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Best Of British 2011: Best Producer - Maya Jane Coles

COMPLETE CONTROL: From deep tech house to delectable dub-wise treats, Maya’s productions ruled 2011…

If Maya Jane Coles narrowly missed out on the gong for ‘Best Breakthrough Producer’ in 2010, that just makes her scooping this year’s Best Of British award for ‘Best Producer’ all the sweeter now. And also, perhaps, more appropriate, for ‘breakthrough’ seems too small a word for the impact the 20-something London-based artist has made since 2010’s ‘What They Say’, or the speed with which her name has gone from being on the lips of not just the house music cognoscenti, but of anyone with an interest in electronic music full stop. Although no-one seems as surprised by her swift ascendancy as Maya herself.
“I never thought in a million years that, after being nominated for best breakthrough producer last year, I would win best producer this year,” she beams. “Things have been moving faster than I thought possible, and are just getting more and more exciting. I feel like I'm creating my path now and am really excited for the future.”

Indeed, the former ‘one to watch’ has been streaking ahead of the pack so fast that you’d now need a telescope to keep her in view. There’s been the ‘Focus Now’ EP on 20:20 Vision and ‘Beat Faster’ on long-term supporter Anja Schneider’s Mobilee imprint, both of which showcased the simple beauty and complex precision of Maya’s tech house sound. There was also her debut Radio 1 Essential Mix — one of the year’s best and one which won over anyone not already converted by her DJ gigs at Fabric or Watergate, or at festivals from Glastonbury to Exit.  

And whilst Maya’s name has also appeared as a remixer for the likes of Tricky and The Orb, as well as the more obvious house suspects such as Maceo Plex, she’s also wriggled her way into even unlikelier places — albeit under a different guise. Together with vocalist Lena Cullen, Maya is one half of She Is Danger, what she calls an “alternative bass pop music” project — if we take that to mean the sound of Portishead being sucked into the speaker-cones of On-U Sound — who have polished tracks from Massive Attack, Groove Armada and Gorillaz into music as dark and glittering as onyx. Nor have her adventures in dub ended there, for as Nocturnal Sunshine, Maya has also illuminated the UK bass music scene with remixes for Alpines following her own productions like ‘Can’t Hide The Way I Feel’, which rubbed shoulders as comfortably in the sets of Scuba and Joy Orbison as her house tunes do amidst John Digweed and Laurent Garnier.
“I love making pop music, experimental stuff, techno, indie, house, hip-hop — so house music definitely isn't my only focus,” she says. “She Is Danger is a collaboration and Nocturnal Sunshine is much more genre-specific, so it just made sense to put that stuff out under a different name. Maya Jane Coles is what I release everything else under. I want to be free to make whatever the hell I want to release under my own name. It just so happens that the majority of music I've had released so far is house-based stuff and it ties in with my DJing, so it made sense. But it's the name I'll be carrying forever, so I never want to put myself in a box with it.”
A statement of intent reflected not just in the title, but also the scope of her new EP ‘Don’t Put Me In Your Box’, which drops before next year’s album. As dextrous as Houdini, ‘Don’t Put Me In Your Box’ moves from the crisp and club-orientated ‘Cutting It Fine’ to the oneiric ‘Something In The Air’, where the breathy voice belongs to none other than Maya herself, who was also responsible for the EP’s artwork. Begging the question of whether, with such an obsessive eye for detail when it comes to every aspect of her releases, she considers herself more of a control freak or a perfectionist?
“I don't have the personality to be a control freak!” she laughs. “I just have a very creative mind and have really clear visions of what I want to do. I would say I'm perfectionist, but I also appreciate that nothing is ever perfect.”

Although many would say Maya Jane Coles comes as close as you can.

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  The Other Nominees

Scuba Ben Sims Spencer Parker Boddika