Album Premiere + Interview: Marinho – ‘~’

Posted: by The Editor

Portuguese songwriter Filipa Marinho, who writes and records as Marinho, crafts hauntingly gorgeous folk-rock music that explores her innermost thoughts and fears. She writes the kinds of songs that burrow into your head and stay with you long after they’ve ended, songs that gradually push and pull until they reach some form of clarity. On her debut album ~, Marinho reflects back upon her childhood and how her own demons that were created back then still follow her to this day. On “Freckles” she breaks down the albums title, singing “And life is like a tilde sign with ups and downs, not a straight line.” It’s an album that’s about acceptance, about learning how to forgive others and most importantly learning how to forgive yourself.

~ is as lush as it is dense, it’s impressive that even on her debut Marinho knows exactly what it is that she wants to say as a songwriter, and she delivers. The opener “Intro” quietly swirls into a cacophony a noise, setting the stage for songs like “Window Pain” and “I Give Up and It’s OK”, which start off bare-bones and straightforward but eventually blossom into something grandiose as gorgeous textures fill the mix. There are bits and pieces of other songwriters that bleed into ~, the shuffling rhythms of Big Thief, the honesty of Julia Jacklin, and the intimacy of Laura Stevenson, but Marinho’s music exists in a world of it’s own.

Stream ~ below, ahead of its release this Friday, and then check out my interview with Marinho about the new album, the music that inspired it, being vulnerable in your music, and more.

The Alternative: I read that you grew up watching a lot of American TV shows, what were some of your favorites?

Marinho: Musically the one that influenced me the most was The OC, although I wasn’t a kid per se when that came out, but it turned me on to a lot of American indie music. When I was a kid I basically spoke English even before I learned it at school because I was always watching cartoons, I loved the stuff that was on Cartoon Network like Dexter’s Laboratory. I was also into a lot of 90’s movies.

Like what?

I have always been a big fan of Star Wars, I would watch that with my older brother. I was really into rom-coms, I remember movies like Never Been Kissed and stuff like that. I think my taste in movies wasn’t too sophisticated until around 15 or 16, up until then it was either really big blockbuster movies or cheesy rom-coms.

How is life in Portugal different than life in America?

It’s very different, but in some ways it’s actually quite similar. I can only compare it to California because that’s where I lived for a brief time in 2017. It felt similar because it’s a sunny city, it has this laid back energy to it. When you drive down the pacific coast it’s also pretty similar, Malibu is really similar to our southern region. Sometimes the people are similar, too. I think in the US people are automatically nicer, like they’re more polite—but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to be your friends. Maybe people are going to be nice but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to help you. I think in Portugal and the southern countries in Europe people are not as easy to befriend or as quick to opening up their circle to you, but when they do it creates a really deep connections and is more genuine. I think that maybe I’m generalizing too much here. *laughs*

What brought you out to California in 2017?

It was work actually, music related but not my music. I worked for a music startup called Tradiio. I was doing marketing for them and they wanted to expand to the US so me and a couple of other colleagues came over here to try and get investments. I got to meet a lot of interesting people and experience a little bit of the music industry in LA. We got a place over in West Hollywood, I made a lot of friends that I miss dearly and still keep in touch with. I think those three months that I spent in the US, that was the push that I needed to get back into songwriting and start this new project. When I was younger I was in bands but never something that was as serious and personal as what I’m doing now.

Am I crazy or is the song “Joni” about Joni Mitchell?

Yes it is, I love her.

How big of an inspiration is she for you?

Not only her music but her whole attitude, the way that she developed herself not only as an artist but also as a person. She’s almost always been a big influence of mine. I didn’t know who she was until I heard the Counting Crow’s version of “Big Yellow Taxi”. I was maybe 13 or 14 when that came out and I remember singing that in the house and my dad was like “Oh, so you like Joni Mitchell” and I was like “Uhh, who? Sorry, you’re mistaken” and he said “No, you’re wrong. I’m going to teach you and I’m going to show you” and he sat me down and made me watch Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind and I fell in love. I already had a big thing for 60’s music, that whole Woodstock vibe. laThen I started listening to Ladies of the Canyon and Blue, which is one of my favorite albums of all time. Later on in life I started listening to her more jazz influenced albums and was able to appreciate more of her songwriting and artistry. The song “Joni” is actually one of the oldest songs on the album, I wrote it when I was 15.

A lot of the album is about reckoning with the ways in which the mistakes of our parents haunt us even into adulthood, how important of a realization was that for you to make? 

Super important. I think, or at least I hope, everyone comes to that moment in their life. We’re not forced to live bound by our childhood traumas and by what our parents were like. I believe to be free of that you have to reconcile with what happened and recognize the impact that it has on you as an adult and in your relationships. It’s not easy sometimes—going back to that can make you very small at times, which I did at times, and I think some of the songs reflect that. Sometimes I felt very childlike because that’s what happens when you go back and revisit certain moments in your childhood. But I think it’s super positive, I believe if more people did that, especially with the help of therapy which I think is very important, I believe the world would be a little bit better and people would be less triggered into treating each other like shit. I think the album is a document of this place that I’ve been in my life for the past couple of years, learning more about myself and why I react to certain things the way that I do.

Do you find it difficult to be vulnerable in your music?

It’s not difficult to be vulnerable because the music itself is already vulnerable, it’s an outlet for that vulnerability. I joke a lot and I like to make people laugh and feel comfortable, and sometimes talking about these things isn’t very easy, but I am open to it and I enjoy talking about my journey and if it helps someone that’s good. I’ve never sat down and wrote a song and thought “I’m being too vulnerable” or “I’m exposing myself too much,” because in the moment if I don’t write it down it feels like it’s going to be stuck in my chest or in my throat and I have to get it out. Sometimes explaining it might not be the easiest thing but here I am.

How did you first get started working with shesaidso? Has your time with that group influenced you as a songwriter in any ways?

I think it’s influenced me as a person, I don’t know about songwriting. I’ve met a lot of people through shesaidso that have influenced me as a person and my songwriting has probably reflected that. I was introduced to the network through this Portuguese promoter, and even before I headed to the states I emailed the group saying “Hey, my name is Filipa, I’m going to LA to try and expand this startup I’m working with, if anyone wants to meet up and talk business or have a few drinks”—I didn’t expect anything huge to happen, I didn’t expect people to actually reach out and have any interest but they did and a lot of people replied back to me. Some of it was business, but a lot of it was them just wanting to hear someone’s story and I made a lot of friends out of it. That support, I don’t know how it reflects my music per se, but I’m sure it reflected on my ability to create music, feeling like I don’t have to be this really virtuous guitar player to call myself a songwriter, or I don’t have to know how to play the guitar like Joni Mitchell to have a valid input into this thing that we call music. And a lot of that came from other women supporting me, and I do try to give back and support other women as well. I think that feeling of women supporting women is very important because there’s not enough representation of women in music.

What was the last great movie that you saw?

The last movie I saw was Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and it was great. It wasn’t the best Tarantino movie ever but I laughed a lot.

~ is out tomorrow


Michael Brooks // @nomichaelbrooks 

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