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In Her Debut Album, Maya Hawke Explores Young Adulthood

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SO LONG")

MAYA HAWKE: (Singing) When I am with you...

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Moving out of your family house or apartment, finding friends, lovers - those are universal themes of young adulthood. And for 22-year-old Maya Hawke, those themes are the focus of her debut album "Blush."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SO LONG")

HAWKE: (Singing) I have nothing to say about love anymore.

SIMON: Maya Hawke joins us now from New York. Thanks so much for being with us.

HAWKE: Thank you so much for having me. This is a huge honor. I love your program, and I'm incredibly nervous to be on it but very excited.

SIMON: Oh. Well, there's no reason to be nervous.

HAWKE: (Laughter).

SIMON: I - you know, I'm not nervous being on it. Actually, I am a little every now and then. But in any event, the first single on your album is called "By Myself." And it comes out at a time when many of us are just, like, a little tired of being by ourselves.

HAWKE: (Laughter) I know. I mean, well, it actually came out right when quarantine first went into place. So when - it sort of actually came out at a perfect time, I think, when we were all just figuring out what it feels like to be by yourself.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BY MYSELF")

HAWKE: (Singing) And I'm talking to myself. I prefer my dreams of you to anything you'd ever do.

But I didn't write it - it wasn't about a quarantine experience. It was actually about being - you know, that kind of loneliness that you feel when you're surrounded by people.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BY MYSELF")

HAWKE: (Singing) And I'm dreaming by myself...

SIMON: So much of this album is about standing on your own in life, out from under the sheltering arms which can sometimes be a little tight of parents and family - comes out at a time when a lot of young people have had to move back into their childhood homes, haven't they?

HAWKE: Yeah. I mean, it's funny people have said that that it rings like the album is about that, about coming out of those sheltering arms. And I guess, in some ways, it is because it was written in those first three years that I had after I started working and moved out and started, you know, having those adult experiences of buying toilet paper. This album was written in those first couple years for me. And so I think maybe those experiences do infuse some of the songs and some of that fear about, who are you when you're on your own, you know? Who are you without the blanket of the people that love you most in the world?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MENACE")

HAWKE: (Singing) Turn my gaze away. We'll leave the impressions that I...

SIMON: All right. Get this out of the way. Your parents are Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke.

HAWKE: Oh, no. Really?

SIMON: (Laughter).

HAWKE: Oh, I didn't think they would get such a big laugh. I mean, that wasn't a very good joke.

SIMON: Oh, that's hysterical. That's hysterical. Well done. Well done.

HAWKE: (Laughter).

SIMON: Well, that does raise a question - 'cause you also act. And I wonder, did seeing their lives make you want to go into show business or get as far away from show business as possible?

HAWKE: I guess I would say neither and both. I definitely didn't think I wanted to go into show business for a long time because I saw the emotional toll...

SIMON: Yeah.

HAWKE: ...You know, what that does to a person. But eventually, my passion overtook my trepidation. And my love of the act itself - the act of acting - was much greater than my fear.

SIMON: Boy. Where's the title "Blush" come from?

HAWKE: A couple different places - it is a lyric in the song "Coverage"...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COVERAGE")

HAWKE: (Singing) There are shades you can't replace with blush or blues or lights of grays.

...Which is sort of the only song that's actually really about acting on set. But where the title really comes from for me is about this idea of embarrassment. Most people wouldn't describe me as a particularly shameful or shy person. But I actually walk through my life feeling tremendously embarrassed most of the time - that I talked too loud at a party or said something stupid or, you know, whatever it is. So that's part of what it means. And the other part of what it means is that blush is simultaneously a revealing thing. Like, when you blush, you're revealing something about yourself, something personal. And it's also a mask, like if you put on blush or makeup. It's a mask. It hides your face, your feelings.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COVERAGE")

HAWKE: (Singing) If I were really here, looking at your beaming. If I were really alive, could I make it through every day dreaming?

SIMON: I have read that your - that you suffer from dyslexia.

HAWKE: I wouldn't say suffer. I would say it is, like, one of the great blessings of my life in a lot of ways. But I did get, like, kicked out of school for not being able to read when I was a kid. And I went to a special school for kids with learning disabilities. And it took me a long time to learn how to read, and I still am limited. But the wonderful thing about today's world is that there are so many options. There's something about having had a limitation in regards to my ability to produce and take in stories that made me even more determined to love them and understand them and grow in them.

I mean, like, that said, it was deeply difficult, you know, to be in the slow class. Every grade that went by, you get dropped down into a lower and lower reading group. And other kids find out. And there's bullying in place. But my parents did a wonderful job of encouraging me to be creative.

SIMON: I also understand you gave a break to an aspiring director for the music video of your song "Coverage."

HAWKE: Oh, yes. Yes, he is an aspiring director. He is - you know, he's a small-town guy. My dad - he directed that video for "Coverage." COVID had just really hit. So I made - I did these live videos with my family. But people call it a music video, I think, because, like, my dad is such a special filmmaker that even with, like, an iPhone and 10 minutes to prepare and me being, like, everyone we're going to play the song in the barn; like, Dad, will you make a video? - his brain turns on and he goes, OK.

SIMON: You've got a full, rich creative life, don't you?

HAWKE: I mean, I also probably spend most of my time, like, watching reruns of "Grey's Anatomy" and...

SIMON: (Laughter).

HAWKE: ...Picking up my pimples. But I certainly can hold a conversation and make it seem like I have a rich creative life (laughter). I certainly aspire to have a rich creative life.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANIMAL ENOUGH")

HAWKE: (Singing) No one is animal enough to take up the space in my mind.

SIMON: Musician and actor Maya Hawke - her debut album is "Blush." Thanks so much for being with us.

HAWKE: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. It is wonderful to speak to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANIMAL ENOUGH")

HAWKE: (Singing) You're not animal enough to take up the space in my body - traded love in for a hobby. And I hope you find something you like. And what lies behind you'll never mind. Hope you find some way to see no one is animal enough for me. I've got too much to talk about without your hand over my mouth. A whimper leaves me like a shout. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.