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| 31 March 2022 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “CINNAMON BABE is an LA-based nu-metal outfit led by model, actress, and outright hustler Stormi Maya. The Bronx native, who grew up on bands like The Cranberries and would later find inspiration from the rebellious voice of acts like Rage Against The Machine and Linkin Park, has come a long way to make this dream a reality. As a black woman, an ally of BIPOC and the LGBTQ+ community, and most of all, a survivor, Cinnamon Babe is Maya’s vehicle to tell her truth.” We get Stormi herself on the phone to discuss new music, shedding her past, and much more…

Toddstar: Stormi, thank you so much for taking time out. I know you’re busy right now. It sounds like you’re busy through the week during the day.

Stormi: Yeah, just in dealing with the music stuff.

Toddstar: Well let’s talk about the music stuff. The new video and single “Pure O” under the band name Cinnamon Babe is out. What can you tell us about this song that people might not understand or might not comprehend the first or second time they listen through this or watch the video?

Stormi: The problem is that most people are not even listening to it. Most people are just criticizing things that aren’t even music related and then they don’t even give it a chance most people. I will say for people who have listened to it, I have had pretty positive reception from the beginning, but most people probably don’t know the back story. I have a form of OCD called pure O; you don’t have any external compulsion, like you’re not going washing your hands repetitively or you’re not like someone with OCD and have to do something type of physical thing, like touch the door knob a couple times and stuff like that. With pure O it’s just when you have intrusive thoughts, and you obsess about the thought over and over again. For example, we all have passing thoughts in our head, like, “Okay, maybe I should jump off this fucking bridge or something.” You think it for a second, its weird thoughts, but you might be cutting an orange or something and be like, “Oh, if I cut my finger…” It’s just random thoughts we sometimes have in our heads, but when you have pure O, you will have a thought like that and then you obsess about it where you start questioning why you would have this thought in the first place. Sometimes you get angry or distressed of why would you even have this thought? It builds into what does it mean that you had this thought. A lot of times you’ll have a thought about a person that you love or people that you know and then you’ll feel immense amounts of guilt of how would I think that. Why would I do this, would I do that? It’s just a passing thought, but you obsess about it in a way that is very unhealthy. There are people who have had a quick thought about maybe harming their child and then they get so distressed about why they have that thought and to the point where get so bad with their guilt and them obsessing over the whole thought they might not want to watch their children or be around their children, because it can get so bad for some people. For years I never really knew what it was called. I’ve had this since I was six and seven. I remember thinking that if I played with a certain toy it would cause some tragedy to happen and I would obsess over it. And this is a very young age. I’m thinking if I make the bed a certain way that my grandma’s going to die or something. It’s a very morbid thought to even have at that age. Then you start obsessing about that – “Oh my God, this is going to happen” and it doesn’t stop… it can be hours, it can be days. It’s something that’s extremely stressful, but you don’t really hear many people talking about it. I wrote the song while I was having an episode, while I was going through intrusive thoughts, and it was fucking stressing me the hell out. I wrote while I was going through it and I was crying. It was the first metal song I ever wrote… I just put it down on paper, just wrote it out. That’s how it got created.

Toddstar: It’s very introspective for sure and it comes across in the video, which I thought was interesting. Tell us about Cinnamon Babe… what is Cinnamon Babe? We’ll call it a persona.  Different than the image and sound of Stormi Maya…

Stormi: Oh God, that music is to never be talked of. Ugh. Before I found myself in music, I did experiment with other genres and stuff, but I am not proud of it. People talk a lot about clout and a lot of people are accusing making music for clout, which makes no fucking sense. A lot of people just don’t believe I’m authentic. When I wasn’t authentic is when I wasn’t making metal. When I was making other shit. Being a young Black chick from the Bronx, I was always around hip hop, rap music, and R & B. When I first got into music, I went into what was the norm for my community, what the norm for people like me. That was what was available. I have always been a metal fan and a metal head. From the beginning I felt “This is not where I belong.” I had made other genres, but it was not me. I was not authentic within it. I felt like I was just doing it because I had to. When I made metal, I felt I was being my authentic self, but nobody believes me, which is fine. Cinnamon Babe… the name came from some guy inboxing me on Instagram and was like, “Hey cinnamon babe,” whatever. I thought it was hilarious. I started making videos on Instagram, making fun of it. I was making videos like, “Hey cinnamon babe, and blah, blah, blah, blah” just like making fun of the fact that this guy called me that because I had guys all the time in my inbox who were like, “Hello, my Ebony queen…” This guy was like, “Hey cinnamon babe.” When I made the band, I was like this kind of catchy. I like this shit. Cinnamon Babe was born.

