The Marias. Credit: Ashley Seryn

With a beautiful mix of vibrant psychedelia, indie pop and electronica, The Marías have stolen the hearts of music fans with their combinations of genres and cultures.

Frontwoman María Zardoya, born in Puerto Rico, offers a soulful yet beautifully effortless vocal tone to the sonic creations composed by her and Josh Conway, her partner and The Marias’ drummer. Hints of greats ranging from Billie Eilish to Billie Holiday appear in The Marías’ sound; their debut album, Cinema, released in 2021, shows the band reaching a comfort level after five years of EP and singles releases.

The Marías will be performing at Coachella on Friday, April 15 and 22, and at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Thursday, April 21.

“We’ve been touring since the beginning of this year, so it’s just going to be nice to bring the show to Coachella finally,” Zardoya said during a recent phone interview.

The Marías have been in the public eye for a while, yet it took two EPs and a bunch of singles for the band to work up to their debut album, Cinema.

“We kind of approached releasing music like dating someone—you don’t want to (lay) all of your cards at the table at once; you just kind of like to get to know somebody slowly,” Zardoya said. “That’s kind of what we did. We started with, like, a single or two. We really didn’t have a following; nobody knew who we were, so we were like, OK, let’s see what happens with these first couple of songs. One of them really kind of took off, and then after that, we were like, OK, more people know about us; more people are sort of expecting more, so we released a short EP of six songs (Superclean Vol.I). That went really well, and after that, we released another short EP of six songs (Superclean Vol. II). … A full length album is a lot of work; it’s a huge vision. We didn’t want to just put it out and have nobody wanting it or nobody listening to it, so we waited until we had a good amount of listeners before we threw a full album at them.”

Many artists these days take similar paths, forgoing albums and instead focusing on singles.

“(Fans) were really wanting a full-length album,” Zardoya said. “I think there are a lot of people who consume music quickly—like TikTok and the single culture—but I think there are still a lot of people who appreciate the whole vision and an album. … Obviously, there will be people who just listen to one song or two songs, but we really made the album for the people who appreciate the full project.”

After releasing Cinema in 2021, The Marías are enjoying being able to finally experience fan reactions to their newer music.

“These shows that we’ve had this year have been the first shows where we’ve played any of the songs from Cinema, which came out at a time when nobody was really playing shows,” Zardoya said. “The first show that we played on this tour was the first time that people were singing these Cinema songs back to us, and it was pretty crazy. It was just kind of surreal that the songs that we wrote in our apartment during 2020, during the pandemic … we now had people singing back to us.”

The Marias are no strangers to either Coachella or Pappy and Harriet’s, and Zardoya said they’re excited about coming back.

“We actually played the indoor room last time, but we’ve always wanted to play the outdoor stage at Pappy and Harriet’s,” she said. “We’ve seen some of our favorite bands there—like Melody’s Echo Chamber, Deerhunter, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra—and we were always, like, ‘I hope one day, we’ll be able to play the outdoor stage at Pappy and Harriet’s.’ Now we are, finally, and we’re just really excited and really grateful that we’ve made it to a point that we can play a stage that we’ve seen some of our favorite bands perform at.”

As The Marias prepare to return to Coachella four years after their first appearance, Zardoya said she and her bandmates are still getting used to their new level of popularity.

“There were definitely shows on this tour where Josh and I just kind of looked at each other and we were like, ‘What is going on?’” Zardoya said. “Especially after the couple of years that we had where we weren’t playing shows, and weren’t connecting with fans on that level, to be thrown back into it … it was kind of overwhelming at times. I would find myself sort of, like, detaching as a means to cope with it. I know that detaching isn’t the right way to cope, so I’m still trying to find ways to cope with the overwhelming feelings of some of the milestones that we’re reaching. I think we’re learning, and at the end of the day, we’re just really grateful for how far we’ve come, and I’m excited for what’s to come next.”

Zardoya conceded that she’s something of an introvert.

“This last tour was really difficult, because it was so long—it was seven weeks,” Zardoya said. “… The guys were having a blast; they were in their element, but it was definitely a little bit more difficult for me. I think in the future, (we will be) taking a slow and steady approach, by touring for less time, and then taking a break … and then going back out and playing more shows, and then getting grounded again. We’ll do it that way versus just being thrown into it for a long period of time.”

Zardoya admitted that financial considerations determine many bands’ approach to touring.

“Taking it slow and steady with a lot of off days in between—you still have to pay for your transportation, for the gas, for the crew, for everybody that’s there, for even the days that you don’t play,” she said. “Having more days off is more expensive, which is a lot more difficult when you’re just starting out and don’t have the financial means to do that. I think as you grow as an artist, and hopefully start being more financially secure, that gives you the freedom to sort of pick and choose what you want to do. That’s what I’ve seen with our career.”

The music industry can be brutal and money-hungry—even down to some venues taking a cut of each band’s merch sales.

“We’ve gone on support tours and supported some of our favorite artists, and it’s extremely difficult, because you’re not making money,” Zardoya said. “Sometimes, the only money that you make is through merch; that’s how you pay for your hotels and your gas and the crew and everything. To hand over such a large percentage hurts—it really hurts. But I also get it: At the end of the day, it’s the music business. There’s a business aspect to it that goes beyond just the love for it.”

The Marias will perform on Thursday, April 21, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Doors open at 6:30, and tickets are $54. For tickets or more information, call 760-228-2222, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Matt King

Matt King is a freelance writer for the Coachella Valley Independent. A creative at heart, his love for music thrust him into the world of journalism at 17 years old, and he hasn't looked back. Before...