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Team Maverick 

Edwina Maben: Self-Image in the Music Industry


Ladies & Gentleman HER... Sensational singer-songwriter Edwina Maben shares her journey in navigating mental wellness, identity and self image in the music industry. She was selected as one of the top 5 finalists from 9,000+ songwriters by Grammy-winning producer RedOne for Guitar Center’s 2017 national songwriting contest. Edwina is also board member for Music Minds Matter, a non-profit that creates space for conversations on mental health for members of the Denver music scene.



M SOUND:

So you've worked with Youth on Records female powered program, which empowers creative young women, what piece of advice would you give to young female creatives who are trying to navigate through what can feel like a male dominated world?


E.M:

In the opportunities I've had were I've been lucky enough to work with young people. I've always tried to just reinforce how important it is to honour your curiosities. As intimidating as they can feel, I just have so clearly in my own life seen it lead to, a better understanding of what I want or a better understanding of who I am as a person and if you are brave enough to pursue those curiosities, you will be rewarded in those ways no matter what.


M SOUND:

I completely agree. Have you felt the weight of that in your experience, feeling like there are more men in the room sometimes, have you felt that at any point?


E.M:

Yes. I am still feeling that at times however, I think as I've gotten older, I've been trying to be more intentional with that awareness because it has also been the perfect environment to create feelings of imposter syndrome, if I'm not careful with it. I'm trying to use that awareness to fuel me instead of maybe make me a little bit too hyper aware and too anxious.



"I've always imagined songs as like little containers for different feelings, it won't make all feelings go away ever, but it definitely can make them feel less heavy when you're, storing them in that hypothetical container."


M SOUND:

I hear you! As a woman of colour in the industry, do you feel like there are limited opportunities for us or do you feel like the scope of that is changing ?


E.M:

I feel like there is a general shift in the collective consciousness but I don't always know if I feel it in action and so it almost kind of feels like it's something in the distance coming towards us. It's like a feeling of anticipation, that is the only way I can explain how it feels to me.


M SOUND:

Do you feel like the market is more accepting now of all kinds of music and and all kinds of artists and it doesn't really matter where you come from or what you look like?


E.M:

I think it's heavily dependent on who you're working with and what types of projects you're working on as well. I think I've been lucky enough in the last one or two years, to really find people who are aware of that message enough to create inclusive spaces and create spaces that feel safe. So I naturally gravitate to wanting to work with them but at the same time, I still hear stories and experiences from friends and colleagues who still feel that way of "I'm trying so hard to fit in here." That struggle continues on.


M SOUND:

So you're also a board member of Music Minds Matter which is so awesome, by the way. How important would you say music is to mental wellness and how has that impacted your day to day life?


E.M:

I think they walk hand-in-hand about music. The cool thing about Music Minds Matter, is that our main goal is to really check in with the person, right? To actually check in as individuals, there's so much that happens in the creative world and to actually pause and check in has been so valuable. As for me, I think music has been sort of this perfect tool to actually express whatever is going on. I've always imagined songs as little containers for different feelings, it won't make all feelings go away ever, but it definitely can make them feel less heavy when you're, storing them in that hypothetical container.


"If I was dropping a single every month, maybe my numbers would go up but would I feel emotionally and creatively sustained."

M SOUND:

In the entertainment industry, there can often be the idea of you got to keep hustling and you got to hit the next milestone and you got to get the next job. Have you felt that pressure of, I have to move on to the next thing and how have you dealt with that?


E.M:

Especially in the last three years where singles have become more and more prevalent in how we use music. I feel that very heavily and I think the only way that I have found that feels like a healthy way to protest that is for me to actually PAUSE and see what I want to do, what really matters to me? If I was dropping a single every month, maybe my numbers would go up but would I feel emotionally and creatively sustained. So I think my greatest form of self-care, in the midst of those feelings has always been support.


M SOUND:

I totally resonate with that, so if you could time travel back to Edwina before she was releasing her first single, what advice would you give to her?


E.M:

I would say I really wish she kind of just paused for a couple minutes, instead of thinking I have to post to Instagram stories, I have to post to Facebook, I have to write. It's such an automatic thing for when the song drops to just be like, okay, here's my checklist. I really do wish I took just a couple of minutes to acknowledge the completion of a creative idea.


