Get To Know... Maruja

Neu Get To Know… Maruja

The genre-splicing Manchester band whose live shows bleed with raw energy and unrestrained emotion.

Hello and welcome back to DIY’s introducing feature, Get To Know… which aims to get you a little bit closer to the buzziest acts that have been catching our eye as of late, and working out what makes them tick.

Having quickly garnered a cult reputation for energetic, exorcistic live shows via fervent word-of-mouth buzz, Manchester quartet Maruja are among a slew of new bands re-shaping the city’s storied musical landscape from the ground up. Indeed, you need only listen to their recently released sophomore EP ‘Connla’s Well’ to get a sense of both the scale of their ambition, and the wide-ranging scope of their sound. A sweat-drenched amalgamation of psych-leaning jazz, punk, and hardcore, it tackles hefty yet amorphous subjects (like the exponential epidemic of mental ill-health, or the lingering shadow of grief) over five immersive, cathartic tracks. To mark the project’s arrival, we caught up with frontman Harry Wilkinson to dig a little deeper…

What were the first gigs you ever went to, and the first albums you owned?
I don't remember my first gig but I do know that our drummer Jacob's first gig was Take That with his mum - he still talks about how it inspires him today. In fact, he tries to play Take That before every show backstage to try and get us all in the mood. Personally, I don't get it - but when a love is that raw, it's just a beauty to witness, so who am I to judge him? I think his first album was Take That too, no doubt.

You’re based in Manchester, which is obviously known for its hugely rich musical history. But what do you think of the scene there at the moment? Who are some other emerging artists we should be looking out for?
To be honest, the scene in Manchester has been abysmal for many years; for so long it was [a case of] messaging 50 people, getting 20 replies, and 10 people end up coming to your show whilst greedy promoters take any earnings from under your nose before you've had a chance to read the small print.

Thankfully in the past couple of years that has started to take a turn, and there seems to be a deeper appreciation for unsigned music developing. Artists to watch out for include: Slap Rash, Evie Eve, NRB, Moby Dickless and plenty more! It's beautiful to see a plethora of music spanning all different genres coming out of Manchester. The closure of grassroots venues hasn't helped at all, and unfortunately the city's lost many iconic venues to the industry's callous, money-orientated values. However, now I can feel Manchester slowly pulling itself back to its feet to once again express itself through the medium of Mancunian artists - and it's a genuine pleasure to watch us grow together.

“People have come up to us bawling their eyes out because our music and performance allowed them to express themselves emotionally.”

You’ve carved out a bit of a reputation for your frenetic live shows; give us the best / funniest / most chaotic (delete as appropriate) story from your just-wrapped UK tour.
Every show brings something special - when you play with the energy and passion that we give, it's very hard not to feel like everything depends on that one performance. Because we're not afraid to be vulnerable on stage and to express ourselves however we see fit, I think people respect that and see it as refreshing, and want to be a part of it.

It's hard to pick out one story; people have come up to us bawling their eyes out because our music and performance allowed them to express themselves emotionally. To me, that is the most profound thing we could possibly do. Having said that, our second date at The White Hotel was insane. The energy, the pits, the crowd surfing - everything just went so hard, and to see that love from a hometown audience is something we're all very proud of. I think the best story of the tour is the fact that it's entirely sold out, and it's only our second ever headline tour.

What are your worst musical habits?
We could probably use a bit more practice, but that's more finding the time more than anything. Up until a couple months ago we were running it all ourselves - we'd link up and spend all our time on our laptops trying to run a business rather than make music. So yeah, time keeping!

Your new EP ‘Connla’s Well’ is your second project in two years, and much of it seems to speak to notions of unpredictability, catharsis, and control (or lack thereof). Was there a particular narrative or mood you wanted to capture with these five tracks? What do you hope listeners will take away from it?
We were writing this EP during a period of much unrest and anxiety that wasn't felt just in the UK, but globally. We had Brexit, the pandemic, then the war and now genocide. It is of my firm belief that the artist is here to help heal, especially during these times of global oppression. There's so little truth in the way of politics, so much misinformation spread to hide the truth further or to confuse the general public. In many ways, the capitalist takeover of corporate giants makes me feel like music and love are about the only things left in the world that are spiritual. Our latest EP captures the 'Zeitgeist' of the now, with some sprinkles of hope and prosperity in there too - a reminder that even in spite of all the shit we've dragged ourselves through, we've still come out the other side smiling.

Finally, DIY are coming round for dinner - what are you making?
Steak n Eggs.

'Connla's Well' is out now.

Tags: Maruja, Neu, Get to Know

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