“I think we approach releasing music like one would approach dating someone,” The Marías frontwoman María Zardoya tells Apple Music about wanting to take it slow with their debut LP. “At the beginning of a relationship, you don't want to throw all your cards out there. You don't want to give away too much of yourself until you get to know the person.” If the double-volume Superclean EPs allowed the LA-based bilingual band to give us a first taste of their lush indie pop, then CINEMA expands on their vision with a new set of influences and experiences. Recorded in fits and starts before and during the 2020 quarantine, the album flows with a clear sense of cohesion—like watching a film where, in Zardoya's own words, “each song is its own individual scene in its own individual world.” Zardoya also believes her relationship with her partner and bandmate, producer/multi-instrumentalist Josh Conway, strengthens their songwriting. “Our relationship, and our love, is very karmic,” she says. “I think we complement each other in the best ways, and we're always pretty much on the same page about the songs and about the creative end. And if we're not, we embrace those differences.” Here, Zardoya and Conway take us on a cinematic journey, track by track. “Just a Feeling” María Zardoya: “When we came up with the title and the concept of the album, which ties back to our roots of making music together, we knew that we wanted lots of lush string arrangements. And in some of our favorite movies, you can see this motif throughout where they use the same melody, but make different arrangements of it. I just love it so much. During quarantine, we became obsessed with the soundtrack for this ’60s Italian movie called Amore mio aiutami. Throughout its soundtrack, there’s this theme that's mainly always strings, but also other instruments as well. We heard how lush one of the tracks was on that soundtrack, and that's how we wanted it to feel to set the tone for the album as a whole.” “Calling U Back” Josh Conway: “‘Calling U Back’ was the first one on CINEMA that, once the first idea was written, we were like, ‘Okay, we've got an album coming.’” MZ: “The bark you hear in the beginning is our dog Lucy. You get this really beautiful lush string arrangement. And then, right after, you get this in-your-face dog bark followed by an in-your-face chorus hook. That was definitely very intentional. We wanted to shock the listener in a sense.” “Hush” MZ: “In terms of the song’s overall message, there's always someone with something to say about what you're doing or how you're living your life. And this was a song where it was basically telling them to just shut the fuck up and hush. It's like, ‘Okay, you've got all these opinions, I'm going to write a revenge song for you.’ It also has a futuristic sort of feel to it, and so we definitely leaned into that with the visuals for it as well.” “All I Really Want Is You” MZ: “This song was written during quarantine while we were putting the finishing touches to the album, working day in and day out on the videos and editing them at 1 or 2:00 in the morning. There was a lot going on during the time that this song was written, so we wanted to go back in time to a month or two prior where Josh and I decided to go on a little LSD journey throughout our neighborhood. We couldn't leave or travel in a sense—so we decided to go on a mental trip or a mental journey. We were tripping, just enjoying nature and the stars at night.” “Hable con Ella” MZ: “Hable Con Ella, or Talk to Her, is my all-time favorite film by Pedro Almodóvar. At this point, I think it's common knowledge, because he just inspires me so much and I want the world to know about him. There's a particular scene in the movie where Caetano Veloso is singing 'Cucurrucucú paloma.' Obviously, that moment can never be recreated by anybody, but we wanted to recreate the feeling of that beautiful moment with the layered trumpets and this sort of mystic melody.” “Little by Little” MZ: “It's a classic Marías love song about self-reflection in a relationship and knowing that you need to change things about yourself, but not putting the pressure on yourself to change everything at once. I think it's just taking things slow, not putting so much pressure on yourself all at once.” “Heavy” JC: “We do this game sometimes where I'll pull up some good pictures online, from Pinterest, maybe, and I'll show them to María and tell her to sing a melody or anything that comes to mind when she sees it. I pulled up the picture of a woman in a desert, I believe. And María says, ‘I'm heavy, I'm nice-eyed.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, okay, here we go.’ And within minutes, we had the verse and the chorus there. This one’s more about wanting to be alone and not wanting to deal with anyone or anything at all. Anyone knocking at your door, you're just like, ‘Just go away, let me be alone here.’” “Un Millón” MZ: “We approached ‘Un Millón’ like, ‘What would it sound like if The Marías made a reggaetón-inspired song?’ I grew up listening to reggaetón. In my first job ever, at 15, all I wanted to do was save enough money to go to reggaetón concerts with my brother in the VIP section. I ended up saving enough money for Don Omar and Daddy Yankee concerts. It was a huge part of my life and it’s in my blood. We had never made a reggaetón-inspired song, so we were like, ‘Let's just try it.’ ‘Un Millón’ happened, and then everybody wanted it on the album.” “Spin Me Around” MZ: “It’s definitely our psychedelic ‘what would we listen to while on acid’ song. It’s got that trippiness and waviness that we needed, because psychedelics is a huge part of our life. And we wanted our fans to experience how we feel on psychedelics.” JC: “I think it was the last song written for the album. I personally felt like it needed something a little more open and lighthearted with an indie-rock-type vibe as far as production goes. I'm stoked that it made it onto the album, because I feel like without it, the album feels a little synth-heavy and very electronic in certain ways. It kind of took those fears of mine away.” “The Mice Inside This Room” MZ: “It's our most abstract song on the album. Conceptually, it's sort of about paranoia. Sometimes, even to this day, I can't fall asleep by myself if I don't have a light on or hear white noise. I hear one thing and my mind just races. Any little sound could be this mouse inside my room that's preventing me from sleeping and from my sanity. It could also be symbolic in how there's internal voices, and internal and external chatter, that get in the way from you being completely calm and being able to think clearly.” JC: “It's definitely our most Radiohead-inspired song. I think we're both very aware of that. Luckily, we didn't infringe on anything on it.” “To Say Hello” JC: “It was another late one to the album party. María probably spent a good hour and a half recording the vocals to it. I vividly remember there was a moment, about 30 minutes in, when she’s saying the entire first verse—with lyrics and a pre-chorus—and I just remember thinking, ‘This is the song right here.’ After she was done riffing, we went back and I was like, ‘Yo, did you realize that you sang the entire first verse and chorus of this song?’” MZ: “A lot of times when we riff, it's subconscious thoughts that need to be released. And I think this one was a subconscious release of me making the shift in moving to LA and leaving my life in Atlanta behind. So when the chorus says, ‘I belong in here,’ it's ‘I belong here in LA.’ This is my life, and sometimes I can call you and say hi, but I belong here in LA. It's kind of the duality of cities and moving.” “Fog as a Bullet” MZ: “This one was written at the start of 2020. I remember sitting in our apartment on a Friday. It was really foggy out on the hills. I was thinking, ‘Wow, this is so beautiful. I just love when it's foggy in LA.’ And just how inspiring that was. And then, two days later, Kobe Bryant and his daughter passed away on the helicopter because of the lack of visibility due to that same fog. I was thinking to myself, ‘Wow, something that, just two days ago, I found so beautiful can cause so much destruction.’ I was just feeling the pain of the city and feeling sad, of being in LA and of him being such an iconic figure.” “Talk to Her” JC: “One night, María was reading some poetry from her little tour diary. She was reading it and all the guys in the band were there. It was about being on tour. We were all totally taken aback by it because none of us had ever heard that before.” MZ: “It was just my tour notebook, where I would write random thoughts on. I think we all share very difficult moments on that particular tour. You get to see inside our minds during that time, because I don't know if a lot of people know how difficult touring is for, I think, most artists. We didn't have a lot of money for things.” JC: “There's so many ups and downs. There's not really any middle ground. It's either, as Eddie [Edward James, The Marías keyboardist] says, ‘peaks and pits.’ The line towards the end where it says to don’t stop giving up is restorative too. It’s a call and response, like a train of thought that tells you to not stop and that it’ll be fine.”

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