In May, Tkay Maidza released the video for her song “Shook.” It pans over a cliff in Australia, into an abandoned junk yard, as Tkay Maidza emerges from a car and WRECKS SH*T. Part Missy, part Beyonce, part Mad Max, it put Tkay on our radar and we have been playing her since. We reached her at 7 p.m. our time, but 9 a.m. the next day in Australia. Tkay had already been to the gym and back and run some errands. Is there anything she can’t do?
Your album title is so funny. You had the title [“Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2”] and then everything happened. It was like some kind of prophecy.
I thought of the title a couple of years ago, and even then, you’re always going to refer to the previous year as weird. As you get older, you’re like, damn, last year was weird. But then this year, I’ve been like, no, this year is the craziest. You’ve got it so spot on. This year was trash, just gone crazy. It’s so relevant now. It’s so interesting sticking to one thing for a long time, the meaning changes. As you push it more, people are like, I relate to this, and it doesn’t even have to be about my music. Just the word in a sentence, it just means what it means.
I remember the first year where Twitter was like, oh, this year sucks. Then the next year I was like, wait, we all said this last year.
“Last Year Was Weird” is the best way to say it. It’s so funny, because when we thought of “Last Year Was Weird” I wondered if anyone else had thought of this as a title. I saw that Nick Jonas had an album called “Last Year Was Complicated,” and I was like, he just missed it.
“Weird” is so much better because “weird” is kind of funny. “Complicated” is so dramatic.
It’s like, oh, you thought that one through. [Laughs] “Weird” is just so internet, it’s what you say when you don’t really know what to say about anything. It’s such a throwaway word that means everything and nothing at the same time.
I feel like you really understand the internet.
I kind of grew up on the internet. I’m not really a big e-kid, but I was there from MySpace, early days of Facebook and then Instagram. I was one of those kids who would be up past midnight wandering through Miniclip Reddit, 4chan and all of those, MSN and stuff. I wasn’t the extreme, but I was seeing everything enough to be like, OK, cool I totally get this. I can express myself the same way a lot of e-kids do but I don’t know every emoji and all of those shortcuts that other kids do sometimes.
“You Sad” could be prime for TikTok.
That would be great. If TikTok takes any of my songs I’m happy with that. Ascend me, please.
Let’s talk about JPEGMAFIA and Kari Faux. Those are two huge gets on the EP. How did you go about getting both of those?
I spend a lot of time in L.A., and JPEG, we have a lot of mutual friends. We hang out in similar circles. When I go to L.A. I feel like an outsider because I don’t live there and I don’t know everyone, but I have the people I work with within those circles. It was easy to just ask him and be like, hey, we have this song that goes off. Here’s a video of Tkay climbing a wall and crowd surfing at a show in Australia, do you want to be on it? He said he was down, and this was before he dropped his mixtape “All My Heroes Are Cornballs.” It was just before that, so it felt like we got him at a really good time. He loves music, it seems like he’s down to work if he thinks it’s dope. It was one of those situations where he was just down for it.
You’re asking, and he is saying yes if he thinks it’s really good. I’d believe in his taste. He is a capital “A” Artist, he doesn’t mess around with stuff that is not art. I would be so terrified.
When I’m around Kari and JPEG, even Duckworth and that, I’m always like, wait, is what I’ve said even a sentence? I’m so confused and I wonder if they’re hearing me. Like you said, they’re so intelligent and even if they’re not thinking about things they’re well thought out. They really stand for what they believe in, and they’re pure in their energy. The fact that he was just down to do it meant that he actually liked it. He’s not going to do things for money or clout or anything. First and foremost it’s whether he likes it or not. Kari’s the same. We were following each other for a while and we had seen each other around. I thought maybe I should just DM her and see if she wants to be on the song. When I’m thinking about collaborations, I’m thinking about who I actually want to be on the song. It could be cool to be like, let’s try to get Kali Uchis or something, but you have to be realistic and think, what does the story tell. You could think, let’s get Summer Walker or something, but it doesn’t always make sense. You’re just like, who is someone that’s close to me in terms of realistic goals and someone who tells a story. You could tell they would stand for it and be proud to be a part of it. I thought Kari would fit that role if she wanted to do it. She doesn’t seem like someone who does anything for the sake of it. She was down to do it, and it was really quick as well. Painless. It was lovely.
