Maya Jane Coles’ Nocturnal Sunshine Brings Out ‘LDN’ With CHA$EY JON£S
You may know Maya Jane Coles from her infamous “What They Say” track released in 2010. It was even sampled by Nicki Minaj on “Truffle Butter” and Katy Perry on “Swish Swish.”
Coles has been a force to reckon with as a music producer and DJ, having worked with people like Sting, Florence + The Machine, The XX and Sia, just to name a few.
She also releases music under the moniker Nocturnal Sunshine for her bassier alter ego since releasing “Can’t Hide The Way I Feel” in 2010.
This time ‘round, she teams up with mysterious rapper CHA$EY JON£S on the new collaboration EP titled LDN, which was released in December 2022.
Rap and hip-hop music have always been a major influence on Coles while growing up in west London in the mid-2000s, so this project feels very natural as she teams up with childhood friend and rapper CHA$EY JON£S.
This EP is a symbol of their “full circle” moment from first making music together at school when they were only 15 as a rap duo.
This isn’t their first time collaborating, as they have worked on the 2019 Nocturnal Sunshine album Full Circle.
The duo continued their energy on this grimey five-track EP, in which Coles shares, “LDN is a collection of the first tracks we made when we started working together again. We’ve been working on so much material and this is only the beginning of what’s to come.”
With Nocturnal Sunshine’s past collaborations including Peaches, Miss Kittin, Young MA, RY X, the late Gangsta Boo, and more, we are in for a treat to hear more from this project.
Check out our interview with Maya Jane Coles as she shares more about the LDN EP project, her thoughts on working in the scene as a mixed-race, queer female producer, and the most surreal experiences in her career so far.
Hey Maya – what moment in 2022 was most memorable for you musically?
I think the release of Nocturnal Sunshine x CHA$EY JON£S LDN EP was my highlight as it had been a long time in the making and the official start to mine and CHA$EY’s collaboration project.
There's gonna be so much more this year and I'm excited.
You’re known for owning most, if not all, the stages of your creation process – from writing and producing to mixing and engineering. What’s the best and worst part about playing all of those roles?
I guess it’s so much harder to know when to stop working on a track when you do every part of the process yourself.
For me, the easiest part is the writing and arranging of the track, the mixing down is the hardest part. The first 90% of the process is like the quickest part and the last 10% always takes the longest.
It’s hard to know when to stop and even though I can be a perfectionist, I’m very rarely at a point where I think it’s actually perfect overall.
My mixdowns are often far from perfect and it always feels like there can be more done to make something sound better. But sometimes you just have to decide it’s finished and move onto the next thing.
The beauty of art is often the imperfections. It’s just nice to not have to rely on anyone else and you quickly learn and get better at everything when doing it all yourself.
How did you find your sound, and what was that journey like?
Finding my sound was a very organic and gradual process over time.
My sound is always evolving, and I have many different styles, but even when I listen back to some of the earliest music I made 20 years ago, I can hear it was me and there’s a consistency with the tone and vibe, so I guess in a way it was always there.
Learning and creating new techniques and tricks when it comes to the technical side of things helped me shape my sound too. I think it all just naturally comes together when you spend so much time on the music.
Has the way you find inspiration for your creations changed since you first started? How?
Not massively. I’m always pretty inspired just from living a busy lifestyle.
There’s never enough time in the day to spend the actual amount of time I want making music and creating art, but having to constantly chase and find pockets of time in a way keeps me on my toes and I very rarely feel blocked or uninspired.
The main difference from when I started is that now I can actually afford the plug-ins, synths or equipment that I want to use so there are less limitations in that sense. Although limitations can also enhance creativity sometimes too.
What led you to create this collaboration LDN EP with your childhood friend and rapper CHA$EY JON£S? What do you hope listeners get out of the project?
This project has been a long time coming. CHA$EY JON£S and I actually used to make music together when we were 15.
We started a rap duo and I used to make beats on an old, cracked version of Cubase and we’d stay after school in the studio (which consisted of a crappy PC and a MIDI keyboard) and record bars over my beats using a tiny radio mic.
