Maiah Manser dropped her latest single, “With A Smile,” today (Oct. 6). The record delves into her experiences with LA’s club culture and societal expectations for women. The exciting new anthem serves as a critique of the unrealistic standards set for what the singer-songwriter calls a “dream woman.”
Manser herself expands on this theme: “The picture I’m painting is not reality; this is a dream,” she says. “The ‘siren’ call at the end of the song is actually the realest moment of pure unbridled rage, to let go of everything desirable I thought I had to be.”
Ahead of its official release, a snippet of “With A Smile” performed live blew up on TikTok, amassing a staggering 30 million views and 3.5 million likes. The song caught another wave of attention when Grammy-winning artist SZA gave it a shoutout on Instagram. The record also arrives as a preamble to Manser’s upcoming EP, Fourth Wall, slated for a 2024 release.
As for what fans can expect, the EP will tackle broader themes, like the challenges women face in the entertainment industry and society’s obsession with fame. Evidently, the LA-based creative has something to say, and she’s just getting started. Check out our conversation with Maiah Manser below!
Hey Maiah! For anything who’s just getting introduced to your work, can you tell us more about how you got into music?
When I was four, I realized I could get out of preschool naptime by going and singing to different classes. I think I learned at a very young age that music and singing felt like a magic trick. I fell in love with old musicals and jazz music that my grandma played. I taught myself how to play piano and started writing songs in high school.
Congratulations on your new single, “With A Smile.” Although you’ve done a number of collaborations, how does it feel to be putting out your first lead single of the year?
I’m excited, anxious, happy, nervous… I would be lying if I didn’t say I go through the full range of emotions daily. It’s been a roller coaster ride from the unexpected response to “With A Smile.” It’s also very meta with how it relates to the future world of the upcoming EP.
Although I know you can’t reveal too many details about Fourth Wall, how much has changed both sonically and personally since you debuted third degree in 2022?
Sonically, I decided I’m in my fast-beat era, and I think it will be that way for many releases beyond this EP. It will also be edgier, more cinematic, but forever ethereal. Lyrically and world-building-wise, the content deals with the human obsession of fame, success, and being entertained, which has been a fun and very new exploration.
You mentioned that the project would center around being a woman in the entertainment industry — can you speak to your personal experiences and any advice you would give to others?
I think the best advice I can give is that it’s so important to stay true to yourself and your art. I’ve been independent for 12 years up until recently. I spent years being told my work was too weird, too this or that… but I continued to stay true to that because any other way felt personally wrong. It was a longer route, but I think people can see right through inauthenticity these days. It took me a long time to realize that being “weird” was a compliment and a part of my signature.
Also, you’ve done a lot of musical stuff in film and TV, which is incredibly exciting. How has that influenced your creation process?
It’s influenced my creation process in such beautiful ways. I also grew up playing violin and viola in an after-school orchestra. When I allowed myself to go full composer with my songs, it hit something deep within me. While I write, I can usually see a whole visual world with it, so composing it like a film score really lets my visual brain go wild.
Another thing I wanted to ask you about was style — how would you describe yours and how does fashion empower you as an artist?
My style generally floats in dark fairy vibes. I have a deep love of fashion, so sometimes my style can change a lot from day to day, as though it’s a different character I get to play. Sometimes, when I’m having a tough day mentally, putting on an amazing outfit can give me a whole vibe shift.
As you enter this next chapter, what’s driving you? What do you want to be recognized for?
Creating good and complex art has always driven me and always will. As artists, we’re all taking inspiration from other artists and events at all times. Nothing is exactly “new.” All that to say, I think it’s the greatest gift of all to be recognized as an outlier sitting in your own lane.