Photo: Ashley Seryn
The Marías Honor Their Origins, Declare Their Love Of Film On 'Cinema'
Bilingual, Los Angeles-band The Marías on their love of filmmaking, Puerto Rico, and how couple María and Josh Conway continue to "inspire each other"
Beneath the whimsical reverie of The Marías' full-length debut album, Cinema, is a feeling of intimacy, reimagined over the course of 13 mesmeric tracks. "I wanted the sense to be fairly warm and luscious, [where] there is not much distance between the songs and your eardrum," Josh Conway, producer and drummer of The Marías, who also shares vocal duties, affirms. "Both María and I really love songs that have that sort of sonic intimacy."
Full of stylistic juxtapositions, the Los Angeles band guides listeners into the abysmal world of love and lust, with all of its highs and lows—where iridescent synths, supple basslines and moody strings interplay against María’s featherlight coo. This combined with horn melodies so spellbinding, your heart could either sink or skip a beat. They conjure up a perfect balance between nostalgia and forward-thinking, sleek pop sung in English and Spanish.
Film, the band says, is the reason The Marías exist and at the crux, Cinema is an ode to these roots. Film is what got Conway and María (who goes by her first name only) to begin writing music professionally in 2017 and what took their bond to the next level. "Not only did that teach us to write songs together fairly quickly, it taught us how to think like filmmakers," María said in a press release. On Cinema, their reverence for film luminaries like Pedro Almodovar and Wes Anderson shines through not just in the title of the album, but through the music video for their track "Hush," which was partly inspired by the two.
In a few short years, The Marías have gained a loyal and fervent fanbase that has garnered them views by the millions on YouTube, as well as bookings in top-tier festivals like Coachella and Tropicalia Festival. With Cinema, the band aims to "transport listeners to their own little movies inside their heads," María tells GRAMMY.com over the phone while at home in the Hollywood Hills, where the group also writes and records most of their work.
Maria and Conway spoke with GRAMMY.com about their origins, the inspiration behind the album and how it honors María’s Puerto Rican origins.
Your second single "Un Millón" was inspired by your native Puerto Rico. What’s the rest of the story behind the song?
María: Being from Puerto Rico, I grew up listening to reggaeton. I remember when I was 15, I had my first job so that I could save enough money to go to reggaeton concerts. I had saved enough to get VIP tickets to Don Omar and Daddy Yankee concerts. One night Josh and I were like "what would a The Marías reggaeton song sound like?," so we started "Un Millón" just as an experiment. The lyrics are inspired by places I would go to when I was little in Puerto Rico. There’s a place there called Bayamón where I have family. Another place that I namedrop is Luquillo, which is a beach that my family and I would go to. The whole vibe and the lyrics are heavily inspired by my love for the island.
You were born in Puerto Rico, raised in Atlanta and now you’re based in Los Angeles. How has your transnational experience played a role in your creativity?
María: It’s played a large role in the sense that I met Josh here in L.A. We’ve become creative collaborators, creative partners and that has definitely changed my approach to making, writing and producing music. Both of us play off each other really well. When we met, we knew this was going to be something that was going to be special for us. It changed both of our creative approaches and outputs meeting each other.
What’s your favorite thing to do in L.A. when you’re not recording music that also informs your musical process?
Conway: One of my favorite things to do in L.A. is nothing. We live in the Hills, where it’s so quiet, peaceful and extremely beautiful. Especially on rainy days, just sitting in the apartment, and looking out is really special. Aside from doing nothing, I would definitely say not driving, that is not fun in L.A. I guess we can start with the process of elimination [laughs]. It’s a huge city and there is really anything you can think of to do in L.A., whether it’s the beach or if you want to drive a couple hours, maybe it’s not in L.A., but there’s snow in the mountains not too far. I think Lake Arrowhead is the closest, about an hour and a half. There’s lots to be inspired by for sure.
Your song "Hush" is a stark contrast from "Un Millón" with bleak yet alluring overtones. Can you explain the concept behind the song and video?
María: It’s a song to anybody who has an opinion on your life, or on what you’re doing with it because people always have their opinions. The song is telling them to be quiet, like "let me do my thing." For the video, we wanted to approach it like if The Marías released a song in the ‘60s or ‘70s, and reimagine 2020, what we think that looked like. It has this sort of futuristic vibe, A Space Odyssey-inspired video.
Can you talk a bit more about what other themes, concepts and sounds you worked with?