Toddstar: That’s a cool backstory for sure. Now you’re going to have this guy coming after you wanting all kinds of royalties and shit.

Stormi: If he even knows at this point, I don’t even know. But yeah, it’s pretty funny.

Toddstar: You did mention when you put this band together now, is this truly a band deal or is this you and the plan is to just whoever you’ve got laying around that you can get on the drums, the guitar, the bass, or do you plan on trying to put together a project that’ll just roll over, song after song, album after album?

Stormi: I’m like Prince… I’m like current Ozzy… I’m like Tina Turner. I start with myself and if you’re around, I might put you in the motherfucker for a minute. I have steady people that I work with, but nobody’s officially in this band but me. I keep it to myself because I like to have full creative control. Right now I am telling my stories. I am not saying in the future I wouldn’t be open to something like that, where it’s somebody else in it more permanently. It’s just that I want to tell my stories the way I want to tell my stories. I just don’t feel like playing a fucking team sport currently and I like the fact that I’m not limited. There are so many great musicians and people that I want to work with, and I’ve been able to collaborate with artists around the world, musicians all over. I like the fact that I’m not limiting myself to local artists. My main guitarist is out in Brazil and my other main guitarist is out in South Africa. I like to get the best of the best from around the world instead of just limiting myself to what’s in LA. I don’t know about doing the whole group thing yet.

Toddstar: Give us some backstory to the album title, which would be released later this year from my understanding… You Will Not Destroy Me. Is that a hard go or the working title?

Stormi: I’m sure that’s going to stick. This music is very personal to me. I talk about things that I went through in life. It’s funny the criticism that I get. Number one, a lot of people don’t like me in metal. I have to fight for my space in metal period just to exist in this space. I feel like I have to battle every day. Before people even hear my music, I’m being shut out. I always get accusations of not authentically wanting to be in this space or I have to prove why I want to be in this space. The reason I want to be in this space is because this is my outlet. You Will Not Destroy Me is songs that reflect everything that I’ve gone through. Before I was 18, I had already gone through a lifetime of fucking child abuse, foster care, group homes, homelessness, and even ran out of a burning building. I survived a house fire, a dead beat father didn’t want me, and an abusive mother. I never really had anything or anyone that wanted me, loved me, or anything. Then I was battling with mental illness and all the traumas that I had just gone through for so long. People look at me and they see a pretty woman, beautiful woman, or whatever. They assume things about me. They assume because I guess I’m attractive, that I’ve just had this great life, that I’ve had things handed to me, that I’ve never had to suffer, or that I’ve never had to go through anything. They don’t understand that my true story is very dark and that I’ve gone through a lot of shit. For years I’ve never had an outlet to express the things that I have fucking gone through. This is my therapy. That’s why it’s called You Will Not Destroy Me.

Toddstar: You mentioned that you’re fighting every day to prove that you belong in the metal community and the way I see you have two strikes. First, you don’t have a penis and being Black. The race card in metal is a hard pull. Jada Pinkett put out one of the best metal albums back in 2002 and she didn’t get a fair shake. She is a woman, she is Black, and the actor angle all hurt her. I want to get your take on that because you’re a model and an actor. If anybody Googles you, metal music is one of the last things they’ll find.

Stormi: That’s why I have a separate name for it too versus my name. I feel like I have three strikes against me. Yes, I am a Black woman. Also, it’s my sexualized image. I guess I am known as an Instagram model, whatever you want to call it. Automatically, it’s linked to wanting clout and being unauthentic. When people look at influencers and women show their bodies and stuff, it’s automatically a bunch of hostility. I feel like its jealousy of like, “Oh, you don’t have to work as hard. You can get as many views as possible and this and that from just being hot” versus if I’m a sweaty gross guy, I can’t just show my tits and get that. So it’s some of that and being a Black person, you get a lot of side eyes. I don’t fight against metal elitists. I fight against the Black community more than anything. They feel like I’m being a traitor of some sort for even doing this in the first place. I have to defend metal as a genre to them. Then I have to defend myself within the community. It gets very exhausting. When I first got into metal, I feel like the Black community just attacked me. “You want to be a white girl so bad.” “You’re ashamed of your race.” “This is demonic.” So many accusations of me being anti-Black because I wanted to go into this space. In the Black community, not being prideful of your Blackness is one of the worst things that you can be because they feel like there’s a lot of racism against Blackness as it is. They feel like if you’re Black and you’re not proud of it, that you’re a traitor. That’s what is crazy to me – getting into the metal genre represented that. It was very confusing, because I’m sitting here not understanding what am I doing that shows that I’m not proud of who I am. It’s the pressure that you get as a Black artist. Once I get got into this genre, it’s my responsibility to use all these other Black musicians. Why am I not using every person of color that makes rock and metal? Then I get shit for why the backing band is all these white dudes and why I didn’t go out of my way and find a bunch of Black people to play guitar behind me. I have to defend this and it is something that some other artists don’t have to deal with. I go crazy because I can’t fucking win. Before these guys even hear the fucking music, it’s “Oh, you’re making metal, what the fuck?” Then I get people constantly thinking I’m doing it for clout. Who the makes metal for clout? I’m sitting here confused as hell. It doesn’t get me clout; honestly, it does not. It gets me a lot of hate. I could just post a video me a bikini and get a ton of views. I don’t have to make a whole rock song. Trust me.

