Artistry is defined as unrelenting talent, unparalleled vision, and a statement so compelling, that it is worthy of all acclaim and notoriety. Mara Hruby is a shining example of that of and much more. With just the release of a seven-track EP, From Her Eyes, she has garnered worldwide attention. From her signature look to her distinctive sound, Hruby is an artist who shows the world that beauty and artistry can exist one in the same, age does not label wisdom, and style does not contradict message.
As the world anticipates the debut album from one of the most refreshing voices in music, Sound On Mars is thrilled to share Mara Hruby’s entrance to musical greatness.
Hello Mara! I hope all is well. Let’s get right to it. In an interview I watched, you revealed that your relationship with music began early on, through the influence of your parents and development as a musician. Was it always an aspiration to pursue music professionally, or was music just a hobby?
I knew music was something that moved me in a way that was very serious. But the idea of becoming a musician professionally didn’t hit me until I was around 19-years-old. Subconsciously, I knew I wanted to make a difference in the world with my talents.
Growing up, which artists did you listen to? Who are your ultimate musical influences?
Having a sister eight years older than me opened a door to music that wasn’t possible to open up on my own at such an early age. I listened to Julie London, Arrested Development, Bill Withers, Antonio Carlos Jobim, John Coltrane, Bob Marley, Ahmad Jamal, Bjork, Dead Can Dance, Bobby Caldwell, Ella Fitzgerald, Buena Vista Social Club, Marvin Gaye….the list truly continues.
One of the most interesting aspects of your voice and fashion sense is that there seems to be a bold influence of the 1940s and 1950s weaved into them. What’s even more interesting is that you grew up in the Oakland, CA in the 1990s–a time when numerous Oakland rap artists rose to prominence. Did this explosion of Oakland hip-hop also have an influence on you, artistically?
That’s a good question! I was born in 1988, and I listened to a wide array of hip-hop music that wasn’t always specific to Oakland per se. I was big on The Pharcyde, Tribe Called Quest, Arrested Development, 2 Pac, Biggie, Digital Underground, and Wu Tang to name a few. Artistically, it influenced me to be what I naturally was/am as a person. That’s what the music communicated to me. To say the least, the feel of the music is what spoke to me, and that I can remember like yesterday.
Before releasing your debut EP, From Her Eyes, you began making a name for yourself by performing in local venues in California. What is the benefit of gaining exposure through tackling and performing in various local scenes versus focusing all energy into landing the attention of major record labels with demos and other similar methods?
To me, success is finding yourself in your craft and feeling support and love for it all. I wanted to build my sound and brand as exactly what I am as an individual. I want to be what I am naturally as a person, and to make genuine music that is true to my heart. I think that with major labels, if you are unsure of yourself, they have all the power. They form a team to help write songs, form an image that’s marketable, and strategically plan everything around what will make them the most money. If I do what I want locally from my heart, then I can build something so much more valuable.
How does the experience of performing differentiate from recording in the studio? Which do you prefer?
You can’t compare recording and performing. Recording is the way you express your ideas and emotions in a very rough state without judgment. Performing is communicating what you have created in a far more open and confidence driven setting.
Let’s talk about From Her Eyes. If I am correct, the EP is based on your spin of music created by some of your favorite male artists. Why did you choose to cover songs by male artists, specifically?
I chose to cover those specific songs because they each meant something to me personally. Also, lyrically they could be covered with out changing any of the words to be sung from a woman’s standpoint. They are timeless songs that I wanted to give my opinion on musically, and pay homage to the original artists.
What is your favorite track from the EP and why?
My favorite track is either “Send It On” or “Alright.” “Send It On” always stands out to me because of how amazing it is originally. D’Angelo is a legend to me, and I was anxious before I recorded the song because I wanted to do it justice. I’m most proud of that one, I’d have to say.
Will you be releasing any more singles and music videos from the EP?
Everything available now on the EP is all it’s going to be without any additions. So far, I have released two videos, “Is This Love” and “Stereolab (Lose Myself).” I plan on releasing a video for every song on the EP and the next one to come will be a video for “The Panties.”
Will you be returning to the studio any time soon to record a full-length album?
From Her Eyes was recorded in The Attic Of Love a.k.a. my home. Before I began recording my cover EP, I had already started working on my original album. Right now, I am writing and recording to complete this project so I can release it to the world.
Switching gears a little, I want to talk about your involvement in Sartorial Sounds. I must say, I watched the behind-the-scenes video and experienced the actual project and I was blown away. What was it like working on the project and with the other artists who were involved?
It was fantastic being a part of that editorial. Those men are amazing in every way; I was honored to be the only woman included. There was so much talent in that room and we all clicked. It is something that I am always going to look back on with joy and remember for the rest of my life.
Will there be any future collaborations between you and the other artists?
Right now, nothing is in motion. We all creatively got along and I am certainly not opposed to collaborating in the future.
One of the aspects that Sartorial Sounds incorporated was fashion. As I mentioned earlier, there seems to be a clear vintage theme in your style. What about the fashion of the 40s and 50s inspires you?
That time period stands for its beauty to me. Everyone was so clean-cut and the style of clothing was, and forever will be, timeless. I also love that in that era, you could be sexy without being too revealing.
At the moment, you are unsigned. Do you hope to be signed to a label one day or is your sole concentration on making music right now?
Right now, I’m focused on creating music for the world. I’m not opposed to being signed, but I’m still developing my craft and sound.
In 2011, the industry seems to be quite stagnant–it favors the same type of artists who perform the same types, styles and genres of music. In that regard, your music stands out from the pack. Do you feel that this is a negative or positive aspect of your music?
I think it’s very, very positive. I’m proud to make the music that I am making.
Now that we’ve talked about the serious topics we are going to have some fun. Answer the following with the first answer that comes to mind:
Favorite contemporary pop artist?
I am a huge fan of Janelle Monáe. I think genres are a bit confused these days so she is my favorite current artist.
Would you rather have a Grammy or sold-out American tour?
Honestly, I’d be happy to experience both. The order doesn’t matter.
What was the last album you bought?
The last album I bought was Janelle Monáe’s ArchAndroid.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I do, but I’m not guilty about them! One is that I love laying in bed, watching classic movies from the 30s-60s.
If you come back to life as one person (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
What are your everyday inspirations? What inspires your music and creativity?
My inspirations are sunlight, love, pain, smiles, nature, music, the moon, good food, men, and imperfections. My simple inspirations everyday is what helps me create my music.
What do you hope to accomplish with your music and creations?
I hope to share my story and creativity with the world. I want to make music that makes people feel good and become a staple in music history.
If you could collaborate with one artist in the world, who would it be and why?
I think it would be just fantastic if I could work with Stevie Wonder, because I’ve always looked up to his songwriting. I think we would create something that is new and refreshing. If not Stevie, then I would have to say Prince.
Right now, I am working on my original album set to release before 2011 is over. And I plan on releasing a few surprise remixes from From Her Eyes between now and my debut original release.
In 10 years, where do you want to be in your life and career?
In 10 years, I would like to have multiple Grammys, I would like to have completed seven albums, and I would like to have a successful career that has made history. I would like to have purchased my first home, reached a point of happiness with my success, and share my designs with the world. I would like to be able to say that I’ve performed for people all over the world as well as acted in films, and been a part of campaigns for major brands worldwide.