I recently caught up with indie pop singer songwriter Marielle Kraft to discuss the impending release of her new single “Toothbrush,” as well as her upcoming show at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia on Thursday, February 21st.
So Marielle, starting with the basics, where are you originally from?
I grew up in Rhode Island. Small state, big heart. I moved around a lot as a kid.
Considering it is so small, were you able to start a music career there and gig around?
Not really, no. I actually didn’t start my music career there. I kind of started that more in college. I went to school at the University of Delaware so that initially brought me to the Mid-Atlantic Delaware/Philadelphia region when I started school there in 2013. I majored in Education, so that brought me to my first job teaching 6th grade English in Maryland. In terms of music, I didn’t really start playing shows until late college when my friends started promoting and pointing out campus events to me. They always told me to, “play those 4-song sets because you play in your room all of the time,” and I did. A couple people heard me which led to a couple more and all of a sudden, you know, I was playing the biggest events on campus and getting “booked” which was crazy. All of it was all for fun. All for free.
Did you know you wanted to play music, or was it more like a spur of the music hobby thing that led into something more?
It started as a hobby! I loved it, it was fun, but it was just a hobby. My whole life I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. But when music started becoming something bigger than just playing in my room, I started to reconsider what would happen if I said yes to opportunities.
Well, personally, that’s a great thing because you are very talented and have a lot of messages to share with the world.
Was music prominent because you started college?
It’s kind of funny because no. My parents are not musical and there wasn’t any music playing in the house. I never knew what was on pop radio until I started high school and I started driving. I went through this whole rediscovery of music when I was around 16/17 and then found my taste in music pretty late. Because my parents never influenced me one way or another, I think that allowed me to choose anything. I never had the knowledge of older artists such as James Taylor or The Eagles so that drove me to learn and teach myself.
Who would you credit as your influences now?
This is very generic but Taylor Swift. When you’re 13/14 and you see a girl and it’s just simply her and her guitar ruling the world, you can only dream to be that as a young female. The first songs I ever learned were all of the songs off of her Speak Now album. Now, I look up to artists such as Julia Michaels, Lauv and Shawn Mendes. People who are on pop radio but have substance in their writing. This week I’ve been into H.E.R. I’ve also been backtracking on Kendrick Lamar’s albums. Frank Ocean is super good. Kelsea Ballerini as well.
I can definitely sense the Kelsea Ballerina vibe from you.
Thank you! I love her. I get a lot of Kelsea Ballerina vibes. She’s amazing. She’s the IT girl. I love that she’s an independent, solo artist, who happens to be a woman, who is respected in both country and pop.
Female empowerment, am I right?
It needs to be said. Being a female, it’s inspirational to see and look up to forceful female powerhouses. For me, at the Grammys, when it opened up with four women including Michelle Obama, I immediately felt empowered. I was like, “That’s right! That’s my gender!” We just want to be seen.
What is your songwriting process like?
Most of my songs come out of those spontaneous, “I’m feeling this right now and I NEED to get it out.” I need to schedule more writes though. I need to pressure myself into designating time in my days for writing whether it’s a verse or a chorus. Sometimes, I will do cowrites though and those are scheduled. Sometimes I will bring an idea, or they will bring an idea or sometimes we’ll even just talk about our lives until we find a point of connection. It’s vulnerable, but you need to dig deep instantly.
So let’s talk about your upcoming single “Toothbrush.”
“Toothbrush” was one of my spontaneous writes. I wrote it last spring right as I was stepping back into dating after coming out of a really tough breakup. This guy asked me on a couple dates and stayed over one night, and woke up a little earlier than I did to go to work. When I went into the bathroom, I noticed that he had left a toothbrush and I panicked because it was the first night. I thought it was very aggressive for him to leave a toothbrush because I was not ready for him to leave a toothbrush without talking about it. It’s just one of those conversations that needs to happen. I didn’t know how much healing I still had to do until I saw the toothbrush. It’s an object but the meaning behind the toothbrush is what’s so meaningful.
For the music video, I had fans film a video of themselves mouthing along to “Toothbrush” while using a toothbrush that I sent them, with my name on it, as the microphone. From that, the videos will be spliced together into one big video.
Tell me about the single release show!
I’m playing World Cafe Live in Philadelphia on Thursday, February 21st. Mazie, a young Pop Soul artist, will be opening up. I really love that I have a female on my bill. I’m really stoked to have her. In addition, BrightBill is also opening up. They are a Philadelphia based indie rock band and I’m stoked to have them as well. Get your tickets HERE.
What’s 2019 looking like for Marielle Kraft?
2019 is the first full year that I am doing this full time. “Toothbrush” is the first big release and I am playing shows in Philly, NYC and DC for that release. Philly on Thursday the 21st, NYC the 22nd and DC the 23rd. Those are my three main markets. I plan to release my EP in July.
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