-year-old Australian singer is honest and intimate in a stripped down version of latest single “Apricots.”
MAY-A’s indie-pop mood is part of a new wave that we’ll be seeing more of in the coming years. Her creativity and artistry are already apparent; there’s a confidence to her sound that shows the young people know how to step into their power. With the video for “Apricots (Naked)” having been shot and directed entirely by MAY-A, we can expect great things from her in the future.
COLLiDE caught up with MAY-A, or Maya Cumming, ahead of the video release to talk about sexuality, acceptance and Cumming’s creative process.
If you’re comfortable sharing, how did it feel realizing that you were developing feelings for a girl for the first time? Was there space to let yourself feel that? As someone who is bisexual and still learning to accept/explore my own sexuality, I really wondered this while listening to “Apricots.”
Looking back now I realize I wasn’t actually worried about developing feelings for a girl, I didn’t feel shameful or scared, I don’t think I really thought about it, I simply just really wanted to talk to this girl. I knew I liked her straight away, as soon as I saw her, I went to a very accepting school where a lot of my friends were openly LGBTQ+ so I guess I didn’t feel a lot of pressure.
It was only really until we’d been dating for a while that I’d realized that I was the most comfortable, happy and real than I’d been in any other relationship. I really felt that this was very much a missing piece of me and my identity, and made a lot of my internal dialogue and personal questions make a lot of sense.
The lyric “Cause in my imagination, you are mine,” like damn, if that isn’t queer yearning! The song is so evocative, and really captures that feeling of falling for someone. It really feels like you put your heart out for the world in that song. How do you balance that vulnerability with taking care of your emotions?
I like being vulnerable and open in my music because I really struggle with that when having conversations. I always tend to feel a lot of shame when I get too emotional, which is frustrating. But in music—it’s more ambiguous. It’s so specific and honest but it lacks the real life context.
I can be so real and let so much out, but I’m not unloading that to one specific person who has to respond. It’s more like I’ve thrown my emotions into the atmosphere and they get to disappear, but I also have that sense of feeling heard and understood, because of the people who message and tell me they relate. It’s a coping mechanism.
What does your process look like when conceptualizing your visuals? Where do you look when brainstorming ideas?
It’s honestly unpredictable and usually a big mess. It’s a mix of Pinterest boards, random moments of inspiration drawn from other artists, music videos, a movie or a conversation.
I do a lot of planning and mood board curating with one of my close friends. We bounce ideas back and fourth—that’s how we came up with the apricots music video, just lots of talking and writing and re-writing. It’s one of my favorite parts of the process.
Where did the idea of releasing a comic for each of your singles come from? It’s something I haven’t really seen but enjoyed looking through on your Instagram!
I used to draw heaps of comics when I was a kid and I rediscovered my love for that when I was going through my final year of high school. I have this whole book of stupid comics to do with my friends that I’d drawn instead of actually doing any work, but I showed some of them to my manager as a joke and he was super excited about it.
He was the one who suggested to do a comic strip with each song, which I was super hesitant at first because I really didn’t think people would like it, but it’s added another level of insight and creative expression that comes directly from me, so I’m really glad that he’d given me that idea.
Even though you’re still young (so am I, I’m 21 as of writing this piece), do you have any advice for COLLiDE readers that may be exploring their sexuality or gender? What’s something your younger self would’ve loved to hear?
I think there is an overwhelming feeling of constantly needing to understand or define yourself. You don’t have to come out, you don’t have to publicly state that you are or aren’t something—and even if you do, you aren’t solidified in that label forever.
Sometimes I like to “decide” that I am a certain label rather than simply letting it be. So I’d say don’t feel pressured to label yourself, or feel guilty for classifying yourself as one sexuality or gender and then realizing it doesn’t feel right later on.
We’re all growing and changing, be forgiving towards yourself.
Stream MAY-A’s discography now: