Janette King / Sophia Danai / Maryze, Static Jupiter (25 East Sixth Ave., Vancouver), Friday, May 24. To order tickets visit Showpass: All ages. Tickets: $10 advance. Doors: 8:30 p.m.
Call it destiny, or better yet – Destiny’s Child.
Montreal-based singer-songwriter Maryze was about 10 years old when she went to her first concert for a chance to watch the iconic R&B trio perform for an enraptured crowd. The show left its mark, as did many of the rhythmic pulses, dance-laden grooves, and snappy R&B lyrics that a young Maryse Bernard, before she went be Maryze, was exposed to growing up.
“I’d go and buy CDs of Alicia Keys, and Ashanti and Beyoncé, and bring them home and play them on my CD player and memorize all the vocals and sing along. I was singing so many of those melodies they probably just got ingrained into my writing pretty early and just stayed,” Maryze tells the North Shore News from L.A., where she’s commencing a 10-date U.S.-Canada tour on the heels of her debut EP, Like Moons, which was released last month.
Before fully taking the musical plunge and absconding to the artists’ Mecca known as Montreal, Maryze, now 27, grew up in the Deep Cove area. While Montreal has its own urban charms, she cites the North Shore’s natural beauty as a source of inspiration during her early artistic journey.
“I felt really lucky growing up just being around that and just having the space to explore and let your imagination wander. I think a lot of great songs are written that way, when you don’t have any city distractions and you’re just kind of in the moment and in your environment and inspired,” she says.
While as a youth she was free to wander without distraction throughout the North Shore’s backwoods, there were plenty of potential distractions at home when it came to music, according to Maryze. Her father, she explains, hosted a world music show for CBC’s Radio-Canada and “was always bringing home different records from … all over.”
“My household was always very musical,” she says. “It probably had some influence just rhythmically with the beats that I’m drawn to and bring into some of my music.”
She took piano and voice lessons as a kid, and was part of Argyle Secondary’s jazz choir as a teenager. For post-secondary, Maryze studied creative writing at the University of Victoria, which ultimately led to her refining her songwriting as she delved deeper into poetry and other forms of fiction. But even while at school, she was always focused on getting back into music, drawn to writing the personal lyrics often analogous with R&B and attracted to the genre’s singing style which she describes as “so soulful and beautiful.”
“It’s often sometimes confessional and addressing your closest relationships. It’s very honest,” says Maryze.
After a short stint back in Vancouver, Maryze packed her bags and headed east. She released her debut single, “B.O.Y.,” as a solo artist last year and her new five-song album builds on that song’s success with tunes replete with melancholic ’90s-inspired R&B and electro-pop influences, according to Maryze.
“‘B.O.Y.’ and ‘Dis-Moi,’ the French song, I would say are the two most personal,” she notes. “‘B.O.Y.’ is me … talking to myself and my own inner demons, and my own self holding myself back. It’s more of a mental health-focused song where I’m saying like, all these times where you hold yourself back and all these times where you turned this situation into a negative situation that didn’t have to be that way – and ending with, whatever that darkness is, isn’t going to keep a hold over me.”
While Maryze observes there’s usually “dark undertones that come through” whenever she writes a song, the melancholic quality of her music, with its spacious, slow-tempoed arrangements, by no means ever succumbs to being morose.
“It’s definitely about my own personal experiences, mostly with anxiety and depression and just how over the years those things have held me back,” she says. “That’s a really important thing to me with my music. It’s a way for me to be really honest with myself but hopefully also for people to connect to and feel less alone.”
Maryze returns home next week and will perform alongside Janette King at Static Jupiter, located at 25 East Sixth Ave. in Vancouver, on May 24. Following her current tour, Maryze plans to return to Montreal and focus on preparing more material for a future release, she says.
“Seeing how fast things have happened in the last year, it definitely feels like I’m in the right place.”