I would never shame anyone who is having a tough time doing even menial tasks within our current predicament [points at self], because however you are handling the pandemic is the correct way to handle the pandemic. So, regardless of whether you’re keeping calm and carrying on or freaking out and mainlining bourbon [points at self], you’re doing amazing, sweetie, and as such, Vancouver-born, Montreal-based singer/songwriter Maryze has made a gift for you and only you: “Muse,” a single that dropped online last Friday and the video for which premieres today.
Maryze and I chatted about “Muse” via Google Meet [extreme Jean-Ralphio voice: because Zoom is a privacy niiiiiiiightmaaaaaaare] last week, and, along the way, touched upon everything from learning skills to warming hearts.
Dave Jaffer: So, how has your pandemic been? How goes your pandemic?
Maryze: My pandemic has been alright? I’m lucky to have my partner here with me and my two cats; we have a home studio, so we’re able to create. That’s the biggest thing. If I didn’t have access to the ability to write and record, that would be really tough. Generally, outside of music, it’s been up and down days. Sometimes it feels like it’s so great to have all this time to try out all these new skills and finish all the things I was putting off and other days it’s like, “oh my god. I don’t know when I’m going to go on tour again, I don’t know when I’m going to see my family again.” It’s nice, in a way, that we’re all going through the same thing because I feel like we’re able to connect on that.
DJ: This whole thing is affording a lot of people a lot of perspective. I wrote that outside of certain situations, people don’t have a sense that they are living inside a historical moment while it’s happening. We do. And within this moment, you wrote a song and crowdsourced material for a video. What was the genesis of that? Why did you choose to do it that way?
Maryze: I wanted to find a way to remain creative and also connected to the people I love, and I’d never made a music video myself, I’d never edited myself, so that was a whole challenge that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to take on, but I just decided to throw myself in. I asked on social media if anyone would like to participate and left the guidelines very general, [asking for people to film themselves] dancing, or dressing up, or making art, or reading a book — the way you’re keeping inspired at this time. I thought I would just get a few videos from friends or family and I ended up getting videos from people I didn’t know, from all over, from Brazil and the U.K. and Australia…
This was four weeks into the pandemic. It was setting in how much we were uncertain, and how we didn’t know how long this would go. I think people wanted something to channel some energy and creativity into. I wanted it to be something that made people feel good. It developed into something for me that was very heartwarming. I hope other people find it heartwarming and hopeful; a bit of light.
DJ: In total, how many video submissions did you get?
Maryze: I got around 70, and everyone made it in. I didn’t want to cut anyone because I appreciated everyone sending stuff in. There’s about 68 people in it; I got about 70 submissions. I was pretty excited about that number. It was also a lot of work to edit it together because most people sent in clips of the whole song, so it was hours of footage. But everyone made it in, all 68 or 69 people are in there.
[we both laugh]
Maryze: Is it because I said 69?
DJ: It’s because I said “nice” out loud and realized I wasn’t writing a Facebook comment or tweeting a joke. That’s definitely going to make it into the final piece. Anyway, you said you’d never made a music video yourself before. Was it important for you to learn a new thing and to do it yourself?
Maryze: Yeah, absolutely, that was a big part of it for me. My partner has Final Cut Pro and knows how to do all that and offered to show me and I was just like, I’m going to go on YouTube and figure it out myself. Just because of my own ego, I want to say at the end of it that I did it all myself.
Once you become an adult, you know your skill-set, you know what you’re good at. I’m doing music, I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, and now I’ve got this video editing challenge. And I got so frustrated that I wasn’t good at it right off the bat! Which is silly, but I was like, “why am I not getting this yet?” It was humbling. The video’s like three and a half minutes long or something, and I think it took me close to 40 to 50 hours [to make].
DJ: I grew up when the music video was just becoming omnipresent, and then it became something of an art form, and big-name film directors like David Fincher got their start doing them. Now, because of what’s happened to MTV and MuchMusic, there aren’t as many outlets for music videos. It’s not the same as it was. So what is the goal in making a music video, now? What’s the point?
Maryze: I wasn’t around back then, but just from historically observing the rise and fall of the music video, I think that recently, on digital platforms, visual has come back strongly. If you think about TikTok, Instagram videos, whatever, we’re into visual platforms because [they’re] easy to consume. It’s quick. A music video is longer but I think people do resonate with video. I wish I grew up in the MuchMusic era; I would have loved [to be alive] when you were just waiting for that music video to drop on TV and you were getting up at a certain time or watching a show to see it.
PS: Maryze emailed me afterward to confirm that she counted and that there were 70 people total and I replied that I was going to pretend I didn’t read that fact to preserve the integrity of the stupid 69 joke. I regret nothing.
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