THERE are few artists…
who have been through a tougher time than Maria Muller. She opens up about the gamble she took to become a singer and how loss in her family affected her. Muller talks about future material and artists that mean a lot to her; a musician she recommends we follow and watch out for – she chooses three albums that are important to her.
Muller discusses her latest single, Lost, and what its story is; if there is more material coming down the line; advice she would give any songwriters coming through; how she chills away from music – Muller reveals how she unwinds away from music.
Hi, Maria. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello. It has been a glorious summer and I am very well, thank you.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am a singer-songwriter living in the U.K. I was born in the Philippines and am now a citizen of Switzerland. I started out my training as a Classical singer. I loved the opera but found that my true calling was in writing songs. I write the melodies and lyrics to all my songs.
Lost is your new single. Can you reveal the story behind the song?
It was a very tough time in my life and my marriage was suffering for it. There was a need for more open communication and privacy. We weathered the storm, after a brief separation, and we are stronger together.
I believe you sold your possessions and took a big gamble to become a singer. Was there a distinct point in life where you had reached a crossroads and needed to take that gamble?
I started the journey of my love for music quite late in my life and, after having lost my two sisters who passed tragically, I questioned life and how to live it. I felt it was a tribute to Sandra and Carmencita to live my life to the fullest. Their lives were cut short and it taught me how not to take life for granted. It was a risk to sell all I owned, as I lived a very comfortable life. Yet, the calling in my soul could not be ignored.
It is a decade since you made that move. Looking back, are you happy you made that decision and dedicated yourself to music?
It has not been easy as the music industry has always been focused on the youth. But, I do not regret the choice I made. I may have less than what I had, but I do have a better sense of who I am and what my life and music is about. Money cannot buy self-worth: the courage to venture into unknown territory does. You learn just how much strength you have inside you.
No one can take that away.
Is there more material coming later in the year? What are you working on?
Yes. There is a new track called Que Se Vaya (Tell Him Go) which I am working on with a producer from the United States. It will be released by Warner Music Singapore.
Who are the artists that inspire you and led you to get into songwriting?
Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen; Bob Dylan, Neil Hannon; George Michael and Elton John.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
I hope to be able to release Que Se Vaya and continue to write songs for film tracks as well.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
I was living in Barcelona when George Michael performed live. I waited for that performance for months and managed to get a ticket. His performance and stage presence was electric.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Joni Mitchell’s Blue; Leonard Cohen’s The Essential Leonard Cohen and The Divine Comedy - Loose Canon (Live in Europe 2016-2017).
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
It would take a great deal of promotion and, ideally, a big label to support a new artist. One needs a network of professionals to organise live performances and publicity. It’s a long process and it takes passion.
Can we see you on tour soon? What dates are coming up?
Warner Music Singapore will have to organise a tour. However, I am working on live performances in local spots in Bath (as it is close to home).
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
I would say - know who you are and own it. Don’t try sounding like someone else as that gig is already taken. Then, network, network, network and take deep breaths to soldier on.
IN THIS PHOTO: Joan Armatrading
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I am going on a three-day silent retreat in a Buddhist retreat centre in Yeovil this weekend. Three days of silence and meditation. For a quick ‘cheer-me-up’ in the summer, I jumped into the River Avon near our home in Bradford on Avon. Nothing like cool water to clear the mind and cheer the soul.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Thank you for playing A Lady of a Certain Age by The Divine Comedy
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