“…the whole purpose of music, in my opinion, is to transport people into a place, into a feeling…”
If there is any name you need to remember in 2022, it’s Mayko’s. You’re certainly going to be seeing it everywhere soon.
You may already be familiar with Mayko through his release with Sable Valley, or perhaps you remember him from a vibe.digital podcast, or stumbled upon him another way. (If not, you can get introduced to Mayko in our “Release Radar’s Greatest Hits, Volume 3”).
Perhaps the best way to get to know him is through his own words, though, right?
Well, we were lucky enough to be able to interview Mayko about his art and artistry, what he’s learned on his journey so far–as well as what’s coming next for ‘The Young Legend’.
For your listening pleasure, please see his SoundCloud, linked below, but otherwise–let’s dive in!
Mayko on Soundcloud:
To get us started, would you please tell me a little bit about yourself– and how you got started in music?
I was in love with music from an early age. By the time I was five, I was singing; that was the first thing that I got really into. I was doing talent shows, stuff like that. And then in the third grade, I was able to join my elementary school band, and I picked up the trumpet.
From then on, it was kind of a straight shoot. All throughout from the third grade up until college, I was in band—I was even playing in the SDSU jazz band and orchestras and stuff like that.
But the trumpet really, like, got me serious about [music], I guess. So I did that through middle school and into high school.
And I started composing before even starting to produce electronic music. I was composing for my high school’s string quartets or brass quintets or whatever. A little fun fact is that in high school, I composed a full score for my high school’s play, which was a super cool experience. Oh, and I’ll forever be grateful to have done another cool thing—In college, I took a lot of composing classes–how to compose for an orchestra, how to write a sonata. And like, oral skills–hearing things, being able to write it down in notation, or reading notation and being able to sing it, you know? That stuff’s been really cool too, and it all, like, contributed to where I’m at today.
(Find Mayko demonstrating his instrumental skill on Instagram!)
Back then, I was also, you know, joining rock bands, learning how to play guitar, learning how to play bass. And in high school, I kind of had a little addiction to learning new instruments. I was like, ‘this week, I want to learn ukulele, oh, next week, I want to learn the trombone or the tuba!’
So I just went into the band room after class.
And we had a bunch of extra instruments laying around, and I just started picking them up and learning them. Which was super fun, you know?
Then, come college, I was really adamant and set on being a doctor.
After all that—a doctor?!
Yeah! While I was growing up, I loved helping people and I thought that was something that I would really want to do.
Then the college applications came in and everything and I was just thinking and sitting there. And I was like, ‘Music’s really the main thing I want to do.’
And I just started producing electronic music my sophomore year of high school, which was around 2013-2014. So I’ve been doing this for almost eight years now.
But yeah, once college came around, I was like, ‘No, I’m gonna commit–this is really the only thing I want to do in my life. The main thing I want to do with my life.’
To take us to university… I got to experience so many different things, so many different kinds of music, you know–being around performance majors, being around composition majors that weren’t quite on the electronic side, but more-so producing or composing, for actual, like, films and movies, or other pieces of classical and symphonic work, which was cool. It helped me, in my opinion, kind of have a more diversified palette, if you could say that.
It taught me to, you know, not just dock a genre, or even a type of music because you’re not listening to it at the time.
What my main mentor at the time taught me is that there’s always something, no matter what it is, there’s always something you can get influenced by.
And don’t look at music like, ‘I don’t like this music, I don’t like it.’ Kind of look at it in the sense of ‘Ooh, some people do like it. Some people do resonate with it. Why is that?’
Because how are you wont to say that their emotional value to something isn’t valued?
And I think hearing that and not just hearing it, but understanding it and learning it and making that my mentality has been one of the biggest mental changes in my creative career that has led me to where I’m at today.
That’s quite a backstory–no wonder you’ve developed such a unique sound for yourself! Which makes me want to ask… what made you get into electronic music specifically over the other styles you’re experienced in?
I was already making, you know, other stuff, before. But I started getting into electronic music my sophomore year of high school. And I think the biggest pull that I had toward it was just the idea of, you know, creating sounds that people have never heard before.
And don’t get me wrong, I totally know the weight that classical music holds, I know the weight that listening to an orchestra holds, there’s a certain, you know, level of just intellectuality that comes with that… I don’t even know if that’s a word. [laughs]
But, I guess what enticed me to get into electronic music, and what’s most powerful about it, was just the fact that you could make something that people have never heard before.