What is the last song that you couldn’t stop listening to?
I’ve been listening to “Lemonade” by Don Toliver, Gunna and Internet Money. They’re a group, and they made this song called “Lemonade.” I think it came out a week and a half ago.
I don’t know this song.
It’s so good. If you like Roddy Ricch, “The Box,” to me it’s almost like the next one in that vein. When I heard it, I literally played it eight times in a row, and I don’t play songs eight times in a row. I’ll be like, yeah, this is nice, and I’ll come back to it. This is one of those songs where I couldn’t get enough of the first 30 seconds of the song, I needed to keep replaying it. The hook is so catchy and the melodies are spot on. There’s also a sense of freedom and you can tell that they would have freestyled and been like, this sounds cool, this works. It’s really good vibes.
That video for “Shook” is wild. What was the vision here? Were you like, I want to do a bunch of crazy s***?
I was thinking of the EP because the project is very varied, musically. I was like, “OK, let’s try to pair this together somehow visually, or find a common thread.” I thought, what if the project was coming through a radio station? The idea was that I was propelled into the future and woke up in the desert and I found a radio. In the video I’m twisting through the car radio trying to find the signal, and the sounds that play when you’re shifting through are in a lot of the songs as well, when it goes very static. That was the idea. I shift through the radio, “Shook” starts, and then it’s just a dance clip in the desert in a car yard.
In that situation, it was like when someone says, “What’s your biggest dream?” I was like, car yard. I want a car, I want a drone, I want this and that, we’re doing it. And then it actually happened.
At the end there’s a bonfire as well because I was like, “What if we had fire in the video?” And they’re just like, OK. I literally just kept throwing things and they were like, cool, I think we can make this happen. And it did.
What is next? Is there going to be a “Last Year Was Especially Weird” in 2021?
Yes, there’s going to be a number three. We’re working on the first single, which will be out this year. It’s pretty much done, we’re just looking around for features and shopping around for treatments and stuff. That’s been a bit difficult with COVID. I’m in Adelaide and there’s not really anyone here, so you have to find remote directors, etc. but it’s exciting. We have all the time right now and everything’s going well so I’m really excited.
We’re having an election in two months, and I think that you have an interesting perspective on it, not being here. We’re trying to get people to vote because voting is incredibly important and somehow people manage to not do it all the time. What is your perspective on the election?
Honestly, it seems like there are so many sectors to American politics that I’m not aware of. Especially with the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s brought a lot of stuff forward, but I still feel like there are so many layers to it that I personally can’t understand. I just understand that Trump shouldn’t be the president. Either way, whoever wins, it’s going to be bad for another 50% of America, so what are the priorities? As long as it’s not Trump, then it might be a bit of a step forward, because obviously he invests in the evil side of a lot of America with gun laws and war, military. Everything that’s ugly about humanity, really. I read this weird conspiracy that was saying that he is a part of some cult that’s trying to accelerate doomsday. I was like, makes sense. I feel like anything that’s not Trump will be great, but at the same time it’s hard to say because it seems like whoever wins, the other side of America is not going to be happy.
I talked to someone else from Australia and they were like, “We should get to vote in your election.” They were like, the U.S. affects our lives, too. They’re kind of right.
America definitely affects the rest of the world, really. There are three or four big countries in the world, and the decisions that they make really affect everyone else. I don’t know, it would be cool if the whole world could vote, but at the same time… ugh. It’s too hard.
Australia is pretty conservative as well, so I feel like most of Australia might vote for the conservative side of America, which is not the great side. Why would you want that?
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