María: From start to finish, we wanted [the album] to feel like you are watching a movie. There are ups and downs and different vibes overall. When watching some of my favorite movies, some of Pedro Almodovar’s, he has a Caetano Velso song followed by a punk song. We wanted to transport listeners to their own little movies inside their heads.
Besides Almodovar, I read that you also got inspiration from Wes Anderson. Can you choose one or two adjectives for each filmmaker that captures what’s so amazing about them?
María: With Pedro, I’d say nostalgia. He is also unapologetic. With Wes Anderson, I would say whimsical.
Conway: They’re both extremely unique. María nailed it with Pedro being unapologetically himself. Wes Anderson has a lot of fun with visual art, so symmetry is my word for that one, but also quirky and offbeat.
Your bio mentions that The Marías began pursuing music for cinema. Was this like writing a soundtrack for a film?
Maria: We were approached early on by a friend of mine who is a music supervisor. He was like, "Are you guys interested in writing music for film and TV?" We were like, "Yeah, of course!" He would send us all these pitches for films and TV, and we would write songs to scene descriptions. We were super drawn to it. That was the main reason why Josh and I started writing music together. By the end of it, we released a collection of songs [in 2017] as part of Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 [called Superclean]. If it wasn’t for these pitches, our music supervisor, film, TV and cinema, The Marías definitely would have never existed.
How does your romantic relationship with each other inspire you each creatively?
María: When it comes to The Marías, it plays a huge part in our creativity. We write these songs together in our apartment. [Every aspect of] our lives is being together, working on music together and experiencing everything that comes along with it — tours, music videos, all of it, in addition to being in a relationship. I think it makes it special because we love each other, and we understand each other really well, but we are so different as well. I think our differences come together and create this whole.
Conway: María texted me the other day and was like, "we need more drama, get mad at me." She’s not wrong, we do need more drama. A lot of our songs are about relationships. When everything is going well in our relationship, well, what do you have to write about?
So you write more optimistic love songs when you’re happy, and a kiss-off when you’re upset at one another?
Conway: I find ourselves writing in more of a sad lyric state. I think we just kind of gravitate towards sad and lonely lyrics.
María: When we are really happy and content in life and in our relationship, we just tend to live in the moment and not write about it. But when there is something wrong, or like Josh said, when we are feeling sad, lonely, or if there is something in our relationship that we tiff about, then we feel inspired to write about it to try and understand the feelings that we are having. We are inspired by each other, but we are also writing about past experiences and past relationships as well.
Universal language: Why humans need music
Learn why music is truly a common language that is key to human development and evolution
There's no doubt music finds a way into nearly every moment of our daily lives, whether it's marking milestones such as a first dance at a wedding, the soundtrack to our favorite movie or singing in the shower for fun. In fact, it's hard to imagine times when we are more than an ear-length away from hearing another song.
But why does music mean so much to us? A powerful form of communication that transcends all barriers — music is our common language, but why?
A composer and educator with a lifelong fascination for music, Adam Ockelford has traced our connection with music back to infants and caregivers. Infants are unable to follow words, but they are developmentally primed to trace patterns in sound, such as through the songs a caretaker sings to them. Therefore, understanding music is intuitive for humans, even at a very young age, and it encourages healthy development.
In addition, there may be another evolutionary purpose for music. Music provides a sense of sameness between humans — if you can copy the sounds someone else makes, you must be an ally. This synergy plays a role in human survival because it evokes empathy and understanding, a lesson we still learn from music in today's culture.
"Music is central to the notion of what it is to be human, and spans cultures, continents and centuries," writes Ockelford. "My music, your music, our music can bind us together as families, as tribes and as societies in a way that nothing else can."
Photo: Harmony Korine
Iggy Pop Announces New Album, 'Free', Shares Title Track
"By the end of the tours following Post Pop Depression, I felt sure that I had rid myself of the problem of chronic insecurity that had dogged my life and career for too long. But I also felt drained… I wanted to be free," the Godfather of Punk explained
Today, GRAMMY-nominated punk forbearer Iggy Pop revealed the details for his forthcoming 18th solo studio album, along with its short—at under two minutes—yet spacious title track, "Free." The 10-track LP is due out Sept. 6 and follow's 2016's GRAMMY-nominated Post Pop Depression.
"This is an album in which other artists speak for me, but I lend my voice," Pop explains in a press release.
