Pin It
Photography Leanda Heler

Meet Maeve, the DIY artist inspired by Cindy Sherman and Funkadelic

The Cayman Islands-born vocalist and producer on Baroque art, island life, and why guilty pleasures get a bad rep

Sitting in a quaint, sun-dappled patio among ferns and potted plants is Maeve, the genre-bending, Cayman Islands-born musician whose music is haunting, yet hopeful. Her laid-back and contemplative way of speaking has a way of instantly relaxing you, and is only interrupted intermittently by her Great Dane who comes over to lovingly nudge her.

The latest release from Maeve – real name Arianna Broderick – is an artistic and inventive EP, aptly named Caravaggio in a Corner Store. The EP contains five complex, thoughtful tracks that vary in tempo and atmosphere, ranging from the sexy, dancy haze of “Bleach” to the introspective tenderness of “Jonah”. The result is a masterclass in creativity, a multi-layered soundscape that defies genres or definitions. Dark, jutting synths that hum like bassy warning sirens are juxtaposed by her vocals, glass-like in their delicacy, that rise over the production in billowy plumes.

The EP is the result of Maeve experimenting as she explores what she loves most. “Sick”, which lyrically is a love song, confounds all expectations when married with Kai Whiston’s menacing yet alluring production. The lovesick notion of the track name takes on a new meaning with a surrealist video directly inspired by the artwork for Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain”, which Maeve reimagined through a modern lens. The result is an intoxicating, otherworldly experience where the idea of being ‘sick’ becomes an anthem for those that don’t quite fit in. It’s this sense of pushing boundaries that Maeve is eager to continue to test, dropping coy clues about how she plans to reimagine her live performances into “something a bit different, something more”.

Did you have a nice bank holiday?

Maeve: I didn’t even know it was a bank holiday because I was writing music. I’m kind of in writing mode at the moment. 

And talking about writing, your new EP references art in its title – what inspired that?

Maeve: I get quite inspired by art. For example, when I wrote “Bleach”, I was looking at a lot of Cindy Sherman’s work. I’m a visually minded person. But with Caravaggio in a Corner Store, that is a lyric from my song “Sick”. I like the image of finding some great masterpiece somewhere that you’d least expect it. I think that sums up the EP: all of these different elements and things coming together that you wouldn’t expect.

I was particularly interested in your song “Jonah” on the EP. It made me think about mental health and supporting someone. Is there a personal story that the song is based on?  

Maeve: It was actually a poem before it became a song. It was in the middle of a thunderstorm and I was sitting looking outside and just started playing around with the synths to create this cinematic soundscape. And then it reminded me of that poem I’d written. I started singing it over the music and it just kind of melted together, and felt right. The poem itself is actually a letter to my younger self. It’s a sad song but it’s powerful as well, because it’s about rebirth. Obviously it’s the story of Jonah and the Whale, going through a really dark time but having a light at the end of the tunnel.

There seems to be a similar thread throughout a couple of the songs – beautiful, poetic lyrics that also contain a dark, haunting element within them. Do you find it more interesting to play around in that space?

Maeve: I think that’s just a thing that came naturally with this EP. It’s quite dark, it’s quite dystopian in the lyrics. The whole EP was written in lockdown, when we were in such an uncertain time where we didn’t really know what was gonna happen.

With the pandemic and lockdown happening around you, how were you feeling at that time when you were creating the EP? 

Maeve: I was back home in the Cayman Islands in my family home, and I was lucky enough to be able to use that time to write music. I didn’t go into lockdown with the goal of creating an EP. I felt like the world was ending but the only thing that I knew that I could do was write music every day. 

What a beautiful place to grow up. What made you move to London?

Maeve: I was born and raised in the Cayman Islands and moved to London when I was ten years-old. We came over in 2004 because there was a hurricane and a lot of people had to leave. Ever since then I sort of lived back and forth. My family lives there now but I moved here permanently when I was about 17 to 18 years-old.

“I remember walking into HMV for the first time and seeing like five levels of CDs and freaking out!” – Maeve

There must have been a bit of a culture shock coming from the Cayman Islands to the UK?

Maeve: Totally, especially at that time. Now it’s a lot more developed. I remember walking into HMV for the first time and seeing like five levels of CDs and freaking out!

With it being a smaller place, would you say it’s trickier to pursue music in the Cayman Islands? Where did your musical journey start?

Maeve: It was great doing music in Cayman – a lot of Caymanians are so supportive, it’s such a nice culture. When I was around 15 I started writing songs and going around to all the hotels, asking if I could play there. So that was my job, playing  at hotels, bars, restaurants… anywhere that people would hear my music. And I met a lot of people who came to visit the island through doing that.

When you’re in the UK, what do you miss about the Cayman Islands and vice versa? 

Maeve: When I’m back home in Cayman I miss being able to stumble upon, like, an art exhibition or live shows, that sort of thing. We do have a bit of that now in Cayman and it’s growing, so it’s great, but you can’t beat that sort of thing in London. When I’m in London, I sometimes feel suffocated and like I need to get back and just go home, take a breather and write some music.

Before we finish I want to ask you some light-hearted, quick-fire questions. Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Maeve: None. I don’t think you should feel guilty about your pleasures! I think I’m like anti-guilty pleasures now. 

Describe your perfect Saturday.

Maeve: It would be back home, with a few friends. We’d drive to the end of the island, get fish fry, jump in the sea, play music, watch the sunset and just chill.

That sounds like a dream! Where’s your favourite place in the world?

Maeve: In my family home on the balcony. It faces out to the ocean. I’ve written a lot of songs there and it’s quiet. It’s just a nice little escape.

What else have you got planned today? Are you going to be making music?

Maeve: Yeah (laughs). I’m working on my second EP.

Gosh, you’re on the go. That’s brilliant!

Maeve: It never stops. Never stops. 

Maeve’s debut EP, Caravaggio in a Corner Store is out now