BIMM Institute Dublin graduate Maria Kelly uses her songs to share personal experiences, forming an emotional connection with her listeners. Her debut album, ‘the sum of the in-between’, was written over the past year in a small cottage by the sea on the south coast of Ireland.
We spoke to Maria about the album, the inspiration behind it, and how she’s developed as an artist.
Describe your new album in three words…
Confessional, hopeful, and vulnerable
What inspired you when writing this album?
Mostly just being in my mid-twenties and trying to figure out what’s next! I think it’s a strange time that not a lot of people talk about. You’re meant to be an adult now, but you’re a mishmash of who you were and who you’re trying to be. It can be a really confusing and pressurising time. So the record follows that thread throughout. Also, my friends and therapy helped to inspire me!
Are there any artists that inspire you when writing?
Loads – but mainly Sufjan Stevens, Phoebe Bridgers, Big Thief, Elliot Smith.
What would you say makes your music unique?
That’s a hard one to answer. I’d like to think it’s just how much of myself I like to include in my songs, like the voice notes from my friends. I try to tell the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable for me, because I think that’s where those real connections with listeners are found.
Do you have a process you follow when writing a song?
Not always. I gather lyrics as I go and often find inspiration when I’m listening to a new artist that connects or have had a fascinating conversation with someone, things that get my creativity flowing again. It’s when that hits that I usually find myself in front of my guitar, wanting to get something out.
How did studying at BIMM helped you develop as an artist?
I think it hugely pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me a lot about working with others, co-writing, and finding the right team around my project. It was also just a great environment to concentrate on being an artist for four years straight, I don’t know where else I would have been able to do that, with such a community and support system around me.
What’s next for you?
I am celebrating the album release with a show at the Workman’s Club, Dublin, on November 12th! Then I’m hitting the road alongside Ailbhe Reddy and Orla Gartland later in the year, which I can’t wait for.