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How The Marías make music after a breakup in the band

"This is the first project that we write together where we’re not romantically together,” says Maria Zardoya of The Marías.<br>
Bethany Vargas
"This is the first project that we write together where we’re not romantically together,” says Maria Zardoya of The Marías.

Updated May 31, 2024 at 12:29 PM ET

Breakups suck.

But breaking up can be even harder when you still have to work together.

That was the situation singer Maria Zardoya and producer Josh Conway found themselves in.

They’re a part of the psychedelic-soul band called The Marías.

They founded the group as a couple.

But the two have since broken up romantically. Musically, they are still writing songs and performing together. And they have a new album out: Submarine. 

“This is the first project that we write together where we're not romantically together,” Zardoya told NPR’s A Martínez. “Honestly, it was probably the easiest project to write together.”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

A Martínez: So is it fair to say that with Submarine, your break up led to a creative breakthrough?

Conway: Yeah, I think so. I think the album is pretty good. There are definitely creative breakthrough moments that I feel like we went through.

Zardoya: I think the creative breakthrough honestly came from, you know, now we're individuals. We have our own individual lives. It's not like this codependent sort of relationship that happens when you do so much together. And we got to know ourselves. And I think that ultimately led to, like, more creativity and to your point of creative breakthrough moments individually, within ourselves.

Martínez: So Gwen Stefani, the lead singer of No Doubt, was in a relationship with her bassist, Tony Kanal. He broke up with Gwen and then they started working on Tragic Kingdom, the mega incredible album from No Doubt. Gwen Stefani says that the breakup led to her being creatively just wide open.

Zardoya: Definitely. We were watching this No Doubt documentary the other day and there were so many parallels with what Gwen and Tony went through and kind of what Josh and I went through. I was like, ‘Wait, what?’ And then, the next segment would happen, we'd be like, ‘Wait, what?’ But the only thing that we know how to do as writers and artists is just create from that level of pain. Because I think that ultimately leads to discovering what it is that you're feeling.

Martínez: Maria, you said that when you wrote Run Your Mouth”, you were “conflict avoidant” at the time. I love that phrase. What does that mean? 

Zardoya: I just didn't want conflict. I wanted everything to be okay all the time. And I realized that's not the best way to go about life. And I think trying to avoid it almost makes it, like, even more present. I think this past year especially, I've just tried to train myself to be okay with discomfort. I've been doing cold plunges and saunas and acceptance therapy. All of these things, you know, to sort of be like, ‘okay, yes, life is uncomfortable and that's okay.’

Conway: Also “Run Your Mouth” was written pretty shortly after we initially broke up. So it makes sense why being conflict avoidant during that time was where your head was at.

Martínez: Were you walking on eggshells around each other?

Conway: I wouldn't say walking on eggshells. It was more just like…

Zardoya: Survival mode.

Conway: By the time we had broken up, it wasn't it wasn't a surprise to us at that moment. But we didn't really get much time to experience life separately after breaking up. Yeah, it was a delicate time, for sure.

Martínez: So if this album Submarine becomes your Tragic Kingdom, how will you look back on how the breakup went and what happened after?

Conway: I don't think the success or failure of the album will affect how the breakup felt. I don't think either of us thought or knew how the breakup was going to go. Like, will we be able to do this? In the beginning, it didn't seem like it. But once we learned who each other were as individuals, that made it very easy.

Zardoya: Yeah, definitely.

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