A Conversation With The Marias

A Conversation With The Marias

We catch up with the rising troupe before they hit the stage at Brooklyn Steel.

We catch up with the rising troupe before they hit the stage at Brooklyn Steel.

Text: Vanessa Bermudez

The Marias make music for those who find themselves lingering as long as they can inside their dreams. Backstage in a warmly-lit dressing room in Brooklyn Steel, minutes before opening for Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr, they tell me about the times that led up to the creation of their debut Superclean Vol. I. “When Maria and I first started writing, there was no Marias, no Superclean, just us playing together and recording and one thing led to the next.” The next happened to be a compelling choice for a first single, “I Don’t Know You”, which quickly gained attention and garnered over 3 million streams on Spotify in just a few short months.

The duo, Josh Conway and Maria (who uses only her first name), met after she finished performing a solo show at the Kibitz Room, a beacon of West Hollywood that dates back to the '50s. It was a chance encounter that ignited a romance and the start of something bigger. Their relationship is what lends the Marias a sound that’s as organic as it is intimate, reminiscent of star-crossed L.A. lovers Little Joy. As they dived deeper into the vision, they gathered friends like bassist Carter Lee, keyboardist Edward James, and guitarist Jesse Perlman who soon helped bring Superclean to life.

The swirling escapism so deeply rooted in the six-track EP seems, in part, influenced by a desire to elude the growing fears of an unstable political/social climate. I ask Maria if this is the case. “Music is an escape for us too,” she muses, “as all of us stay up to date with what’s going on, but I don’t know if we incorporate that into our music just yet.” Maria cites the colorful melodrama of Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar as an influence on everything that is the Marias, from the way they sound to the way they dress.

Maria is wearing a pair of black and white wide-legs, just one of the many custom pieces she sewed together for this tour. I inquire where this exploration of personal style begins—does it all start with a vision, a sketch? “I first started making my own clothes when I was little. I wanted something and maybe I couldn't afford it, couldn't find it, so my mom would go to the fabric store and put something together. That introduced me to the idea that what you envision, you can bring to life,” she says. “Now we have a couple friends in L.A. who help sew pieces together and add their own flair to it.”

The wardrobe for the “I Don’t Know You” music video just so happened to belong to late actress Zina Bethune, who starred in Martin Scorsese’s first film. Before the EP’s release, they had wandered into a yard sale where an older man was selling his wife’s beautiful amassed collection of vintage furs, silks, and velvet. He wanted the pieces to go to someone who would give them another life. “All of Zina's pieces are timeless,” Maria says. “Everything we wore in that video belonged to her, which made it special because we knew her story.”

Just before the band steps out on stage to an eager crowd, the Marias insist that, although they’ve just gotten started, more is on the way. “Superclean Vol. II should find its way out in the summertime,” Conway notes. “For pretty much forever now, we’ll be playing Vol. II songs at our live shows... and maybe even Vol. III.” As they opened the show with the hypnotic “I Like It”, it became clear why the Marias have struck a chord with New York City—they play the sweet sounds of an escape people long for, like the wistful memories of a past life that only ever remains in your dreams.

Stream The Marias' Superclean Vol. I here, and look through exclusive photos from the show below.

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