At an early age María Isabel realised that music and poetry were a safe place to express herself. Raised in a spanish-speaking Dominican household in Queens, New York, the young artist mixes both cultures in her music to create a unique, romantic and fresh sound. We got to know more about the new album, Stuck in the Sky, her first album about love, long-distance relationship, loss, and missed connections. Recorded during quarantine, María Isabel's album debuts in a more hopeful context now. However her romantic and idyllic music videos have an elegant atemporal feeling, where her songs thrive. Keep reading to know more about influences, her lastest singles and incoming projects.
For those who don’t know you yet, could you introduce yourself, please?
I’m María Isabel, I’m a Dominican-American singer-songwriter from Queens, NY. I think those are the important ones.
In an interview you explained that, before writing songs, you started writing poems as a way to let your feelings go. When did you realise that music was also a safe place to express yourself?
I think the ease of quickly taking a pen to paper is what helped me find comfort in writing poetry first, but I ultimately knew that I wanted to share those thoughts in song form. Through listening to music religiously I learned early on that it was a safe place to express myself because I was listening to my favourite musicians tell me all of their deepest darkest secrets.
You are originally from the Dominican Republic but you moved with your family to Queens, New York, when you were a kid. How do you mix both cultures in your music?
I’d say it happens pretty naturally, I was raised in a spanish-speaking Dominican household in NY for most of my life. It’s just the way I grew up so it’d be hard for me to separate the two in anything I do. I think listeners will be able to hear it more going forward while I start experimenting a bit more with different genres that I love.
Your first EP, Stuck in the Sky, is all about love, loss, and missed connections. Also, you talk about mental health, family history and your Dominican-American heritage. Tell us about the creative process behind the lyrics.
It’s essentially just me documenting through prose and poetry the things I’m experiencing and struggling with in real time, and then taking those ideas to the studio and working closely with someone to find the right home for them. I’m trying to tell my story in the most honest way I can in the hopes that someone recognizes themselves in it.
Is it difficult for you to share all these feelings publicly? Do you feel vulnerable in some way?
I feel incredibly vulnerable! I think regardless of the content of your music and lyrics, sharing your art is sharing a massive piece of yourself. But honestly, sharing my feelings publicly helps me get through them. I think I suffered in silence a lot growing up and I feel incredibly empowered now when I get to share that stuff with the world, and even more so when I can help someone else get through it by choosing to be so open.
What is the main message and purpose that you want to transmit through your music?
That you are not alone. There is someone else, somewhere else going through the same thing and we’re all gonna be okay. I really believe that.
Where does the title Stuck in the Sky come from?
Well that EP is the story of a long distance relationship between NY and LA which means that I was spending a lot of time on airplanes between both places. But while I was literally often stuck in the sky on the cross-country flight, I also realised that being in a relationship with somebody you’re spending so much time away from, it’s hard for the relationship to progress or move forward. You’re living two separate lives and then bringing them together for days or weeks at a time and then separating again. It’s hard, and “stuck” was the feeling above all others.
The EP was recorded during quarantine, how are you dealing with debuting with your music now that live performances aren’t possible?
Luckily we have so many ways to share and communicate with each other and regardless of my less than phenomenal timing for debuting music, so many people are interacting with it and reaching out. It obviously doesn’t come close to the feeling of being on stage and meeting people in person but I’m just going to keep writing and making more music until I can play it all live!
I notice that visuals are really important to you, where did you get the inspiration for the Stuck In The Sky’s aesthetic?
I wanted all of the visuals to come across as a slightly more romanticised version of reality. As you go through the music videos specifically, you get idyllic visuals of me with the person I was dating in places that were important to the relationship and by the time you get to Stuck in the Sky the music video, you see me sitting on a living room floor waiting by the phone. I wanted it to be a pleasant viewing experience that just brought the songs to life in a different way.
Also, you just released a two-song single. What makes Love Song and Buy Your Own Flowers different from your previous released EP? How are you evolving with your music?
I did! I’m still reeling from that drop. I think what makes them most different is the message. I experienced a lot of uncomfortable growth, as I’m sure we all did, during the last year or so of quarantine and I had spent so much of it writing about the relationship that is Stuck in the Sky. I really wanted the next batch of songs to reflect the self-love and independence that I found post-EP release.
Are you working on upcoming projects? Any plans for the future?
I am. I'm very excited to say new music is coming amongst other things. I have so many plans!