Sometimes all you want is a handful of chords and some yea yea yeas. And sometimes you want a story — a riddle, a clue, a risk.
On her latest EP, Bicycle Wheel, Mari Rosa shares emotive, lush, and literate music joining the passionate originality of Kate Bush with the narrative pyrotechnics of Leonard Cohen. The five song EP explores love, ambiguity, and transcendence through the lens of song using indie pop and orchestral elements.
“Music and the arts have the capacity to go right into the heart of awe – to the intense feelings we have a hard time naming,” says Mari. “Bicycle Wheel does that without guile.”
An Italian Argentine American from Boston she was spurred on by languages and stories from three continents. “I’m fascinated by meaning. From childhood I pored over artists like Joni Mitchell, Caetano Veloso, truth to power movements like Chile’s Nueva Canción, and even Spain’s massive artistic response to the Franco dictatorship. I saw art could be anything, and that empowered me.”
Before recording Bicycle Wheel, Rosa cut her teeth as a Latin Jazz singer writing and producing a trilingual record called Honeyspot. After performing and collaborating with Latin Grammy winner, Fernando Otero, Richie Morales, Emmy winner, José Cancela, and Cuban legend, Cachao, she was surprised to find herself writing an indie-pop album. Says Mari, “It opened up new possibilities for the kind of stories I could tell, for the instruments and tones I could use. It was freeing.”
The album takes its name from a work of art by Marcel Duchamp. “Duchamp has reputation as a benign trickster. I saw his Bicycle Wheel, and it felt like a dare! I wrote the first line of the EP in the gallery at MoMA, ‘Your heart, my heart is kinetic art. Its moving parts traverse the way between.’”
The title track went on to be a Top Five winner in the Great American Song Contest singer-songwriter category. Four more songs followed from a funny exploration of love as a Conspiracy Theory, to a warm look at Mari’s least favorite season, “Winter is not dead it bows its humble head covered in Vologda lace,” to a battle cry to resilience in Beautiful Prize. “The songs on Bicycle Wheel are unusual but never precious. I hope people find a welcome space in them and take them for their own.”