Maria Matveeva is a Soprano singer, artist and musician hailing from Russia. Her pallette of influences come from artists such as current collaborators Deep Forest, Michael Cretu (Enigma), Mike Oldfield and Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance), although her experimental twists and turns, and sonic vocal delivery could compare her best to artists such as Enya, Sarah Brightman or Sinead O’Connor for her theatrics in vocal technique and dramatic stage presence.
Matveeva has experimented various musical genres. Sheis always on top of her game – and in the past she has collaborated with notable musicians such as David Bowie’s pianist, Mike Garson, notable for working with the likes of Nine Inch Nails, The Smashing Pumpkins, Alessandro Alessandroni Jr and Alex Elena, just to name a few. Matveeva’s latest delivery, Siberian Trilogy Project (with Deep Forest) is an experiment with an innovative musical idea, which fused different styles: lyric voice, electronic sounds and the ethnic elements.
We caught up with Maria Matveeva on expression, creativity and portraying real emotion: (Be sure to stream Maria Matveeva’s latest collaborative single with Deep Forest, ‘TWO’ below!)
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
My family has always loved music, my grandmother Maria sang traditional Russian songs to me ever since I was a little child. I started playing the piano when I was 5 years old. So , music came into my life from early childhood and became a part of my life, part of my soul. Music has became my profession.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
It depends: sometimes the sound comes first, sometimes the idea. Or they can come together at the same time. But the first thing that comes, which it is impossible to create – is INSPIRATION!
Does your material feature any collaborations?
In the last period I collaborated with different artists such as Mike Garson, Alessandro Alessandroni Jr., Alex Elena, Maria Voldina and others. The project I’m currently working on, SIBERIAN TRILOGY PROJECT was born in collaboration with Eric Mouquet, the leader of the legendary group Deep Forest.
What’s on your current playlist?
I dedicated a long period of my life to classical music and began my experiments with pop and electronic music just 2 years ago. So in my current playlist there are: ‘Life on Mars feat. Mike Garson’ (a tribute to David Bowie), ‘Smile feat. Alessandro Alessandroni Jr’. , and our EP SIBERIAN TRILOGY PROJECT – my new project with Deep Forest including singles as: ‘Two’, ‘Princess of Ukok’ and ‘Kalinushka’.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
Every performance on stage has great importance for me! It’s a kind of an energy exchange between the artist and the audience. You give your feelings and emotions to your public, and in return you get an incredible emotional feedback from your fans. By itself , the scene for me is already another dimension. The scene highlights the real essence of the artist! When I go out on the scene, there are only my real emotions and music!
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
I like to experiment, mix different styles of music, go beyond the ordinary schemes and create something new, on my own. As in the “Siberian Trilogy” project, we mixed the classic voice, electronic sounds and ethnic elements. It is very important for me to follow the idea that lies at the base of every composition , to tell something new to people, to transfer my energy through music. For me, a musical composition is a symbiosis of melody, word, voice, actor’s embodiment, musical effects that help in creating the right atmosphere ect, so I’m looking for a new musical form that allows to unite all these elements.
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
First of all, the day in the recording studio starts with a positive attitude! Before the recording starts, I prefer to keep silence and try to concentrate on the song, on its idea and the meaning that I would like to convey. Usually I record the song within a few takes, and in some cases I can record from the first take. In my practice as an opera singer, we have only one possibility on scene to sing – from the first time! So I keep all my feelings, energy to sing it like I am on stage and for me, it’s correct. For me, it’s important to transmit the character of the song as a whole piece and construct the dramaturgy. Otherwise the song acquires a mechanical sound and loses its emotional load, it sounds empty.
I especially love to record backing vocals, choirs and do improvisation, as in classical music this is not allowed and you must clearly adhere to all the details prescribed by the author. So here in the recording studio with my new projects I’m totally free!
Normally in a day, I sing for no more than 2- 2.5 hours, as the voice then gets tired and does not make sense to do any kind of effort on yourself.
The studio setting is different and unpredictable. Much of it depends on the studio and the musicians who work with you. When you are both on the same wave, the recording process brings pleasure. For example, when I first came to Eric in his famous Deep Forest studio, to record a song, ‘TWO’, and I was without voice because I had a strong flu at the time, before the recording date. But the great energy of Eric Mouquet and his amazing studio operated on me miraculously! And on the next day, my voice came back to me and we started to work!
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
A specific moment when I took the decision to become a singer is connected to a very sad story:
I had a friend, her name was Anastasia. We studied together at the music school since we were 6-7 years old. She always dreamt of creating a pop-group of girls, she already had a plan set of shared roles: I had to sing , another girl would write the poetry, etc. But, unfortunately, she tragically died when she was only 16 years old. At that time I was 15 years old, I was finishing music school on piano class and planned to enter the university at the Faculty of Psychology.
The death of Anastasia shocked me so much that I decided to start singing in memory of her. I went to some pop studio in my city where I was asked if I had ever sang or performed before. I replied that I am a pianist and I have a good ear for music. So, I invited them to listen to me and perform a song by Whitney Houston – after that I was successfully accepted in the pop-group!
I will not bore you with a detailed story of my complicated musical path, this is perhaps a topic for an another interview. I will only add that I came in classical music quite by accident, and to my surprise, I’ve found out that I have a naturally delivered classical voice.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
While I’m singing on set I keep water close to me, a positive attitude and inspiration! 🙂
I am lucky, because I’m very creative person. New ideas come to me all the time even in a dream. When the moment of inspiration comes, I start writing, singing, dancing, or creating a direction for a future video.
As it is very important to use every moment of inspiration, I always take a notebook and a pen with me to write down new ideas that come to me unexpectedly. I have an intuitively creative approach to life in general.
When I feel sick or tired, yoga and meditation, which I have been doing for many years helps me to restore my energy balance. The inspiration for the new projects also comes from travel , nature, study of various cultures, including ancient cultures, dances, music and interesting cinema.
Any side projects you’re working on?
I’m now also working on some new songs together with Mike Garson, and continue my experiment where I mix classical and electronic music together.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
First of all, I began to feel more free, and independent in expressing my creative ideas. I’ve learned a lot of interesting things working in a recording studio.
In addition to my tasks as a singer and musician, I have new activities such as: the work of a producer, director, marketer, editor, etc. And I like it very much, even if I confess, honestly it takes a lot of time and energy!
In general, I’ve became much more confident and have learned to trust to myself and not be afraid to differ from others – this gives me additional energy for the realization of my projects.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
Soon, we will be release the EP SIBERIAN TRILOGY PROJECT– my joint project with Deep Forest, that was inspired by the harmony and magic of my land – Siberia.
I am also working as a director on a new video clip for the third song from the SIBERIAN TRILOGY PROJECT, called ‘KALINUSHKA’. This video clip will be released this year. It is a rather visionary story in which I express the connection between our past and our present. Also, other surprises await you this year! I hope you will enjoy it!