Odes To Escapism: The Sound Universe Of MSEA - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Odes To Escapism: The Sound Universe Of MSEA

Odes To Escapism: The Sound Universe Of MSEA

Published April 15, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Art Bicnick

Maria-Carmela Raso, better known as MSEA, is a soft-spoken, self-deprecating musician originally from Canada. But her EP, ‘Hiding Under Things,’ belies a whole other side to the artist. Her lush, atmospheric compositions are deceptive. Just as the wash of keyboards and her ethereal voice draw you in, you begin to feel a gently unsettling undercurrent to the harmonies. At times, it feels as though the slightest vibration could shatter the whole thing into a million pieces, but MSEA maintains the delicate tension of her pieces from start to finish.

“Making music started as a way to comfort myself as a child, which the EP title is kind of about,” she says. “It’s an ode to escapism. I’d write lyrics in my bed and sing myself to sleep when I was about 11 or 12 years old.”

A reflective moment

The past is a major theme of the EP, as MSEA attests. “The sound universe of the EP is related to the past,” she says. “I tried a lot to distance myself from home when I first moved away. I’ve been away for 11 years now. I needed to distance myself for a long time, and now the more I’m away, the more I look back thinking about things. This EP is the sound universe of my youth. I think that’s why there’s this beauty, but also these uncomfortable moments.”

“I go through waves of an intense need for creativity.”

While she has only been living in Iceland for two years now, the EP features some remarkable local talent, including Albert Finnbogason of JFDR and Sóley fame. In many ways, necessity dictated the form this music took.

“When I first moved here, I was used to playing with a band like I did in Toronto,” says Marie. “I was writing score styles. But then I moved here and didn’t know any musicians, so I switched to electronic.” She made friends in the Reykjavík music scene along the way, and her songs have become a blend of her production and the input of others, including Albert, who added other instruments. “It’s been a really nice collaborative process.”

Composing is like going to the gym

“It gets so lonesome to perform alone on stage,” she says. “It’d be nice to play with a band. You don’t feel the same energy alone that you do with a band with you. But I like switching it up.”

The creative process is often a matter of sheer willpower for her, especially as she must find time to compose, record and produce around her already busy day job schedule. As intense a process as making music can be, the payoffs are enormous.

“I think I go through waves of an intense need for creativity, where all I want to do is be at home with my computer and keyboard,” she says. “I guess it’s kind of like going to the gym. You can think about it for a long time and then once you start doing it, you’re like, ‘Oh, this isn’t so bad!’”

Pre-order ‘Hiding Under Things’ at mseasik.bandcamp.com, and go to the release concert at Iðnó, with Oyama and KRÍA, on April 18th.

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