BY MILLIE BREWER
Briana Marela has trusted and loved music for so long that it has transcended her home of Olympia, WA. It has moved her east on a tour accompanying friend and fellow musician, Sam Fermin, to the Vaudeville Mews, a local music venue in downtown Des Moines, before eventually branching off and continuing east.
“I can’t help but put trust in music,” Marela said, “even with a mindset of making money and living up to expectations.”
Starting in north Seattle, Marela had sporadic guitar and piano lessons, few enough that she ended up teaching herself and wrote her first piece in her sophomore year of high school. From there she accompanied herself with what sounded best, similar to the way jazz players first learn improvisation, without knowing proper chord structures. After taking a few theory classes, she said she found a new avenue to her passion and went to Evergreen College in Olympia to focus on music, sound production and synth programs.
“I enjoy electronic music for the infinite number of possibilities,” Marela said. “So many more layers can be added and manipulated.”
It was with constant work that she created her new album “Call It Love!” Marela said the focus was decisively put on rhythm: adding polyrhythms, live piano, guitar, drums and “a bit more editing and critique.” She said she received positive feedback from her fan base. When people gave negative feedback, Marela said it’s important to “not think about what other people think about your songs.”
“You can’t help what some people think. It never stops me. Sometimes it is about embracing dissonance,” Marela said.
Marela used these traits to distinguish herself from the crowd. Marela’s A&R, or the person who helped sign her to Jagjaguwar + Secretly Group, Hannah Carlen, recalled their first interaction.
“There’s a softness to the sound of her voice, and it’s easy to mistake that (she’s) soft-spoken, but she’s really not at all,” Carlen said.
It was in her album “All Around Us” that Marela gained recognition. The album focused on love and existentialism. By fusing ambiance with synthesized pop, she portrays emotional depth in love’s contradictions.
“‘All Around’ grew on me,” Carlen said. “I kept coming back to it. There was a strong sense of Briana’s huge imagination (that) drew me to her music, and (that is) what makes me really excited to work with her.”
Marela credits her creativity to her hometown.
“I hated high school, but growing up in Seattle definitely left an impression on me,” Marela said. “My favorite bands for a long time were only musicians from the Pacific Northwest. I think my creativity was regionally influenced as well as it is becoming an escape for me, growing up as a very shy, introverted person. Now I can’t imagine living the same way every day without change.”