The statement notes jazz trumpeter Leron Thomas and L.A.-based electric guitarist Noveller as the "principal players" collaborating with Pop on this exploratory new project. On "Free," Thomas' horn and Noveller's guitar add layers of depth, somberness and exploration, as Pop's echoing voice cuts through twice to proclaim, "I want to be free."
Pop adds that his last tour left him feeling exhausted but ready for change, and the shifts eventually led him to these new sounds:
"By the end of the tours following Post Pop Depression, I felt sure that I had rid myself of the problem of chronic insecurity that had dogged my life and career for too long. But I also felt drained. And I felt like I wanted to put on shades, turn my back, and walk away. I wanted to be free. I know that's an illusion, and that freedom is only something you feel, but I have lived my life thus far in the belief that that feeling is all that is worth pursuing; all that you need—not happiness or love necessarily, but the feeling of being free. So this album just kind of happened to me, and I let it happen."
Post Pop Depression earned the former Stooges frontman his second GRAMMY nod, at the 59th GRAMMY Awards for Best Alternative Music Album. It was produced by GRAMMY winner Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and as a tribute of sorts to David Bowie, Pop's longtime friend the producer of his first two solo albums, and was released shortly after Bowie's surprising passing.
As the press release states, "While it follows the highest charting album of Iggy's career, Free has virtually nothing in common sonically with its predecessor—or with any other Iggy Pop album."
Fleetwood Mac in 1975
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Poll: From "Dreams" To "The Chain," Which Fleetwood Mac Song Is Your Favorite?
"Dreams" experienced a charming viral moment on TikTok after a man posted a video skateboarding to the classic track, and now it's back on the charts, 43 years later
In honor of Fleetwood Mac's ethereal '70s rock classic "Dreams," which recently returned to the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to a viral TikTok skateboard video from Nathan Apodaca, we want to know which of the legendary group's songs is your favorite!
Beyond their ubiquitous 1977 No. 1 hit "Dreams," there are so many other gems from the iconic GRAMMY-winning album Rumours, as well as across their entire catalog. There's the oft-covered sentimental ballad "Landslide" from their 1975 self-titled album, the jubilant, sparkling Tango in the Night cut "Everywhere" and Stevie Nicks' triumphant anthem for the people "Gypsy," from 1982's Mirage, among many others.
Vote below in our latest GRAMMY.com poll to let us know which you love most.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Haus Laboratories
WATCH: Lady Gaga And Ariana Grande Team Up For "Rain On Me"
Grande enters the "Stupid Love" singer's futuristic world as the two pop sensations dance together in an out-of-this-planet setting
"I can feel it on my skin (It's comin' down on me)/ Teardrops on my face (Water like misery)/ Let it wash away my sins (It's coming down on me)," the global pop stars sing together on the chorus. "I'd rather be dry, but at least I'm alive/ Rain on me, rain, rain."
The song is an empowering track about being comfortable with letting tears fall. Gaga revealed the many layers behind the song in an interview with Vulture, sharing that some of the inspiration for it came from her relationship with drinking. "This is about an analog of tears being the rain. And you know what it’s also a metaphor for, is the amount of drinking that I was doing to numb myself," she said. "I’d rather be dry. I’d rather not be drinking, but I haven’t died yet. I’m still alive. Rain on me."
She added that the song also went beyond that. "Okay, I’m going to keep on drinking. This song has many layers," she said.
Grande enters the "Stupid Love" singer's futuristic world in the video released Friday, May 22, with the two dancing together in an out-of-this-planet setting. The video ends with them in a strong embrace.
Gaga has shared how much the collaboration with Grande means to her and thanked Grande for "reminding me I’m strong." Before the video's release, she tweeted out a special message to the "Stuck with U" singer.
"One time I felt like I was crying so much it would never stop. Instead of fighting it, I thought bring it on, I can do hard things. @arianagrande I love you for your strength and friendship. Let’s show them what we’ve got," she tweeted.
Grande returned the love with more love, revealing what sharing a track with Gaga means to her.
"one time ..... i met a woman who knew pain the same way i did... who cried as much as i did, drank as much wine as i did, ate as much pasta as i did and who’s heart was bigger than her whole body. she immediately felt like a sister to me," she tweeted. "she then held my hand and invited me into the beautiful world of chromatica and together, we got to express how beautiful and healing it feels to mothafuckinnnn cry ! i hope this makes u all feel as uplifted as it does for us both. i love u @ladygaga , u stunning superwoman !"
Watch the full video above. Chromatica is set to be released on May 29.