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.

Vic Conway

Track Of The Day: YAY MARIA – ‘Template’ (ft. Franx)

Having previously captivated our ears as the front person of Grawl!x, Trans and queer artist YAY MARIA has now announced the release of her debut solo album, OYEZ. Touching on themes of being an outsider, celebrating solidarity and community, OYEZ is set for release later this year.

The first of three tracks to be shared from the album, new single ‘Template’ is a wonderfully empowering slice of poignant power-pop. Made in collaboration with Nottingham-based queer artist and musician FRANX, the track oozes a swirling, ethereal splendour and vibrant, uplifting energy. Propelled by calypso-like jangling beats and colourful twinkling hooks, it’s filled with a stirring lyricism that celebrates self-love (“No set way for living your life / That’s ok / You’re great / No wrong or right.”) whilst oozing a dry wit, drawing attention with a raw honesty to the mundane issues of modern life; the parts of life that are often expected of us – the ‘template’ we are expected to live by – but by no means are appropriate or desired by all, particularly those in the queer/non-heteronormative community. As Maria explains:

“I think it can sometimes feel like there is a ‘template’ in life (school, marriage, children etc) & for many that course of life is either unattainable &/or undesirable. So, it can feel kinda scary not fitting in with that pre-supposed model. However, there is also something wonderful & empowering about that too; particularly given that there are so many other queer folks out there who feel a similar way.”

With this first taste of the new album, ‘Template’ offers a blissfully euphoric anthem in celebration of being your true self in the face of adversity. A much-needed sentiment right now, YAY MARIA has created a truly dreamy, danceable soundtrack to the summer; a vital message of solidarity – assuring us that even if you don’t fit society’s accepted ‘template’, you deserve happiness – that we need now more than ever.

‘Template’ is accompanied by a simply beautiful video, exuding all the celebratory, self-love filled joy you could ever desire. Have a watch, and a boogie, now:

‘Template’ is released with the Year Of Glad collective, a young imprint and close knit family of creatives who worked with YAY MARIA on her charity release ‘ENDTIMESand a commemorative piece for Transgender Day Of Rememberance’ in 2020. The track, as with all of OYEZ, is made in the spirit of collaboration, produced with label mate and YOG founder Tom John Hall.

‘Template’ is out now. Buy it on bandcamp now – with all proceeds going to the QTIBIPOC Therapy Fund; an initiative of the Radical Therapist Network, to create access for Queer & Trans People of Colour to safe therapeutic spaces & services; outside of systemic oppression. 

Mari Lane