Awake (feat. JPEGMAFIA)
Don't Call Again (feat. Kari Faux)
“The first EP was like daytime. This one is nighttime,” Tkay Maidza tells Apple Music of Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2. The second part of her EP trilogy arrives two years after the first, and signifies a shift towards darker themes, heavier production, and a more open, honest approach to storytelling and lyrics. The idea for an EP trilogy came after the Zimbabwean Australian artist’s 2016 debut album. “I was confused as to where I wanted to go next; I wasn't ready to do a second album and I was just going through a lot in terms of growing up,” she says. “I believe that by the end of the trilogy, I should understand what I want to do and people should understand that I'm not just going to be doing dance music. The music I'm making now is more like what I listen to. I wanted my perception and the way I feel to match up.” Maidza describes Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 1 as “a reintroduction—a 180 compared to the [earlier] uptempo stuff. I was just delving into how I feel, but I didn't really speak about the demons that I face.” It took her a while not only to come to terms with those thoughts, but to learn to create music from it. “A lot of my music is uplifting; I didn't really speak about living in a world where you can lose everything you have,” she says. “I’d be feeling a certain type of way, and then going into session being like, 'Oh, I'm feeling really happy, let's just make a dance song'— but that's not how I feel.” Vol. 2 marks an impressive, exciting step further for the 23-year-old. Here, Maidza isn’t afraid to talk about life’s grievances, anxieties, and the stuff that just makes her angry. Below, she talks more about each track on the EP.
“The premise of that whole song is me analyzing myself. The intro is 'Why is it hard to lie but easy for me to bite... I am too young to die, I'm feeling too old to cry.' This was one of the tracks that we actually started writing during Vol. 1. I feel the internal conversation I have with myself is always like, what is life? Because it's like, if you think about life from both perspectives or both sides, it just doesn't really make sense. That song is me asking that question, but also coming to the realization that all of these sides that don't make sense are what makes you who you are. And about embracing that.”
“Coming after 'My Flowers,' it's me sitting with that idea of 'I am who I am.' But I almost always feel like people are watching me and judging me and maybe not accepting me in those moments where I'm 100% secure in myself. The inspiration behind that song was me saying people need to mind their business, because when I'm in this space where I'm happy being myself, there's always something trying to crack through that barrier. People just have weird intentions. Now more than ever, I don't feel bad for not engaging with people. I'm definitely a people pleaser, but now it's so important to me to just protect my energy and not engage in those social translations.”
“We were looking at a lot of 2000s hip-hop references, especially Pharrell, and also Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Timbaland—it's just so timeless, it's so immediate, I love the energy. The song itself is about exceeding people's expectations and them not expecting it. As if a lot of time people are coming out of nowhere to put a microscope on you when you don't want one and you're still exceeding their expectations, but they're trying to project their own opinions onto you.”
Awake (feat. JPEGMAFIA)
“It feels like we turned another corner with this song, in terms of reintroducing myself. When we made that song, the perception of how I see myself has manifested itself also into a song, and when we released it I was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy.’ The fact that we have JPEG on it, because he's so dope, but it's like for me to be able to sit in this world that I listened to and be paired up with people I really admire just reinforces that I can do what I put my mind to. I really wanted to include songs like 'Awake' and 'Grasshopper' because a lot of my older stuff is really bright but I feel like the stuff I listen to is more on the dark side. Somehow it usually manifests in a very colorful way, but it was a really good challenge to do these too."
“It's so hectic and in your face. The symbolism in this song is about coming out in the dark, and it's really about coming out into your own. I felt like it was really important to have this on the project—a lot of people would've been like, 'I just thought you were gonna do “Awake” as a one-off,' but I do want to keep pursuing that. What I'm doing now is going to correlate as it goes along; it's not like, 'Oh, I'm gonna just do one house song and disappear.' I'm always going to try and make equivalents on every proeject. It's a bit eclectic, but a bit more focused, because you'll keep finding similar tracks as I keep releasing throughout the years now.”
“With this one and 'PB Jam,' we had just been on this dark wave for so long, we need to lighten it up, have fun, because the truth is I'm not always super angry. I like to have fun and not overthink things sometimes. And it doesn't have to be that deep. So a lot of the melodies were freestyled and we matched the words to the song. It's just about making fun of people who are petty and who try to cover up their emotions but it's just so obvious how they feel about a situation. It could literally be people asking me for favors and they're like, 'Oh, that's totally fine,' but you can tell they're really mad that I didn't come through.”
“I really love that one. The production is my favorite. It just feels and sounds like honey. The story is just me almost wondering what it feels like to feel free, and to just not feel guilty or feel like you're chasing something. I feel like a perfect balance of that is when you have PB and jam, because you literally have the rough and the smooth. I love peanut butter and I love mixing it with some other things, and finding that great balance of the sweet and the salt. And sometimes I like to put it with popcorn and stuff. So when you find that balance, that's what almost nirvana feels like to me. So it's literally like, 'How do I find this place that feels like the food that I love to eat?'”
Don’t Call Again (feat. Kari Faux)
“It was initially about one of those relationships where you realize that the reason you're in it is not benefiting you and you just have to remove yourself. But I could find the parallel in so many other work relationships as well. I think the placing is perfect, because I've started to have this newfound confidence that's almost like a level up from the first EP, and I'm stepping into this new me who's very unapologetic with how I feel and decisions that I make. It's just about realizing that some situations are just not good for me and letting them go, but not being sorry for doing that anymore.”