Though it’s safe to say Maya Jane Coles long ago cemented her status as a producer on the underground circuit with the 2010 release of her What They Say EP, her heart has always really belonged to hip-hop and R&B. Crediting a desire to become “the female Timbaland” as what initially drew to her to begin producing at age 14, her early output explored sounds on the psychedelic trip-hop and dub spectrum.
Following the initial ascent of her career in house music and the 2013 release of her debut album Comfort as Maya Jane Coles, she returned to her roots with the creation of Nocturnal Sunshine, a moniker reserved for bassier outputs reminiscent of her early hip-hop inspirations. Tomorrow (Nov.1) marks the second full-length album from Nocturnal Sunshine — the aptly-titled Full Circle.
The album is comprised of 15 tracks that are occasionally murky, oftentimes brash and altogether a bold and powerful nod to Coles’ foundational past. With brazen takes on heavy Atlanta trap, drum ‘n’ bass, breakbeat and garage and a tasteful peppering of features from Gangsta Boo of Three 6 Mafia, Brooklyn-born Young M.A. and soulful singer Ry X, Nocturnal Sunshine certainly could’ve let her masterful versatility as a producer do the talking for her, but we couldn’t settle for that.
Here, in her own words, Maya Jane Coles breaks down the intricacies of Full Circle, track-by-track.
Catnapp and I have collaborated quite a bit now over the years. We first met when she was living in Argentina and instantly clicked. I feel like the sound between us evolves each time we work on something new. She really brings the attitude with her vocals on this one, and as soon as I finished the track I knew it was the perfect opener for the album.
“Gravity” definitely showcases the softer melodic side of this project. I haven’t met Ry X in person, but when I heard he was up for writing over one of my tracks I immediately envisioned him doing something over this one.
I was over the moon when Peaches recorded some vocals for me to use. She has always been ahead of the game and a pioneer with what she does. As a long time fan it was a collaboration I always knew I wanted to happen.
Part of the reason for the title of this album, “Full Circle,” was because of the genuine full circle I’ve recently done with my music. Everyone who knows me well knows that my first real music passion and entry point with production was hip-hop, but later down the line when things blew up for me with the more electronic stuff, I left that part of me aside as I was struggling to juggle so many different styles and projects at once.
My earliest music was never released, and that side of me was always something I missed heavily, so with this album I wanted to bring that part of me back. I’ll be using my Nocturnal Sunshine alias as an outlet for my hip-hop productions now as well as Dub, Garage, D&B, Bass etc. Having two icons Gangsta Boo and Young M.A. feature on this one really made it a dream power collab!
I guess it has become my signature over time to have at least a couple of trippy interlude style tracks on every album! Sometimes I have these two-minute ideas where I don’t want to go in and ruin the feeling by adding too much more.
I used to listen to Gangsta Boo back in the early Three Six Mafia days when I was 15/16 years old. Never did I think that years later I would have her featuring on my tracks! This was the first of the two we worked on, I sent her the instrumental and she went straight into the studio and nailed the song in less than 24 hours. The best ones are often the ones that come together the quickest.
“Lessons Of Life”
Another short interlude-style instrumental. I love creating the hypnotic.
Cha$ey and I went to school together, so we’ve known each other since we were 11, which is crazy. We used to make music together over 15 years ago, so it’s been real nostalgic doing stuff together again. Another “full circle.” We’ve made so many tracks in the last few months that we’re thinking of doing a separate collaboration album together.
“To the Ground”
“To the Ground” has my signature MJC pitched up vocal stabs on it. I first started sampling my voice and using it as an additional instrument in my earlier Nocturnal Sunshine productions, but then it gradually became an integral part of my process in all my projects.
This was a proper last minute addition to the album. Cha$ey and I had just recorded six new tracks together, and even though the rest of the album was already done and mastered, I really wanted to slip another one in and this one was one of our other joint favourites.
Even though I was never heavily into garage when I was younger, it was one of the first genres of dance music that I was exposed to in London, so some of my early productions naturally had a hint of UKG flavour in them. “U&ME” takes it back to that sound for me.
The moment I finished “Foundation,” I knew I wanted to build a second Nocturnal Sunshine album around it. For me, it was a different sound to anything that was on the first album, and I was excited to take it all into a slightly new direction.
This is actually the oldest track on the album. It was finished before I even started Full Circle, but I never quite found the right home for it. Once Full Circle came together, it seemed to fit perfectly and ended up making the final cut.
Even though “Closed Eyes” with Thomas Knights is one of the more poppier tracks of the album, it’s one of my favorites. We first collaborated together in 2013 on my album Comfort, so it was nice to come together again six years later to take things up a notch. There’s a certain purity to Thomas’ voice that makes it so perfect for the light and dark juxtaposition which is what Nocturnal Sunshine is all about.
“Something About the Drama”
Earlier this year Chelou released his debut solo album Out Of Sight, which I produced a few tracks on. We had done multiple sessions in the past and one of the tracks that we never ended up finishing kept popping up when I was going through a bunch of stuff. One part of the vocal was stuck in my head for a few days, and it felt like such a waste for it to never see the light of day. I had this rough D&B instrumental that was actually the same key and tempo, I threw the vocal on top and it worked like magic. I kept building on the track afterwards, and it turned into something pretty special.