From Postmodern Jukebox, to American Idol To Now Releasing Her Own Original Music, Singer-Songwriter MARIS Tells All!
Posted On 09 Mar 2018
Meet the singer-songwriter named Maris! The 18 year-old musician from Missoula, Montana had her world turned upside down in 2017. This time last year Maris was perusing through the internet when she stumbled on an open-call audition for a hit Youtube series Postmodern Jukebox. Fast forward just 12 months, millions of views, Carnegie Hall performance, and an American Idol TV audition, Maris is no longer a small-town Montana girl with a beautiful voice. Now living in Brooklyn and away from her family for the first time, Maris is letting fans into her world with a revelatory new single “BOYS”. Careless and free on the surface, “BOYS” combines Beatle-esque harmonies, and her unmistakable voice.
It all started when Maris cold-entered a competition to sing on a popular Youtube series Postmodern Jukebox. After its founder Scott Bradlee heard Maris’ voice, he brought her in to sing a version of “Jolene” in May 2017, which would go on to earn over 1 million plays (Watch).
Still an unknown, Maris experienced her first true brush with internet fame only a few month later in July. While practicing for a local Montana gig, Maris jokingly grabbed a bottle of soy sauce and at the request of her mom recorded a playful cover of Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon”, using the bottle as a microphone. In the morning, the video had over 100K views, 60K shares, and the next day Kikkoman Soy Sauce asked Maris to write a song for their commercial. The viral fame was never something Maris was after, but the video settled at nearly 4M views on Twitter. (Watch)
Later in the summer the producers for the return season of American Idol approached Maris for a chance to audition. Fast forward to November 20th, and Maris was in Los Angeles standing on the ABC stage next to Luke Bryan at the final round of auditions. It was the AMA’s season and Maris took a risk by performing Etta James’ standard “Fool That I Am” completely accapella.
“Incredible singer” – Luke Bryan, live on ABC
“..terrific rendition of Etta James’s “Fool That I Am.” – Hollywood Life
“..knockout rendition of Dolly Parton’s classic ‘Jolene'” – Postmodern Jukebox
“Ear blessed. More Sinatra please.” – 9GAG
Instagram // Twitter // Website // Soundcloud
Learn more about Maris in the following All Access interview with her here-
So where does this interview find you today? Has it been a good day?
– Well, I just got home after getting off work and taking a brief walk in Prospect Park, so I’m well! I sang a little bit in a tunnel, and that felt good. If I don’t get to belt at least once a day, it feels like there’s a bubble in my chest. Sometimes it physically hurts me not to at least sing once a day, so that felt really good. I hope you’re well, yourself!
Overall, how do you think 2017 was for you and your career? What are you most excited about for this year? What is one big goal you have for 2018?
– Overall I’d say that 2017 had a lot of obstacles, but also a lot of miracles. Miracles in the sense of things that I’ve been striving for and working toward finally finding the right timing. This year I’m excited about releasing new music and exploring myself and the world as much as I can. Navigating blooming adulthood in one of the biggest cities in the world is quite a doozy, to be honest, but I’m taking it one day at a time. A big goal for 2018 would be to find a team of people to help me do what I do that I trust to keep my best interest in mind and help me execute my dreams.
Growing up, did you ever think that this would be the kind of life that you would have? Has music always been a big part of your life? Can you recall your first ever musical experience?
– Music has always been integral to who I am as a person. Most all my life I’ve envisioned myself as a songwriter and performer. I took a small detour in middle school, where I wanted to be a professional soccer player, but that’s not as big in my life now. Who knows, though. I think I can be a musician and a soccer player, if I really worked for it. 🙂 My first musical experience was my mom singing to me, Johnny Cash’s, “You Are My Sunshine.” I still hold that song very, very dear.
I’m such a big fan of Scott Bradlee and PostModern Jukebox so I’m very curious to know what first peaked your interest when you saw the open-call audition for them?
– I actually was training with a vocal teacher at the time, and she showed me their youtube page, on which I did some exploration. We filmed my audition in her house, and it was super fun.
Your cover of “Jolene” with them is amazing! What was it like when you first started performing with them?
– Thank you so much on behalf of myself and Scott and the whole team of incredible musicians that worked on that. I was absolutely scared shitless, my mouth was dry, I was sweating and shaking. I had no reason to, the musicians and team there were SO friendly and wonderful, but of course also fucking talented. That’s what shook me up, I didn’t want to fuck up in front of these INCREDIBLE musicians. I wanted to impress them and be respected by them.