You could transport people, you know? Because the whole purpose of music, in my opinion, is to kind of transport people into a place, into a feeling, and your ability to do that. It’s just like, it opened up a new door, like a new frontier, you could bring people into space, you could bring people into some sonic soundscapes that people would have never heard before. Just the fact that you can make things that people haven’t heard before. That was the main thing that attracted me to it.
I can feel the passion behind those statements; you certainly hit it right on the nose there. There really is a certain kind of magic to electronica, huh? I am inclined to ask though… if you had to label your specific sub-genre, what would that be? Or another way–how would you describe it?
This is one of the questions I don’t like talking about the most because that’s kind of my main goal and premise with the ‘MAYKO project’–to not be defined by a genre.
It’s been hard to kind of do that.
And thinking, you know, you’re in a world where, like, people just tell you to do exactly [the opposite] because that’s how you’re going to be successful. [It’s like], ‘Oh, you made a good trap song. So just keep making trap, you’ll get an audience–’ or, ‘Oh, you made a good dubstep song, just keep making that, keep making that.’
And, you know, I don’t hate on anyone to any degree that does that, you know, if people are totally complacent and okay with doing that, it’s fine.
But just for me, I wanted to do something different and see if I could try a cohesive story, a cohesive brand, a cohesive artistry, you know, without genre being a definition of it.
And so the way I like to think about my music is more in terms of One, a range of mental tendencies, and Two, evoked emotions.
What I mean by that first one, if you’ve listened to some of my tracks in the past, is that I love taking electronic ideas and trying to merge them with a more classical, more cinematic approach to things— so you know, instead of the classic 16-bar, verse 8-bar build-up, drop, and then repeat, and then the drops of VIP edits… we’ve all heard that before.
I like to tell a story, I like to go places, I like to, you know, not just climax a minute in and then just climax again.
[Instead], they’re like 5%, higher, or whatever, you know… all my drops in a lot of my music, you know, the first drop is literally nothing like the second drop, or if we talk about “T3CHNO”, you know, the first drops are minimal, and it just keeps building up. And then it just becomes like three drops in a second drop. Like, I love that shit. I love the challenge, you know, to create such different parts of a piece and try to cohesively tie them.
And that’s kind of how I like to define my music… it’s not really paying attention to the genre, but just trying to express myself in a similar, more elevated, more cinematic way, in whatever genre that I attempt.
And we are absolutely here for it.
Pivoting slightly–what is your general music making process like? Do you prefer solo work or to collab or a little bit of both?
For the longest time in my life, it’s been [spent] being by myself. And I think there’s some reason to that.
The reason why I make music in the first place is because my whole life, I’ve been fairly introverted. And, you know, I went into college, I got a little less introverted, and I’m trying to start to feel more comfortable in my own skin– you know, it’s getting better, but I’m still introverted at heart.
And I was insanely introverted, you know, all throughout grade school, and I was never the person to talk about feelings, you know, the ‘stuff’ going on, I always kept it bottled up inside, and I fucking hated it, you know?
So I saw music as an outlet to express my emotions, express what I was going through at any given point in time, and be able to show others, and see if they can resonate or share that emotion or even just feel it without me just saying, ‘Oh, this happened, this happened, this.’ because I couldn’t, you know? I just couldn’t.
I think that has a direct tie into why, for the longest time, I preferred to work solo.
It’s because it’s kind of like wanting to write a journal entry with another person, together, about like, some shitty stuff going on in life. I just felt like, you know, even if they were nice, or whatever, I always just felt like they’re judging every move I make, and judging every move I make and especially when you arrange, it’s like, you need room for error.
You need to try things that don’t work in order to get to the things that do work.
So I just didn’t like that idea of someone else being there, you know?
But now that I’ve been maturing in this game and everything, what really changed my mind was working with Heimanu for a Sable Valley track. That was probably the first real track that I fully collaborated on.
And he just taught me, you know? He’s like, “Don’t be afraid to express yourself, to show what you want to do. And also, don’t be afraid of what the other person is going to do. Because it’s beautiful […] you could make something that you yourself would have never been able to make.”
[check out that heimanu x mayko collab, below]
And so, now I’m just learning to, you know, experience and embrace that side of things.
My general music making process… I’m very all over the place with it, very ADD with it. It’s hard for me to work on one song all the time. I usually can’t; I have to be working on multiple songs at once.
Because I’ll just get bored. And I’ll get frustrated. And I just need, you know, constant mental stimulation from multiple sources to keep me going. So yeah, it’s very scatterbrained. I’ll just like work on something, maybe not work on it for a couple of weeks, and then come back.
