In the northern hemisphere, winter is at the doorstep. Trees are losing their leaves and the soil will freeze overnight soon. Blooming is something very much associated with spring and the change of temperature from cold to warm. Yet, it is during these times that Maria Basel releases her debut record called Bloom. Its soft indie pop tunes, lush electronic, and RnB influences bring a moment of warmth ahead of the cold times.
“Bloom stands for new beginnings, growth, and change, letting go of things that weigh you down,” the German artist and composer says about the choice of title. She draws inspiration from strong emotions, from moments that evoke feeling – the good and the bad. Centering this emotional receptiveness, the record guides the listener through several moments of bloom. It is also a record of love as Maria Basel adds, “I feel like I am blooming when I am in love. Or when I have a beautiful idea that just came to me out of nowhere and I sit down and play it out.”
Bloom has an effortless flow to it because it grew out of these moments of serene emotion and captures them in compositions that echo the classical background of the pianist. Maria Basel was raised in a household of musicians with her mother being a pianist like her and her father a cellist. She had the privilege to start playing the piano at a very young age and was encouraged by her family to pursue music. “My grandfather wrote down the first baby steps melodies of mine”, Maria says remembering her musical beginnings.
It is also the sound of artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Barbra Streisand that shaped her musical ear. “My mom used to listen to their records when I was little. Somehow these beautiful voices maybe also had some influence on me”. Like the two iconic singers, Maria Basel guides songs with her voice, which takes on different characters from gentle to raw. The instruments, especially the piano as the other direct outlet of Maria Basel’s creativity, vibrate in carefully orchestrated arrangements. Each song echoes the broad range of influences that shaped the singer and composer’s ear.
“I am thankful for having the classical training as a base of my work today. It gave me a good musical hearing and understanding, taught me discipline, and formed my taste for music. It still influences my compositions today. But when I started writing my first songs around the age of 15, it felt like stepping out and freeing myself from the strict classical rules and the interpretation of something already existing. Creating something out of thin air felt magical.”
The Production Process
The first steps in songwriting, Maria Basel undertook on her own. Producing her debut EP Layers herself, gave her complete autonomy over the sound that is distinctly her own. With Bloom, the singer was also involved in the production but also learned to work with other artists and give some jobs away. “I started producing the album at the end of 2022 together with a very good friend of mine, musician and producer Jonas David. Milo Isgró contributed drums to ‘Fearful Men’, ‘Ghost’, and ‘Rush’. Later Charlotte Jeschke played all the cello parts. Ben Majchrzak and Jim Locke did a great job finalizing the album. I was lucky to be surrounded by many amazing passionate and talented people who joined the creation. I am very thankful for that.”
In the final piece, the interplay of the instruments sounds nuanced. Songs like Ghost start quietly and slowly grow in production scape while keeping the ability to highlight each of the individual elements that make up the song. The warm multi-layered vocals guide the resonating electronic elements and take turns with playful keys. Rush grows into an electronic pop-reminiscent ballad, with the vocals soaring in a catchy chorus, while Parallels takes a more minimalistic approach.
Balancing Lightness and Heaviness
The sound of the record echoes the production process. Maria Basel describes working on the album as “therapeutic” and “at times very hard and self-confronting, at other times light and relieving”. Bloom carries the heaviness and the lightness in one palm. Like lightness needs the contrast of heaviness, the album embodies this equilibrium of emotions in its musicality and the songs.
“I am very thankful for being able to pull out those positive and negative emotions and transform them into beautiful music that others can relate to.”
While the record deals with the overall topic of growth and forgiveness, each song contributes a piece to the mosaic. Rush, for example, is about stepping out of the capitalist hustle culture and taking time to care for oneself. “[The song] is a reminder to be more patient and living with myself. I am still working on that! Lately, I have been trying to limit my working hours to fixed times and actively block free days where I do not work at all.”
For Maria Basel, Bloom is just the beginning. The singer will take the record on tour in early 2024 together with Listenrecords label-mate Joy Bogat. It is also a step towards the artist’s goal of being able to make more music. “I am working on expanding my team with people that take the administrational and promotional work off my shoulders, so I have more space in my head to do the important thing”, she says about her musical aspirations and hopes for the future.
Bloom is out now via Listenrecords.
Every few weeks, the NBHAP staff brings an exciting new artist to your attention alongside a 30-track-strong Introducing Playlist on Spotify. Feel invited to follow the playlist and give these talents a spin. Sign up for our Newsletter to receive monthly updates about new music.
This week’s playlist update was curated in collaboration with Maria Basel. Along with tracks from going…going…GONE! it includes personal inspirations from artists such as Rotana, Amalie Holt Kleive, Hania Rani, and more. Tune in below.