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Introducing… MARACHÉ

With a sound reminiscent of a genre still yet to be uncovered, MARACHÉ catches up with UD to discuss the reason behind her moniker, the tracks that never fail to put her in a good mood in the morning, and why Ice Spice was at the top of her 2023 Spotify Wrapped…

Vincent Dolman for UD Music

At once a genre-less artist and a musician grounded in her sound, MARACHÉ needs no second name to be remembered, a musician as well-versed in multi-genre experimentation as she is in old school Afrobeats. In many ways, MARACHÉ is making moves beyond the preset of default genres, exploring her musical identity through the lens of both the Igbo gospel music that she grew up listening to, and the dulcet tones of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Valerie’ that soundtracked her early years of singing.

With a love for indie, rap, R&B, and Afro in equal measure, MARACHÉ’s voice is a versatile instrument that lends itself well to the full breadth and depth of her sound and musical interests. Taking inspiration from the lyrical acrobatics of Cardi B, and the beguiling verses of Lana Del Ray, MARACHÉ’s songwriting ability is quite frankly impressive, matched by her command over complex musical structures, and lyrics that feel uniquely familiar and resonant. 

We see ourselves in MARACHÉ’s music, a rich reimagining of what it means to be more than one dimensional, a notion as changeable as our fickle British seasons.  

For someone who hasn’t heard your music before, how would you describe your sound?

I’d describe my sound as an Afro fusion of alternative R&B and pop.

What kind of music did you listen to growing up?

My Dad was a producer so I grew up always having to sing random melodies and stuff, I don’t have a memory of me not singing. But in the house, I grew up with my mum and a lot of the music she listened to was a mixture of really old school Afrobeats, like Wizkid when he first came out, Don Jazzy, all of that, even quite a lot of Igbo gospel music so I had that playing, and then if I’m thinking more secular, a lot of Beyoncé and Alicia Keys

As I got older, one of my favourite artists was Amy Winehouse. I used to love singing her songs when I was growing up. Even now, if I go to an open mic, I’m like “which songs do I know start to finish that I’m not gonna flop?”, and it’s always ‘Valerie‘.

Vincent Dolman for UD Music.

I hear you listen to more rap than R&B and Afro – can you share your go-to rap artists? Who has always been on your playlists?

For the music I make you wouldn’t expect my Spotify wrapped top artist to be Ice Spice (laughs), maybe I’m a fake fan of my own music?! I’m a firm believer in the music you listen to having an impact on your mood, so I’m quite conscious of that when I write songs. If I’m on my way somewhere, I will put on what is going to wake me the hell up and put me in a good mood, which tends to be Ice Spice (laughs). It’s not necessarily like me connecting to the rappers or anything they have to say, it’s just me, I love a beat. 

If you could have any artist on a feature, who would it be and why?

I don’t know! I feel like I make such a range of music. Sonically, I would say Doja Cat is an amazing artist, and I don’t know how it would sound but I’d love to work with her one day. I also think Rema is amazing, Amarae is hard, I love Tems – I’d love to collab with any of those artists.

What or who inspires your lyrics? Do you have a musical muse or focus?

A lot of life inspires a lot of my music. It’s all quite seasonal.
I don’t really drop chronologically so you can definitely tell the mood I was in when I made the songs. I try to make them as relatable to me as possible, because I know that anything I’ve gone through, someone else has gone through, too. 

Myles Burrell for UD Music. MARACHÉ x TGE 2024

Is MARACHÉ your birth name? If not, why did you choose it? 

I did go by my first name for a few years when I started music, and I changed it last year. I love my first name, but the reason I did it is because I think choosing a career that puts your whole self in front of the world and public eye is hard. Like if someone was to criticise my music when it’s released under my real name, I’d feel so personally attacked, so if that were to ever happen to MARACHÉ, it’s like; they’re not attacking me, it’s my music. It’s so personal to you that it’s like, damn, I just need some kind of distance, you know.

I’m always interested when artists stylise their names – is there a reason for the single name and capitals?

You know what, I just grew up on Beyoncé, so I needed to be a “one name” person (laughs). Someone I forgot to mention who is one of my biggest influences is Kanye too – I love what he’s done with music and I think this “one name” artist thing is where I need to be. Like one day maybe you’ll call me “MA”, like they call Kanye “Ye” (laughs). 

You sometimes describe yourself as “genre-less”, caught between R&B and Afro – I’d love to hear how you connect with both genres. Have you found that middle yet?

I still feel like I haven’t found that middle. I think in your childhood and the music you listen to growing up can make such a difference to the person you are. And in making music, you grab a little bit of everything. Like I’m from south, I’m a south girl, stuff like that can make a difference to the amount of rap or drill I listen to as opposed to someone else from somewhere else. I think there isn’t really a middle ground and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. 

I love the idea that I love Lana Del Ray and Ice Spice and Burna Boy equally – some days are a bit more indie, some are more R&B and some are just a bit more Afro, and that’s me. No one is one dimensional, everyone has multiple versions of themselves. I think that’s just life.

Myles Burrell for UD Music. MARACHÉ x TGE 2024.

How are you finding the Incubator Programme with UD? 

I love it, it’s been super helpful and insightful. Like even having a networking day where we had ten minutes with each person – I learnt so much, it was so useful. We’ve been able to meet with PRS, PPL, even music lawyers. I studied law at university and never met a single music lawyer (laughs), it was so cool to learn what they do. Everyone on the programme is so lovely and the UD team are so nice.

Myles Burrell for UD Music. MARACHÉ x TGE 2024.

What does the future hold for MARACHÉ? 

Near future, I have two songs lined up for the year, hopefully more than two songs by God’s grace! I’ve got my summer song coming right around the corner – everything’s prepped, ready to come out, I’ve even previewed it at a few of these shows so yeah, excited about that. Future future – I really want to drop a project next year and start performing at a bigger capacity and at bigger festivals. I want the success of full-time music. That’s what I’m looking for.

Vincent Dolman for UD Music.

Catch MARACHÉ live in east London on July 4th at Rhythm In Britain Presents: The Lookout. Tickets HERE.

Pre-save MARACHÉ’S forthcoming single, ‘Drummer Boy’, out July 18th. Follow MARACHÉ on Instagram here.

Words: Elsa Monteith. A Brighton based writer & broadcaster working in and around the arts and on the radio waves. Subscribe to Elsa’s Discontented newsletter here.

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