Get To Know Mariella [Interview]

Preston Breck

Mariella is one of the most exciting voices in R&B to come out of the UK this year. With recent releases like “Go Slow” doing well on TikTok and being featured on New Music Friday UK, Mariella’s unique, ethereal sound has drawn comparisons to Yebba, Sabrina Claudio and more. She’s just getting started, and I got to talk more with Mariella about her musical journey, recent releases, and plans for the future.

Where are you from and how did you start making music?

I’m from a town called Maidstone which is in Kent in the southeast of England. No one in my family is super musical but I grew up listening to lots of music. My Mom would always play artists like Aretha Franklin, Angie Stone, Lauryn Hill and even named me after the jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, so there’s a lot of musical roots ingrained in me. I was a bedroom singer for a really long time and always idolized being a singer, but I never thought that I could really pursue it until I was around 16 years old. I decided that I was going to give it a go and luckily neither of my parents really batted an eye, so I ended up going to University to study vocals followed by a songwriting degree, and the rest is history. 

How has listening to music growing up influenced the music you make today?

Growing up we actually listened to a lot of American R&B, artists like Jazmine Sullivan, Keri Hilson, Destiny’s Child for example. I remember burning CDs full of these tunes! That’s really where my more soulful/ R&B background kind of stemmed from, between my Mom’s records and what my friends listened to at the time. 

Who are your favorite artists and who are some of the main influences on your sound? 

My musical idol is Lianne La Havas, the way that she blends folk and soul has always been at the core of my artistry. I also grew up in the 2000-2010s where indie music was huge in the UK, listening to folk songwriters from the UK like Lucy Rose, Bombay Bicycle Club & Rae Morris. I discovered Sabrina Claudio around her debut album later on in my musical development, and her smooth, sultry sound combined with heavy, electronic elements blew my mind. Another British artist called Nao was a real pioneer in the electronic-soul scene that was emerging and I listened to her a lot at University. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where my inspiration comes from, but it’s a mix of three genres: folk, soul, and alternative R&B.

You’ve only really been putting out music for two years now. How has your sound evolved since you first started and do you view music differently at all? 

All of the music that I put out until this year was all made in the same timeframe just before the pandemic, and I think as a listener you can kind of hear that evolution in my music. I was quite heavily into that Sabrina Claudio, electronic sound at the time, but I think I’ve been coming back to my roots a lot more recently. When you make music it’s so relative to the moment you make it in, so it’s definitely changed over time. I’ve also widened my understanding over the years of how I put music into the world and how I connect with people. The more you try things out, the more you find out who you are as an artist yourself. The power’s really in your hands. 

What was it like making “Go Slow” and what does the song mean to you? 

I always start ideas on my guitar, as I basically taught myself from the age of 18 through watching other women play such as Lianne La Havas and Amy Winehouse. When I wrote ‘Go Slow’ I was just sitting on the edge of my bed and I came up with the pre-chorus “convinced with all the notes I wrote…” etc. I took the idea into the studio the next day with my producer friend Luke, where we started putting the chords down and humming the chorus idea together. It came together really fast and was just one of those songs that kind of happens, we made it in just a day. I mostly write music in a self reflective state, inspired by moments, people or events happening. ‘Go Slow’ is about my struggles with anxiety around relationships & the uncertainty that comes with life, wanting to know the future to alleviate those fears, so it feels like a really vulnerable song for me. 

What’s your reaction to the traction that the song has gotten online?

It’s so strange, but I’m so grateful! But when you’re a songwriter, the one validating thing that you really want is for people to feel connected to the words you write. I write all of this about my own life experiences, and it’s crazy to think that you’ve written something about this one specific situation that you think is so unique to you but others are connecting to it. A lot of people are telling their own stories with it that are completely disconnected to what you’ve written the song about, but they find their own narrative in it. I’ve seen people making emotional videos about their partner to this song, that I personally wrote about feeling disconnected from someone, which is like the polar opposite feeling but whatever it means to you, I’m all for it!  

What are your plans and goals for the future and do you have any dream projects or collaborations?

Coming up in the future, I have plenty more music coming this year and in 2025! My goal for this year has been to release more music and perform more live shows. My next one is coming up on May 29th in London hosted by an amazing curator called Jodie Bryant, who is a big champion of new music in the UK, so the line up is solid! I would love to go on tour one day, or tour as a support slot for one of my favorite artists! Dream collaborations is a super hard question but I would obviously say Lianne La Havas, Joesef or Matt Hales - he’s a songwriter/producer that has written on most of Lianne’s albums and more recently Olivia Dean’s record. If I could go dead or alive, I would say George Michael, it’s kind of a random pick but he was just such a talented songwriter, and at such a young age!

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