DEBUT EP: SUPERCLEAN VOL. 1
June 23, 2017. The Fonda Theatre. Before Bad Suns took the stage for their second sold-out headlining show in L.A., The Marías graced the stage. A few minutes before they began, I learned (through their Instagram) that this would be the biggest show that they had ever played and that today was their one-year anniversary of them being a band. Although I was able to hear their song, “I Don’t Know You,” a few times on Spotify before seeing them live, I wasn’t sure what to expect when they finally came on stage; they had only released one song when I first discovered them. Their set was fantastic; it was upbeat and fun, and Maria even sang some songs in Spanish. Her siren-like vocals were unique and raw, and I was left wanting to hear more. Their music was different from what I am used to hearing, and I was left in awe once they had finished their set. I felt that it was cut way too short, but I was ready to discover more music by them.
Once the concert was over (and once I had gotten over the sadness that set in when I realized that I wouldn’t see Bad Suns perform for a while until their next album would be released), I was determined to learn more about The Marías. I was bummed to see that they only released the one song, but I reached out to them through their website in hopes of learning more about their music and their band.
I had the opportunity to speak with the group the day after their first night of residency at the Freehand Hotel. As late of a night that they had, frontwoman Maria and drummer Josh were more than happy to talk to me about the band and their music. They were so gracious, kind, and open about their experiences, and being able to hear and learn about their writing and recording processes was enlightening and magical. Even though listeners have only been able to listen to a snippet of the incredible songwriting and musical prowess from The Marías, it is very apparent that they will be finding fame and success very quickly upon the release of their EP’s this fall.
I DON’T KNOW YOU – SINGLE REVIEW
In their debut single, Zardoya’s unique, siren-like vocals fill the song with a sexy, soulful feel as the melodies of the piece transport listeners back to the era of jazz clubs and vintage instrumentals. Zardoya’s ballad is reminiscent of some talented and amazing Latina vocalists, such as Natalia Lafourcade and Carla Morrison. The lyrics remind listeners of a lost love, of a romance that is falling flat. The moody guitar and bass riffs give the song a feeling of longing, and the drum beat is calming, yet continues the song’s tone of sensuality. If fans needed any proof that the long-awaited EP will be worth the wait, look no further than The Marías’ debut single.
MEET THE BAND
Maria Zardoya – vocals
Josh Conway -- drums
Carter Lee – bass
Edward Friedlander – keyboard
Jesse Perlman – guitar
What serves as your biggest inspiration when writing new music?
MARIA: We just moved into a new place a few months ago; it’s this really amazing place in the Hollywood Hills. We got really lucky; it was built in 1910, it’s like a spiritual artist commune. It’s very beautiful and peaceful. We have our studio set up in the living room and there is just like a bunch of light and nature and space. So, that’s really conducive to writing and to creating music because if we have an idea in the middle of the night, we can just get up, walk a few steps, and record it. The actual space, itself, that we’re living and working in is super conducive to writing and to creating music.
Just in terms of actual inspiration, I would say just, mainly, life. I mean, most of our songs are kind of love songs. Josh and I are in a relationship together, so you know, we write a lot about just the evolution of that. And then just, life in general. What’s going on in the world around us, in the political landscape and our frustrations with that and our social interactions really influence us. So, I would just say, you know, life in general. There’s no one particular thing to write about, but I guess that love is just the easiest to write about.
What is your writing process like?
MARIA: It kind of differs. It’s really just what happens organically with the song. So, sometimes, we’ll start super rough playing a few chords on the guitar, adding in the melody and the lyrics, and then we sit down and kind of put the driving beat and then record the demo. Sometimes it starts with the driving beat, first. Josh will just be making a beat on the computer, and then we’ll hear a melody for that and lyrics will evolve from there. Sometimes, we start with lyrics first and then it kind of evolves from that. Sometimes Josh will just be lying in bed and think of this weird drum beat in his head and we’ll just walk two steps to record it and then a melody will come shortly after. I think it just differs based on what pops up, I think. You know, the other guys in the band have also started writing with us as well and that process is a little bit different. Sometimes they’ll have a song of their own that they want to evolve into more of the group sound. So, we’ll all work on that together. I don’t think there’s a particular way to write, I think it’s just what grows organically with an idea or with a song.
