YAY MARIA is the supremely talented Maria Machin – a trans and queer musician from Derby, who you probably know as the front-woman of Grawl!x. With this solo electronic pop project, Machin has created an outlet to explore her gender transition. And after listening, you’ll be grateful that she chose to invite us on the journey.
Her long-awaited debut solo album is nothing short of magical. Ambitious and accomplished, OYEZ is a DIY pop record that transcends its humble origins. Its beats, bleeps and harmonies will fill your heart and send pure joy racing around your body. It feels like a celebration of otherness; breaking boundaries with lush orchestration, samples and driving beats without losing sight of its pop sensibility.
The album feels truly immersive. The giddy dancefloor stomper ‘TRU CRUSH’ is a standout, as are ‘PLASTIK PINK’ and ‘SHOPPING CENTRE’ – both sassy, grown-up slices of electro-pop that would be killer singles. Meanwhile, Belper’s Town Crier pops up halfway through the record too, just to let us know that YAY MARIA hopes we’re enjoying ourselves in a cute little nod to Machin’s Midlands’ roots!
Yet, despite these highlights, it’s the anthemic (and brilliantly named) ‘EPIPHANY (IN A CHARITY SHOP)’ that’ll stay with me. In it, Machin reflects on YAY MARIA’s purpose. “This isn’t about me,” she says. “It’s about so much more than me.” And she’s right. At a time where the trans community faces so much hostility, I really hope this album finds its way to the ears, hearts and minds who need it.
A joyful, powerful and important album, OYEZ offers love, solidarity and the inspiring message that being queer is beautiful. Yay to that, Maria!
OYEZ is out now. Buy the digital album on bandcamp now.