Maya Hawke — Turning It On

Christy Bush
Heathermary Jackson
Chris Black

At 25, Maya Hawke is an accomplished actress, starring in Netflix’s Stranger Things as well as films directed by Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino. But today we are talking about her new album Chaos Angel which I have been listening to for a few weeks. It’s charming and warm, her raspy voice confidently taking centre stage. I talked to Maya from a hotel room in San Francisco while she was in Atlanta, my hometown. We chatted about being vulnerable on stage, creating a camp atmosphere while making the album in upstate New York and tracking her vitals.

Coach jacket & brooch set

 Brownstone Cowboys playsuit, Falke tights

Chris Black: Where are you right now?
Maya Hawke: I’m [in Atlanta] enjoying the peace of being in a place that’s not New York or LA… just the chill factor of not having a thousand people you have to see.
CB: There are places where it just clicks, and it feels good. That’s nice as an adult because you think that’s over in some ways.
MH: It still happens! You have a cool desk.
CB: I’m in a hotel in San Francisco. But do you rent a house there? You don’t stay in a hotel.
MH: Yeah, I mean, it’s a year. We shoot for a year.
CB: A year? That makes a big difference. Do you make music when you have downtime?
MH: I do. I’m in an interesting place working on music right now. Something feels like it’s changed, but I’m not sure what yet. But I wrote most of Moss here in Atlanta and most of my first record. My two records have corresponded with my two seasons of Stranger Things. But my third doesn’t because we had a big hiatus. I’ve always been one of those people who, when I have nothing to do, I don’t do anything. If I have a free day, you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to sit in a puddle of my own sweat, weirdly cook food, and watch TV on my phone while doing chores. 
CB: Productive but weird.
MH: But if you put me to work [on set], I’m writing on the back of my sides [script pages] and on my phone. That’s when I’m most productive when I’m engaged with other people. I wrote a lot on tour, too. Whatever the creative part of your brain is, for me, when I turn it on, it goes on and spreads out and wants to do more stuff. It can turn off, but once it’s on, ‘Oh, we’ve got all these other ideas. We need to paint, we need to knit, we need to write songs’.

 Prada jacket

 Ferragamo coat, Kenzo bodysuit, Theory tights

 Marc Jacobs dress & belt, Prada shoes, Falke socks

Coach jacket, tights, shoes & sunglasses

 Marni overshirt, Dolce & Gabbana top, underwear & stockings

CB: To learn that about yourself – knowing when you’re going to be productive and when you’re not – helps manage expectations internally. Those pressures have to be managed.
MH: I don’t love pressure. I like a job that I can do, but not high-pressure situations. I was just on a call with my PR about doing late-night performances… I actually felt my fingers tie into knots. That kind of high pressure is scary to me.
CB: That’s an interesting thing about being a musician. I find out from my musician friends either they love to perform, and that’s why they do it, or they’d rather be in the studio making records.
MH: Yeah, I think most people fall into those categories. I’m closer to the studio person, but once I’ve been out on the road for a while, I start to like it. 
CB: When you get home, you crash?
MH: There’s a joke in my family where anytime anyone goes away to do press or anything like that, it takes them double the amount of time to become themselves again. If they were gone for two days doing press or whatever, it would take four days to talk to them again.
CB: I’d love to know – does the sheen of dressing in glamorous clothes and going to glamorous events wear off after time?
MH: I had both the great fortune and misfortune of having the sparkle of that disappear for me in my childhood. I never had a period where I was like, ‘Oh my God, I get to wear a fancy dress and go to a party’, because I have watched every single person in my life do that once or twice a week. Trying to find the wonder in that, remembering what a rarefied experience it is, how unspeakably lucky you are to do that, and how many people would trade places with you in a snap. I always try to put myself through that little wind-up when I’m getting ready to go to a movie premiere.
CB: I get it. That’s a reasonable way to look at it.  Are you wearing an Oura ring
MH: Yes.

 Marni overshirt, Dolce & Gabbana top, underwear & stockings, AGL shoes

CB: How hard are you tracking your data?
MH: It’s hard to track it when you’re working on set because this is not the 1980s – I can’t wear it while I’m shooting. I only wear it when I’m not working, but I find it enjoyable. I still honestly can’t tell how effective it is. I’m not totally convinced that it actually knows things.
CB: I always describe making a movie or a TV show as a summer camp because you’re all together.
MH: I’m often trying to make music more like acting. I want my stage shows to be theatrical; I want them to feel theatrical when you listen to them, and I want the process of making them to feel more like making a movie. The biggest thing I wanted to steal from movie-making is that when you’re making a movie, one person writes the script, and one person directs the movie, but everybody has to take ownership of a piece of it. By the end of filming, you should know your character better than the director or the writer does. I feel like a lot of the time in my earlier experiences with music, people clicked in and clicked out a little bit. You pull in a great fiddle player, and they’re like, “Alright, is that good? Bye.” They’re not emotionally invested in the record as a whole. So, I wanted to try to manipulate my friends into being emotionally invested in and taking ownership of this record. In many ways, they all did and worked incredibly hard for those weeks. And had a lot of fun.
CB: Your music has a softness to it that I like. It feels warm. Does that make sense?
MH: Yes, and that sounds right to me. I don’t know if I know how to make something that isn’t warm, in a way. 
CB: That’s your natural state?
MH: Yeah, I think so. I don’t particularly enjoy making people uncomfortable with art. I want to challenge people, and I like challenging new ideas, but I feel like the best place to take in a new idea is from a place of relaxation and comfort. If you attack someone about something, then they’re likely just gonna shut down. But if you warmly invite them into a conversation about something you disagree on, there’s more of a possibility to change someone’s mind. 

Coach jacket, tights, shoes & brooch set

 Coach jacket, tights & sunglasses

 Stella McCartney top & blazer

Stella McCartney top & blazer, Falke underwear, Wolford tights

Marni overshirt, Dolce & Gabbana top, underwear & stockings, AGL shoes

Order your copy of issue 19 here
Photographer: Christy Bush
Stylist: Heathermary Jackson
Makeup: Leo Satkovich at Schneider Entertainment
Hair: Sarah Hindsgaul at The Milton Agency
Interview: Chris Black
Lighting: Juice Factory Media
Stylist’s assistant: Abigail McDade
Studio assistants: Adia Duke & Martha Pope
Location: Third Eye Collective, Atlanta, Georgia