Toddstar: I understand what you’re talking about, but I’ve never experienced it. And I think, “Okay, there they’re shunning you for rock and metal yet, the Black community has Jimmy Hendrix, Ice-T’s Body Count.”

Stormi: Yeah. They don’t even listen to it. This is before they hear the music. They’re just like, “Oh, you’re not going to come and invade our space.”

Toddstar: I listened to the song before I could see the video. I think you’ve got a more of a mainstream rock feel to you and that it is very good for storytelling. Do you find that you’re getting comparisons to other artists that you may or may not feel your aligned to?

Stormi: To be honest, I get compared a lot to Willow Smith and shit, because she’s the only current Black chick in rock and it makes no sense because she doesn’t even make fucking metal at all or anything close to what I make. She makes pop, pop punk, or whatever. So, it’s just comparing image. When people actually listen to my music, they compare me to Rage Against the Machine a lot, which is one of my biggest inspirations. That would make sense. I am not sitting here saying I’m the best artist in the world. I don’t think I’m the most talented person in the world either. I’m just a hard worker. I’m just a person who just wants to express myself with music and if people happen to like it, then that’s cool. If they don’t, they don’t. It’s just that I’m exhausted having to fight to be in a space based on everything but my music. Having to fight to be in rock music because I’m a Black woman that shows her tits is just annoying when it’s all ‘Sex, Drugs, and Rock n Roll. Rock has always been about being fucking naked, getting fucked, and shit. I think about Prince with his whole fucking ass out. Are you going to say Prince is not rock? It’s not fair to sit here and be like, “Oh, you use your body.” A lot of the bands from the 80’s did it. They would have their shirts off on stage and “Oh my God, they’re so hot and shit.” No one bats an eye. That’s what rock for me. The image of rock has always been sexualized. To say in rock music the image hasn’t been sexualized… the fuck it has. When I do it, it’s just interesting that people are offended, because in my opinion that’s what rock is. The thing about rock and metal, is that I always felt like it was a space for like outsiders that felt like they didn’t belong somewhere and was an outsider in their community. I feel like once I got into this community, I’m an outsider within that. I have to prove that I’m an outsider to the outsiders. It boils down to them being afraid of the image of what they grew up with being changed. They have nostalgia of certain bands and the imagery of it. I don’t think they want people coming in and changing that image. I’m the opposite of what the image of metal is. The image of metal has never been a Black chick with an Afro – that is the furthest image from metal you can think of. You think of metal, you think of longhaired white dudes and shit. I make them uncomfortable because it’s like, you’re in our club, and you don’t look the part. It’s like when a white guy gets into rap music, people look at him as like, okay, why are you here? He has to dress a certain way, be super tatted, or be a hardcore dude to prove himself. He can’t be some dorky white dude who works at fucking Staples. He has to look like he came from the streets or had to struggle to be accepted. I think one thing about me is I didn’t put on a fucking costume when I came into metal. I didn’t go and straighten my hair, try to whitewash myself, or do whatever the people would expect. I just looked like me and I do this shit as me. I think about Machine Gun Kelly, for example. I think he’s talented. He’s a cool guy. But I think with him, when he got into hip hop and like that, he had a whole different style. He used to wear baggy shit, backwards hats, and all that. Then he got into rock music and suddenly, he’s, “Oh, I got tight jeans and nail polish. I look a fucking emo kid in high school and shit.” I think he’s putting a costume onto this genre. I didn’t do that shit. I’m just me making shit that I fucking love. That’s how I look at it. Like I said, I feel like I just have to fucking constantly prove that I’m doing this for the right reason. I get called an industry plant – “You’re an Instagram model and you make metal.” They can’t just let me exist. Like I said, they don’t even listen to the music half the time. When they watch the music video, they’re just pissed off and I don’t hear the fucking end of it. They don’t even criticize the music. They criticize the most minuscule things because they secretly want to say, “You don’t fucking belong here.”

Toddstar: I like the fact that the music seems real and again, tying your backstory to it and what I’ve learned here, I think you’re just being honest. To me, that’s the real basis of music. Forget rock and roll, forget rap, forget country, forget a genre. Being real and being honest gets to the heart of it. With that said, if you had to look back and we talked about your other music that you that you’re not proud about.