But with every song that’s released, or is like on the way to be released, there is always a point, maybe a little over halfway, where I call it like, ‘Seeing the Light at the End of the Tunnel’, where I’m like, okay, like, I could see its completion, and maybe we should maybe start buckling down on it.
So once any song gets it to that point, and that’s all you know, just based on my opinion of it, then I’ll start making more time for it and be like, ‘hey, maybe we should be hitting this four times a week, you know, maybe we should start hitting it the mix down for a couple hours every day, stuff like that until it gets completed.’
So, tell us–what are your biggest influences & inspirations?
G Jones is probably one of, if not my biggest, inspiration. I actually made my first EP, Belasco [because of G Jones]. It’s a 12 minute continuous EP. And I had the idea to start making it after I saw G Jones for the first time at the Belasco theater. That’s why I called it Belasco.
But it a time where I was like really depressed and really second guessing everything, and [I was] seeing people make the same substance and get it released and like, getting more plays, and all this stuff, and [here I was] just trying to do something different and feeling like, you know, in my head, do people even like want this? Are people even going to be receptive to it, or am I kind of just wasting my time I’m doing this unconventional shit?
Then I saw G Jones.
And his set really moved me in a way of just, you know, showing me how artistically creative one can be [and] how much he doesn’t have to give a fuck about genre norms. He was just making like, these very cinematic pieces, interludes, and like, just his storytelling throughout the whole album… Not only that, but also just being in that atmosphere with, you know, 1000s of people supporting him.
It just gave me that real sense of, you know, fuck, like, if he can do it, I can do it.
It was a visual representation that like, you know, music isn’t dead or whatever. Like, you could still try to push boundaries, push limits.
And it might take longer, but if you work hard enough, you will get there, you’ll be able to be supported by fans, and people will be receptive of it.
So that was a huge thing for me.
How else do you stay inspired?
Listen to new music. Music you don’t listen to.
And I’m not saying, for example, ‘Oh, I make trap music. Okay, I’m not making good stuff right now. Okay, let me just, like, let me go on Sable Valley’s discography… let me go on Trap Nation’s.’
No, no, that’s not what I’m fucking talking about.
I’m saying go listen to jazz music. Go listen to classical music. Go listen to country. Oh, you hate 100 country? Go listen to it. Okay? Go listen to psychedelic rock. Like, vastly different stuff.
And refresh your mind on what is possible. Because when you do something for so long, like trap music, you’re only thinking in a confinement of trap, or technically, you’re only thinking in the confinements of techno. The second you open those blinders, you open your eyes, and you see how many different worlds there are that you can start tapping into.
There’s no way you’re not inspired.
Because there’s so much stuff out there. Like, there’s infinite possibilities.
Just don’t close your eyes to them.
That’s my biggest way to stay inspired–doing that.
I guess another thing too, is going out and living life. That’s something that I still heavily struggle with.
If the point of music is to tell the story, how can you tell a story if you don’t have one?
You need to experience things, you need to go out and live your life. You need to go to the beach. And you go on hikes. You need to go party every now and then, you know? You need to be a human being. And that’s something I forget to do a lot.
And then it just becomes hard to be inspired to write anything moving. Because, you know, you haven’t been moved recently in whatever way.
So those two things: go outside experience life and also experience other types of music.
Those are my two main things.
Do you have any advice for fellow artists?
In terms of getting started, ‘just start it’ seems easier said than done, but just start, you know? Get Fruity Loops, get Ableton, get whatever, and just start making stuff.
I have a lot of advice:
Just start putting it out as well. Look up tutorials [and] just get into the flow of creating and making and finishing tracks. And all that’s going to happen is you’re gonna get better over time, but people just are scared to like make that first move, you know? Which is the same in every aspect of life, doing whatever you want.
It’s always so scary to make that first move, but once you make it, everything gets easier, you know?
So, start to learn basic theory, start to learn how to learn how to use Ableton, there’s plenty of videos on YouTube that can teach you that– just sit down, take notes and you’ll learn.
You’ll learn if you really want to.
Networking is a huge thing. Try to get involved in as many communities as possible, you know? Like be open, go to shows. Go to shows and meet people at shows. Be present online– on Discord, in Facebook groups, on anything… Reach out to people, because you’re not gonna make it in this career if you don’t network. I hate to say it, but we’re past the times where a band can just make a good-ass album and put it on a fucking CD or a cassette tape, and, you know, if it’s good, maybe it’ll make it.
And that’s not going to happen anymore.
You have to you have to connect, you have to network, and only that it will help you grow.
People will teach you new things. You might teach them things, you know? They’ll connect you with people, you’ll connect with them with people, and your network will continuously grow.
