Now almost ten years later, Maita-Keppeler, joined by guitarist/producer Matthew Zeltzer, bassist Nevada Sowle, and multi-instrumentalist Cooper Trail, communicates that experience artistically through “Loneliness,” the first track on MAITA’s new album, I Just Want To Be Wild For You, out Feb. 18, 2022 via Kill Rock Stars.
“I missed that rapport that I had with my loneliness, with myself, that intensity that exists when you're alone,” Maita-Keppeler said of her inspiration for the song.
MAITA plays the Hi-Dive in Denver this Friday, March 4. Get tickets here.
She speaks of her loneliness as if it is a physical being whom she spent time with, who shared her space and her bed. “We were always so close, a house and her ghost,” she sings, as she wonders “where are you now?” This ghost is brought to life in the video for the song with a stroke of genius: it's embodied physically by an elaborately costumed creature, who accompanies her through a romantic evening.
Did the COVID-19 pandemic reactivate the feelings of loneliness for you which you felt in Japan?
We were really lucky with this record, we were able to record it right before the shutdown. But what I will say is, that since that time, I haven't found myself in a situation where I've been that degree of lonely. And COVID was actually really hard for me for the opposite reason: which is that I require a lot of privacy to create. I'm an introvert and I love people, but I need the space to be alone, and to be independent and free to do whatever I want. So COVID was hard because everyone was home, and I have roommates and it was difficult to get any alone time because we were all home all the time, which was the nature of lockdown.
And the only thing I will say about COVID which was cool, was that, because everything was the same day after day, it really gave my memories some potency. And while I didn't write this record specifically during COVID, I got a lot of writing during COVID from other past memories, some of them from years ago.
What I love about songwriting in general, is that for me, my songs never really cease to be. So far, anyways, they have never ceased to be important to me in some way. I really like honoring a feeling that you have, even if it's for a very brief moment. And I do find that if there is any kind of emotional honesty within a song, it's like the song carries that that intensity, which can then be used for different feelings that you're experiencing at different points in your life. The depth of emotion is still there, even though it might not apply to exactly the same thing. And I find this with a lot of my songs, where they might not be about the same thing that I was experiencing them, but I am relating to them in new ways. I think loneliness still does [feel the same]. I still do very much miss that feeling of being alone, I do find myself feeling pretty similarly about that. COVID just kind of intensified that feeling for me. So the song is just as important as ever to me.
My loose idea was I wanted a video of me interacting with something that is the entity of loneliness. Then I teamed up with a videographer that we've worked with before, Josh Rivera, and I just told him my loose idea. And then he came up with the entire story, the actual storyboard and shaped the whole thing. My songs are all my vision, and I love being able to just let other people do what they do best and work with their own vision.
And we've collaborated with Clifton Chandler on another music video, and he had made preachers and puppets in this other video. And I was like, oh, you know, who would be just like slam dunk perfect for this? Clifton. He thinks a lot about symbolism in the costume and so he used a lot of rope-like textures, like the thing of loneliness is this kind of binding or almost strangling sort of thing. So then we came together to do the video, and it was everyone's first time seeing the costume and then seeing what the videographer wanted to do. It was really cool to see a lot of creative people just come together and do what they do.
It's a little mellower than most of the album. It… was really an important song to us… despite the fact that it had some restraints to it. And we realized that there was a lot of power in writing a song that was quieter and calmer and that you could still get to an emotional intensity from that route as well. So it kicks off the album, because we just love the idea of starting a record with a really strong but soft song. Kind of easing the listener in to the rest of the album. The album just has a lot of different levels in terms of intensity, but loneliness is one of the softer ones.
What are you excited about with this tour in 2022?
I think that it's been fun… Because we spent so much time in Portland and in the Pacific Northwest these last two years, I think we just all love being in a completely different environment, and seeing and eating and experiencing things that we just don't get at home, and meeting people that live in entirely different places than us. That's the best part of touring.
There's some anxiety to you know, it's hard to be on the road. After two years, we're a little bit out of practice, in some ways. You have to remember how to how to make sure that you get everything that you need in terms of self-care and keeping yourself healthy, both physically and mentally. And that takes a little bit of practice. But it’s all about learning how to advocate for yourself and communicate really well. And I feel really fortunate. The band's dynamic has been really great, we've had a lot of fun together, and it's felt very social. It's very easy to fly back into that.