Maya Jane Coles never intended to be a DJ, let alone one of the most exciting new names in house music when she first started producing hip-hop in her bedroom aged 15. By her own admission, the 24-year-old Londoner despised house music. “I was quite anti house because the only stuff that I heard was really cheesy vocal stuff on the radio,” she says. “I hated it. I used to think, ‘Who listens to that?’” That was set to change as Maya discovered more underground house and techno music, whilst partying to the likes of Steve Bug and Anja Schenider in and around East London. Aged 17; Maya bought herself some 1210s and started learning to mix vinyl and play out.
“I wasn't old enough to be in a club. But it’s more exciting when you’re that age, isn’t it, because it’s forbidden. I was totally hooked. Instantly, I knew I wanted to create my own take on it.”
Fast forward seven years and Coles has become house music’s hottest new property. Listening to her forthcoming ‘DJ-Kicks’ mix, it’s not hard to see why.
“I wanted this mix to showcase my diversity,” says Coles. “I don’t just do one thing and I wanted it to reflect that. Most of the mixes I’ve put out there so far have been house based, but I also produce stuff under the Nocturnal Sunshine moniker, which is more two-step/bass influenced stuff. This mix evolved into something that wasn’t just four-to-the-floor.
“The Nocturnal Sunshine track is something I started about three years ago. I never managed to finish it. I kept going back to it, but it was never quite right. I came back to it again, totally stripped it back and redid it and it came out really well. It’s not normally something I would do. Normally, if I can’t finish something I scrap it. The tracks I’m happiest with are normally the ones that come naturally and quite instantly. When I spend too much time working on something it can lose that specialness. If it’s too much effort then it doesn’t feel right. But in this instance it just had something that I really liked. I’m really glad I came back to it.”
This mix is so skillfully put together, it’s hard to believe Coles was ever ambivalent about DJing. “I got into production before DJing,” she reasons. “I only started DJing regularly fairly recently. When I first started making music I didn’t have turntables. It was a couple years later when I got into club music that I learnt to mix and had my first DJ gig, but for a long time I focused more on the studio/production side of things rather than playing out. It wasn’t until people started recognising my music on a larger scale that there was a demand and I began DJing more. But the more I did it the more I grew to love it. Now I wouldn’t be able to give one up for the other. The more you DJ the better you get at it and just like anything else it's an on going process till you stop. The understanding of how to work a crowd and create moments on a dance floor is something you could never learn from mixing in your bedroom. You kind of just have to get thrown in to the deep end and learn first hand.”
And she’s not about to stop evolving any time soon. “My album, which I’m working on at the moment, has moved completely away from house music,” she says. “I suppose, in a way, this mix is preparing people for what they are going to hear next from me. My music will continue to get more diverse. There are a lot of vocals on the mix. I really enjoy working with vocalists and people might be surprised that 90% of my album is vocals tracks. I find it more interesting when there’s lots of different things going on.”
Maya Jane Coles ‘DJ-Kicks’ is released April 17th through !K7 Records.