M SOUND:

As an artist, what would you say your relationship is with social media?


E.M:

I feel very lucky in the sense that I've had two mentors, who are in the creative world who have really taken a stand against social media and actually gotten off it completely and are still incredibly successful. So I feel very lucky to be able to witness those two individuals. At the same time, though, I do still feel that pressure. Again, the most powerful tool I have found for when I feel confused about it, is to step away and have my own thinking process without numbers and lights in my face that influence my thinking.


M SOUND:

What would be your dream team for creating an album or a single?


E.M:

I love Sara Aarons, she's a songwriter. There's another songwriter named Julia Michaels, who I really love. They were on this show called "And The Writer Is" it's a podcast. After I listened to both their episodes, I just completely internet stalked them and read every interview, every video they were on. One of the reasons I would want them on, my dream team is just to talk to them. I think that would be such a dream for me.



"The best tip I've ever gotten was to change the self-talk in your head."


M SOUND:

Great choices! You performed live with Ted X Mile High and Nine News, do you have any tips for artists who are facing those pre-show jitters?


E.M:

The best tip I've ever gotten was to change the self-talk in your head. Instead of "Oh, my gosh, I'm so nervous, there's 500 people in front of me. I hope I don't mess up" change it to "Oh, my gosh. I get to share what I imagined in front of 500 people who came to see me, who came to this event." I think it's way easier said than done but the times that I've been successful with it, has made so much of a difference.


M SOUND:

I'm totally trying that, it's the affirmation, isn't it. Visualising and affirming the positive and then it's more likely to happen because you're putting it out there. Which artist is a must have on your playlist right now?


E.M:

I've been listening to a lot of Phoebe Bridgers. The last two months, I've just had a lot of her on. I also have a lot of SZA on my playlists right now and Victoria Monet too, is someone I've been listening to a lot.


M SOUND:

Those are amazing choices again :D What would you say are three things that every artist needs before their first music release?


E.M:

That's a good question, I would say some form of a plan. Artwork they really like and feel connected to and some way to celebrate themselves after.


"I wanted to use the video as an opportunity to create art out of these scars that I've been kind of hiding or labelling as unattractive for so long."

M SOUND:

A lot of artists forget about celebrating themselves and the fact that they actually released something because it takes a lot to do that! If you could change one thing or a few things about the music industry, what would those things be?


E.M:

This is a very broad way to look at it, but there are moments where I do wish the music industry was more about music and maybe creative experimentation and expression instead of the capitalistic lens but long answer short, I wish it was more about the music sometimes.


M SOUND:

I agree with you on that. Have you ever felt like you've conflicted your creativeness in the vision of someone else, or do you feel like you've managed to stay true to your creative vision?


E.M:

I think because I've been independent the whole time that I've been creating music, I have had that freedom. It feels like a gift sometimes, in that I'm not actually telling people I'm going to be doing X, Y or Z, and I have that freedom to change it if I want it. So in that way I do feel lucky. It is a lot more work sometimes and maybe a lot more internal pressure for myself. In terms of projects I've done, every single project I've done my best, and that makes me very proud of it at the same time.


M SOUND:

As you should be, because your projects are great! Speaking of projects, what are you working on or do you have any projects that you have lined up?


E.M:

I released a single called "Go Tell Yesterday" in March of this year, and I'm going to be releasing the acoustic version with a video and in the video, I'm going to be highlighting a lot of scars that are on my body. I have a couple of autoimmune conditions that have definitely distorted the way I see myself and because "Go Tell Yesterday" is so much about, letting go what has previously held you back. I wanted to use the video as an opportunity to create art out of these scars, that I've been hiding or labelling as unattractive for so long. To be able to use art as that tool and again, like a form of therapy, to have an artistic view on this. That is hopefully going to be dropping within the next couple of months.


M SOUND:

I'm so excited for that! What would you say is a quote or a song lyric that you live your life by?


E.M:

I would say just in general, the song "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell. I just love that song so much because Joni Mitchell is the songwriter, and it's just her sharing, all these profound observations she has and then at the end of each chorus, she's like "I really don't know nothing about it." I love that ability to be gathering information, gathering these experiences, and still having that humbleness to be like, I still have a lot to learn. I still have a lot to experience.


You can connect with Edwina Maben on:


Instagram

Twitter

Youtube