Mariee Sioux’s cover of The Cure’s “Love Song” can be found on Manimal Vinyl’s “Perfect as Cats” tribute album, alongside tracks from Silver Summit, Kaki King, Rio en Medio, and many many more. Head over to the Perfect as Cats MySpace for more info.
[ stream ] Mariee Sioux – Love Song
When I first heard Mariee Sioux’s debut album Faces in the Rocks, time seemed to stop. Her voice, fragile yet confident in its own understated elegance, wove a tapestry of images and sounds that brought me to an emotional and spiritual plane bereft of worldly obligation or anxiety. In other words, I felt beyond time, beyond self. Never before had I heard an artist who, seemingly out of so few raw materials, was able to craft songs able to hold water even after nine minutes…or longer.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mariee for the first time at folkYEAH’s Big Sur celebration last weekend. As enchanting and graceful as the wind, grass, and streams she sings about so effortlessly in her songs, Mariee had a presence that I won’t soon forget. Her singing and fingerpicking was flawless, despite the chilly air sweeping betwixt the towering redwoods. Shafts of golden light split the branches, dust danced on the whim of breezes. As laid back and absorbed the aura of twilight, Mariee’s poems cradled my restless mind.
Daytrotter – god bless ‘em – was able to get some unreleased songs from Mariee, and hear the stories behind a couple of her tracks from Faces in the Rocks.
“Friendboats” (new version) – original on Faces in the Rocks
Naturalismo: Nevada City has produced some of folk music’s most promising artists. Describe the city’s cultural climate and what, if anything, you think has played a hand in fostering the city’s prolific artistic output?
Mariee Sioux: I actually feel that the there is a definite lack of culture present in the area. I don’t think that it lacks the arts in anyway but it isn’t a very diverse place. In that way I think I was always kind of made to search out some culture and really dig deep to find some connections to roots and things….But I do think that there is a strong sense of community that is always very open and loving to its inhabitants. There are also some alternative schooling options, but I think some of them are struggling these days with funding, so I’m not sure how that realm is doing right now…I think that a lot of very creative people did move there in the 60-80′s and perhaps created a very artistic environment, but I don’t think it was a hippie town or anything extreme like that. There is a pretty conservative weird side to the area as well which perhaps gets very overlooked, my mom worked for the health department for years and the public schools wouldn’t let her teach sex ed to 8th graders or have condoms at the highschools..things like that are kinda weird there and not so open or liberal.
N: What kind of relationship did you have with fellow Nevada City…ites Alela Diane and Joanna Newsom? Did your relationships with them help foster your growth as a musician?
MS: Alela and I have been childhood friends since I was about 3 or so. But our parents knew each other since before we were born. I think we were always around our parents’ bands, or our dads jamming together at our houses, so it was a pretty natural thing being surrounded by music with her, though I never played with them or even really thought about ever playing guitar. We would spend many a weekend at bluegrass festivals together being weird little girls. Joanna is a wonderful being, I just remember going to some poetry readings she did in high school, pounding her chest and speaking crazy words… and being aw inspired by her gut wrenched energies, words, and ability to really break out of every box that was happening at the time (even before her songwriting I think)…yeah I would say they both have truly inspired me in different ways.
N: The imagery you evoke in your lyrics seems rooted heavily in the wind, the trees, the dust, the grass, the animals, and the air – the language of our world. Humanity seems intrinsically trapped in a paradox of consciousness. Beneath our chaotic shield of “self,” exists the same stillness, the same simplicity as a tree or rock; yet, we feel separate, above, different from the Earth that exists around us. Does art – or, more specifically, music – allow us to transcend the illusion of duality and once again speak the tongue of the universe, the earth?
MS: Hmmmm…wow. What a way to put it ! I feel like the only way I can only answer that is by saying read through some of my lyrics…because singing these songs explains it better than me just typing on the keyboard…I think there is something heavily natural and also supernatural about the musical world….like when you listen to some old old recordings of some indigenous singing its like a boulder just fell in your stomach and literally makes me feel like I have no body. I think it used to be a completely natural thing to have music be magic and medicine in all cultures around the world….
N: It’s never wise to generalize, but it seems like most music today – mainstream or otherwise – lacks any kind of attention span. Like the oral storytelling traditions of many Native American tribes, your songs seem free of the restrictions of structure: roaming, curious, free-spirited. Have the oral traditions of Native American culture influenced your songwriting?
