Seven Plays XII : Maral

This installment was contributed by the artist Maral, whose intuitive and imaginative approach to sound production we’ve highlighted in past interviews. Maral’s experimental music and live sets are a shifting landscape, exploring the complex and often dueling emotions that pervade everyday life and drive us to create. Influenced by her Iranian background and the electronic experimentations of her contemporaries, the artist’s work channels unique and disparate voices into organic sound collages. Maral’s unbridled passion and singular musical perspective extend far beyond her personal productions, showcased in her array of remixes and collaborations, dublab and NTS shows, and within her A&R work for Ninja Tune’s Big Dada label. Ahead of Maral’s celebratory opening set for Beach House in Los Angeles this weekend, we’ve invited her to share seven plays that surrounded and inspired her most recent composition, an ode to Spring titled “lavendar’s love”.

Monday: Susumu Yokota – “Genshi”

On Mondays I like to find ways to ease into being back at work, and a lot of the time that involves listening to Susumu Yokota’s Sakura. I love the movement that’s in that record. When I put it on, I feel like I’m traveling through a tunnel of sound; the beautiful landscapes the sound creates. And it helps me get through the day.

Tuesday: Thoom – “Just Drifting (Psychic TV Cover)”

Tuesday was the day I was putting together a guest mix for NTS and had been obsessed all weekend with this cover of Psychic TV’s “Drift Away” by the artist Thoom. I was really excited to put together a mix using that track and kind of used it as a guiding light for the rest of the mix. When I make my DJ mixes, I like to have a certain track or sound as my jumping off point. Lately I had been into making mixes with the feeling of shimmering romance, like a rose reflecting on the water.

Wednesday: Parviz Yahaghi, Jalil Shahnaz and Jahangir Malek – “Dashti”

Making the mix also led me down an Iranian classical music rabbit hole, as I always try to incorporate Iranian music into my mixes in some shape or form. I’ve been getting more into Iranian classical violin, which I had kind of been avoiding since I felt the setar and tar in Iranian classical music had a rawer tone to them that I particularly like. I found this track called “Dashti” by Parviz Yahaghi, Jalil Shahnaz and Jahangir Malek, who are all masters of their respective instruments. The track has violin, tar, and tombak drums. In the track they are playing an Iranian Dastgah (a musical modal system in traditional Iranian music) called “Dashti”, which I sample a lot in my album Push as well as in my new stuff. I love the melody; it’s eerie and melancholic but has these high uplifting moments.

Thursday: Broadcast – “World Backwards”

On Thursday, I was day dreaming about making music like The Breeders and listening to Broadcast’s Maida Vale Sessions. I’m obsessed with the feeling of being in a band with my samples and daydream about different bands I want to sound like, which I never end up getting anywhere close to, but the feeling the songs give me help guide the sound of my music-making. I love the sound of live drums and combining them with electronic, more club-driven drums. I try to morph my samples into sounding like a guitar sometimes, and recently I’ve been playing more actual guitar and bass on my songs. It was really great getting to collaborate with Panda Bear on a track because he brought in actual live drums and synths that he played, which was a nice change from midi and samples!

Friday: Black Dice – “Downward Arrow (DJ Lycox Remix)”

Friday was Bandcamp Friday, which is always a joy of music gems but a lot to go through! It was also the day that Black Dice’s remix EP was announced and my remix of their track “Bad Bet” was released. I love that track so much, and wanted to make my own version of a psychedelic band using the stems from it. The original kind of reminds me of Velvet Underground. The remix EP also has remixes by DJ Lycox and Inner Flight (aka Cooper Saver & Chris Macintyre), which are both really awesome. The DJ Lycox one is a remix of “Downward Arrow”, which is another one of my favorite songs from the recent Black Dice album Mod Prog Sic. I’ve been a huge fan of DJ Lycox and the Principe Discos crew for years, so it was sweet getting to be on a remix EP together for a band that I really love! I grew up seeing Black Dice live, and I would leave the show with my brain morphed and refreshed every time.

Saturday: JWords – “Real Me”

Saturday I needed to have a chill out after a fun Friday night DJing and getting to see NYC’s JWords live for the first time. I’ve been playing JWords’ recent EP on repeat at the house, and we always get the lyrics to “Real Me” stuck in our heads. The whole EP is next level. JWords also has an amazing project with the rapper/producer Maassai called H31R. Both are next level in their craft, and it’s a dream combo when they come together as H31R.

Sunday: The Everly Brothers – “All I Have To Do Is Dream”

On Sunday we celebrated the Iranian holiday Sizdah Be-dar, which is a holiday that celebrates nature and comes 13 days after the Iranian new year, or Nowruz. You are supposed to go out into nature and release sprouted greens that you have been growing into moving water, which signifies getting rid of the bad vibes. So we went to Eaton Canyon here in Los Angeles and there’s a beautiful waterfall and creek running through the mountain, one of my favorite spots in LA because you get to criss-cross across the creek, but unfortunately usually it is insanely busy and sometimes loses its magic cause you are stuck behind a bunch of people. Somehow, on this day, there was barely anyone there, which is crazy for a weekend. It was super cloudy, so I guess that deterred people for some reason. Whenever sweet things like that happen, the song “All I have to Do Is Dream” by The Everly Brothers gets stuck in my head.

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Seven Plays is a feature where our contributors, extended family and friends keep a personal music diary for seven days, before handing the format over to another author. The aim is to keep sharing great music, this time with an individual touch that celebrates the intimacy and emotionality of our relationships with music as well as sonic excitement and technical prowess. Read our previous installments of Seven Plays here.

Photo by Diana Rojas

Taylor Trostle