Photography by Claudette Tan
You may know her as M’DELA, or as Mariadela. Either way, you’ll be aware of the fact that we’re talking about a rare talent in the music industry. In a time when the Indie genre lurks in the shadow of its brothers, Pop and Rock… a time when more and more youths are discarding melodic songs in favor of their rather dissonant counterparts, this shining Latina has given music a brand new twist. She has a style that’s all her own and an outstanding outlook on life that’s no less than admirable. She graced the pages of ReVista Magazine 8 months ago. And now, for all you faithful readers out there, she’s answered our questions to help you get to know her just a little bit better. Enjoy…
What event led you to decide to create music?
I started very young. I don’t think it was a decision; more of a need. My mother discovered I could sing since age 3 and encouraged me to do so, as well as getting me to learn to play the recorder, and later on the guitar at age 10. However, I do think that something ignited inside of me when I was 12 and my sister died. At that point, I immediately started writing songs. I went through so much pain and discovered then that writing songs made me feel better. It became something very powerful.
Who has been supporting you since the beginning?
My parents always supported me, especially when it came to granting me music lessons. The strength and courage I had from my beginnings I attribute to my Grandma Cristina who always believed in me and gave wings to my dreams. She used to tell me: “Don’t stop looking at the sky. When you do, you can always see and reach for your dreams.” I also remember a few of my childhood friends were really supportive and always encouraged me to play the guitar and sing.
Have you ever been inspired for a song by another song or a movie? Or is it all just personal experience?
Most of the songs I write come from different experiences in life. Some are very personal, like “Lineas 1000” and “Dame Mas,” and others like “Para No Perderte”, although in first person, tell stories of friends and/or people around me who have inspired me to be the storyteller.
Do you have any songs inspired by world events?
I remember I had just arrived in Miami and I was working as a server at a restaurant when 9/11 happened. That morning while getting ready to go to work I was filled with so many emotions and feelings that I had to stop and I wrote “Busca Tu Voz”. Busca Tu Voz talks about finding your own identity, your own persona in this crazy world and using your inner strength to live fully and productively in society.
How did you decide to make a Spanish adaptation of The Cure’s Love song? Why choose an English cover as opposed to your usual Latino albums?
I remember I was playing some of my original songs and some covers in Spanish with a band back in the day, in Miami, way before the release of “Lineas 1000.” The venues we were playing at only wanted Spanish, but I’m a huge fan of The Cure and wanted to play that song no matter what. So, one day sat down with the guitar and started playing around with the lyrics in Spanish. Every time we played it people loved it and wanted the recording to take it home. That’s how I decided to include it in “Lineas 1000”.
The music career is very challenging already. How did you decide to go from writing and composing in Spanish to now recording an album in English?
I can barely believe I’m producing this next album in English! I used to receive many comments about my English accent when I was in college in North Carolina and had the choir director tease me about it, but he really helped me a lot by correcting me. When I released the adaptation of The Cure’s Love Song “Siempre Te Amare”(from Lineas 1000) I left 2 verses of the original song in English and got a lot of positive feedback from the fans because of that. They really liked how I sound in English. Then we did the remix of “Love Song” and the Spanish/English factor was a hit. At that moment I started “playing” with the idea of writing in English, and almost “magically” I wrote “Little Blue.” I am thrilled to be producing this album in English, which is my second language, and including specific elements of genres such as country and blue grass.
Does touring ever seem like a necessary evil? Or do you look forward to touring?
I love traveling and moving around, so I actually look forward to it. It really gives me an amazing high and allows me to share my music with different kinds of people. I love the feeling of being on the road! It also reminds me to value the experience of being on stage and singing my heart out more every time, as if it were the last! Of course, I am also very happy and satisfied when it is time to go home. I value the down time a lot. It is very important to me to have time in silence at home to be able to produce and create, and then recharge the batteries to give it all on stage as well!
How do you feel about people downloading music instead of buying physical copies?
I understand it as a necessity. The industry is moving way faster and different than before. Personally, I like the feeling of having a hard copy of the albums, and I pay a lot of attention to the visual art that comes with the music; though a lot of times I want/need to have some tracks right away in my iPod. Obviously, as long as the downloading is legit, they should be able to coexist.
Do you think singers/songwriters are the best interpreters of their own work or do you believe some cover versions can be better than the original?
No, not necessarily. A song can be interpreted in so many ways. Sometimes another artist will give the song new life. We see that every day in music; new/contemporary artists rescue hit songs from the past and make them their own sometimes sounding better than the original, but again I think that happens sometimes because everything needs to stay current and continue changing.
Who have you always dreamt of working with and why?
I admire many singer/songwriters who compose and sing in Spanish and English. If I had the opportunity I would like to collaborate with Miguel Bose, I’ve always been drawn to his lyrics and composition style, and Pink she is so talented, and has a special spark.
What is the greatest thing about working in the music industry? And what would you change if you had the opportunity?
I really like and enjoy being able to share my music with so many people; there are many different distribution platforms and many different tools nowadays in the music industry. If I could change something I would like to see the radios be more supportive with artists and play songs just because they are good ones.
Would you share with us your proudest moment in your career so far?
The proudest moment in my career has been when I received the award “Premio Orgullo Peruano” in 2009, which recognizes and rewards the success of Peruvians abroad.
Has your orientation ever posed a threat to your career, enhanced it or is it neither here nor there?
To be honest with you I have never been asked about my orientation and I thank you for the opportunity to talk about it. My sexual orientation has never been questioned before and I have never been exposed neither identified as a lesbian singer/songwriter. At the beginning of my career I was advised not to share that information in interviews, and then as time went by I changed my look with short hair and vests for my second album “Lineas 1000,” I assumed people knew about it, and they just never asked. Later on, I “femmed up” for the release of “Love Song” last year and became really comfortable with my womanhood in a sexier way. As a gay woman, I have had my own journey like everyone else. It has not been too hard, but it hasn’t been that easy either. At this point of my career, I feel I can be true to myself and express my sexuality on and off stage comfortably.
Do you think your career would have turned out differently had you been of a different orientation?
I don’t really have a way to know that… I don’t know if I would have had more or less support if I would have been more radically open about my orientation.
“una y media project”: M’DELA, Diana Mera & Stacey Ulmer.
(The full band including 7 Grammy winner Gilberto “Mago” Morales on the bass and cello, electric violin played by the phenomenon Alyson Montez, Cajon by the talented Paloma Estevez, Piano star Stacey Ulmer, and the great back-up vocals of Ramona Pilar and Valeska Love. )
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
With a couple of new albums, many many tours/concerts under my belt and hopefully already being a proud and happy mom!
Thank you, Mariadela.
We hope you enjoyed this tiny bit of quality time with M’DELA. For those of you who want to know more about this hidden gem of the music industry, there are some websites you can visit. Stay on the lookout, because there is so much more to come!
More about Mariadela and her work:
Live in concert: http://youtu.be/UaE7MYf2I2c
TELEMUNDO ARTICLE: http://www.telemundo52.com/noticias/29187475/detail.html