Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Music scene: Maya

East meets west

GORGEOUS. Maya pours her heart out on the dancefloor.

Anyone who’s been out dancing in the last two years will have heard her sultry voice pouring from the speakers accompanied most often by the mixes of DJs Offer Nissim or Peter Rauhofer. Israeli-born Maya (née Simantov, not to be confused with Mya of “Ghetto Superstar” and “Lady Marmalade” fame) has been making some heavy duty waves. One of the exciting rhythms that have been exerting a strong influence in the resurgence of house music has been the exotic sounds of the East, and Israel has been factoring heavily into that, first with the DJ duo Deep Dish and now Nissim and his muse Maya.

Making the cross from halfway around the world is never easy and North America is a notoriously difficult market to break into. “Breaking that language barrier into the international scene was almost an impossible dream to me,” says Maya. “I always wanted to have the chance to record in English, but doing anything outside of Israel didn’t seem realistic. Still, our music has touched people outside of my country and I am so happy it gives us Israeli musicians an open door to showcase our music and talents.”

Since the age of 13 Maya wanted to be a singer, listening to Israe_li-born Ofra Haza and idolizing Elvis Presley. “Years later I fell in love with Mariah Carey’s beautiful voice. Having Middle Eastern roots also exposed me a lot to Arabic music throughout my childhood, so I find myself naturally combining these influences.”

A chance meeting at a friend’s studio brought Maya together with Canadian-based producer Yinon Yahel, who in turn introduced her to Nissim. The creative chemistry that developed among the trio really launched them onto the global stage and once Rauhofer caught wind of them the mix was complete, east met west in a collaboration that’s still electrifying the clubs.

The sudden rise to fame still surprises Maya, but she is thrilled at meeting her fans, especially the many gay guys who’ve crowned her one of the new reigning divas of the dancefloor. “What can I say? It is a big honour. Everything I have ever written came straight from my heart and from true pain or joy. Knowing that it touches people’s hearts and that they feel the same feelings with me, is like a whole big therapy session…. It cleans your soul to pour your heart out and know so many people have been there, too, and identify – especially the gay guys who are so expressive with how they feel and are so dedicated to music. That is just beautiful to me.”

Writing and composing all her tracks, Maya is very involved in all her remixes. “I have a clear vision of what I want to hear. Luckily Offer and Peter are such big talents they always invent a new sound and atmosphere to the songs. With Offer I get to hear each production every step of the way. Then I get to hear Peter’s remixes and his interpretation is so different, it brings liveliness to the songs all over again.”

While touring the international club circuit, Maya along with Nissim and Yahel, are putting the final touches on a new CD, due out in the next few months. “Get ready, as I am sure this album will blow your mind.”

Expect to hear Maya perform her huge club hits “Perfect Love” and “Be My Boyfriend” as she makes her first Toronto appearance at the Docks for Gairy Brown’s much anticipated end of summer party Gorgeous in Eden.