Irish singer-songwriter Maria Kelly returns with her most poignant and honest release to date. Her debut EP The Things I Should, out on 19th May 2017 via Veta Records, is a stunning collection of emotionally gripping tracks performed with purity and grace.
The EP is based around Maria’s struggle with self-expression and how, by always trying to please others, you can lose a part of yourself in the process. Maria explains, “these four songs are written about four different personal experiences, where a lack of honest expression at the outset had created a much bigger problem in the long run”. Opening track Torn Into Two immediately displays Maria’s signature fragile vocal tone as well as her incredibly earnest songwriting abilities akin to the likes of Lucy Rose and Billie Marten. Each track on the EP builds intricately alongside Kelly’s soaring vocal, with a captivating string arrangement throughout adding the final touch.
The Things I Should by Maria Kelly is due for release on 19th May 2017 via Veta Records.
In this interview spotlight, we chat with Maria about her influences, the new project, music listening preferences, the digital age and more.
Full Q&A along with links and a stream of Far Below…below 🙂
Let’s dive a little deeper into You, the artist and your music. What attracted you to this genre(s) or style(s)?
I guess what led me to this genre of music were the artists that I stumbled upon when I was about 9 or 10. I loved writing and story-telling in school, which drew me to indie-folk as it really focuses on the lyrical content. And I grew up in Mayo which definitely contributed to my interest in the guitar, as I was always surrounded by Irish trad at family gatherings and in local pubs. When I was a little older, maybe 16 or 17, I discovered artist like Daughter, Lucy Rose and Gabrielle Aplin and my songwriting got a little darker and a lot more honest.
What led you into this journey with music? And further, what drives you to push it out to the public?
I think it was a mix of my older brother and discovering a lot of music online. My brother played the piano when he was younger and I, being the annoying little sister that I was, felt incredibly jealous and I wanted to play something too! So I asked for a guitar for Christmas. I also distinctly remember my mum buying the album ‘Begin To Hope’ by Regina Spektor for me when I was about eleven, and that definitely played a role in kickstarting my love for songwriting.
I guess what drives me to push it out to the public is the feeling of connecting with a total stranger through that medium. My songs are very personal, so naturally, they make sense to me and my experience – but when somebody I’ve just met finds their own experience, thoughts or feelings within a song, I think that’s such an incredible thing.
Who or what influences your creativity? Have your tastes in music changed over time?
Right now, the people I work with and the people who surround me. I’m very lucky to be in a scene that feels so positive and driven. I’m even luckier to know people who thrive within it. It’s a fantastic environment to be absorbed in and it really pushes you forward to make more and do more.
Other than people, I’ve just been trying to listen to as much new music as possible, mainly from exploring Spotify playlists!
My taste has massively changed over time. Again, being surrounded by such an eclectic mix of musicians, it has opened me up to so many more genres, arrangements and ways of songwriting. I used to have a terrible habit of continually listening to 3 or 4 CDs over and over and never really branching out but now I’m just trying to discover new music all the time.
Were you trying to accomplish anything specific on this new project? Creatively or otherwise?
Yes, both creatively and personally. I’ve been trying to search for a sound that combines the elements of indie/folk and something entirely new. This EP is an attempt at taking that generic indie/folk sound and pushing it a bit further.
Personally, I wanted the EP to be quite bare-boned in terms of what it says. I’ve struggled a lot with honest self-expression and standing up for what I’m feeling and thinking. The four songs on the EP centre around four different experiences of struggling with it and trying to push past it.
What was the last song you listened to?
Heart of Gold – Neil Young. I just spent the weekend in a beautiful place called Downings in Donegal, and ‘Harvest’ was one of the many albums of the road trip.
Which do you prefer? Vinyl? CDs? MP3s?
Vinyls for sure but unfortunately I don’t have the means of using them yet! So mp3s will have to do.
How about this one…. Do you prefer Spotify? Apple Music? Bandcamp? Or something else? Why?
Even though there are problems with it, I’d have to say Spotify. I just think it’s such a cool platform to discover any type of music that you want and a great way to get your songs out to a big audience. My song ‘Stitches’ jumped to 100,000 streams within a couple of weeks which was absolutely mad to see – I don’t think there are many other places where something like that could happen so quickly.
Other than the digital era overwhelming us with access to an abundance of music, what is the biggest challenge you face when trying to connect with or find new fans?
I would say trying to get people to interact with posts on other social media platforms. Sometimes you can post as much content as you want but sometimes Facebook, for example, isn’t exactly helpful in showing it to your audience. To be honest, I think it’s a bit crap that a lot of the time, you have to sponsor the post in order to get a reaction. It can get a little disheartening at times.
Where is the best place to connect with you online? Discover more music?
Through my Facebook & Spotify. I (try) to regularly update my Facebook with anything new that’s happening and Spotify is the best place to catch new music once it’s released. And if you like pictures of awkward selfies and pancakes, then my Instagram is a pretty safe bet!
Anything else you’d like to add before signing off?
Yes! I’m going on tour. I would love to see some new faces there, if anyone would like to come along:
Maria Kelly- Far At Sea Tour:
- 29th April – Spraoi Studios, Waterford
- 3rd May – Róisín Dubh, Galway
- 5th May – Connollys, Leap, Cork
- 6th May – Levis Corner House, Ballydehob, Cork
- 10th May – Spirit Store, Dundalk
- 12th May – The Mac, Belfast
- 13th May – The Clock Tavern, Westport
- 24th May – The Bowery, Dublin
- 26th May – Coughlans, Cork