Your love for Latin heritage is inspiring, especially since I am Hispanic, as well! How much thought went into performing songs in Spanish, despite the fact that listeners may not be able to fully understand the lyrics?
Spanish is my first language and, funny enough, it is Josh’s first language as well. His first word was ‘jugo’ (juice), and his nanny was from Guatemala…so, you know. Anyway, it is a big part of my culture and I grew up listening to a lot of Latin music. And, again, going back to the songwriting aspect and it being kind of organic, we start a song not saying if it will be in Spanish or English, we just kind of go with whatever comes out and since Spanish is really close to my heart, sometimes we just decide that the song will end up being in Spanish. And that’s something that is really important to me; being able to connect with people, you know, that share the same culture, because it is literally a part of who I am. In terms of people who wouldn’t necessarily understand the lyrics, I think in every song there’s an undertone of emotion or sentiment that you can still feel without necessarily understanding the words. There are even some songs in English that I’m just like “wait, what? What are they even saying?” but the sentiment is there and I feel something really deep even when I don’t really understand what they’re saying. We listen to a lot of Portuguese and French music and we don’t know what the lyrics are saying, but there is an underlying emotion that really speaks to us without directly speaking to us in our language. Just in terms of the melody and the instrumentation, you can clearly call out a good melody without necessarily understanding what the lyrics are. And, it’s always fun to maybe make up your own lyrics in your head based on what you are going through at the time.
Your first single is called “I Don’t Know You”. Why did you choose this particular song as the first single?
MARIA: It kind of happened pretty organically. I started writing the song with another friend of mine. Then I played Josh a little recording of it and he just went, “Oh, this needs to be the driving beat” and then it kind of just evolved into what it is now. We honestly didn’t rehearse it much before recording it; we recorded a rough demo in Joshua Tree and then it just kind of stopped at that. And then Chris Douridas (a DJ at KCRW) got ahold of it, just the rough demo that we had done. And without us even knowing it, he started playing it on KCRW and then a lot of people started reaching out to Chris, you know, just being like, “Hey, I heard this song on the radio, who are these guys? I can’t find them online, I can’t find any other songs, who are these people?” So he kept playing it and people kept responding positively to the song, and since no one could find anything else from us and since Chris told us how much people were enjoying the song, we ended up releasing it as our first single. It wasn’t necessarily one that we “picked” from the beginning, it just happened. We saw that people are drawn to the song, and decided to release it as our first song because of that. So, really, the listeners chose our first single.
You’ve been a band for a year, but you aren’t releasing your first EP until later this year. Why such the long wait?
MARIA: We’ve been playing together for about a year, but we’ve only been playing shows for about 6 months. For the first 6 months, we rehearsed to make sure that everything was tight, to really hone in on the sound as a group. Josh and I have been writing and recording songs for a couple of years now but it’s just kind of kept evolving and evolving and when we finally got together with the other guys, it evolved even more. We wanted to make sure that what we put out first is a true representation of who we are as a group. The natural evolution of us playing as a group and spending more item together just kind of dictates the evolution of the song. So again, we wanted to make sure that it was all a true representation of the collective group.
JOSH: The record is almost done now, and it has taken a while, but it’s definitely worth the wait. We rerecorded each song a bunch of times. It never quite felt ready yet, and to be honest, I don’t know if it will ever feel like it’s ready. It’s ready enough to say that too much time has passed and it needs to be released.
MARIA: I think that’s a big reason why we’ve chosen to do two EP’s; we have enough material for a full album, but we’re gonna do it little by little, just to make sure that every little piece is just a true representation of who we are and what we want to share.
