Maia Zoe proves all the coolest girls are born in NYC
Maia Zoe’s Instagram name pretty much says it all. This @localcoolgirl is balancing her job in fashion with making music, going to school and playing shows all while making it look effortlessly… well, cool.
Right before her Saturday night show in the LES, I caught up with Maia to talk about her dream collaborations, working with friends and where to find the best vintage fashion in NYC.
Feel free to just play this song on repeat while you’re reading and check out the rest of her music here!
Being @localcoolgirl, what are your favorite NYC spots?
I love eating at Miss Lily’s on West Houston, Jacob’s Soul Food in Harlem and a few secret spots in Chinatown. I shop at The Break in Greenpoint and the rest of my clothes either come from the consignment store I work at or from the internet.
Your dad was a DJ in the 90’s and your mom works in film. How do you think that has effected your creative process?
My parents taught me at an early age to use art to express myself. I began playing violin in kindergarten when I still lived in Baltimore and once I moved to New York in 2005 I continued at Third Street Music School. Once I got to middle school I stopped taking violin and took up dark room photography at ICP. In high school I began to write my own music and joined school band while also putting out music independently.
How did growing up in New York influence your style?
I had the privilege of living in neighborhoods with vivid culture and pride that many neighborhoods don’t have anymore. Alphabet City, Harlem and Bed-Stuy all helped to influence and shape my style. After school I would go to my bodega, buy a Ting and meet up with my friends to thrift. From an early age I learned how to revitalize vintage pieces from the neighborhoods I lived in and give them new purposes. I was taught to push boundaries and be fearless in my communities, which has influenced the way I dress now.
Who are some musicians who have really influenced your sound?
I grew up listening to 90’s and 2000’s pop and R&B like Mariah Carey, Jill Scott, Aaliyah, Britney Spears, Sade, Destiny’s Child, Fiona Apple and others.
What was it like playing your first live show? Does it get any easier?
The first show where I played my own original music was in Hamburg, Germany. My high school’s music program Subway Moon took a group of us to do a series of performances abroad. It definitely got easier overtime but I knew from that first performance that I wanted to make music and perform professionally.
What is it like to collaborate with your friends?
I love collaborating with my friends, especially with my friend Ellie Cope who has inspired me to be a more confident woman in a male dominated music scene. I also have began learning how to produce my own beats using computer software from my downstairs neighbor and good friend Tabby Wakes. The most organic, best songs I have come from working with the people I feel most comfortable around.
What would be your dream collaboration?
I’d love to work with CARDI B and Kelela, they are two of my favorite artists right now and are helping to defy the standards of the music industry.
Is it hard booking shows and putting out music on your own? Does social media help with this? Or is it just random people sliding into your DMs for no reason
There’s always random people sliding into my DMs for no reason, but social media definitely has helped me book shows. Booking shows started out being difficult but over time it’s actually gotten way easier. The hard work I put in is definitely paying off and I’m super grateful to have friends that throw shows for me.
For someone who hasn’t heard your music yet, how would you describe your sound?
My sound is alternative R&B mixed with pop.
In addition to music, you also work as a buyer at Crossroads. What are some of the best pieces you’e come across?
The best pieces I’ve come across are my Celine pants that look like they’re Tripp NYC, and my floral Gucci off the shoulder dress.
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What’s your daily makeup and skincare routine?
I use Neutrogena face wash and Olay lotion every morning and night. I use Too Faced “Born This Way” foundation and Dark Chocolate Soleil Bronzer, Dior Mascara, and Becca Highlighter.
When things get overwhelming with school, work, and music, how do you stay focused and find balance?
I just keep going because no one will do it if I don’t. I’m also lucky enough to have a supportive mother and boyfriend who help me stay focused on everything I do.
Photos by Madeline Macartney