Maria Hazell may still be flying under your radar, but her latest single Debut has racked up a cool million streams on Spotify in about two weeks (as of this writing). She brings impeccable vocals and finely crafted songs with great pop sensibilities. We had the chance to talk with Maria about her music and her career.
Maria Hazell grew up in a family with music, her mother being a musician. She started taking violin lessons at the age of two and was performing in musicals by the time she was four. She has continued with singing, dancing and acting throughout her life. At a certain point it turned more and more into song-writing, which led to a music career as a singer and songwriter.
Maria was discovered at a pretty unlikely way at a club, when she was out watching a friend of hers playing drums.
A girl came up to me and said ‘You have to be an artist! You’re a singer right?’ and she went on to ask if I wrote my own songs. Which I did, so she asked me to send them to her email. So I did and got picked up, Maria explains
This led to the release of her debut single Say It Like You Mean It through the 100 Songs label in and being signed to TEN, one of the companies behind it. Las year Maria released more pop gems, Killing All My Darlings and Golden Boy, which have been on heavy rotation at Your Living City as well. Her latest fantastic pop offering Debut was released on 9th September, and it is getting lots of Spotify streams (passing the one million mark within two weeks).
Debut is a very special song to me. I actually didn’t start it on my own, it was a finished track with verses and some of the lyrics, but they needed a chorus. I sat down with it and it was done in like 20 minutes. It kind of wrote itself. They really liked it so I went to Denmark to record it.
The single was released together with an impressive looking music video, which sees Maria dancing as well.
I’ve been dancing my entire life and a couple of years ago I started dancing for a girl called Sara Galan and just fell in love with her style. And I had a long-time vision of me in dancing in dust or something. So I just put the two together and really wanted her to choreograph it. I’m happy with it, it was nice to express art through more than just my face.
See some of the interview here on video
We asked Maria to explain about her song-writing process. Which comes first, music or words?
When I write a song, it’s very different. It could start with just a single hook-line, because I write about a subject in every song. It might be something I hear in a TV show or something that just pops up in my head. Otherwise it can be music first, melodies.
Sometimes I like to write the entire song myself, playing on the piano. And then bring it to a producer that I think it will fit, someone who can take it a level higher.
She also likes writing with other people and then the process can be somewhat different.
When you write with others, you have to be more flexible. You need to kind of feel the room and let the music be the music. I think in the long run I would prefer to continue writing with others.
Writing for other artists can also be very inspiring. For example, hearing a great voice can give inspiration to write for someone else.
Sometimes the music takes an unexpected direction. It can become like a piece of clothing you wouldn’t wear yourself but you like it. Then it’s nice to give it away. I also like to write about something the other artist feels and wants to express.
Some songs tend to be more personal though, and those Maria likes to keep for herself.
It’s kind of weird but you have this special feeling about you and your music, a special vibe. There’s a special something that just feels like you. When I feel that, I always want the songs for myself.
Maria recently went to a song-writing camp in Finland, and she’s participated in a few of those. The circumstances at a camp are pretty special.
Usually you have just one day to finish a song, sometimes it’s two days. You often have briefs telling what artist you are writing for or other details. Then you go for it really fast. You really have to go with the initial gut feeling, so it is very interesting.
Maria’s label TEN is a relatively small record company, but it is getting more and more influential with Maria’s label mates like Zara Larsson and Icona Pop reaching huge international successes. The label also boasts artist like Elliphant, Erik Hassle, Benjamin Ingrosso and a producer called WDL – whom Maria says you need to check out, as you’ve most likely heard about the others already, if you follow Swedish music at all. The creative environment gives her a boost.
There’s just a lot of great, great talent here, she says.
Maria wants to keep on putting out more songs, she tells there’s a lot of music because she always writes. It is not clear yet in which order things will happen, whether there will be an EP or more singles released. In any case, we are definitely looking forward to hearing more from her.