MS: Well,to be honest I don’t really know. I never really grew up engulfed in native culture or anything, my mother was always open about it close with it but in her own way, her family was never very into their roots, and for that I think I feel perhaps even more of a connection to it… the lack of it being present in our family anymore really really is a heaviness I think about a lot.
N: Many of your songs reference ancestry and family – both your own, and those of animals. What role did your family play in your musical education and inspiration?
MS: It’s kind of the same situation again…my family played the role of being open loving parents. And my father was always playing music and still does. They also really love to live off the land as much as they can. They were organic farmers for most of my life growing up, though now its just enough for themselves instead of a career. My dad always gathers mushrooms throughout the year and hunts and fishes his own game, and my mom tends lovingly to her flower beds. They love working with the earth and growing things and i think that always really effected me to feel a strong connection with dirt and the earth and inspecting plants and little bugs and things. Making connections from my little ands and body with those things around me…
N: I don’t mean to be too esoteric, but I’ve often felt it to be true – especially on your record. Do you believe that certain instruments embody the spirit or “essence” of certain animals or elements of nature? Do you personally feel an affinity with any particular animal or spirit?
MS: Hmmmmm….well I don’t think thats a stretch or anything…I know that certain sounds can hit my hard in my gut…I don’t know if i relate really to any particular animal or spirit…I think you can always tell when there is a purity perhaps behind the person/soul that is playing it…
N: With Faces in the Rocks behind you, have you been working on any new material as of late? Are there any plans in the woodworks for the next record? If so, how’s the recording process been going?
MS: I have been continuing to write write write…I’m always writing, not always songs, but just trying to stay focused on that… though it tends to work better when no on the road in a van with other people all the time…There have been no new recordings yet, but I’m just trying to keep going on some new songs i have and play them a lot live and by myself …and hope that some more come on their own…..Oh I think I am going to record a Cure song “Lovesong” though for a tribute album coming out on Manimal Vinyl later this year???
N: Faces in the Rocks features many musical contributions from family and friends, like the amazing Gentle Thunder; who were the contributors on Faces in the Rocks, and do you think you’ll continue expanding the sonic palette of your next album?
MS: I loved playing with everyone on the album. Lets see, there was my dad on mandolin, Gentle Thunder on Flutes and percussion, Jonathan Hischke on bass, and some singing contributors…such as my dad, Dana (who recorded the album), and Jeremiah Conte and GT…..They were so so so giving and lovely and super chill !!! The songs where there are flutes, me and Gentle Thunder recorded live together with me singing and playing the guitar live with her in a little sound proof room…we would just jam it out live till there was a take we thought was the right one and then worked on that overlaying things over so that the kinda power was there in the first layer….I do think that the next batch of songs will be different, and not have all the same instruments. I don’t really know yet, going to let it happen on its own when the time comes !!
N: What artists have you been listening to recently?
MS: Well,In the van out here in France we have been listening to a lot of Low. Our van driver really loves them and I have been truly enjoying it as well….we’ve listened to a lot of Ethiopiques and…jammed some old Neil Young, some of our friends’ old bands from Nevada City such as “Black Bear” and “O Cross” which me and Alela were really freaking out about since we loved and still love them and had a seriously nostalgic moment in the van….
N: I’ve read before that you never intended on being a musician, that your primary means of expression had always been poetry. Who or what encouraged you to pick up the guitar, and how do you think music can supplement or enhance the spoken/written word?
MS: I honestly don’t know what made up pick up the guitar and be like… oh I think I’ll play this thing…i think a lot of my friends weere kinda playing music with each other and were REALLY into their bands they liked in high school and stuff like that. So all of that was pretty invigorating musically…I think it was also when me and my two best gal friends Jaime and Abby were trying to start a girl band called Gale Music…we wrote some songs together and played one live show..haha.. It was seriously fun and I think pretty much opened the doors into songwriting for me…I think music and words are always floating or sitting waiting for us to find them or help move them in some sort of direction…I don’t think there is a format that needs to be followed for “music” ever… I think people need to do what feels right always, and always be true to their heart…I love spoken word and poetry and I love music….so hmmm i guess of course !!!?
[download] “Two Tongues” from Faces in the Rocks (Grassroots)
I know I posted about Arthur’s Sunday Nights at McCabes before, but this event poster was just released, and it’s too cool to let go. C’mon people, it has a wizard holding a mushroom! Wizard! Mushroom!