Name: Maria Chiara Argiró
Occupation: Artist, pianist, synth player, composer, producer
Nationality: Italian
Recent release: Maria Chiara Argiró's Forest City is out via Innovative Leasure.
Recommendations: Italo Calvino - If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore); Ultraísta - Ordinary Boy

If you enjoyed this interview with Maria Chiara Argiró and would like to find out more about her work, visit her official website. She is also on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I started playing piano at an early age.

My biggest influence growing up was my mother, a dance teacher, whose passion for ballet and contemporary dance inspired me to start piano lessons and join choirs when I was a child. I fell in love with Jazz in my early teens after some classical studies and since then I started realising that composing came naturally and felt a lot of fun to me. I loved creating my own melodies and harmony.

I’ve also been obsessed with British Rock, Seventies Prog Rock, Folk, Classical and later on Electronica. I think the fact that I was listening to loads of music helped me realise that I wanted to follow my own path and my inner compositional voice.

When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?

Often while writing and composing I enter a state of mind deeply connected with images, both abstract or real. This works almost like a guideline to start writing my own music.

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

I’m always trying to be led by my intuitions when making music, from the sound choices to the melodies and harmony.

I studied a lot of Jazz Harmony and in my first compositions and releases I have been following an aesthetic while now I am more conscious to let all these ideas go, breaking some of these rules, fully and naturally trusting just my instincts.

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

I think it’s essential for my creative evolution as a female artist to explore my personal experiences and identity, always trying to know where I stand as a human being at the specific time of my writing process.

I love to give myself creative freedom to do exactly what I want to do, without boundaries. And I hope that this freedom and creative journey is resonating with the listeners too.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

Sound and storytelling. Genre-fluid sonic dreams. I want to tell a story with my music guiding the listeners into a sonic journey.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

I think it’s really important to know and learn the tradition as well as being conscious of the time we are living and it’s essential to speak through music about these times. It’s also important to reimagine and reinvente the past, creating the music that speaks to the current generations: without the music from the past we wouldn’t be able to innovate.

Past and present are interconnected and they need to be both respected.

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

The piano has been my first instrument and it’s often the core of my creative process. Synths have been also a centre of everything I made in the past years and so now my vocals and Ableton too.

I like intuitive instruments as I love to get lost once producing and writing without overthinking too much. I do love to move between analogue and digital instruments and find a balance between the two.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

My schedule can change a lot. It goes from producing, rehearsing, admin (!), gigs, tours, composing and practice. I usually try to stick to the daily plan I have in the diary but sometimes I need to work around it.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

The main music idea for my album Forest City was to find a balance between the organic / natural environment and the industrial city to give an optimistic vision of the dialogue between these two contrasting worlds.

It’s a concept record, about the “duality of nature and city”. I was trying to make a place for my music to be able to live and get to. As an artist, I always try to imagine and “create” a world that I would like to see or I would like to spend some time in. An ideal world where, perhaps, nature and technology can coexist in peace.

In the title track “Forest City”, since the beginning of the writing process, I wanted to split the song into two “connected” worlds. In the first part, I tried to recreate the pulsating beats of the city and lights, while in the second part I explored the dreamy and open landscape of the forest. Lyrically I imagined a story about the human observations of the city and of nature.

How would living in a forest with its roots inside the buildings of a city or in a city surrounded by a forest, affect us physically and mentally?
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?

I like to start creating music from an intimate space. I need to feel that the musical ideas firstly resonate with me before sharing them with everyone else, from a band member, mixing engineer to the listeners.

But for me collaboration is key as well and I love to share and get feedback on what I’ve been working on in the first solitary instance.

How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?

With Forest City I tried to imagine a world I would like to live in or see. Music is about connecting people together and creating worlds that sometimes are not easy or accessible to look at.

I do feel it’s my responsibility to write about the times we live in, either realistic or imaginary.

Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?

I think emotions and passion are at the core of writing and delivering music. Music is a medium to access these, at times difficult life topics.

There are some deep feelings and emotions that are only possible to be expressed through Art.

How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?   

Innovation and music technology is very important to the evolution of music. I’m always curious to see what new scientific discovery comes next and what new synth or DAW has been invented in order to explore it.

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?

For me music, writing or performing it is a way to express myself and to share my soul and vision of life with others. Music is life.

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?

I think that’s the beauty of music. It cannot be explained.

I love the double effect of physical and emotional stimulation that comes with it. The more I make Music the more I learn to let thoughts go and just embrace its vibrations.