JOSH: We’re basically recording a full-length record but are just releasing it in two pieces.
What is the song off of your EP that you are most excited to release and to have fans hear?
MARIA: They’re all so different and for each song, the message is pretty different. There’s one on the second EP called “Mink Socks”, which is very cool
JOSH: I’m very interested to see the response to it, because it’s a little different than our other stuff.
MARIA: There’s also one on the second EP that’s called “Ay Papà”, which is in Spanish. It’s about politics and what’s going on in the world right now.
JOSH: Off of the first EP, I’m excited about a song called “I Like It,” it’s a super cool new one that we recently recorded.
MARIA: I’m excited about all of them. I think if we were to release each one individually, we would want the same level of excitement for all of them. If we weren’t excited about one, it just wouldn’t go on the EP. So, yeah, we’re pretty excited about all of them.
JOSH: There have been a few that we actually aren’t too excited about so we’ve decided to just not put them on.
Do you have any all-time favorite bands or artists? Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
JOSH: Al Green, The Beatles, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Radiohead….
MARIA: Some of the female greats like Billie Holiday, Erykah Badu, Nina Simone, and in the Latin realm we really like Carla Morrison, Vanessa Zamora. There are some really great female artists out there right now, but the greats and the classics are who have really influenced us. You know, Tame Impala, The Beatles are undeniable. Mild High Club are one of our favorites from L.A., Andy South, and Tom Waze, as well.
What drives you to continue to make music?
MARIA: I think for us, if we didn’t make music, we would kind of die or go crazy.
JOSH: It’s like if asking us “what drives you the most to eat food or sleep or live”?
MARIA: I mean, there have been some spurts, for sure, where we haven’t written in a few days and something just feels off and we just consistently need to be creating music or at least working on music. If it isn’t writing or recording, then it’s just working on improving the songs that we have been working on and jamming. Even just creating stuff that will just fly away and never may come of anything helps. You know, just creating something whether or not it is shared is just really important to us.
JOSH: Our creative spurts usually happen in waves and we’ll go a week or two without writing anything and then after a couple weeks, you know, once we write one thing, a lot more is going to come from that. A few months ago, I remember almost every single night I would record new music with Maria in our house and it would be just a normal thing. Every night we would find inspiration for new music. We would be thinking “hey, let’s write something” and then we would actually find inspiration and it would be like “oh, we can make something out of this.” You know, it’s a different thing when you tell yourself “I’m gonna go write a song” and when you find yourself just writing a song.
MARIA: We also need to give ourselves time to actually experience things, experience life. If we were writing all the time, it would feel a bit contrived. So, if we give ourselves space from writing and stuff like that to experience things and then just work on the stuff that we currently have, then we can grow so much more as a band.
Do you have any closing thoughts?
MARIA: You can add Bad Suns to our favorite band. Even though we only did the one show (at the Fonda) with them, we were super lucky to be a part of that. They’re great guys and they’re doing really great things.
JOSH: I’ve been friends with Bad Suns for about 10 years and it was really nice that they hit me up to play a show with them. I told them about The Marías and how it’s a very new project and they were super supportive and open to having us play with them.
MARIA: They’re just really good people who are constantly throwing out good vibes. They really care about their fans and just care about everybody.
JOSH: And Miles [Morris] might be the best drummer that I have ever seen in my life.
MARIA: We’re bummed that the rest of the members of the band can’t be here, but we had a show last night so I think everybody got home pretty late. I think they’re sort of just recouping and whatnot. But, I would say that our thoughts are very similar to theirs. We all share a really similar vision about the group.
MARIA: Our second single, “Only in My Dreams” is coming out in a few weeks with a video, so stay tuned for that.
JOSH: The full EP should be coming out in September-ish, which we’re super excited about, too.
Even though the wait for new music from The Marías is rough, it’ll definitely be worth it. For the time being, check out their video for “I Don’t Know You”, and don’t forget to follow them on social media in order to know about their new projects!