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Live Review: Maya finds meaning, light and positivity amidst the 'Blackout'

30 May 2018 | 4:02 pm | Kyle Fensom

On 'Blackout', Maya embraces blacking out as the emotionally messy subject matter that it is by exploring small memories and moments of time lost forever

The sensation of blacking out is a universally familiar one, in both large and small doses: Entire nights can recede into an intoxicated stupor, the sting of a painful memory or past trauma can be dulled with repression, or our memories can evaporate in smaller, less tangible moments that slip away in the fugue of the everyday. Blacking out can be in equal parts healthy or unhealthy, meaningful or hollow, necessary and purposeful or inessential and aimless. On her new single, ‘Blackout’, Melbourne neo-soul artist MAYA’s honest embrace of the subject matter as the emotionally messy, multifaceted concept that it is is a refreshing pivot away from the hedonism-soaked understanding of ‘blacking out’ usually promulgated by pop music.

In Maya’s hands, ‘Blackout’ primarily trades in these smaller moments of blacking out - or, more specifically, a lifetime’s worth of memories forever lost in time. Of her personal history behind the concept, Maya says, “‘Blackout’ means so much to me lyrically and I feel like the production is the next step sound that really represents my aesthetic… Most people have ‘blacked out’ before, whether it’s been when they drink, if they black out a bad memory, or if they just forget certain things. This song takes you through my perspective and how I felt when it happened to me - it was inspired by so many moments of blackout in myself that I still fight everyday.”

Maya’s passionate, lilting vocals soar as she details the disconcerting contours of the negative imprint left from her lost memories (“Wake me up from this blackout / Afraid of who I became now / A person I don’t even know how / I’m screaming out, blackout, blackout”). Contrasting against the uplifting instrumentation, which is driven by an emotionally urgent rhythm section and sumptuous backing harmonies, ‘Blackout’ implores you to pay closer attention to what’s going on beneath the surface.

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The visual companion, directed by Grace Moore, captures the duality of Maya’s experience by playing with dramatic, contrasting lighting and juxtaposing settings as the video delves into Maya’s emotional imagination as she tries to navigate her own personal blackout. This emotional space is given some shape and context from some non-linear framing devices, showing Maya firstly waking up from last night’s blackout before revealing at the end a staticky, lo-fi recording of the night before - Maya, ironically enough, performing the track live.

Of the video’s depiction of the concept behind the song, Maya explains that “The ‘Blackout’ video shows a cross between the dark reality and positive space. It captures a representation of the dark energies that are felt in these fragile times, juxtaposed with a bright, welcoming space that leads to happiness. The video, set the morning after the night before, features the Blackout Girls chasing me out of my dark memories until finally I arrive at a space where there is no black. There I’m free from the watchful eyes of the blackout, and surrounded by positivity and light.”

IMAGE: Supplied