Starting life in the once-opulent oasis of Beirut, Maya grew up surrounded by glamour and the international highlife. However, while a young schoolgirl she was subject to regular bombings from Syrian, Israeli, French, British and US forces as the world around her descended into chaos. Confined to taking cover in her building’s sandbagged hallways, she found sanctuary in her Walkman, with Depeche Mode and Blondie on repeat.
This soundtrack to her homeland falling apart around her, and her migration to the UK via Cyprus, led to the incarnation of New Pharaohs and their debut single ‘Empire’ – an astonishingly honest song, exploring the destruction that entails when two forces or two lovers are locked in a deadly battle.
Maya first made waves on the UK music scene in 2004 with the electronic indie-punk band Sohodolls, picked up by Alan McGee (Oasis, Creation Records), who enjoyed considerable international success leading to Maya’s songs featuring in Gossip Girl, Californication, Nip/Tuck, Vampire Diaries and even the Super Bowl and Budweiser. As a songwriter Maya also co-wrote the hit song ‘Beat Of My Drum’ for Girls Aloud member Nicola Roberts.
However, seeing Syria fall apart once again in recent years has evoked memories too poignant too ignore. Birthing New Pharaohs, Maya channels her roots and delivers a heartfelt new record awash with 70s and 90s sounds drawing inspiration from artists such as The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Serge Gainsbourg, Pixies, The Cardigans and Lana Del Ray.
‘‘I needed to get back to my roots,” explains Maya. “I did a lot of growing up in the last few years. Seeing war unfold all over again in neighbouring Syria has brought back too many memories to ignore. I think of the classmates I had in my little convent school run by nuns in the Lebanese mountains. I know some of them died in the war. I think about the life I’d be living if there hadn’t been a war. I would surely be someone else.’
‘‘So New Pharaohs is very personal and the most honest I’ve ever been musically. It’s about love, loss and what could have been.’‘