Reveals Videos for “Moai Y Yo” and “Uno De Tus Ojos”
Taken from her debut solo album Amparo out on Labrador Records
“MOAI Y YO”
Video directed by Jer Paulin & Maria Usbeck
“Listening to ‘Amparo’ is like flipping through a scrapbook filled with flowers, postcards, and snapshots collected from places preserved, immaculately, by memory.” [“Moai Y Yo” video + interview] via ROOKIE MAG
Witness a powerful discussion on writing music in one’s native language between Emmy The Great, Maria, and Gwenno via THE GUARDIAN
“…a gorgeous instrumental dream and the perfect bed for Usbeck’s Spanish language vocal.” – THE LINE OF BEST FIT
Maria Usbeck (former frontwoman of Selebrities) unveils two imaginative videos from her brand new debut album, Amparo. Directed by Jer Paulin and Maria herself, the inspiration for “Moai Y Yo” visuals stem from 70’s Danish ballet and a relationship Maria developed with the Moai statues on Easter Island. Meanwhile on “Uno De Tus Ojos,” Maria hand paints an eye, representing the dueling joy and guilt fundamental religion often fosters.
Amparo is a collage of sounds both exotic and transportive – indisputably the most intimate material we’ve seen from Maria Usbeck and the LP’s focus tracks express that: “Moai Y Yo” and “Uno De Tus Ojos” are impassioned, stirring tracks that show Maria and co-producer Caroline Polachek operating with natural chemistry to express the soul of Amparo, a record about cultural identity and revisiting one’s roots. The album was written and recorded across the span of three years in Ecuador, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Barcelona, Lisbon, Easter Island, Costa Rica, Florida, L.A. and her home in Brooklyn.
AMPARO / TRACKLISTING
1. Isla Magica
2. Moai Y Yo
4. Camino Desolado
5. Uno De Tus Ojos
6. Ciudad Desnuda
7. Playa Escondida
9. Jungla Inquieta
Though Amparo was written during Maria’s travels in South America, it was re-recorded in New York with co-producer Caroline Polachek (Chairlift) and engineer Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson when she returned home last fall. Growing up in Ecuador, Maria was immersed in salsa, merengue, bachata, and Andean music, but was more attracted to German and American culture than to her own, and moved to America by herself at 17. After five years of fronting new wave outfit Selebrities and writing songs in English, she experienced a delayed-onset homesickness and knew it was time to “let the mother tongue speak.” The impulse manifested itself directly: Amparo takes its title from Maria’s middle name and her mother’s name, and translates roughly as “to guide, protect, and embrace.” Maria wields her Spanish lyrics cleverly while folding in snippets of several other far-flung tongues: Rapa Nui from Easter Island, Quichua from Ecuador, Bribri from Costa Rica, and Catalan. Because these lyrics were composed while visiting the countries from which they originate, their usage is more impressionistic than literal, like a mockingbird imitating fragments of other bird calls. Similarly, she reinterprets the Ecuadorian music that she grew up with as a newcomer, returning home with fresh ears, and as such the sounds are very much her own.
The backbone of Amparo is percussion, vibrating throughout with timbales, tumbas, a talking drum, bongos, shakers, and an Indian flat drum, with the gaps filled in by her field recordings of birds, beaches, and jungles. The songs were written and recorded chronologically, with the exception of the closing track, a cover of Colourbox’s “Tarantula” reimagined in Maria’s Spanish translation. Amparo is a reflection of the textures of Usbeck’s childhood. It is also a distinctly grown-up pop record – a travel diary, music made by a visiting outsider to tap into a shared core of human expression. Emotively, she is her most powerful on piano ballads “Uno De Tus Ojos” and “Jungla Inquieta,” but is a magnetic narrator throughout, moving between whispers, chants, and lullabies. Amparo pulses with many stories in many voices, but they flow together seamlessly like water, leaving behind a wordless hum.
Amparo is released May 27 via Labrador in Euope and Cascine in North America.