“I grew up with a morris dancer for a father and a music teacher for a mother, but I’d never really thought much about making music myself until I first went to the Folkworks Youth Summer School. I’d had piano lessons, sung in the school choir, played fiddle in the ceilidh band — done all of that stuff over the years — but it was being in a room full of young people playing tunes together into the night that first sparked something. I experienced for the first time that music could be, first and foremost, fun.
“I was only 13 when I first went to a summer school, and was nowhere near as good as everybody else there; I could barely join in with the tunes in the sessions, and I distinctly remember tapping along with my friend on the spoons, to the disgruntlement of everyone else in the room. But just being around such talented young people who simply loved playing music gave me something to aim towards, in a way that organised music lessons never did.
“Always having been more of a singer than an instrumentalist, I went to the song workshops. The tutor that year was Chris Wood, and I still remember him telling me to make my singing less ‘soupy’. Surrounded as a teenager by a musical culture of manufactured pop, and a television culture of manufactured pop competitions, learning to sing with guts and passion felt natural and real — it was a relief, in fact. I’ve tried to hold onto that since; tried to sing with feeling and sincerity, and to resist the urge to be too sweet, too smooth, too ‘soupy’.
“I’ve since been to four summer schools with Folkworks, and learnt many and various things each time. Though performance experience came later, and my time at university led me to experiment with writing my own songs, it’s thanks to those summers in Durham, singing and playing into the night (stopping only to order pizza and eventually, reluctantly, to sleep) that I want to be making music at all. Going back to school in September and talking to my friends about who had been voted out of the latest pop singing contest, I found that it really didn’t feel like anything I cared about. I felt like I was holding onto a secret, and that I was just waiting for the summer to come round again.”
Catch Maz supporting the Demon Barber Roadshow and the UK’s no.1 folk dance & hip hop extravaganza Time Gentlemen Please from 7th – 14th July 2012 plus gigs at Sidmouth and Bromyard Folk Festivals.
For more info, check Maz’s Gigs page.