INTERVIEW: Maria Blues

Join me on my first solo interview with solo artist Maria Blues. This interview took place outside of The Harvard Yard Bar, Maria had just finished performing her set at the 2nd Saturdays event, which takes place, yup you guessed it, every second Saturday of the month. Maria opened the evening playing ska, cumbias, and very sweet covers of songs like “sabor a mi” and my personal favorite “quizas quizas quizas.” She was accompanied by a lively backup band, the following is our interview…

[We started with basic introductions and location.]

Bianca: “I really liked it! It was fun!”

Maria Blues: “Thank you so much!” [slightly intoxicated giggles]

B: “Okay, so first question…is this your first time playing here?”

MB: “Yes, this is my first time playing at the Harvard Yard Bar.”

B: “Are you from the area?”

MB: “I actually live like 15 minutes away. I live by the west lake area.”

B: “Do you usually play around L.A.?”

MB: “My first show was in the Valley…and my second show was in downtown L.A. So yeah, definitely, the type of music that I play is L.A driven”

B: “So how long have you been performing?”

MB: “Performing? I would say a month or two? The very first performance I did was in April, so it’s been a few months, I been pretty blessed of like having guys that are available and down to help me out as a full band. Like I said I’m just starting…for now we’re just playing shows, trying to get the vibe of it, trying to feel how people are going to react to the songs and all that stuff.”

B: “Well, you got a really good reaction tonight! I think so!”

MB: [laughs] “I know yes it was so fun tonight!”

B: “Does your line up usually change?”

MB: “Well what doesn’t change is my drummer and bass player, they’ve been pretty consistent in being available. Just my trumpet player changes, but so far my drummer and bass player have been consistent.”

[At this point some guy passing by whispered something to me, I’m sad the mic didn’t pick it up. He sort of whispered it, but we snickered and giggled for a couple of minutes before going on.]  

B: “So is it just Maria Blues or Maria Blues and the ….”

MB: “Well, I mean technically I do the writing and they do add their touch to it so I call myself ‘Maria Blues with the homies’ because I do want them to get some sort of credit but when it comes down to recording it’s Maria Blues and they’re backing me up.”

B: “So why blues?”

MB: “Well the whole idea of that is because I’m a Manu Chao fan and he has a song called “The Mary blues. So that’s where it came from Maria Blues—Manu Chao. At the time I thought we had the same birthday, but we don’t, so I thought ‘it’s perfect!’”

[She discussed how Maria is a common named in the Latino community, how she was named after her grandmother. So common a name I told her that my mother’s name is also Maria, she roared in laughter.]

B: “So, how would you describe your style?”

MB: “My style? It’s still in progress, as you heard I have cumbia, I have ska, I guess I have rockabillyish—somebody told me that—and reggae. So, I would say I’m kind of like a fusion of that. My main this is ska, I love ska. It’s kinda of like that wave of The Specials, and cumbia obviously ‘cause I’m Latina and I grew up listening to cumbia. And I tried to get into the rockabillyish I guess because who doesn’t like polka, who doesn’t love that upbeat, ya know? And ska and reggae are basically like cousins. So I would say I’m a fusion of that, of those four things.”

B: “If you could describe your sound as a color would color would it be?”

MB: “Blue [she giggles and I say to myself “duh, Bianca”] Yes I’m very emotional I like writing of what’s going on in my life and it’s never really like the positive. I try to write positive songs, but I always wanna put a message out there. You know, what people go through that we don’t really talk about. My way of letting things go is writing. It’s been 2 years that I started writing, so that’s where I wanna let everything go, I’m music. Some of those songs are not really my experience, like [they’re the experiences of] my closest friends.”

B: “Have you ever been in other bands before?”

MB: “Yes, yes I have. My main instrument is actually the drums. I’ve been a drummer for like ten plus years, I’ve kind of always been in the back. I’ve played with Mexican ska bands. The ska scene in L.A is really big right now. I’ve played with a few of them. The main band right now is Los Chiles Verdes, I’ve been playing for them for six plus years and temping with other bands. Recently, like two years ago, I decided to go for writing my own music. I always liked writing the music, but as a drummer you don’t really get a say, you know, so one day I can’t help how I feel, I really wanna write music, so [I said to myself] let me just give it a go. And so far two years later it’s been a great experience, so Ima keep going and see where it takes me.”

[All this with a big ‘ol smile and a rosy cheek look on her face due to a night of drinks and the hot California weather.]

B: “So, where do you hope to take your music?”

MB: “I really hope to one day maybe…my biggest dream is to have people listen to music. I don’t really care about how famous or whatnot. All I care about is [having] people [that] like to listen to it and know where I’m coming from. There have been times when I have put out a song and they take it their own way, it’s not really how I wrote it, they took it their own way. So that’s probably the best thing for me, to put something out and the listener to like connect to it in their own experience and that is the goal, to get as many people to listen to it and know where I’m coming from. That’s about it. I just want to express myself. I wanna empower women, let’s just put out what we feel and if people dig it great. Like I told Irene Diaz and Nicolette tonight, anything I can do for you guys, if you guys ever need me I’ll support you guys. Even though it’s such a big industry its really male dominated, hopefully soon there’s more women doing music.”

[We exchange small rants between us of how there needs to be more women in the scene making music, so I’m calling ya’ll out to create some art!]

B: “If you tell your 10-year-old self anything, what would you say?”

[I sort of caught her off guard, she laughed and her glossy eyes shined and she looked for an answer.]

MB: “My 10-year-old self, I’m very social and I’m very loving towards people so I think that has helped me get along with people. I don’t think 10-year-old me would fit in into the normal 10-year-old, I was very rebellious, very angry. I would tell her that everything is going to be ok and that she will find what she wants in life and I think music is what I want in life.”

[A hearty laughs ring out. I go on to point out how she is very social, as this interview went very well, given that I’m a wallflower myself, so social interactions are tricky for me. Ya’ll don’t need to hear that whole conversation though.]

MB: “Someone in the industry told me that if you’re comfortable you’re dead. And surround yourself with positive people. We’re all in the same struggle and there’s no room for hatred and jealousy especially us women.”

B: “Do you have a show coming up?”

MB: “August 11th, Mal’s bar, just show up it should be starting at about 8pm. It should be funky, skaish and cumbias. Everything [played] in there [the Harvard Yard] tonight.”

We ended our interview here and we said our goodbyes. I had a blast talking to her, it was like chatting it up with someone you sat next to in high school. She was filled with giggles and laughter and a positive message about women helping each other out, especially when it comes to making music and a voice for ourselves.

Bianca Recendez
Boss Lady

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