Interview: Briana Marela On New LP And The Meaning of Love

Marela says that "love is complex and ever-changing and defies expectations"

briana marela interview

Photo by Eleanor Petry

Briana Marela’s new album, Call It Love, approaches the subject of love head on. In our new interview, the Seattle native says, “That is something I always want to explore: what is love?”

Call It Love is due August 4th on Jagjaguwar. Marela enlisted the production assistance of Juan Pieczanski and Ryan Heyner of the band Small Black for her new LP, which is her third. Watch Briana’s ‘magic eye’ video for ‘Give Me Your Love’ here and read our Briana Marela interview below:

Culture Creature: How did your work evolve between 2015’s All Around Us and your new album?

Briana Marela: I’ve been exploring working more with making beats and percussive elements than I have in the past and I wanted to bring that into this record as a major evolution. In my mind, I am putting my most pop foot forward – even though I can’t escape my ambient tendencies. I love pop music and wanted to make some fun and at times sassy songs. I’d love to make an ambient record too, but it felt fun and the right time for me to make a more identifiable pop record.

Can you describe the experience and impact of working with Juan Pieczanski and Ryan Heyner in the studio?

It was really fun working with Juan and Ryan. They have such good friend chemistry (being in a band together and all) and are really fast at rolling ideas off of each other. Also they are funny and sweet. Even though I am also an audio engineer, working with other people when recording my own music helps keep my mind off some of of the technical work and stay more focused on musical elements. As a producer myself, I know what I want to hear and what I like when it comes to producing my own music – but it is so important to also be open to other people’s ideas. Juan and Ryan definitely contributed some great ideas to some of my songs that I think makes them better than they would be on their own. Juan is a Pro Tools wiz and Ryan is a synth guru and having people like that on your team is just an incredible asset when finishing up a record! Juan and I were the most stubborn and sometimes we would butt heads on ideas, but we always worked it out. I’ll also treasure all our talks about aliens and conspiracy theories.

briana marela interview

Do you feel that there’s something refreshing or bold about a straight-up love song in an era of irony and post-modernism?

Sure, though the term “straight-up love song” is a little vague. Even though I write love songs they are pretty convoluted in a sense, too. I subtly infuse some of my songs with irony, I don’t take myself seriously 100% of the time. I do think there is something to be said about being genuine though, and I get bored of people and music that is too ironic and too cool for its own good. I think it is bold to tell someone you love them. A lot of people are terrified to do something like that. They are afraid of what “love” means. And that is something I always want to explore: what is love? I don’t think of love in the heteronormative fairy tale ending; love is complex and ever-changing and defies expectations. We need love more than ever these days too!

What are your favorite love songs by other artists?

Old, all-time favorites: ‘Cocoon’ by Bjork and ‘I’d Like To Walk Around In Your Mind’ by Vashti Bunyan

Some new favorites: ‘Flower Glass’ by Hand Habits and ‘Conceptual Romance’ by Jenny Hval

You are a Seattle native so I can’t resist: what is your favorite ‘90s grunge band and why?

Haha, well my obvious answer is Nirvana, because duh. And even though they aren’t maybe actually “grunge” my real answer is The Gits because Mia Zapata was such an amazing vocalist. I have these great memories of being in high school and driving around Seattle with my best friend at the time, just blasting ‘Second Skin’ in her car, being young and discovering new music and falling in love with it together.

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