Behind the Song
If there’s a qualification to be a modern day renaissance woman, Brooklyn’s Marla Mase checks all the boxes – writer, actor, musician, raconteur and above all, a magnetic performer. A long time beacon of artistic innovation on the New York music and theatre scenes Marla Mase’s vision is informed and illuminated by her gritty poetic activism. She has performed to rapturous audiences from the Bowery to Beijing and has had her plays/rock operas performed at the legendary La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, NYC Summerstage, SXSW to name a few.
Along with triumphant tours in China, Europe and the United States, Marla received a ‘Messenger of Peace’ Award from the Friends of the UN for her visionary work as a songwriter and performer.
For fans who have never heard your music, can you pick three words to describe it?!
Eclectic, In your Face, Authentic, Multi-genre -- my work is very MASE -- that's all I can say.
What is your favorite part about being an artist? Is it songwriting, performing, recording, something else? Tell us why. I love all of it and each aspect feeds a part of myself. Songwriting: well, I think of myself as a writer first, I have a lot to say or I am being given a lot to say and I have to get it out, that's why I do it to begin with. To survive. To communicate. To let people know. Performing: LOVE performing. I can be a pretty shy person but as soon as I am up there on stage with a mic, something takes over and I am transformed. I love communicating with an audience -- to me, performing is all about the dialog between performer and audience. I also love the adrenaline rush. Recording -- has taught me a lot about myself (I am very hard on myself), about working with others, and about how to make a record. I am fortunate to work out of Orange Music Sound Studio with Tomás Doncker and James Dellatacoma of True Groove Records as my producers. The Studio belongs to the legendary Bill Laswell. It is the real deal, you can record a 40 piece orchestra in there. Actually, Frankie Valli built the studio, Carol King recorded there, as did Jethro Tull and many other legends. It has a lot of energy from all the people that have worked out of there.
Can you tell us what being in the recording studio is like for you? See answer above. It's exciting and intimidating and depending on the day it brings up all sorts of emotions in me. I never really thought about it before, but now when asked these questions, I realize it has a big impact. I am not neutral about recording, it's intense, it's up, it's down, it's all of it.. Let's just say, It's a lot of work to make a record. I'm grateful I have brilliant producers. They make me look good. Hah.
Okay, this a fun question. When you are not doing music, what else do you enjoy doing?
Well, I am as I said a writer first. I write essays, monologues, plays, etc so I spend a lot of time doing that. I also love going to the local park and walking up the Rocky Balboa stairs for exercise while listening to an audio book and then sitting by one of the huge trees afterwards and meditating. I love going to live theatre (obviously, that was on pause for quite some time), hanging with friends, dancing, swimming, all of which was on pause, but now slowly re-entering the world. I love going out to dinner and being with my cat. Seeing my parents, hanging with my son, going to the beach! (I love the beach!).
Who do you admire most in the music scene today and why?
I admire the young artists who respect those who came before them and who try to carry on the legacy that has been handed to them. It's a big undertaking and it's important that the tradition of song and songwriting gets passed on from generation to generation. So I admire those who are true to who they are, who are speaking about things that matter to them, and who do not back down from the challenge of doing this in a world where it's easy to get swallowed up and lost in all the confusion, self-doubt, fear, opinions, information, good news, bad news, likes, dislikes, and false bravado that we encounter each and every day.
Can you tell us what song you've written that is the most emotional and describe the meaning behind it?
I've written a lot of emotional songs, but since my daughter's suicide in 2017, I would say that the songs about her are the most emotional. I have a song on my new album (coming out early 2022) "The Fine Art of Pissing in the Bushes" called "Like Demeter" and it came out of a poem I wrote about what it is like to live life each day without her in it. I often think of us as Demeter and Persephone.
Are you working on any new material right now or what's in the works for the upcoming year?
Yes, I am just about finished recording my latest album "The Fine Art of Pissing In the Bushes". It will be released on True Groove Records in early 2022. I have already released two singles from that album "Superhero" and "8:30." The music video for 8:30 has won some film festival awards and I'm very proud of that. I am also working on a classical piece about the day my daughter died as well as a one -woman show. Who knows - maybe the new album will become a theatrical piece. Pretty much all of my albums end up being some sort of multi-media concert/rock-opera/play/performance hybrid. It's what I like doing best.
Where can fans access your music?
Follow on Instagram.
Connect on Facebook. Stream on Spotify.
For more information, please visit Marla's website.