[March 16, 2016]
By Spencer VH
SPENCER: You grew up in the Seattle area and still call it home. Despite your travels around the world, do you think it will always end up being your home base? Do you think your life there may have affected or influenced the way you make music?
BRIANA MARELA: I think Seattle will always feel a bit like home, since I grew up there, but really I would feel at home anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. I just love it there so much. I definitely think my music is influenced from having grown up in Seattle and coming of age in Olympia, I’ve always been influenced by the music scenes and the people I choose to surround myself there.
S: Your first two albums, Water Ocean Lake (2010) and Speak From Your Heart (2012), were mostly written and recorded in Olympia, WA. How would you describe the Olympia music scene to an outsider and how does it compare to the Seattle music scene?
BM: I would say that the Olympia music scene is always evolving, very creative, rough around the edges, and very community based. There is a lot of good punk music as well as more indie/folk/weird or electronic stuff coming from there. Compared to the Seattle scene it feels a bit more small scale of course, i know more people in seattle that are signed to labels and that play more venues than house shows. There is a pressure to be a better musician in Seattle, I always want to feel really rehearsed, when I lived in Olympia before it felt like it didn’t matter as much if you were a lilt take sloppy. I wish the seattle and Olympia scenes could come together more, I think there is a lot the other could teach each other
S: For your third album, All Around Us (2015), you took things about as far from the Pacific Northwest as possible, traveling all the way to Iceland to work with producer Alex Somers, known mostly for his work with Sigur Ros and other Icelandic musicians. How did this idea come about and how difficult was it to make the whole experience happen?
BM: The idea came from Alex, he had reached out to me and we emailed back and forth for almost a year before we decided that I should come to Iceland and record. It was difficult because I didn’t know how I was going to be able to afford the trip but luckily I took a loan and also made a Kickstarter…
S: I’ve never been to Iceland myself, but I have lived in both California and Washington and i’ve always concluded in my own brain that Iceland would have some similar qualities to the quieter areas of Washington state. Did you find anything familiar or was the experience too foreign to truly compare? Were you able to spend quality time there outside of the time you spent actually recording?
BM: Iceland does remind me of some of the quieter areas of Washington state, definitely, I think there is a nature parallel relationship somehow … Just some of the epic beautiful places definitely feel paralleled somehow! I wasn’t able to spend much time exploring outside of recording, I had very little money and had a very rigorous recording schedule.
S: Since the release of All Around Us, you’ve travelled to farther away places and played larger venues to larger audiences than ever before. Still, you continue to mix that with playing intimate DIY spaces. Do you enjoy both experiences the same in different ways? Do you think you can connect more with listeners the same in a space regardless of the size?
BM: I really do enjoy playing both larger venues and smaller intimate DIY venues, it is nice to have a set-up that allows this. I think the way I can connect with someone in the audience will vary depending on the show, but maybe people in the intimate space really would be more moved… Just being up close and personal can be so fun compared to watching someone farther away on a stage. Also I just love having balance! I want to always be able to do both!
S: You’re playing at FUNZONE in Santa Barbara on a DIY tour with fellow Seattle musician Lilac following a larger scale west coast tour with Waxahatchee. What are you looking forward to most on both tours?
BM: I know my friend who plays as Lilac a bit better than Katie from Waxahatchee but I hope to become better friends with both of them. I am looking forward to some of the beautiful venues on the waxy tour, like the old church in Portland and Hollywood Forever in LA… but for the DIY tour I am looking forward to just hanging out more with people in a meaningful way in small spaces. Venues can feel a bit impersonal. I’m excited about all the music equally!!
S: Lastly, the question we always ask touring musicians: what local musicians would recommend from your area that readers in California may not have had the chance to hear?
BM: First of all definitely Lilac, Sick Sad World, Crater, Hoop, Oh Rose, Seagull Invasion, Poppet, Heatwarmer, and many more! I could go on!!
Briana Marela’s most recent release, ‘All Around You’, is available via her Bandcamp and Jagjaguwar Records. She will be playing with fellow Seattle musicians Lilac and Ings in Santa Barbara on Thursday, April 7th at Dashin House in Isla Vista.