While MARIA-M is a new project for these pages, it comes from a familiar face as Maria is the brainchild behind the Derby-based ambient pop project Grawl!x. MARIA-M first emerged back in 2018 with their debut album, Lepidoptera, an album in their own words, “about process. Transitioning from a morass of toxic dismay into a magical meadow of possibilities”. Earlier this month Maria returned with a brand new single, EndTimes, through the Year of Glad label.
Although from the title, EndTimes, you might expect a somewhat morose affair, MARIA-M’s take is considerably more upbeat, as they explain, “though things can seem a little overwhelming these days, things are hopefully getting better (Particularly for marginalised groups) & that while there are doomsdayers & the naysayers; there are also brave wonderful folks who are fighting to make people’s lives better”. The track explores the relationship between a queer trans couple, separated by a pandemic, yet bonded by their love for one another, and shared hope for brighter future. Musically, EndTimes starts off as a blast of tropical electro-pop, all ethereal layered vocals and pulsing processed rhythms, inhabiting a lost middle ground between Animal Collective and Fever Ray. The track then slides into a more meditative section where two computerised vocals share a surprisingly touching back and forth on loneliness and hope. The track ends with suitably mixed emotions, “I blame myself for the endtimes, these are not the endtimes”, yes things might seem dark, yet MARIA-M still sees a light, a glimpse of a brighter tomorrow, and a faith that we’ll find our way there soon.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is MARIA-M?
Hiya!! Well I’m a transgender DIY music person who makes electro-pop-queer-dream-punk. (Hope that sounds fun!)
I started putting out my own stuff about a year ago & on July 10th released a vidz/single called ‘ENDTIMES’ on the Year of Glad label. Just been trying to raise money for a local charity called DerbyshireLGBT+ which is exciting & fingers crossed that goes well!
I’m also in a band called Grawl!x who put out an album in the before-times this year called ‘PEEPS’.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
Well, me first MARIA-M show was for a friend of mine Sian Morrell’s exhibition launch at a place called Dub:rek in Derby. I was a bit nervy so I had a see-through drape between me & the crowd which had random stock footage projected onto it. Were pretty terrifying as I’ve mostly played gigs with a band & where I hide behind a guitar. But then at the end we all started country dancing so it were mega fun. Her work is amazing.
First show I EVER did was way back when I were 17ish at my old school. I was in a metal-y band called Outmoded (eek!) & the fire alarm went off halfway through & after we tried to resume the DJ’s cut our set short. We were pretty terrible, still it’s what got me hooked!
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
Zowee; what a great question!
I just kinda have to, I guess. I’ve dabbled in other things like illustrating & filmmaking & though they were fun, music is the one thing I always come back to. Without wishing to sound pompous, it’s such a fundamental part of who I am. I began writing basically as therapy (though I didn’t know it at the time) & it just evolved from there. It gives me hope & pride & a sense of place in a world I often feel at odds with & is essential to my mental well-being.
Plus, it’s a way to connect to other people. So many of my relationships have begun through music. My tentative hope is that a song I’m involved in helps someone out in whatever way; whether it’s to chill or dance to or go crazy. A friend of mine told me they were using some of me tunes in their yoga class which I were super chuffed about! It’s a very beautiful privilege to partake in. (eep!)
FTR: What can people expect from the MARIA-M live show?
Cray cray funtimes!!! It’s nice to keep each show a little different & hopefully a bit special. I always try to have the tunes as loud as poss & keep a beat goin with the occasional dip for feelz! Being a bit green as I am with regard to solo, pop-y performances I feel like there’s lots of space to try new things. Really wanna incorporate dancers, props, visuals etc. All very exciting. It’s all building to one day the Royal Albert Hall; digits twixt!
FTR: What’s next for MARIA-M?
Well, this single has been a bit of an experiment to see whether or not someone in my position is capable of raising funds for worthy causes. See how that pans out but wanna do more. Am deffo enjoying doing singles for the time being.
Mainly though am working toward my first proper full-length album which I’ve been working on a bunch during lockdown. Wanna try collaborating with as many folks as possible & also have it kinda document the start of my transition. Have got most of the songs & the basic structure. Once that’s all together, hopefully YOG will put it out & I can work toward doing a MASSIVE album launch type show. Kinda like Andy Kaufman at Carnegie Hall. Or not. Here’s hoping! xx
They Listen To…
Toro Y Moi – Blessa
Grimes – Realiti (Demo Version)
Tom John Hall – Axis of Distraction
Kim Petras – Broken
Robin S – Show Me Love
Endtimes is out now via Year Of Glad. Click HERE for more information on MARIA-M