Marija Clara is a Lithuanian-born singer-songwriter. Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina since 2019, she remains closely connected to the vibrant Leeds and UK music scenes. Marija has been very active recently, releasing a brand new Christmas single to follow-up her excellent Deep Dive EP recently 


Your father, Petras Vysniauskas, is an acclaimed musician and saxophonist. What influence did he have on your musical education?

While my father was never directly connected to my musical education, his encouragement and input were always there, whether it be through introducing me to new genres or inviting me to share the stage with him. I started my formal musical education at the age of 5 and was trained classically for over ten years (my principal instrument was piano). What I realised only recently is that all those years my father was a big part of these formative years, only in his own indirect ways.

Can you tell us about your experiences growing up in a musical family and performing from a young age?

Being born into a family of professional musicians meant that music was always at the centre of my everyday life. My mom would play the piano with me on her lap, before I was even walking ( she also likes to tell the story of how before I spoke, I was already singing  and humming).  My father would take me to his concerts, on our way to the soundcheck we’d be blasting Stevie Wonder (‘Songs in the Key of Life’ is the soundtrack of my childhood). We played music, we spoke about music, we lived constantly surrounded by music - and I honestly never even noticed it, because it was as normal and mundane as eating or sleeping. I actually remember being quite surprised to learn that other kids in my kindergarten didn’t really care for the music classes or weren’t into the idea of creating on-spot musicals as a form of play. 

How would you describe your music?

It’s a little bit like a carousel that has various colours and figures on it, but when it starts spinning - everything blends in harmony. Growing up in a jazzy household didn't mean that I was exposed to jazz exclusively. On the contrary, the versatile blend of genres that one can encounter in my music is a testimony to the diverse palette of styles I grew up listening to. Bossa Nova, Soul, Pop, Soft Rock, Jazz Pop, Irish folk, Classical (especially the Romantic Period), R&B, Funk - all of these genres saw me grow up and still accompany me to this day.

 

 

Another invaluable lesson that I learned during my time in Leeds is the importance of maintaining connections and networks. I met many wonderful musicians at the Conservatoire, many of whom were a part of my debut EP “Deep Dive”.

In what areas did you develop whilst studying the MMus Creative Musician course? 

Before coming to Leeds, I was a rather solitary composer and producer, but during the course of the year my walls started slowly coming down. Collaboration among students, which was a big part of the Masters course, made me a more open-minded, confident and well-rounded musician. This interest in sharing your ideas and work with other professionals in your field, thanks to my time in Leeds, is still very much present now in day-to-day life as an artist.

You’ve spent time living in Lithuania, the UK, Germany and Argentina. How have each of these regions influenced you and allowed you to grow as an artist?

Each place has undoubtedly left its own imprint on me and my music. As someone with a romantic soul, I found my years up North in Scotland to be freeing and nurturing. The four years that I spent studying English Literature at the University of St Andrews helped me to grow both as an artist and as a woman. Living in Berlin toughened my character and resilience and my time in Argentina has taught me to enjoy life at its fullest.

What can we expect from your most recent Deep Dive EP release?

My debut EP is a first glimpse into my inner musical world. ‘Deep Dive’ invites the listener to dive into a soft dream, where one encounters soulful rhythms, enchanting multi-layered vocal harmonies and stories of love and new beginnings. While the underlying atmosphere of serenity runs all throughout the EP, each track stands its own ground, echoing the different places I’ve been fortunate to call home.

You have just released a Christmas single – what can people expect to hear and what have you got planned going forwards?

‘Silent Night’ could almost be a bonus track to the ‘Deep Dive’ EP. Rather than being your typical, ‘heard it a million times’ cover, it’s a fresh and colourful interpretation of a well-known Christmas hymn. Recorded in three languages - english, spanish and lithuanian - it offers the listener an alternative perspective on a true classic.

At the moment I am in the early stages of working on my upcoming album, which might show a more up-beat and funky side of Marija Clara. Next year will also see a release of a project, on which I have collaborated with a fellow Leeds Conservatoire alumnus (keep your eyes peeled for that one!).


Find out more about Postgraduate music study at Leeds Conservatoire

To learn more about Marija and her work, visit her Facebook

If you’re a graduate of Leeds Conservatoire, join our alumni networking portal here

Performing Arts lecturer Vic Gimby on why the industry is more vital to our society than ever, and how practitioner… https://t.co/CYkCO6adNm
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