It was all rap/hip-hop/low-fi beats at that point. I wasn’t into dance/electronic music at all. Anyway, we left school and lost touch for a few years and reconnected again later down the line in the rave scene.
One night CHA$EY dropped in that he was writing bars again and showed me some of his stuff and I was like, “Wow you’ve gotten so good over the years!”
We promised to lock in a studio session at some point and when we finally did LDN was the first track that we ended up making.
Tell us about your Nocturnal Sunshine moniker – what led you to create it and what kind of outlet is it for you creatively?
So, I always made music under the name Nocturnal Sunshine from when I was 15 or 16 years old.
When it came around to actually releasing my first record when I was 19, I ended up using my real name. A couple of people including Alex Arnout of Dogmatik Records (who released the first single) suggested it might be nice for people to see that the music was made by a female producer without having look up the name.
I totally agreed especially at that time when there were hardly any female producers around. So, I went with that and it just happened to be that my first few releases were all house tech/house tracks.
I was making so much other music at the time, but it was just what got picked up first. Things got pretty big with that side of things, and I carried on releasing the more “four to the floor” stuff.
Later down the line I started to really miss making the other stuff and I felt weird being categorised as just a house producer when what I was originally making was so different. So, I decided to Use the Nocturnal Sunshine moniker as a channel to release my darker, bassier more futuristic beats, less “four to the floor”.
Over the years it’s morphed between dubstep, hip-hop, breakbeat, D&B, grime, and a lot genre less stuff. I’m most excited about this project right now actually.
If you had to introduce yourself to the world with only one of your songs, which would it be?
Nocturnal Sunshine’s “I’m Ready”.
Does your role as one of a few mixed-race, queer female producers in the space affect the way you create? How do you think the scene has changed since you started out?
I wouldn’t say it affects the way I create. I’m just happy to have always represented a minority and hope it only inspires more mixed race, queer, female (or any demographic of people) to get into production.
The scene has changed drastically from when I first started out. I could barely count on one hand the number of female producers who were active in my scene. And there weren’t a ton of female DJs either.
It’s so different now. Still could be more diverse of course, but we are moving in the right direction at least and it feels refreshing.
If you had the power to change anything in your industry, what would it be and why?
I’d say continuing from the above, just more diversity in general – in the spotlight, but also behind the scenes.
I also wish that music wasn’t so ruled by social media and stats, I quite liked when artistes and DJs were slightly more mysterious, and people weren’t so caught up with numbers and stats.
From working with huge artistes, to playing at major festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury, what would you say has been the most surreal experience in your career so far?
I just got asked the same thing a couple days ago and one pretty surreal moment was eating caviar and drinking champagne with Depeche Mode on the top floor of the Four Seasons hotel in Moscow, just after warming up for them in a huge stadium.
Another surreal moment was being picked up for a festival in Newcastle by a driver in a transit van, but there were three of us travelling and (they thought it was only going to be me) and only one passenger seat.
We had to get to the festival, so we had to just get in the back of the van with all our luggage, it was pitch black and there was nothing to hold on to. We were bouncing about all over the place, I felt like we were getting kidnapped (laughs).
I could have sat in the front seat, but there was no way I was gonna make my manager and girlfriend at the time do that without me.
What is that one album you can’t live without and why?
Lil’ Kim’s Hardcore. It was the soundtrack to my teenage years!
What can the world expect from Maya Jane Coles in 2023?
Fresh music. I’m not working on an album at the moment. This year is about lots of EPs and more regular releases. Plus, I’m working on productions for other artistes.
All Images: LDN
Elevate the way you listen to Nocturnal Sunshine and CHA$EY JON£S’s LDN EP with KEF
Writer | Kevin Yeoh
When he isn’t making sure Sound of Life stories are published in a timely manner, Kevin enjoys wandering aimlessly in Kuala Lumpur city, going down the YouTube rabbit hole and discovering new music.