by on June 1, 2021 in Artist Spotlight

Hi Mari, tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a singer/songwriter from the South bay area in California. I’ve always enjoyed singing and making up songs but it wasn’t until 2019 that I decided to really take my music a bit more seriously and release it to the world. Songwriting and getting in my own creative space is one of those things I realized I needed to do for good, regardless of where it would take me. It helps me connect with myself deeply and brings me this sort of unexplainable peace. Everybody has a “thing,” and songwriting is that painful, magical, fulfilling, cathartic thing that I just need in my life to function better as a human being, emotionally and mentally. It’s a dear, good old friend.

Do you have one particular record/artist that got you interested in songwriting?

Definitely more than one. I remember imitating Jason Mraz and Stacie Orrico a lot and wanting to write after listening to them. But I definitely got inspired and was very much influenced by 90’s love songs from singing karaoke, growing up in an Asian household. And even though I don’t write r&b music, I was extremely inspired by a lot of 90’s r&B love songs that I learned from my older cousins. Tamia’s “Who do you tell,” Monica’s “Angel of mine,” or Brandy’s “Have You Ever,” for example, are some songs that I obsessed over and got me into writing very emotionally. Of course now, I have a ton of other songwriters in other genres like pop that I look up to.

Most memorable gig you’ve played and why?

My highschool friend’s wedding. It was memorable for obvious reasons, but also I remember trying to compose myself as I sang while watching her walk down the aisle. I felt so grateful and honored to have sung on her special day.

How did the process of your EP Hold Me Again start?

I was just writing a lot and had all these songs in front of me. When the pandemic hit, it also gave me even more time to write. I’ve always wanted to release more than just singles, so I figured I should just start picking songs and working on recording them, so I did. After I wrote “The Rest of My Life,” and “Always Yours,” I realized that I wanted to put out a very heartfelt, intimate record that reflected all these longings that I was feeling (partly because of the pandemic) and heartaches that I’ve been holding on to.

This feels like a very intimate kind of record, who/what inspired you for this sound?

This record in particular was inspired by heartaches and feelings of longing. The pandemic was a factor, but I was also in a time of my life when I was struggling with feeling alone and convincing myself that despite all the hard stuff, everything’s okay because I had very good people around me. There was just a sadness that seemed to linger, even when I also felt happy and grateful. I wanted the songs, melodically and lyrically, to express that sadness and longing, but also the reality that I had a group of people who were there for me and that made life better. “Always Yours” was almost as a way to convince myself of that truth. It’s weird that the record was written “selfishly,” in a cathartic way, when I think about it, but I knew people would relate to the lyrics and the feelings I was trying to convey.

It seems like you had a very busy 2020, how did song writing change for you last year?

I was able to write more last year because of Covid. I also started experimenting writing with sounds in Logic Pro towards the end of the last year, and not just with my guitar. It definitely changed the direction of my songwriting a little bit, because it was the first time ever that my writing and producing was simultaneous. It was more challenging in a way because I was multitasking and I’m still new to producing, but easier in some ways because I wasn’t starting with just a song and a blank canvas. I really began to appreciate how creating this way was bringing out melodies that wouldn’t have come out if I just sat with my guitar.

What can we expect from Mari in 2021?

My second EP project, “the next chapter,” is coming out June 18! This record is a sequel to the first, but happier and more hopeful. I’m very excited and already in the process of writing singles to follow up this EP.

Who would you most like to collaborate with in the future?

Collaboration still feels very new and scary to me, but I know I should really get into it more for growth and experience. This is so far off from reality, but it would be a dream to collaborate with Lennon Stella or JP Saxe. Closer to reality, I’ve actually been thinking of collaborating on song production with Sefi Carmel, who mixed and mastered both my records, since I’ve been so blown away by his expertise. Also, videographer Kris Rodriguez and dancer Skye Victoriano. They are amazing creatives I met last year who helped with the music video for “Hold Me Again.” Collaborating again would be such an amazing experience.

For more of Mari’s work please follow her on Instagram | Facebook | Youtube, all these links can be found via her website below.

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