Interview by: Quentin Fears
I had the pleasure of meeting Mariella, a natural beauty at a bar in the swanky Tribeca area. One of her friends reads my blog and knows I like to interview up and coming Artists. She put Mariella's track, Lovesick remixed by Mark de Clive-Lowe on in the bar and immediately people began moving. From there I knew that I had to interview her. She has this vocal quality that reminds me of Roisin Murphy with more of a Jazz and Latin influence. Anyway who cares what I think. Check her out and see for yourself!!
Mariella, how did you first get your start in music? What did you grow-up listening to?
Piano was my first instrument, flute was my second. I always sang around the house and in talent shows as a kid but it didn't become my main focus until I moved to NYC. I was a bit all over the place. My grandfather and uncle were both musicians. My fondest memories are of me practicing with my grandfather. He would play clarinet and sax, and I would play flute.
How would you describe your sound? In Disappoint featuring Nic Coolidge there is a real jazzy, moody feel to the song and your voice, but in your new single Lovesick it seems to be more of a throw back to Disco and House Music. Lovesick makes me want to dance! There is a nice groove. How do you combine these qualities in music?
I def tend to swing in both directions! A couple of cuts on the album are moody, downtempo- Rise Again produced by Zeb and Sabo, and Disappoint produced by Mark de Clive Lowe. I grew up listening to jazz, and you can hear that influence in my music. I am also very influenced by House, Disco, and Pop- Diana Ross, and Roisin Murphy are some of my favorites. I like to think of my sound as Eclectic Pop- you might put some of the album cuts on your workout or party mix, and some on your sexy moody mix. Either way it’s soulful. [vimeo http://vimeo.com/18329745]
The internationally known DJ/Producer/Musician Mark de Clive-Lowe remixed your song Lovesick. How did this collaboration come about?
I'd been a huge fan of Mark's, and my good friend put us in touch. I sent him the original mix of Lovesick crossing my fingers that he would be down to work together, and that was the start of our working relationship. He also produced another track on the album, and there was so much magic I decided to fly out to LA, and write and record three more songs with him. He's an incredible musician and producer, and I'm sure there will be even more collaborations in the future.
You are the Co-creator and Host of a Hip-Hop Jam session Free-style Mondays. How did this come about?
I went out for a drink with my friend Julius who had connected me with ILL Spokinn a fresh outta Boston MC. We stumbled in to a live Drum and Bass/Hip Hop session at a club called SinSin, and ILL and I became regulars. The event was about to be dropped, and we slid in there, brought our musicians, and put the word out. The event has grown so much, and morphed into what it is now. On any given Monday there are amazing musicians, MC's, and singers gracing the bandstand. ILL and I have great chemistry together and Freestyle Mondays has become an integral part of the Hip Hop community in NYC.
How do you go about picking your songs? Do you always write your on songs?
I've always written all of my material, and am always directly influenced by life. Some of my songs are very autobiographical, some are inspired by movies, books, and other artists. I've always been open to recording another writers songs if the lyrics and melody really spoke to me. I'm currently recording Riled Up written by the amazingly talented Nia Andrews.
Speaking of Song writing in 2008 you were named Billboard World Songwriter Grand prize winner and a John Lennon Songwriter Honorable Mention. How did this come about?
I entered both contests and won first place in the Latin category for Flyaway, a bilingual song. It turned out to be the little song that could, and it wound up winning the grand prize. Lovesick won honorable mention nods in both the John Lennon contest and We are Listening's singer/songwriter contest. Its a great way to get more exposure and reach people.
How do you start your writing process? Is it with the words, the melody, the beat or what?
It depends on the song- sometimes I get a hook stuck in my head, and it goes from there. Sometimes I have to work for it, and sit with a track or at the piano and beat out the ideas. My favorite way to write is to sit in the room with musicians and shoot ideas, chords, and craft the song you're all in the mood to write. But I'm always jotting down ideas in my notebook or in my phone.
What makes a good song? What are some of your all time favorite songs? Who is your favorite song writer?
A good song is lyrical without being too obvious, has a catchy hook, a solid melody and really makes you feel something. Puts you in touch with your sadness, love, makes you want to dance. A great song makes you want to play it over and over. I love Carole King, Curtis Mayfield, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye.
Right Now I have Lovesick on repeat! What was the inspiration to this song? Are you Lovesick? Are you dating someone?
I wrote Lovesick coming out of a long breakup. I got the hook stuck in my head, and I knew the concept I was going for. I was listening to a lot of Tortured Soul and that inspired the vibe. I really was feeling what I described in the song. I did make it out alive and am currently dating a handsome, funny, and talented actor with killer dimples.
So when can we expect to hear more from you? When is the album due to be released?
My debut EP will be released this August and a remix record this Sept. I've got a busy summer ahead shooting a music video, playing some live shows.
Is there a tour coming up anytime soon to support your album?
Yes! I'll be hitting Europe this Fall. I'm looking into October. UK, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Prague. Maybe another few stops as well!
What is the next step for you Mariella?
I'm really looking forward to releasing my new project with MdCL, and continue working with him. I really love the vibe and scene in Cali and i plan to pop in often for work. This is the year i elevate my game and i plan to write and work with a lot of my musical heroes. UK, Europe, and Japan are next for me as well. Take this worldwide! I love the freedom of being an indie artist, but I am open possibilities.
Are there any Artists that you are dying to work with?
I would love to work with Bonobo, Louie Vega, Osunlade, Moby, and DJ Spinna. If i could travel back in time I would work with Quincy Jones.
What are you listening to now? What's on your ipod?
I've got Osunlade's new album Idiosyncracy on repeat. Also been listening to a lot of Quadron, AAries, Little Dragon, Bonobo, and Stan Getz on some summer ish. Zero 7 is always in my ipod as well.
If you weren't a fabulous Singer/Songwriter what would you do?
I would be an astronaut.
Would you ever go on one of those Music Reality Shows like American Idol or Platinum Hit?
It was something that I wasn't really into in the past, but i'm really enjoying Platinum Hit and the Voice. I am definitely open to the idea.
What do you think it really takes to make it in the music business?
Persistence and hard work- you gotta put in the time. Have a good reputation, be someone you would want to work with. Be committed and don't be afraid to take risks!
Anything else you want to say?
Special Thanks to Music Features Researcher Tasha Guevara