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Interview: 2021 Must-Know - The Marías

Interview: 2021 Must-Know - The Marías

The Marías first appeared with their 'Superclean Vol. I' and 'Superclean Vol. II' EPs in 2017 and 2018 respectively, a collection of songs in English and Spanish which are infused with jazzy percussion, and horn solos - with María's mesmerising vocals sitting atop, backed by Conway.

Founded by María and Josh Conway, and joined by Jesse Perlman and Edward James, the pair spent their 2020 quarantine working on their upcoming debut album, set to be shared in 2021. As María says, "I hope people will listen to it and imagine worlds and scenes in their minds and really allow themselves to feel it. Honestly, the entire album is just a feeling."

A series of single releases in 2020 offered fans tasters of the evolution of their sound - 'Hold It Together's bass-line is pure funk, 'Jupiter' sees Conway's vocals leading the first verse, and they closed out the year with 'We're The Lucky Ones'; a heartfelt holiday song reflecting on the year.

MUST-LISTEN: 'Hold It Together', 'Care For You'.
YOU WILL LIKE, IF YOU LIKE: Claud, Gus Dapperton, Clairo, MorMor, Alexandra Savior, Mitski, Yellow Days... and doing a love language quiz with your friends.

COUP DE MAIN: You released 'We're The Lucky Ones' at the end of last year, which was a touching acknowledgement of grief and everything people have been through in 2020. How have you found the year's events impacting the way you write music?
THE MARÍAS - JOSH:
The first few weeks of quarantine weren’t much of a change for us since our normal day-to-day life as songwriters is usually spent at home in isolation. But when the BLM protests began, everything changed. What had felt important to us before suddenly became completely irrelevant. I don’t think I listened to any of the songs we were working on from June to August. I think it’s safe to say that both Maria and I completely forgot about the album and put 100% of our attention to what was going on in the world. Making music just didn’t feel right. Even still, there’s a lingering feeling of guilt as well as extreme gratitude that we’re lucky enough to be able to make a living from writing songs. On the other hand, the songs we did write like ‘We’re The Lucky Ones’ and a couple others were directly inspired by 2020’s events.

CDM: You sing in 'Care For You', "Then I wouldn't say a prayer for you / Just to show you that I care for you." What do you think are the most powerful ways to show someone that you care for them? And who is the cat who features on the 'Care For You' single cover?!
THE MARÍAS - MARIA:
Everyone has a different love language, something I learned from a book I read in high school. I know it’s kinda cheesy, but I’ve actually found it really helpful! The five love languages are: (1) Words of Affirmation, (2) Acts of service, (3) Receiving gifts, (4) Quality time, and (5) Physical touch. It’s important to know what love language our friends, family members or partners relate to the most in order for us all to understand how we receive and give love. Personally, I like receiving all five haha. I’m a demanding partner. But I also have a lot of love to give too. Oh! And to answer your question about the cat. We actually had two black cats. The first was a sweet cat named Nigel, but he wasn’t feelin' being in front of the camera, poor guy. We respected that. So we had another black cat come in named Sambitas. The white cat was so precious, and her name was Doreen.

CDM: What can you tell us about your upcoming debut album?
MARIA:
We poured our entire lives into the album and gave it everything we had. It’s a direct reflection of who Josh and I are at this moment and our collective experiences before. I think this album was living inside both of us for a long time just waiting for the right moment to show its face. We want it to be an experience for the listener - an escape from the world. I hope people will listen to it and imagine worlds and scenes in their minds and really allow themselves to feel it. Honestly, the entire album is just a feeling.
JOSH: I think it’s a great album. We’re coming towards the final homestretch and looking back I feel I can confidently say that we put 110% into it, apart from the couple months when we forgot about it. I really hope our fans like it as much as we do.

CDM: What was running through your mind while writing 'Jupiter'?
JOSH:
'Jupiter' was written in Joshua Tree and I remember Maria was playing around with one of our keyboards and started singing the chorus melody which we both really loved. Later that night I started writing a new chord progression and the melody she sang earlier that day worked perfectly over it. We wrote lyrics the next day looking at a beautiful view of the warm and sunny desert. That memory will definitely stick with me for a long time.

CDM: In 'Bop It Up' you sing, "I made a mess / inside my hеad," and you've said the song is about trying to overcome insecurity. Do you think that it's part of the human condition to feel insecurities, and to often go through internal struggles in our head? How do you think people can cope with it?
MARIA:
I definitely think it’s part of the human condition to feel insecurities, but I also think that they’ve become even more pronounced in our generation due to social media. There’s so much social pressure to be, look, and act a certain way that it makes us second guess ourselves and our actions. And it also doesn’t help that there are so many haters hiding behind a screen with equal parts entitlement and sadness calling out what people might be most insecure about. I’ve recently started therapy, and that’s been helping me a lot. I think everyone should be in therapy and be ok to talk about it. I don’t know why and when being in therapy became such a stigma in society. We’re all human, and we all have issues. Just like we’re always told to give our bodies multi-vitamins and to exercise, we should all be encouraged to be in therapy and to take care of our minds.