Stormi: No, I tried to delete it.

Toddstar: Unfortunately, Amazon and Spotify have other plans. Do you regret it, Stormi? Do you regret it? I mean, did it help you in any way to where you don’t regret it versus I just wish it wasn’t out there anymore?

Stormi: I wouldn’t say I regret it. I would say that I’m not proud of it. The reason I’m not proud of it is the first music I came out with wasn’t me. When I first got into rap and hip hop, my ex-boyfriend was my producer/ manager at the time. He’s the one who approached me and said, “Hey, you should hip-hop, rap shit, or whatever.” I was willing to give it a fucking shot. Why not? Let’s just try this shit. And when I first started making it, I did for the first one or two songs, make shit that I thought were cool and fire or whatever. As time went on and I started getting into it, I started trying to chase the trends and chase what was popular. I was making stuff that was going to be popular TikTok stuff and was cool for social media. A lot of it was good on TikTok, kids were dancing to it, and I had some music that did decent. I got on the radio. It was trendy and pop-ish, but it wasn’t me. Nothing of it had substance. It was air music; had nothing to it. It was just no stories to it, no morals, nothing. I was ashamed of it after a while because I’m making shit that doesn’t even mean any fucking thing. It doesn’t represent me. It doesn’t tell my actual stories. It doesn’t empower anybody. It’s just bullshit. And then I’m like, “Do I want to be fucking 50 years old performing “Sucking dick for a stack?” Is this something that I’ll be proud for my kids to hear or that I want to pass down? Is it something that represents me, what my mindset is, and what I want to give back to the culture of society? No, it wasn’t. It was bullshit. I started hating it. I was ashamed after a while, because I was doing what all the other girls were doing. There’s a whole thing of girls on social media right now who are making trendy Cardi B rock type music. I call it thot rap. And nothing wrong with thot rap. Sometimes I listen to a little thot-y music, some city girl shit, because sometimes I’m a hoe mood. I didn’t want that to represent my overall mindset, who I am as a person, and what I want to say. As I opened up to certain people about the things that I’ve gone through in life, things I’ve survived, I had so many people who are just like, “Why are you not telling these fucking stories? You understand on how many people you would inspire, your backstory and this and that?” For years, people told me I should write a book about things that I’ve seen, gone through, and whatever. I make fucking music and the fact that it wasn’t an outlet for me just made no sense. I do the modeling thing, I do the acting shit, and I do the social media thing. These are all streams of income. These are different avenues, but none of them are an outlet for what I go through. None of these help me therapeutically with what I have to go through in life and what I’ve gone through. That to me became alarming. It’s like, I’m doing this, and this isn’t even helping me internally. I always had been a metalhead and a metal fan. That was always my favorite genre. It was also alarming to me that I was making music in a genre that I wasn’t even a big fan of. I’ve always been more of a rock and metal fan. So, it didn’t make much sense also that I wasn’t making what I mostly loved, but I was intimidated. There’s so much more that goes into the metal and rock genre. Not to degrade or put down any other genre – they don’t put any effort. It’s just being honest. When you compare the two, rock songs are a lot more work because there are more musicians and people involved. Even getting it mixed is more work. So, my thing is overall, it’s very intimidating as a genre. And then you add in the elitist and the people who gate keep it. I am a bit ashamed of my old music, because it represents a fucking poser, an unauthentic version of myself. As much as people think I’m unauthentic in the metal space, they’re completely wrong. I was unauthentic when I was making that pop shit. Once I started making my own shit, I started being myself and telling my stories the way I want to tell them. Whether people think I’m musically talented or like my music or not, I’m still authentic in what I make. It’s still my stories and my shit. Most of them don’t even give me a chance. They hear its nu-metal and then they get fucking even madder because apparently people hate nu-metal all the of sudden.

Toddstar: I appreciate the time Stormi and I can’t wait to get my hands on more music. Everybody can go out and get “Pure O” and look forward to other singles coming, “Unwanted” and “Rock and Roll is Black.” I can’t wait until You Will Not Destroy Me is out there and you take it out and tour it.

Stormi: Thank you, honestly, I appreciate it. Thank you for dealing with my crazy weirdo ass.

Toddstar: No, no, it’s all good. It’s all fun. Hopefully out on the road, will be to say hi and say, “Hey, remember I’m the guy that ask you all kinds of stupid questions?”

Stormi: Oh God. Well, hopefully you’ll ask me some more stupid questions in the future. Thank you.

Toddstar: We’ll be in touch once you start dropping some more music, we’ll update everything, and make sure everybody knows who the fuck you are.

Stormi: Thanks babe. Bye.



Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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