Ma Sha seems like the result of a delightful phonetic game—it could be Masha cleaved in half, or an honorific Mother Sha, or even just a name crafted for its hushed, whispery appeal. Although the expression is trite, in this case, ‘her name speaks for itself’ actually holds; the New York-based DJ and producer is as experimental and ready for a good time as her name suggests.
If you follow the New York music scene, you've probably heard of Ma Sha, co-founder of key music events like Kindergarten. In her new EP Pull to Stop, out on July 25th, the renowned creator releases a souped-up mix of her greatest hits; they're still recognizable, but offer something new for everyone, including die-hard fans. Only a couple of days ago, she gave us a taste with Turboflow. She describes the music as a “cosmic club workout,” and they definitely make even the most disco-averse of us want to bounce up and down to the pulsating beat. Her music feels tailor-made for dancing, which makes sense considering her background as a breakdancer.
Somehow, Ma Sha keeps up her energy despite being in the game for years. She's always trying something new, hungry for personal and artistic growth. I had a chance to sit down with the artist to discuss her latest EP and learn more about her never-complacent, eager-to-evolve attitude that is apparent in Pull to Stop.
Hi Ma Sha! How are you today? What are you up to?
Hi Maya! I’m doing great, thank you for asking. This week, I’m diving into some final preparations for my upcoming EP release, Pull to Stop, on Steel City Dance Discs. We’re shooting visualizers later this week, so I’m getting ready for that. It’s truly an exciting time for me. I’m a bit nervous, but also looking forward to the music being out in the world and not just on my computer anymore :)
How did you get into DJing? What is your approach to creating the perfect mix of songs?
I got into DJing around eight years ago after moving to New York. Music has always been a part of my life, from breakdancing as a kid to attending rock camp to play drums as a teenager. My approach to creating the mix involves feeling the energy as a dancer on the dance floor. Having spent a lot of time breakdancing, my body naturally tries to visualize the music through movement. So, I end up dancing a lot while DJing too. It’s about creating a dynamic flow and keeping things surprising for myself during the process.
Where would we find you at the club? If you're not DJ-ing, that is!
Front left. You’d probably find me dancing with my eyes closed, immersed in the journey someone else is taking me on. I love experiencing the energy from both perspectives. I also miss breakdancing and feeling the energy exchange between the community on the dance floor and myself.
What goes into crafting a song for you? Do you start with a set idea or prefer to go with the flow?
Making music for me sometimes involves structured ideas and sometimes spontaneous creativity. One day I might start with a specific concept or sound I liked, while other times I begin with a blank headspace and let the music lead me. I enjoy layering various elements and seeing where they take me. I also love revisiting older ideas and infusing them with fresh energy. These concepts or feelings are important to me, so I often give them a second life, even if it involves a complete restructure of the track.
I notice in your forthcoming EP, Pull to Stop, there's a lot of language relating to movement: Turboflow and Spiralizing are all names of songs. What is the relationship between physicality and music for you? Does one feed into the other?
Yes, absolutely. My influences in music, particularly for this record, range from the personal to the cityscape, highlighting a deep connection with both internal focus and the constant energy of New York. Tracks like Turboflow and Spiralizing capture the essence of perpetual motion, reflecting the city’s fast-paced nature and the consistent flow of energy.
Another song title is Cerulean Rush, and your hair is blue too! What draws you to that colour?
To be honest, now that I think about it, I feel like the colour blue found me rather than me being drawn to it. After a breakup and while exploring my queerness and pansexuality, I asked my friend who works at a salon to cut my hair and dye it blue. It felt like a new me was born during that time. Since then, I’ve tried many different colours, but I always come back to blue. I’m also obsessed with water—sea creatures, surfing, and I even fall asleep with ocean sounds every night! So, there’s another connection with blue right there.
By the way, cerulean blue has an incredible anecdote in pop culture thanks to The Devil Wears Prada, when Miranda Priestly schools Andy on how the fashion industry works. Did you watch the movie back then? Is there any relationship with that?
Yes, I did watch The Devil Wears Prada, and that scene about cerulean blue is iconic! While my love for the colour isn’t directly related to that (it’s actually the name of my friend’s cat, Cerúleo), it’s always fun to see how certain elements exist in different aspects of culture and fashion.
And out of curiosity, what is your relationship with fashion like?
Anytime I travel somewhere, I try to find little stores with local brands because I’m a very visual person and curious about what people create and wear in different cities. I also like spray-painting or altering some of my clothes to make them more connected to myself. So, fashion is definitely another necessary form of self-expression for me. Just like my music, I like to experiment and blend different moods to reflect how I’m feeling at that moment.
The title, and the delirious mix of beats, suggest that this album is going to be a wild ride. What were your main inspirations?
The main inspirations for Pull to Stop come from the energy and spirit of New York City, my personal experiences, and the sensory elements of public spaces. I draw a lot from the dynamic and ever-changing cityscape. I like crafting my sound by filtering through the sensory elements of public spaces. This ability to ‘zone in’ is coupled with a commitment to recycling older unreleased musical ideas, giving them new life and perspective.
You describe that you like to “turn the familiar into something new” in your music. Do you use that approach in your everyday life? How do you refresh your old routines?
Yes, I try to apply that approach in my everyday life, even though it’s not always simple. I think it’s important for me to discover new perspectives, hear opposite opinions, and find creative ways to refresh old routines. Whether it’s trying to put down the energy I feel in a coffee shop on a Sunday morning into a bassline or revisiting old projects with fresh eyes, it’s about keeping things dynamic and constantly in motion for me.
Tell me a bit more about your project Hone.Social. What inspired you to create something like this?
Hone.Social is a project that my friend Lenora and I started in 2018. It was a free weekly DJ workshop providing a place for everyone in the community to learn and practice their skills in a casual, supportive, one-on-one environment. We hosted it for three years until 2021 with around eighty students, and then we did virtual and IRL workshops in the NYC venue, Nowadays. Currently, we are not hosting sessions due to our work schedules, but we are possibly looking into alternative ways to pass the knowledge—perhaps with some YouTube tutorial sessions in the future.
Do you have any upcoming projects you can share with us?
Besides the release of Pull to Stop, I’m working on a few remixes, compilation appearances, and my next EP that I can’t wait to share. Stay tuned for more updates! <3