CDM: How does your songwriting process work?
MARIA:
I wish Josh and I had a set process that would work for us every time, but we haven’t gotten there yet! Ha. Sometimes we’ll start a song independently, then share it with the other, and flush it out with both perspectives and ideas. Other times, we’ll start it together from scratch. It may start with a simple chord progression or melody or beat, and if we’re both feeling the idea then everything, including production, will come to life very quickly. All of this to say, the process is different for each song. :)

CDM: Do you write your lyrics specifically for the songs, or do you write poems or prose and then evolve them into song-form?
MARIA:
For the most part, all of the lyrics are written specifically for the song. A lot of times, we’ll start a song without having any idea what it’s going to be about. Words flow through us subconsciously before we find the actual meaning. But I love doing it that way because words and feelings come out of us that would otherwise be trapped in our minds somewhere.

CDM: Lyrically, what's your favourite song that you’ve written?
MARIA:
It’s a song on the new album. I wish I could tell you which one, but I will after it comes out. It’s a song about paranoia. I’ve always been scared of being alone in the dark. My mind just runs wild, and every single tiny sound will set me off into a panic. I’m so strong in other areas of my life, but when it comes to being alone in the dark, forget about it.

CDM: What do you think is the difference between a good song and a great song?
MARIA:
Everyone bases their interpretation of music on their personal experiences and what they’re going through at the time. So a song that I think is absolutely incredible, someone else might think is just good or average, or maybe not even good at all. But I base it on how much a song makes me feel. It could be the most technically advanced song ever, but if it doesn’t give me that feeling in the pit of my stomach, it’s probably not a song I’ll remember for too long.
JOSH: I think we can tell as listeners how much love went into the creation of a particular song. I think it’s easy to tell when someone just kind of threw a couple melodies together and called it a song and for me that can sort of limit how good a song can be. So as cheesy as this is, I guess love is the difference. Also fire melodies though. And structure/arrangement plays a huge role. Oh and groove. And flow. And lyrics are big too.

CDM: What do you hope for people to take away from listening to your music?
MARIA:
I hope they feel acknowledged and inspired. A lot of my favourite albums make me feel that way. After listening to ‘In Rainbows’ or more recently the new Tame Impala album, ‘The Slow Rush’, they put into words and music how I’m feeling. That acknowledgement makes me feel less alone and more connected. And my only hope is that our music speaks to someone in the same way.
JOSH: More than anything I hope to inspire just one person. Like if someone hears a song of ours and is then inspired to make a song of their own (or to create really anything), I would feel like our hard work wasn’t for nothing. Reason being because I know how great it feels to be inspired by something and I would love to be the one to do it.

CDM: If T.H.E. M.A.R.I.A.S. were an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
MARIA:
Tasting Heaven Everyday Makes Angels Rethink Inspiring A Scorpio.
JOSH: Two Honest Eggs Make A Ruckus In A Sandwich.

CDM: If you could steal one thing without consequence, what would it be?
MARIA:
A backstage pass to a Radiohead show or the red outfit that Britney Spears wore in the 'Oops!... I Did It Again' video. I’d steal it just for a day then give it back though.
JOSH: The Declaration of Independence. For the treasure map, obviously.

CDM: If you were a country, what would be your national anthem?
MARIA:
'Hoy Cobré' by Bad Bunny. It’s a song about getting paid, and in my country, where every single human being is a citizen, everyone would be getting paid a lot of money, there would be free healthcare for all (including mental healthcare), and tuition-free college education. Or, ‘Mercy, Mercy Me’ by Marvin Gaye to remind us all about the environmental destruction happening in the world and to be collectively inspired to do something about it.

CDM: What’s on your bucket-list?
MARIA:
Make a movie, have a coffee with Pedro Almodóvar and Thom Yorke, pay off my parents’ house, go skydiving, visit an animal sanctuary.
JOSH: Before 2020 I probably would’ve said something like, "I’d love to tour in Japan." But now I think I’ll edit that and say I’d just love to tour again.

CDM: You’re one of our 'must-know’ artist picks for 2021... who are yours?
MARIA:
First of all, thank you! We’ve been big fans of y'all for a while, so even just doing this interview is crazy to me. Thank you! And a few of our must-know artists are: Yendry, Buscabulla, Still Woozy, Maye, Puma Blue, Sam Evian, and Hope Tala.

Watch the music video for 'Care For You' below...

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