“I have a lot of advice: […] get into the flow of creating, making, and finishing tracks […] networking […] and thinking that if I want something, it’s not going to be easy to get it, but it’s not going to be insanely difficult.”
So always be open to just meeting new people. It’s a huge aspect.
And then dedication is just, you know, it’s something that you have to find in yourself, if you really want it, as is with anything. You have to think in your head that ‘I will get it’ and then you have to not stop.
You have to consistently put the hours in. I’m putting in like, you know, 10, 11 hour days? Monday through Friday, and half days, Saturday and Sunday. Maybe I’ll have one off day on the weekend.
But you know, those are the type of hours I’m putting in.
And you may not have to put that amount of hours.
But you need to be thinking if I want something, it’s not going to be easy to get it, but it’s not it’s going to be insanely difficult either.
And when you do get it, it’s all worth it.
Like, I’m not even where I want to be at yet, you know?
But I went through so much struggle, playing for crowds of nobody, getting like no plays on all this stuff.
And you have to fight through that and be like, ‘It’s all part of the journey. It’s all part of the process.”
People aren’t born knowing how to EQ a snare correctly, or how to create the craziest basses, that’s fine.
Just first, fall in love with the process.
And then do the process, stick to the process.
And it seems you certainly took you own advice! 2021 was a huge year of growth and milestones for you. I bet 2022 is going to be even bigger. Do you have any updates or spoilers of things coming up that you’d like to share with us?
I’m excited to answer this.
So, I have a few plans for 2022.
But first… yeah, 2021 was definitely a big step in the right direction in my career. You know, in terms of the whole Sable Valley thing. Also, in terms of the whole production I put together for “T3CHNO”, [and] playing a lot of shows–a lot of those things were super beneficial.
But, I always like to analyze how great things went and see how I can take it a step further.
Some areas that I’m putting more into the forefront this year are things like, more constant releases–that’s definitely the main thing.
So, I’m planning to release at least 10 tracks this year.
And that’s going to take a lot of digging on my end, in terms of trying to get my production to a quicker, more efficient standard.
So, definitely be on the lookout for a lot more songs this year.
I want to do a lot more shows as well.
My main goal for this year is to break into the festival circuit, to start playing my first festivals, and you know, this kind of ties in with [my first goal]. You can only [break into the festival circuit] if you become more consistent in your song releases, especially as an up-and-coming artist, and not having a ‘diehard’ fan base yet.
Also, I’m planning on playing in more states, I definitely had fun playing. for example, back in November, traveling out to Utah, to Salt Lake, and playing with Hex Cougar–that was amazing.
a peek into Salt Lake City:
So I’m definitely looking to expand my audience base, my listeners, and, you know, showing face in more states. That is a huge thing as well.
As for Spoilers for 2022…
I mean, I don’t want to spoil anything, but one of my songs is set to go for release on another label that I insanely admire, and I won’t give it away–but I have performed with the person who owns the label before, in 2021.
So be on the lookout for that.
I also have a collab with a guy who, to keep it vague, has a new persona. Last year, he rebranded and changed his name. So, I’m really excited for that.
And that’s my first big release with my own vocals as well.
So that leads into another thing for plans– expect more of my own vocals on my own tracks. That’s something I’m definitely going to be pushing throughout this year.
Another plan is, and it’s always been a plan, but I feel like now I’m at the point where I can start executing it is, getting on a variety of labels.
So, of course, wanting to release more on Sable Valley, but starting to tap into some wildly different labels, too. Like, you know, wanting to get on Vision Recordings, or Saturate Records, or, you know, maybe like a drum & bass label–like RAM Records or Play Me Records. Maybe also getting into Dead Beats–to really branch out that way, or MonsterCat, or Ophelia, [or others].
But, you know, I feel like I make so much different music and not all of it aligns with Sable Valley, and that’s okay. I don’t want to feel pressured to kind of fit into one genre, you know? I want to keep being free with my ideas and projecting my emotions.
So yeah, super excited to make my way into new labels, new territories, new audiences, and hopefully we can flush that out this year. Or at least, you know, work towards that goal.
I want to put out more music so people that are already fans can have more music to listen to. And I want to attract more people, get the word out there, and show a wider range [and amount] of people who I am and what I can bring to the table…
I’m honestly just most excited to share my music with more people, you know?
At the end of the day, it’s all about sharing: sharing my music, sharing emotions, no matter what. Monetary value, stream numbers, following numbers… All that fails in comparison to what truly matters.
Which is, you know, having people just hear my music and resonate with it.