We had the good fortune of connecting with Mai Leisz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mai, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
When you truly love something or someone, you’re more willing to take risks. Sometimes you stumble and fall but the important thing is to get up and keep going. I’ve had 3 new beginnings in my life: when I moved from the safety of my hometown to Tallinn in 2007, to Sweden in 2010 and to the USA in 2017. It takes courage to start over and leave your comfort zone, friends and family behind. You have to believe that there’s something bigger out there for you and your faith needs to be stronger than your fear.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a bass player and composer born and raised in Estonia. In 2010 I made the move to Sweden to hone my craft and study at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. In 2017 I moved to Los Angeles and started touring with the legendary David Crosby. I’ve released 3 albums with my own jazz-fusion group MaiGroup and since 2020 I’ve been releasing new music with Michael Landau, Greg Leisz and Gary Novak. I’ve had the great honor to work with some of my favorite artists in the world such as Jackson Browne, Bill Frisell, Charles Lloyd and Michael McDonald among others. It’s been a lot of dreaming, hard work and patience despite all the doubts and fears. Big dreams take time so giving up has never been an option for me. I’ve always had some sort of knowing that wherever my journey takes me, I’m where I’m meant to be. The greatest lesson is to stop comparing yourself to others. We all have our own unique story and connection to music. There’s room for everyone!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
LA has so much to offer to different people. I am personally a nature lover so I love to explore all the hiking trails in different canyons. I’d take my music loving friends to see Laurel Canyon where so much was happening in the 60’s. Palos Verdes Peninsula is absolutely gorgeous. Malibu Canyon. Pasadena has some really beautiful architecture. La Brea Tar Pits are pretty mind blowing. Echo Park is such a cool area with little coffee shops, vintage clothing and book stores. I’m sure my friends would love to see the Hollywood sign, Hollywood Boulevard, Santa Monica and Venice beach, but LA is just so much more! There are so many restaurants and bars. I love having my morning coffee and sitting outside, enjoying the sunshine.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We should never forget who were there for us when we were just starting out. I’ve been very lucky to have had many people blowing wind into my sails: my husband, my family & friends. I’d like to bring out my first bass teacher Raul Vaigla who was an incredible source of inspiration to me, and he still is. I wouldn’t be here without support, encouragement and friendship.