What has this ride been like for you so far? How has it been living so far away from your family in New York for the first time?
– It’s been wild. I sometimes forget I live in NYC, because I’ve always dreamt of it, and maybe even built a romanticized version in my head. I love it, though. I wouldn’t trade it for anywhere in the world. I get homesick often, but my mom sometimes sends me care packages. It has jam she made from our plum trees and my old teddy bear that smells like lavender. That simultaneously helps and makes me ache for home even more. I love my family, NYC would be absolutely perfect if they were here too.
How do you think your single “Boys” is a perfect introduction single for you? When did the inspiration for it come from?
– I think it’s hard to summarize a person in one of anything. I’m not just a girl who writes songs about liking other girls, but that is a piece of me. I think a better introduction for me, during this time of my life, would be a whole album. Of which I am working on currently, writing and plotting and visualizing. The inspiration for Boys came from me realizing there’s very few songs for queer people that aren’t hyper-sexual or really fucking sad. I think queer people deserve the same sugary, soaring pop tunes that straight people get.
I love your Kikkoman Soy Sauce story! Did you end up writing a song for their commercial?
– I actually did! Working out contractual kinks at the moment, but it’ll be posted soon.
What do you think you learned the most about from a part of the American Idol train? Do you recommend others try it out?
– I think I really learned about TV, about the music industry and about myself. It wasn’t ideal for me, I’m a little uncomfortable being filmed all the time, which I was surprised at. I love theatre and I love acting, but I found myself getting a little camera shy. It just wasn’t my path, but I think if you see that as a path to get to where you wanna go, march on. You gotta chase whatever dream you can in your own right.
Where can fans see you perform next? What do you think makes for an ideal concert for you?
– Hopefully I can be opening or playing some festivals soon. I’m still a little guy in the music industry, so I have a day job to worry about, but I’m working to get some shows set up. I really love Sofar shows, because everyone is listening and I feel so connected, but not scrutinized or singled out. It feels like how music was meant to be, when you can see the light traveling around the room.
Where do you find that you sing the most- in the car, in the shower or elsewhere?
– I probably sing the most while I’m cooking. If I’m making a quick soup or bagel or something, I sing to my roommates cats. They don’t seem to like it, really, but I find it relaxing. I’m sure my neighbors have grown some healthy resentment, as well.
Where do you find that you have the most fun- on stage performing, making music videos or recording in the studio?
– I think there’s aspects to each that are really fun, and I couldn’t pick out of them. I truly love the connection and adrenaline and light that comes when I perform, I love the creative aspects of trying to emulate the vision I saw in my head when I wrote the song, and usually my “studio” for demos or writing is alone on my bed and in garage band, so I feel comfortable and explorative in that state. There’s tiny magic in everything.
How active on are you on all of your social media platforms? How important do you think it has been to your career so far? Do you find that it’s hard to update all of them all of the time?
– I’m EXTREMELY active, and I definitely overshare. I think that direct line between me and the people who care about my art is something that gets a lot of shit, but really is much more communicative and open than it’s ever been. I love reading tweets and seeing people with my picture as their icon or my name in their handle. I love popping into group chats of people who like my art and really it just feels like I’ve made a bunch of buddies. They’ve taken to calling themselves “Smellies” because I always end my livestreams with “I’ll smell y’all later.” Isn’t that the cutest shit since puppies?
We are living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? How do you think that music is going to reflect these challenging times?
– I think that music allows some people to express or connect or understand feelings they’re maybe not comfortable with or don’t understand. The best thing about art is there is no rules, outside of not fucking over other people, but creatively there are no limits. I think artists using their platforms and voices to speak their truth and elevate the truths of others is incredible.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
– There’s too many to name, but I’ll get a start. Frank Sinatra and his stage presence being so captivating without any of that gimmicky shit, I really look up to that. Amy Winehouse, with her raw and honest words, accompanied by daring and outlandish music for the time. I’d love to work with Harry Styles, not only because I think he’s maaaaaad dreamy, but also because he’s damn talented. I’d like to work with SZA, maybe have her sing some poems I’ve written, even if for my own pleasure. She’s incredible.
What do you hope your fans take away from your music?
– I hope they take whatever they may need, and then some to pass on.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about yourself or your music?
– I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for speaking to me, and if y’all wanna go stream my single on itunes and kick it w me on social media, that would be kickass. Thank you!