Maz DeVita, musician, WAAX

I hadn't addressed things about my past before, and I just had this real urge to do it and to explore what I had been through ...

At the front of Brisbane-based five-piece punk outfit WAAX is Maria ‘Maz’ DeVita, who has become well known for her rawness, electrifying stage presence and charismatic vocals. Following a year of touring, writing and recording, WAAX will be heading to the Gold Coast on December 29 to hit the stage at NightQuarter for Best Night Ever – a one-night mini music festival with a seriously killer line-up. We thought we’d take five to chat to Maz about candid lyrics, revealing her past and why we need to be in touch with our emotional vulnerabilities.

Let’s start by taking it way back – what’s your earliest memory of music?
Going to piano lessons when I was about five years old. I did my first recital when I was about five, so it all kind of started then. But it was always kind of in my life, as my Dad’s a musician and I grew up being at his sound checks and watching his band play. I’ve always been around it.

It’s been a big year for WAAX! Earlier this year you released a new track ‘Labrador’, which has made its mark for a few reasons – one being that it’s one of the first times that you have candidly penned about your past. What prompted you to go in that direction?
I think I hadn’t addressed things about my past before, and I just had this real urge to do it and to explore what I had been through in those later teen years. It was something I felt that I really needed to do. We’d been writing a lot around that time, and a lot of the content and topics were touching on childhood and that song was kind of the winner out of a bunch of songs that kind of went down that way. It was really cathartic and I’m glad that I did it. I do talk about my past a bit more in songs that I am currently working on.

The title ‘Labrador’ gives a nod to the Gold Coast suburb. Can you tell us a little about the track itself from a songwriting perspective?
I spent a lot of time in Labrador, I had a close friend who lived there. The song came from an experience I had there in my late teens, and I guess I was feeling really worthless at the time, and it was after the ending of a significant relationship. It talks about kind of really low self esteem and a real self-deprecating attitude that I had back then – I still kind of deal with that today but I am now a lot kinder to myself. At the time I was pretty hard on myself and I developed a lot of issues with depression and eating disorders, and I kind of wanted to talk about that. This song was the first time I have ever gone there – because it took me a long time to talk openly about that stuff. For a few years after that, I just didn’t really tell anybody.

It’s a big thing to be able to talk about those parts of your life in general, let along lyricising it for the world to listen to and interpret. How has the reception been across the shows this year?
It’s been awesome, the crowds have been loving it at shows. It’s been really interesting as well, because in the pre-chorus it says “You’re a girl and a girl isn’t welcome in here” and it’s pretty funny when all of the boys sing that was well. Like, power to them! It’s just funny to see that, but yeah it’s been awesome so far – and we can’t wait to put some new stuff out soon.

When you’re on stage, you’re known for translating those lyrics into raw emotion with high-energy performances  – what is it that you hope people take away from your shows?
I hope they leave positive and uplifted, and really sweaty! The thing I really love to bring out of audience members is having an interaction with as many people as I can – I love to show my emotional vulnerability, and I hope in turn that encourages others to be touch with their emotional vulnerabilities too. I think that’s something that people need to be open with.

Touring, writing, recording and working – have you nailed the balancing act?
Recently I’ve started my own business, I’ve been lucky that I am a graphic designer so I have been able to do work from home or on the road, or anywhere I can get a wifi connection basically. It’s been good in that regard, but also pretty stressful starting a business in the middle of recording an album, but it’s a choice of kind of just made, and it’s seems to be working out so far. I’ve managed to pay my rent, so that’s always a bonus!

So, what can we expect in 2019 from WAAX?
Yeah look … a lot! We pretty much just finished recording our first debut album and we are currently in stages of mixing it as we speak. We’re going to put out a single early next year … and I feel like some people might have seen us play it live as well, so keep an ear out for it! There’s a lot in store for next year, this year has kind of been more about recording and writing – we’ve spent the last year on this album, so we’re really excited to get some new stuff out.

Finally, what words of wisdom do you live by?
Life is either a lesson or a blessing. You can learn from things and try and come out from it stronger and more positive – I try and tell myself that a lot.

You can catch WAAX alongside DZ Deathrays, Dune Rats, The Gooch Palms (and more!) at Best Night Ever on Saturday December 29 at NightQuarter. For tickets and info, jump here.


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