You know those people who are unbelievably talented for their age? Then on top of that, they’re also super nice so you can’t even get mad at them? Tkay Maidza is one of those people. The Adelaidean creates upbeat club anthems to get you moving, combining rapid-fire rapping with unbelievably catchy hooks and eclectic electronic beats. Her music is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, no matter how hard you try to resist. Not bad for a self-taught 18-year-old who only took up singing 18 months ago, right? Did I mention that she’s also really humble? If you’re not familiar with Tkay Maidza then it’s time to get acquainted.
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Photography by Ryan Cantwell.
Who are you?
I’m Tkay Maidza. I’m a singer, rapper, and vocalist. I work with electronic music, dance music, and hip-hop.
How’s life in Adelaide?
Pretty cold right now!
Your music has a really summery vibe, so the cold must be bringing you down.
It’s all about happy vibes and party vibes. Emo vibes are weird for me.
How’d you get a start in music?
My dad has all of this software at home because he’s in a band and works on his own projects. I was at school and bored of just doing homework all the time, so I opened up his recording software. That’s really how I got started – I used to remix songs and play around with the microphone. Eventually I started writing original songs, and then I started meeting the right people who were good at making beats.
I haven’t really had lessons or anything, except for the piano when I was six. And I still don’t really know how to play that.
How’s the reception to your news single ‘U-Huh’ been?
Better than I expected, really. It’s been a year since [single] ‘Brontosaurus’ came out so I thought it had been a really long time. It’s been really, really awesome though – more than I wanted.
Did you want to take that time between releases to make sure that you got it right?
Yep, after ‘Brontosaurus’ I wasn’t really sure where to go next. I had been working with [producer] Badcop that was the first I’d mixed dance and hip-hop sounds together. After that I started looking for producers and DJs who were similar, and could influence that stuff. I started writing a lot more, and trying to go deeper into that sound.
What kind of stuff were you listening to during that period?
Beats by Cashmere Cat, the whole Mad Decent crew, Skrillex, Angel Haze, Azealia Banks, and Le1f. A whole bunch of rappers like Cakes Da Killa and Zebra Katz, basically that whole crew.
You’ve worked with the Australian faction of Mad Decent, through Swick and Lewis Cancut right? How was that process?
Swick found me on SoundCloud after ‘Brontosaurus’ came out. He was one of the first. He was like “Lets work on something.” We ended up doing ‘Arm Up’ with Lewis Cancut, and since then I’ve worked with him a lot. Swick is someone I work with frequently, and he’s a major part of my project.
So can we expect some more Mad Decent crossover in the future?
Definitely. We have so many songs that we’re working on. Hopeful I’ll have some songs coming with Mad Decent – I’d love to do that.
Your music is hard to pin down to a particular genre., How do you describe your own sound?
I don’t really know what to call it either. I normally call it brat-rap dance music. I don’t think it’s hip-hop – it’s just me doing whatever I want. It’s just Tkay.
Do you think people are less hung up on genre definitions now?
I don’t think anyone cares anymore. If it’s good then it’s good.
There’s a whole new wave of young Australian musicians blowing up right now. Why do you think that is?
I think there’s a whole group of kids coming up with this ‘no boundaries’ kind of vibe, and we’re just doing whatever we want to do. It’s world class as well, and because it’s all on SoundCloud it spreads really quickly. It’s really inspiring, and I think that’s the most important thing.
Do you have any dream collaborations?
I’m really lucky in that I’ve been able to work with pretty much everyone that I have wanted to. I’d love to do something with Christian Rich, or Diplo, but other than that I’m pretty happy with everyone that I’ve worked with!
You were recently on tour with Nina Las Vegas right? How was that?
That was amazing, it was so much fun. I met so many producers, and got to see how they worked which was really cool.
Any stand-out memories?
Playing the first show, it helped me realise that this was more me. Rather than being on a full hip-hop lineup, I need to be in with a mix of genres. I think being in a place where people are very open-minded is where I thrive the most. It’s fun when everyone is just dancing for the fun of it, just because.
When can we expect a full-length album?
Next year is when the album should be out. I just finished up an EP that should be out in the next few months as well.
Do you have any advice to any young musicians looking to break into the industry?
I think when you first start out it’s about being who you are, and not being told what to do. Be confident in yourself, and your choices. That’s the most important thing.