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A conversation with the couple at the heart of The Marias

Interview: The Marias

A conversation with the couple at the heart of The Marias.

Patrick O’Heffernan

The Marías were formed a little less than two years ago by LA native Josh Conway and Puerto Rican-born, Atlanta-raised María Zardoya. They met by chance in a recording session, and that chance meeting gave birth to a band that smoothly fuses jazz percussion, hot guitar riffs, and smoky-sensual vocals into a 70’s-era nostalgic, funky,  sensual sonic environment on stage and in recordings. Their musical skill is top of the line and Maria delivers their lyrics in a Breakfast-at Tiffany’s-voice – with a little more sex. The band works hard; they tour and perform almost nonstop. And they are on a roll with one album out, another one the way and a huge tour about to launch. I was able to catch up with them after I saw their concert at MOCA in DTLA.   

Patrick: I was blown away when I saw you at the MOCA concert. After hearing your music for the first time I was happy I lived during the 70’s. Was there a specific impetus to creating this kind of music – nostalgic love songs?

Maria: I think that just the fact that Josh and I are in a relationship brings a different level of romance to the music we create together – this music. All of the songs we write together and we produce together in our living room studio, so it adds a level of honesty and is unique in itself because we are able to write whatever we feel

Josh: And whenever we feel like it… I have an idea, let’s get out of bed and record!

Patrick: Your level of success is phenomenal. You have been to SXSW, you have played all over the country, you have released Superclean Vol. 1, you are off on another tour next month. For a band that produces such relaxed music you work really hard. Have you been working on Superclean Vol. 2?

Maria: Yes.

Josh: We are. It is well underway and it will be released this year, for sure

Your song Dejate Llevar seems to create a memory – maybe mine, maybe yours, maybe someone else’s. You sing in Spanish but the English verse says:

Let yourself go /(I kiss you and not let go)

I can love you/ You come and you go (you come and go)

I’m not going to change you

The words talk about  resignation – you can’t change your lover. The feeling is sepia-toned, a memory almost. But the video is a 70’s home pool party. What is the connection?

Maria: I think the song for us is romantic, but it is also fun and upbeat. It is a video that is fun. We wanted to show people who we were a little more, just having fun in the neighborhood. It is just a fun song.

Patrick: That is one of the two Spanish language songs on the album.  The crowd I saw at your concert was mostly Latinx, but your aesthetic and your song seem like they are from the 1940s in New York in some ways.  Have you created a blended fan base by doing this?

Josh: Hopefully. That is one of the goals, to blend together a fan base like that.

Maria:  It obviously happens naturally. The Latinx community feels connected because it is bi-lingual.  I know that personally because I feel that myself when I hear an artist sing in both languages because that is just who I am. I think they feel connected for the same reason.  They say “oh, she understand what it’s like to live in this world of dual cultures in this country right now and they feel connected to that.  In LA that market is bigger than other parts of the country so it is really cool to see everyone come out. And the non-Latinx community to – it is so exciting that they are embracing the Spanish as well as the English songs.   

Josh: Seeing non-Latin people singing the songs in Spanish when they don’t speak it is heartwarming.

Maria: We were in Indonesia for a festival but there were girls singing the words to “Basta Ya” even though they didn’t speak a lick of Spanish. I loved it. They felt really connected on a different level.

Patrick:  Josh, Maria calls you “the front man from behind the scenes”  – you play drums, usually in the back of stage, but you are the producer and I guess to some extent, a band leader who calls the shots.  Have I got that right?

Josh: I would not say front man or call the shots. I do engineer. Maria and I produce together.  I would say that there is some leadership from me from a musical standpoint. We both lead, but Maria is better than I am.  I do get detailed about how things should sound and I have a lot of ideas that I share with everyone.


Patrick: Your song “I Like it” was originally a pitch for a film. Do you remember the film?

Maria: Yes it was for a scene at a casino. So we wrote music for a very attractive woman walking through a casino.

Patrick: Have you always had that voice… did you sing in choir or high school?

Maria:  I did sing in choir, but I never thought I had a good voice. I enjoyed singing and I had a few  singing lessons as a child and did a recital with Nora Jones songs. I loved Nora ones growing up.  My family said I should sing more often and my friends said the same. I played an open mic and people I didn’t know said they liked it, so I thought maybe I can sing and I wanted to keep going. So here I am.

Patrick: Will you being doing more Spanish songs for Vol. 2 of Superclean.

Maria:  Yes, we will. I don’t think we will ever not do songs in Spanish.  That is who I am.

Patrick: You are on stage in San Francisco with Café Tacuba. That will be a huge show.  Are you excited.

Josh.  We will be with them for five nights and we are really excited!.

Patrick: Your merch page has a lot of clothing and jewelry items… Maria do you design clothes?

Maria: Yes. I design them with a friend of mine here in  nd we are planning more now.

Patrick: Looking forward to seeing them. Thank you!

Patrick O’Heffernan, PhD., is a music journalist and radio broadcaster based in Los Angeles, California, with a global following. His two weekly radio programs, MusicFridayLive! and MusicaFusionLA are heard nationwide and in the UK. He focuses on two music specialties: emerging bands in all genres, and the growing LA-based ALM genre (American Latino Music) that combines rock and rap, blues and jazz and pop with music from Latin America like cumbia, banda, jarocho and mariachi. He also likes to watch his friend drag race.

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