Interview & Photos by Keira Zhou
When did you start playing music?
Mariel: I started playing music when I was 15 years old. I got a guitar from my parents for Christmas. I didn’t really want one. It was my twin sister; she wanted to play bass. My parents were like, if we get her that, then we’ll get her (Mariel) a guitar. She never ended up playing, and I did. I was writing songs before I even knew how to play chords. I was trying to find what sound good. I’ve been a poet since I was a little girl. My major in college was poetry.
When did you decide to make music a thing in your life?
Mariel: I think it just sort of starting to happen. I’m always so cautious and practical, work matters, stuff like that. So I never really considered that it could be a thing, until I was working at my first magazine job in New York, and it was terrible. The people there weren’t nice, and I had no idea. So I spent 3 months trying to quite the job the proper way, but they kept canceling these meetings for me to quit in person. Then I stopped answering those emails until they had to have a meeting and then they fired me. Then that coincided with getting this festival we were supposed to play. So we played this festival. And it ended up being amazing. Everyone knew the words of our songs. I had no idea how that was possible. And then shortly after that, this manager who was DIY at the time, now she’s a real music industry shark, she picked us up and helped us on her DIY label, and got us on tour with Man Overboard. And when I was started touring with Man Overboard, I just saw the degree between where I was and where they were. But I just saw the pathway forward. And I saw that it wasn’t an impossible thing. So that’s when I decided to really have a go at it. And around that same time, was when Chad Gilbert had reached out to me about recording our album. So it just all kind of snowballed into a thing.
Is Best Ex your first band?
Mariel: We were called Candy Hearts. And then I renamed it. It felt like something different to be honest. So I was in Candy Hearts, I found myself after Warped Tour, kind of not into it anymore. Not that I wasn’t into the songs we wrote, I just felt like I hated the band name, I hated our image, I hated being pigeon holed into this pop punk scene that wasn’t the music I wanted to play anymore. But I still want to be able to play our back catalog, so I was like what should we do. Let’s take all of us and make it a new name, a new face, a rebrand type of thing. And we’ll just do different music and do whatever we want. And it will get people away from thinking that we should be like something, cause that was what was killing me. It was like anytime you release a song, people already had an idea of what Candy Hearts’ song should be. I wanted to just completely change that, but not completely abandon our fans. So that was the best way I thought I could do it. It feels a lot better.
Are your current songs very different from the ones before?
Mariel: Yes, they are different. We released an EP of a few songs like two years ago. It takes forever doing a DIY. To find a producer who would commit to your budget, who would get things done fast, cause you know, you have to be a lower priority if you are not paying them what they deserve. So it took a lot of time. And a lot time for me to sit and think like what I wanted, how far I wanted it to depart from the EP, from our old stuff. So it wasn’t that far a departure but it was definitely different. And with this new upcoming thing we are doing, it’s completely a far departure. I’m so excited. I think it’s the best stuff I’ve written and it’s exactly how I want it to sound like right now.
Why do you think it’s the best? Why do you like it so much?
Mariel: Because I’ve never thought that I could sound that way. Not that it’s easy to make pop punk music, but when you’ve done it for so many years, you falling in the scene like, ok here’s a song, we’ll put these chords underneath it, we’ll play this beat, and it’s like you just arrange it that way. And with the way of the most recent stuff we are doing, it was very calculated, and took a really long time. We thought about every song. When you mostly making it on a computer, and not in a big studio because you can’t afford it, it’s like every drum hit is so deliberate. There are 10 thousands samples you can choose from. It’s difficult to pick all that stuff. I’m just really proud.
You guys just released a new single?
Mariel: Yea! It’s called Bad Love. It’s about New York City at night. That call when you are at the bar, should I meet up with this person? It’s like whatever 30 at night, not a good time… But yea I’ll do it! But it’s always a call where you are like, I probably shouldn’t have done that.
What inspires your lyrics?
Mariel: It’s usually the stuff that happens to me. Sometimes a song wouldn’t be about one person; it would be about something that happened to me mixed in with something I heard that happened to someone else.
Do you have tours coming up?
Mariel: We are actually playing our first show since the last Warped Tour we played, about a year and a half ago. We are doing in two weeks.
What’s your favorite food?
Mariel: If I have my band mates answer this for me, they would probably say hot Cheetos. But I think food wise, so my mother is a vegan, she was telling me that cheese and meat will kill you. And I told her that I would rather die, than live a life without ice cream and cheese. I can do the vegan ice cream, but I can’t give up regular cheese. I think those are my favorite foods, and ramen. 100% ramen, I eat ramen for lunch today.