"It's In My Personality!" Maria Chiara Argirò Interviewed

"It's In My Personality!" Maria Chiara Argirò Interviewed

Exploring the Italian born artist's genre cross-pollination...

Maria Chiara Argirò makes music that thrives on possibility. But then, it’s the only way she knows how – possibility is something inherent within her, guiding her every decision. Born in Italy, she was initially drawn to classical music, before her tastes quickly broadened. Absorbing jazz, club culture, even elements of pop, she quickly found that the paths ahead of her were strictly segregated, with little room for fusion, or cross-aesthetic pollination. So, possibility intervened: barely out of her teens, she took a chance and moved to Britain.

“I came to London to pursue music. All the music I was attracted to as a teenager came from here, so it felt like the natural choice. It’s been a dramatic change,” she says, “but not a traumatic one.”

- - -

- - -

Immersing herself in the city’s myriad DIY networks, her thirst for new ideas and collective action found a new home. Operating in avenues adjacent to London’s famed jazz communities, Maria Chiara Argirò was able to draw on the improvisational methodologies of jazz, while still allowing her own thoughts and expressions to percolate through.

“It’s in my personality,” she smiles. “I’m always looking for new challenges! It’s how my brain works. I need to look for new things, and new sounds, all the time. I’m very active.”

“It’s not my goal to be genre-less,” she points out, “but I think my music has become that, because I extend into so many different areas. I just want to be unique!”

2019’s ‘Hidden Seas’ proved to be a real marker, a word-of-mouth success. Signed to influential Stateside imprint Innovative Leisure, new album ‘Forest City’ is glorious, a head-long rush into the unknown fuelled by colour, life, and vitality. While her own voice is strongest, Maria is careful not to over-power those around her – the aim is to invite others into her world.  

“I think collaboration is key for me,” she says. “I learn so much from other people. I don’t really care about being defined. I’m playing my own music, but I gain so much from other people. It’s a huge learning process for me – without collaboration this album would not have happened.”

- - -

- - -

One prominent challenge was Maria’s decision to use her own voice, making it the fulcrum of her work. “I started writing this music before lockdown, but it presented a number of challenges,” she says. “I had sung before – in Italy – but never like this, and not for a long time. It took me a while to accept my own voice. In a way, it’s like collaborating with myself. As an artist, I don’t want to have any limits, I’m always looking for a fresh challenge.”

‘Forest City’ seems to bound outwards in a thousand different directions, a restless, endlessly puzzling experience that leaves an enthralling impact. It’s a project that thrives on chance, and the elemental experience of improvisation. “I have a jazz background, so I’m drawn to improvising. I want my songs to be structured very naturally. If it feels like a short song, then it’s a short song. If it feels like a longer song, then it’s a longer song. It’s almost like muscle memory – it comes naturally. It’s like the songs already exist, in a way.”

Out now, the project will be followed by some incredible live dates. Recently supporting Emma-Jean Thackray, Maria Chiara Argirò is ready to tackle a host of headline shows, and festival appearances. The world of ‘Forest City’ is already growing, and she can’t wait to see what’s ahead. “We like to experiment more in the live setting. We expand everything, and pull it in different directions,” she says. “I want to have fun onstage. I want to take those musicians onstage, and just let go. I love this music – I want us to all close our eyes, and just get lost in it. The goal is just: OK, let’s go!”

- - -

- - -

A continual creator, Maria is perpetually absorbing new ideas. Alive to the promise of fresh sounds, she seems able to innately blend this with her own experiences, resulting in an outpouring of artistry. “I want to play music as much as possible. We’re playing a lot of festivals this summer, but I also want to create a bit of space. I think about new songs all the time, so when I get the chance to release something I’m already on to the next project. I want to grab the next challenge, and see what I can bring to it!”

“Once you’re in the creative mode,” she observes, “it’s pretty much unstoppable.”

- - -

- - -

'Forest City' is out now.

Words: Robin Murray

- - -

Follow Clash

Buy Clash Magazine