At just 29 years of age, this British-Japanese DJ/Producer has the world dancing to her tunes and she ain’t about to turn down the volume anytime soon. Maya Jane Coles has played in over 30 countries, grazed the covers of more than 14 magazines, and amassed an impressive social media following of 10,000,000+ subscribers. So, why aren’t you following her yet?
In the lead up to International Women’s Day (8th March), we caught up with the talented Coles who’s at the top her game and keeps moving from strength to strength. Ladies, if you’re looking for inspiration in an alternate profession, catch the pretty lady who’s anything but mainstream:
When did you first realize you wanted to create music? Also, tell us why you chose music, specifically, as the medium to express yourself.
I wouldn’t necessarily say I chose music specifically as the medium to express myself. From a young age, I was always creative in so many ways. I liked drawing, painting, taking photos, making and building things… and from the age of 14, I started to make music too. I guess that was the thing that I found I was naturally best at, and therefore eventually spent most of my time doing and really stuck to it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun focusing again on some of the things I left behind, like my artwork.
You first dabbled in Hip-hop but were later exposed to the underground house scene in East London. From then until now, when you’re finally releasing your debut album Comfort, how has the journey been for you?
I feel like I will never just be part of one scene, musically. I love so many different genres and the music I enjoy making, whether I release it or not, spans such a wide range of styles that I just wouldn’t be happy sticking to one. The more years that I spend doing this professionally, the more amazing opportunities seem to constantly pop up. I realized that this year will be a whole decade since my first ever release in 2007 (on Dogmatik records) which is pretty insane, as it really doesn’t feel like that long ago at all!
Apart from playing as Maya Jane Coles, you also play under the alias Nocturnal Sunshine, moving between different genres and audiences. How do you plan your onstage performances?
I rarely DJ as Nocturnal Sunshine as I already have a full-time touring schedule with the MJC stuff, but I’m always producing extra records on the side. It was intended more as a studio alias. That’s where my heart lies, the writing. I could sit in the studio all year round and be totally in my element. As for the performances, I just take each gig as it comes. I find too much preparation doesn’t work out for me as you never know what to expect from an audience till you’re at the club/festival. Part of the art of DJ’ing is being spontaneous and being able to set the right mood for the night.
What is your power piece, an item that you feel your best in, or perhaps the ‘lucky’ charm you always have on you while performing?
That’s a tough one because I have so many! I’m really into designers that focus on monochrome because 80% (at least) of my wardrobe is black—I like Anne Demeulemeester, Rick Owens, KTZ. I’m also into my accessories like Zana Bayne harnesses or statement jewellery, which always work like a dream with some of the simpler things that I pack when on the road for longer periods of time. I have a major jacket fetish/problem, so my favorite pieces are some of my leather jackets.
Your Instagram is a visual treat, how would you define your personal style? Would you call yourself a fashion rebel?
My style can really vary based on many factors like my general mood, the weather/time of year, what country I’m in, my hair color… I’m pretty much always in black boots all year round, though—that never changes! I’d say my style floats between goth, manga, Japanese-influenced street style, androgynous clothes, leather everything, and lots of black.
You are constantly touring and have played all over the world at some pretty exciting spots… tell us about any fashion finds from your travels that you cherish.
I LOVE shopping abroad. It’s one of the perks of travelling all the time (as well as eating, because I’m a massive foodie). Japan and the US are my favorite places to shop for obvious reasons. I always look for small hidden boutiques and local up-and-coming designers. I love the feeling of wearing something that no one else has.
You don’t shy away from bold makeup choices. Any particular Maya-approved brands we should know about?
LA-based brand Rituel De Fille is awesome and everyone should know about them 😉
With such a busy schedule how do you normally shop? Does an online platform like obsessory help ease the process?
Most definitely, shopping online is never the same because you can’t try stuff on but, I usually know exactly what I want and can tell whether it’s right. Plus, online shopping saves a hell of a lot of time for those with a busy schedule like me.
Lastly, what would you say is the key to your productivity—any mantras the readers should know, so they can multitask as efficiently?
BALANCE. Just a good balance in life. I have to be social enough and busy enough to stay creatively inspired, but at the same time not be too overloaded with work or exhausted to the point my brain won’t let me enjoy the creativity. It really is hard maintaining that balance when touring a lot and having a demanding schedule, but I try to take enough time off regularly to be able to miss travelling/gigging so I can appreciate both sides.
The same thing applies to music making. Sometimes, when I’m restricted from making music I get frustrated but it means the creativity builds up and when I return home from a busy gig weekend, I have an outburst of new music that just shoots out of nowhere.