The Many Shades of Maya
College is easily known as some of the most formative years in our lives. Some know exactly what they want to do; others figure it out along the way; and, for others, we look to graduates ahead of us to see where they ended up and how they got to where they are today.
For drummer and co-vocalist Maya Tuttle, she found her earlier roots right here in UC Irvine before forming the local indie rock band The Colourist, right here in Orange County back in 2009.
As a young girl, Tuttle was inspired by the image of the late Karen Carpenter, who sang and played drums simultaneously in The Carpenters. Tuttle has since then felt inspired to keep drumming a part of her life ever since she picked it up at 12 or 13.
Although the notion of the female drummer can be seen as a “novelty” within the highly male-dominated music industry, Tuttle doesn’t seem to feel particularly enamored by the idea.
It “kind of bothers me,” she says, “if I get some attention for drumming and then people will say, oh it’s just because she’s a female! It totally discredits that I’ve fought [for] what I’m doing. That I’m an artist.”
In a nostalgic trip back to her alma mater, Tuttle reflected to me on her times as an anteater, encouraging us all to “take advantage of this time here.”
Rachel Ann Cauilan: So what did you study when you were here?
Maya Tuttle: I came in as an econ major but quickly switched over… I got here and it was purely math and I was getting a tutor everyday for calculus… It was a huge sign to me when I fell asleep in that class, so I switched over to English, which really engaged me.
RC: Were you actively pursuing music when you were in college?
MT: College might’ve been a little break from music, because it’s really hard as a drummer to find any place to practice. That was actually a lot of the motivation for me to join the pep band… I took college time to just focus on myself, and I really grew a lot in that way. After college, I got a job working for a local production house/curriculum maker now called Road Trip Nation that had a show on PBS. Even in that time, I never was brave enough to drop everything and pursue music. I really am a backup plan type of person. But, you do have 24 hours in a day, and when you’re in your 20s and you’re going for it, you can work a 9-to-5 job and then after work you have another 8 hours to do whatever you want. So that’s when the band would come into play and eventually we got lucky enough and were offered a record deal.
RC: Looking back on your college career, is there anything you would’ve liked to do differently?
MT: I graduated in 4 years and 3 of them were at UCI [so] I kind of wished I took a little more time to really absorb everything in my classes… But, I think it’s such a rare time in your life where you’re in this atmosphere where you can explore different ideas and people and meet random people you’re walking by. I wish I was less shy about that.
Tuttle mentioned that she was also involved in a Battle of the Bands competition before graduating in 2006 with bands who had turned into local favorites Young the Giant and Milo Greene.
Feeling particularly lucky for the modest amount of success she has received, she notes, “I know people a hundred times more talented than me that haven’t gotten the shots that we’ve gotten. So I’m like, we’ve got something going on here. I’ve gotta make the most of it.”