interview by JANA LETONJA

GRAMMY-nominated band The Marías, led by front woman and Puerto Rican singer María Zardoya, is releasing their new album ‘Submarine’ on 31st May, followed by a big tour. The band’s undeniably unique sound is a fusion of jazz, psychedelia, funk and lounge with Josh Conway on drums, Jesse Perlman on guitar and Edward James on keys.

Soon, you’ll be releasing your newest album ‘Submarine’. What can the fans expect from the new album?
JOSH: If fans listen to the album alone and on headphones, they can expect to be in their feels. Ideally we want fans to disconnect from their daily lives for 45 minutes and experience the album as a whole, alone. 

MARIA: They can expect somewhat of an evolution of our sound, but also retaining the roots they heard in our first two ‘Superclean’ EPs. We experimented in the production and I got a lot more honest in my lyrics and songwriting. 

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What inspired the new album?
MARIA: Solitude, exploration, grief and loss. You’re thrown into a different state of consciousness after heartbreak and loss and loss can come in different forms, loss of innocence, loss of a previous version of yourself, loss of love and loss of life. I was inspired by all of these when writing the album.

Can you share a bit more about your story, of how the band got together and started working on music?
JOSH: Maria and I met in LA in 2015 and we started making music shortly after that. We tried writing for films and TV shows, but none of the songs ended up getting placed. That collection of songs later became our first EP, ‘Superclean Vol. 1’. Jesse, Eddie and I have known each other since we were kids and they were the first people I called when we wanted to put a band together to perform these songs we’d written. The rest, as they say… 

You are known to perform both in Englihs and Spanish. How important was including your Latin roots in your music?
MARIA: It wasn’t a conscious decision to write in both English and Spanish, it just kind of happened naturally. I grew up bilingual and going back and forth culturally. Looking back though, I’m glad I made that decision. I think it’s important to be represented in music by artists that have a similar experience to you. I probably wouldn’t be making music today if it weren’t for female latin artists like Carla Morrison, Ximena Sariñana and even Shakira. They’re all Latin and all wrote in both Spanish and English. 

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Since your first album, how would you say you as a group, and your music has evolved?
JOSH: We’ve evolved tremendously. Aside from Maria and I not being in a romantic relationship anymore, our connection as a band has become stronger than ever. Musically we’ve taken on new heights and always love to experiment in the studio. 

MARIA: I think our music has evolved because we’ve evolved and grown emotionally. We’re all in therapy and we’re all constantly working on ourselves. I think the music evolves as we do. 

JESSE: Musically, we’re able to communicate on a high level by only staring and we know exactly what each other wants. After almost 8 years of playing together, our chemistry is unlike any other musician’s I have personally played with. 

This year, you’ll also be going on a tour. What are you most excited about this tour?
JOSH: Performing our new songs for our fans and seeing their reaction to the new set.

MARIA: Proving to myself that I can do it. Touring in the past has been difficult for me, but it’s been two years since our last tour and I’ve grown a lot as a person. I’ve learned to be ok with discomfort and to not push difficult emotions under the rug. I’m curious to see how I’ll handle touring differently this time around. 

EDWARD: I’m most excited to just see how much our show has grown. I will always carry in my pocket the years we spent in our van, struggling to make it from city to city. 

JESSE: I’m really looking forward to integrating the new songs into our set. Curating an amazing show for our fans by mixing in all three of our projects, ‘Superclean’, ‘Cinema’ and ‘Submarine’, into one seamless set. 

This month, you decided to release two new singles simultaneously. What made you decide to release them both at the same time?

MARIA: They both reflect this deep sense of loneliness and longing, but each take a different approach. They both speak to this urge to connect with someone. And then when you finally connect, you leave. It felt right to release them together. They’re both probably the saddest songs on ‘Submarine’. 

For your album ‘Cinema’ you were nominated for a Grammy. What do you personally consider the biggest reward for your work?

JOSH: One of the biggest rewards is hearing stories from fans of how our music helped get them through tough times. It puts it all into perspective and is something I often think about when I feel disheartened. 

EDWARD: One of the biggest rewards I consider us achieving as a band is us four having created spaces and moments on the album where we allowed ourselves to be open, honest and vulnerable with one another, in ways that were a first for the band. We worked really hard over the last couple years to get to this place.

JESSE: In 2018, we had the opportunity to play a festival in Indonesia. At the time, it was one of the biggest crowds we had played to. What was so rewarding to me was to hear all of these fans sing back our songs not only in English, but in Spanish too. That to me is more rewarding than any trophy. 

You’ve collaborated with Bad Bunny, which earned you another Grammy nomination. Is there an artist you would really love to collaborate with in the future?
JOSH: There are tons. We love collaborating. 

MARIA: I’d love to collaborate with King Krule. The tones he uses are so beautiful and I think we’d make something cool together. I’d also love to try making a song with Finneas and Billie Eilish. We have similar themes in our latest albums, so I think we’re on the same wave. Would be interesting to see what we could do musically and visually putting our minds together. 

How do you guys spend your days off, when you’re not recording or performing?
JOSH: We love to watch movies, play catan, walk our dogs and spend time in nature. 

MARIA: I second that! We haven’t had much time off during this album process, but when we do, I love going on really long walks. I also spend my free time trying to get inspired visually. I sift through old magazines, scroll through Tumblr and watch movies. 

EDWARD:  I love surfing, especially in the days after a tour. It helps me to get centred and acclimated to being home. For almost all of tour, you’re relinquishing much of your agency and autonomy to the flow of the touring machine. Being in the ocean helps for a smoother transition back into a routine, by again subjecting my autonomy and movement, but in the case of surfing, doing so through nature and a more grounded experience. It forces you to be present and aware.

JESSE: I like to ride my bike and watch rock docs. 

photography and creative direction ABI POLINSKY
hair and makeup LETICIA LLESMIN
director of photography/camera operatorHOUMAM ABDALLAH
set designer VERONICA XIANA
camera operator/camera assistant USSELL TANDY
photography assistant MICHAEL LIRA
set design assistant DARRYL MILANA
video editor EVA DUBOVOY
editor-in-chief TIMOTEJ LETONJA
editorial director and interview JANA LETONJA