Briana Marela: “It’s Like Therapy”

The last time I saw Jenny Hval she nearly blew Swans off the stage at Union Transfer… which is no easy feat… So I’m quite excited for her headlining...

The last time I saw Jenny Hval she nearly blew Swans off the stage at Union Transfer… which is no easy feat… So I’m quite excited for her headlining gig here at Boot & Saddle next Tuesday, September 8th.  However, I think I’m even more excited for the opening set from Briana Marela, who’s accompanying Hval on her fall dates.

Born in Seattle, Briana Marela has been singing and songwriting since she was in high school, where she took up an acoustic guitar as her instrument of choice.  However, once she went off to college in Olympia she quickly became intrigued with computer-based technology and its ability to create and manipulate somewhat postmodernly avant-garde compositions of popular music.

Last month Briana released All Around Us on Jagjaguwar, an album she recorded in Iceland with producer Alex Somers, known for his work with Sigur Rós and Jónsi.  The album is complex, featuring a juxtaposition of traditional folksy songwriting with far more contemporary means of production (My particular favorite track, “Dani,” is a hyper-ethereal number, which reminds me of somewhere between Cocteau Twins and Angelo Badalamenti’s soundtrack to Twin Peaks), used to tackle narratives revolving around the some of the most profound, yet frequent, encounters of the human experience.

Last month I got a chance to chat with Briana Marela, who is both charmingly shy and of few words, but seemingly exceptionally confident about her output.  I ask her the most important thing to know about her as an artist and her approach to creating music and she tells me, “It’s mostly really stemming from powerful emotions and things that I couldn’t say out loud.  It’s like therapy.”

Briana also tells me that, musically, the people who most influence her are people who could easily be considered in the same realm of Jenny Hval herself (She also admits to being a fan of Hval’s latest album and her collaboration with Susanna, which I reported on just about a year ago.): “I’ve been influenced by a lot of amazing female musicians, people like Sibylle Baier, Nico, and Bjork.”

And this tour has a Briana taking a new approach to playing live and will offer fans a somewhat new version of her music.  She also tells me that she’s excited to be back in Philly.

“For the first time I’m playing with two really good friends.  All of my previous shows have been solo, so I think this brings a fun, positive energy to the songs.  And I’m definitely excited to be back on the East Coast.  I had a great time in Philly in 2012 at Magic Pictures.”

Finally, when I ask Briana what the future holds, she tells me that there is definitely more playing in the works, but hopefully, or possibly, even some new music that can be expected: “November is getting pretty filled up.  There’ll probably be a bunch more touring early next year and then maybe recording some new music… but maybe I’m getting ahead of myself [laughs].”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.