Maita Channels Her Own Childhood Insecurities On 'Can't Blame a Kid': Exclusive

Ingrid Renan


Maita channels her inner rocker in her new single "Can't Blame a Kid" -- premiering exclusively on Billboard today (Nov. 15) -- and she says there's more where that came from.

The Oregon singer-songwriter (full name Maria Maita-Keppeler) retains some of her previous folk/acoustic tendencies on her upcoming debut album Best Wishes, but alongside more rock influence, which she taps for "Can't Blame a Kid."

"Before, just as a function of being solo and on my own, it just happened to be I would focus really hard on songwriting and lyrics, and more in a folk vein," Maita tells Billboard. "Recently I have had the pleasure of being able to play with a full band, these songs kind of show this combination of an attention to lyrics and songwriting but also feature this cathartic band presence allowed me to make a different kind of connection with people.

"It's a completely different way of communication. When people understand a song through lyrics and songwriting, they're listening with their heads. When you add this other element and bring in the entire body, like rock music does, it impacts you in an entirely different way."

"Can't Blame a Kid" is certainly appropriate for a more visceral kind of sonic treatment. The song chronicles Maita's relationship with a childhood friend who was as extroverted as Maita was a wallflower.

"It created this relationship of imbalance where I always felt like I was always on the sidelines, supporting this person who was always in the center," says Maita. "I feel like it created a lot of damage for me at this very formative period of time that I'm still processing and trying to recover from as an adult."

"Can't Blame a Kid," however, documents some of the perspective she's gleaned during the intervening years.

"It's really about that you can't be held to blame for things that happened between the ages of 10 and 18 because we were all so young," Maita explains. "It doesn't try to be a damaging thing where I'm scornful and hurt; I wanted to explore the idea that I do carry this pain and at times felt resentful towards this person. But, at the end of the day, we can't be held responsible for actions we took when we were children."

Maita will celebrate "Can't Blame a Kid's" release with a show on Nov. 17 in Portland, while Best Wishes, co-produced with Matthew Zeltzer and recorded partly in the 100-year-old OK Theatre in Enterprise, Ore., will be out in the spring. The album also marks an auspicious occasion for Maita's label Kill Rock Stars with the return of founder Slim Moon to run the label again after his wife and successor Portia moved on to be president of the Music Business Association.

"It's funny because back when we were recording the album, we would joke about how, 'Yeah, we'll be on Kill Rock Stars,' and lo and behold it actually ended up happening," Maita says. "We were so stunned when they offered it to us we didn't even celebrate or react in any way. We almost didn't believe it was happening at first.

"And the timing of it, to be happening right when Slim was coming back to take over again. He's excited and ready to get back to work, and we're really excited because we're just happy to have a good team working with us. It feels like there's a lot of heart in the project now, which is wonderful."

Listen to “Can’t Blame a Kid” below.