Oxford graduate. Poet. Music-head. Maysa Ib is the unconventional curator discovering and booking eclectic talent all across London. As part of Brave Poets, the music community she founded as a safe space for music experimentation, Maysa has brought her mix of freestyling vocalists, afrobeats, saxophonists and more to the Standard, London’s thriving Library Lounge. We caught up with Maysa before her New Year’s Eve show, which included Fela Kuti's saxophonist Bukky Leo,.at The Standard, London.
You studied Law at Oxford University – how has this informed your music or your career, if at all?
I went up to Oxford to study law to make the world a better place. The idea at age 18 was that the UN could best help. My TEDx talk shows my follow-up belief that art makes the world a better place, and that artists need an audience. I also do provide a music law service and have also worked pro-bono for a lot of musicians which has helped the scene improve in its clarity.
You worked with Grime previously - why do you think Grime is suddenly only now being recognised by a broader audience?
I think poetry as a whole has a bigger audience. Hip hop is almost mainstream but mumble rap has become the new pop, whereas grime has a real solid focus on lyrics. Unpolished, with super interesting lyricists.
What about the NY and London jazz scenes – what are the differences and the similarities?
The UK jazz scene is killing it. Aside from Ronnies, which banked itself on U.S. artists,
What do you look for in new music?
When the audience feels it, they feel it, and it is hard to break down a feeling. I bring an art world approach to the music we curate, in that we focus on the original, the new and the pioneers - which isn’t easy to come by. You have to look for it, and it does mean I attend a lot of gigs, rehearsals, and studio sessions of local and visiting artists. I have been known to fly from San Francisco to Mexico City and on to New York in the space of a week to see musicians perform in different settings with different line-ups. But if you have an instinct for hearing that potential you cannot help but follow your nose, and so far I have rarely been wrong. That same artist went on to become our resident star artist, launched a new album on our stage - and that same album went on to be nominated for a Grammy last week.
What’s been the most exciting show you’ve seen this year?
The most exciting show I have seen this year was Mez playing with the keyboardist from Steamdown and the drummer from Sons of Kemet, and Soweto Kinch playing with Theo Croker at Theo's album launch.