It’s one of the most hotly anticipated Irish releases of 2021 and it’s out on Friday 8th October 2021. We’re talking, of course, about electronic artist and producer Elaine Mai, who has been teasing her debut album ‘Home’ since the very start of this year when she released ‘No Forever (feat. MayKay)’ – a song that went on to become one of the stand out singles of 2021, reaching number 2 in the Irish Radio Breakers Chart and gaining over 3,250 plays on Irish radio alone this year. Since 2014, Elaine has amassed over 3.5 million streams on Spotify, breaking 100,000 listeners on the platform in 2019. 2021 single ‘No Forever’ garnered widespread acclaim and achieved 12 million impressions across Irish radio, hitting #2 in the Irish Radio Breakers chart and peaking at #6 in the Viral 50 Ireland Spotify chart.
The 9-track album will be available as a digital download and on all streaming platforms. Elaine has already showcased with her singles that she can bring the best and brightest women together to produce tracks that have the power to evoke the strongest emotions, and her album will also allow fans to hear just how diverse and innovative a producer she is, as tracks like ‘3am’, ‘Mother’ and ‘Together Again’ punch through as absolute club bangers that arrive just in time, as the country prepares to open its doors post-pandemic.
We caught up with Elaine to discuss her early inspirations, the album and the potential barriers as an Irish artist to breaking through in the UK…
Welcome to DMC Elaine – how did the summer treat you?
It was nice! I feel like with the last couple of years time has warped a little and actually, I really can’t believe Summer is over already. I’m really hoping next Summer will be back to full tilt come festival season, I’ve really missed that the last couple of years. Not just from a performance perspective, but in terms of seeing friends.
Who were some of the artists you grew up listening to? And do you think these early experiences inform your own music today?
I grew up listening to artists like ABBA, The Beatles, and whatever else my Mum was loving at the time. Then in my teens, I loved Alanis and Nirvana, metal and pop and lots of things in between. I mean, I think everything you’re exposed to does shape you in some way, but I’d find it hard to draw a line back to that early stuff I loved. I’d certainly credit Alanis with getting me to pick up a guitar and write properly, she was hugely inspiring to me as a teen.
When did you first think of music as a career rather than something to be enjoyed?
It took quite a while, so I’d say in my late 20s. I was friends with lots of people who were playing in bands at the time and they made it seem accessible and possible, so I started to release my own solo music and have been on that path since.
Let’s talk about your album Home. There’s a really wide range of stuff on there, from poppier tracks to proper underground club bangers. Was it always your intention to make something that crossed various different genres?
I really don’t get hung up on genres. For me, there’s a really strong theme of belonging running through this record. I was drawn to exploring that idea of home and belonging because I think it can be experienced in so many ways. All of the tracks speak about that feeling or try to evoke that emotion and that was the key thing for me with this album.
Collaboration has clearly been an important part of your process here. What have been some of the most important lessons you’ve learned from working with other people?
To give people creative freedom. I think collaboration and co-creation is amazing, but it’s also amazing to let people do what comes naturally to them and see where that leads. The artists I worked with on this album are incredible and I trusted them implicitly. That made it so exciting, to send something out and then hear the new story that had been added to your work. I loved that experience and I will absolutely be doing it again.
How did you go about choosing the people you wanted to be involved with the album?
I’m super lucky to have worked with all of the deadly women that feature on this album in one way or another. We had already created something together or had great chemistry, so it was a no-brainer when it came to asking who I did.
Were there any tracks that came together especially easily? Or by contrast, any that went through dozens of different versions before you cracked it?
Yes and yes. Some of these tunes like Together Again and Mother came together super quickly for me in the beginning, whereas others took longer and more consideration. You really can’t predict when inspiration will hit and when things will just work. It’s most often just a lot of work and overthinking!
The theme of togetherness is present throughout the album, is that something that’s been made especially important to you over the last 18 months of the pandemic, given that togetherness – at least in a physical sense – is something that’s been sorely lacking?
Absolutely, but that theme had been something I’d been exploring before the pandemic also. My last EP, The Colour of the Night was heavily focused on grief and moving through that and I think this album is the next natural step for me. It’s more hopeful, while not losing that more melancholic undertone. Grief changes you as a person and I think this album focuses on togetherness and belonging in the wake of grief.
How has it felt to be back on the road playing in front of people again?
Unreal. I hadn’t realised how much I missed it. People are being massively supportive as well, super open to new music and enjoying the experience. It’s been amazing.
It seems like you’re pretty much a household name in Ireland. Do you think there’s a barrier to Irish artists becoming better known in the UK? And if so, how do you think more Irish acts can be recognised here?
It’s tricky for sure. It’s a much bigger and hugely competitive market in the UK, so I do think it can be a tough one to crack for Irish acts. Work with a good PR agency and play shows would be the two key pieces of advice I’d share.
Who are some of the artists on your radar at the moment that we should be checking out?
Inspired by the above Q I’ll stick with Irish artists only!!