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"MUSIC | Stocking stuffers from Junkyard Empire, Soulacious, and Mayda"

"Mayda’s EP Stereotype flat-out kills with singing and songwriting that fire up a storm. She brings it from the gut, at times raw as a bad luck, at times smooth as a free ride. Always heartfelt, always dead-on. Soulfully serious. Ask anyone who caught her at what became this year’s legendary She Rock Festival at Pi Bar (Minneapolis). From the song “Stereotype”: “It only takes one look to start shaping your head / It only takes one crook to start sleeping with a bat in your bed / It only takes one brick to start building those walls / and it only takes one hit to make them all fall / I wanna break your stereo / I wanna break your stereotype / I wanna break your stereo / I wanna break your stereotype.” Courtesy of killer producer Michael Bland, the recording’s got the James-Brown-cum-Prince groove nailed to the board. December 13, 5 p.m., Mayda is at First Avenue, corner of First Ave. & 7th St. in downtown Minneapolis on a bill with Heiruspecs."

-Dwight Hobbes 12/10/2008 - TC Daily Planet

"Small size, Big voice"

"If you're a songwriter, being a Korean adoptee, a woman and only four-feet-ten inches tall gives you a lot to talk about. St. Paul musician Mayda's big sound belies her diminutive size.
St. Paul, Minn. — In a crowd, it's easy to overlook Mayda. But on stage, it is hard not to notice her."

-Chris Roberts, MN Public Radio 12/14/2007 - 89.3 The Current

"Music: Meet Mayda: 4-foot-10 & all original"

Almost every artist will tell you they don't want to be pigeonholed or crammed into one neat little category. When Mayda says it, though, it sounds like an attribute inherently built into her personality.

"My whole life, I've never really felt like I fit in anywhere," said the St. Paul singer/guitarist, 25. "It's pretty natural for my music to come off that way, too."

Hardly your typical musician with an identity crisis, Mayda (last name: Miller) is a 4-foot-10 native of Korea who was adopted by a white St. Paul couple before her first birthday.

Talking last week at Ginkgo Coffeehouse -- after she got off work from another coffee shop -- Mayda said she had a "totally normal" childhood. Her only complaint about her Minnesotan mom and dad came when she good-naturedly imitated their reaction to her gig schedule (in full MN accent: "Oh, that's so late").

But she can't help but wonder about the mysteries in her DNA, from her wee-sized stature to what she says is an incessant need to make music.

"Everyone seems to get a slice/ I'm still looking for who ate mine," she sings in "Dirty Pie Crew," one of several tracks on her new CD that ponder her mixed heritage (the "dirty pie"). "Mama's little baby likes shortening/ But momma's little baby wasn't born and bred."

Fortunately, Mayda doesn't worry about fitting into any musical category on the new album, "The Interrogation" (Afternoon Records), which she's promoting with a release party Saturday at the Triple Rock, headlined by her former Central High schoolmates Heiruspecs.

"They were the cool seniors when I was a freshman," she noted.

The full-length follow-up to last year's debut, "Stereotype EP," "The Interrogation" offers a high-energy mix of sneering rock, M.I.A.-like dance rap and Prince-style funk 'n' grind. The last bit comes off especially well thanks to the CD's producer and her main musical mentor, Michael Bland. The former Prince and current Soul Asylum drummer enlisted an MVP crew to play on the disc's 10 tracks, including fellow ex-Purple One sidemen Tommy Barbarella and Sonny Thompson, bassist Yohannes Tona and guitarist Jacob Hanson.

"What I like about Mayda is she's open-minded," Bland said. "A lot of young artists I've worked with suffer from 'demo love' and won't allow you to experiment or augment their vision. Mayda knows what she wants to hear, but isn't closed off to new information."

Mayda is certainly still young, but she is not inexperienced. Her mom pushed her to study piano throughout her childhood. ("She has lots of photos of me playing recitals in hideous dresses," Mayda said, laughing.) She then formed the teen-pop group the Sugar Divas while still in junior high school, an all-girl quintet that earned decent TV exposure and gigs ranging from Grand Old Day to opening slots for touring bands.

"I'm actually really proud of the Sugar Divas," she said. "We were doing what we wanted to do, something creative, at a very young age, and we had a lot of fun doing it. It was a great excuse to get together and eat a lot of Davanni's."

The Divas had to call it quits once the members all went off to college. Mayda earned a communications degree from the University of Minnesota, but by the time she graduated she knew what she really wanted to do.

"I had been writing a lot, and I never really seemed to lose the urge to play music," she recalled.

After some of her home recordings got into the hands of Bland, the seemingly unlikely pair -- total opposites in physique, at least -- started hammering out tracks together two years ago. Bland will also be in her band Saturday at the Triple Rock.

"Michael has definitely helped shape my sound and taught me a lot," she said, "but he also lets me be who I want to be."

Another learning experience for Mayda was a 2007 solo tour of Korea, where the response was reportedly quite ecstatic. She has not had any contact with her birth parents over there but thinks "it would be fascinating." Regardless, she said of being in Korea, "It felt like finding a piece of the puzzle."

However her pieces come together, Mayda is at least a perfect fit for the Twin Cities music scene.

Three more CD parties
1. After two ambitious full-length albums, the Honeydogs return with a shorter and more freewheeling six-song collection, "Sunshine Committee," which they're issuing with a release party tonight at First Ave with the Hopefuls and Caroline Smith & the Goodnight Sleeps (9 p.m., $10-$12). Aside from a little extra dosage of horns -- deftly played by Matt Darling and Stephen Kung -- the tunes sound like classic jangly, power-poppy, song-driven Honeydogs. I'd even rank the title track and "Good Fight" as two of Adam Levy's all-time highs as a songwriter.

2. His Mischief makes good on its buzz with a snarling, sparks-filled debut album, "The Perfect Lover," which it's touting tonight at the Turf Club (10 p.m., $7). Led by former Effervescent singer/guitarist Sheridan Fox, the tr - Chris Reimenschneider (Star Tribune/


Stereotype EP (2007):
1. Stereotype
2. Dirt
3. Smoke
4. Quick as a Dove (featured as "Song of Day" on MPR's the Current 12/13/2007)

The EP has been streaming on 89.3 FM MPR as well in other radio stations in the US.

The Interrogation 2009
1. My Circuitry
2. Actin Crazy
3. Focus
4. Line it up
5. The Interrogation
6. Inhale (feat. Dessa Darling)
7. The Perfect Mess
8. Dirty Pie Crew
9. Cupid's Occupation
10. Almond Eyes



Currently at a loss for words...