Under Cover

06.01.2011

MUSIC

Rocking retro-inspired dresses and homemade feather earrings, songstress Mara Hruby is constantly re-imagining and redesigning her world, and her music is no exception. Pairing her soothing yet commanding voice over iconic R&B tracks, Mara layered and rearranged, remixed, unmixed, tangled and untangled the seven songs featured on her debut EP, From Her Eyes, until they became her own. She brings to the table a background as a professional hip-hop dancer and a lifelong infatuation with soul and all that entails. Life + Times caught up with the Oakland native to talk inspirations and debut her latest music video—a cover of Mos Def’s “The Panties.”

Life + Times: From Her Eyes is a throwback to true, old school R&B, but what’s R&B to you?
Mara Hruby
: Oh man, R&B to me is like soul music. R&B is Al Green and Marvin Gaye. The writing is just so poetic and beautiful that it reaches out to people and grabs them. That’s what R&B is—it knows no boundaries.

L+T: You grew up in the ’90s so I know you have something to say about ’90s R&B. What was your biggest guilty pleasure?
MH
: I can’t even lie—when I was little, I loved Mariah Carey and the whole Butterfly album. I remember my sister and I used to imitate scenes from music videos we liked. The Box would always play the video for Boyz II Men’s “Water Runs Dry” and we loved reenacting the scene where they’re standing on sand dunes singing [laughs].

L+T: Why cover all men on your EP?
MH
: All the artists that I chose to cover are people that I’ve been listening to for a long, long time. I wanted to put my perspective on their songs and convey the way their music makes me feel by recreating it. When I chose the songs, I wanted them to be songs that I could sing without changing any of the lyrics. I wanted them to be songs that a man or woman could sing without changing the message.

L+T: So what about the ladies? What female artists do you pull inspiration from?
MH
: Amel Larrieux can do things with her voice that nobody else can—I love her. Her album Lovely Standards was actually an inspiration for my EP because she also took a set of songs and recreated them. And of course Björk—she’s just wildly creative. Also, Julie London—I love her voice, it’s just so classic.

L+T: It’s almost like you’re re-appropriating the meaning of these songs by singing them, especially with something like Mos Def’s “The Panties,” which is rife with sexual innuendos. How do you think you change the effect of that song by singing it as a female?
MH
: I’m always flattered when I hear people say that they listen to my version of a song and forget that it was originally sung by a man. That blows me away. I’ve seen Mos perform a few times now and I never got to see him do “The Panties,” so I decided that I should perform it in my own shows so that someone could get that satisfaction [laughs]. I just love that song because it makes you want to just dance, it makes you want to move. It makes you want to just close your eyes and imagine whatever your mind can create for you. So to me, it’s not about a man’s sexual point of view. It’s about intimacy, which can just as easily be sung by a woman. I wanted my version to be sensual and inviting in that kind of way as well, but I wanted it to be about passion from a woman’s standpoint.

L+T: Your music has a lot of layers. Each song is sort of like a collage. How does arranging and engineering play a part in your work?
MH
: I wanted this record to be sensitive and feminine, yet powerful and creative. Laying down the vocals is what puts out the content and when you start to layer and add harmonies and ad-libs, all those little extra things is how you get texture and emotion. If you took five people and told them to cover the same song, you would be able to hear each artist’s individual style and creativity in how they chose to recreate it.

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  • http://twitter.com/DanaEason_ Dana Eason

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! Her vibe is vintage chic cool & retro… and I’m talking about her voice! HA Love it! Thank you for introducing me/us to this beautiful music & artist! xo

  • Anonymous

    she sux! Terrible! You are not Amel Larrieux so why try? You are another pretty face and people get distracted by that.that song was Horrible!! You said that the original version makes you want to dance and move…well yopur version made me want to go to throw my pc out the window and take a nap!! You have no originality,no power,nothing!! Everything is stolen! From your look to your songs! Really Jay? Stop thinkin with the little head…

  • http://twitter.com/GentlemanREDUX Johnnie Weathersby 3

    If you have not downloaded here album you’re only hurting yourself. Been on her for a few months now and I’m glad someone is keeping good sounds out in the atmosphere.

  • http://twitter.com/GentlemanREDUX Johnnie Weathersby 3

    I hate it when I make typos on comments – I meant “her*” in my last one. And @buddah610 – I’m not knocking your opinion or nothing cat. We’re all entitled to ‘em. But have you heard Mara’s full EP? I was just curious.

  • http://www.facebook.com/monessac Monessa Cruz

    beautiful voice, beautiful girl, I loved it : )

  • http://twitter.com/JustToiaya JustToiaya

    Mara is truly talented! I was turned on to her a few months back and have been following her since. Her EP is amazing! Can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.

  • Anonymous

    From the moment that I heard her voice I was hooked! Beautiful voice,lovely personality, super talented overall. Best part of it all, she sounds even better live!!! I had the pleasure to hear one of her original songs at one of her shows and it sounded great, much love and respect to Mara!
    @buddah610 smh, stop wasting your life being negative,I send positive vibes towards you!!!

    Mara Hruby, keep killin them softly!

  • Anonymous

    Good voice. Good video.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maurice-Gilmore/100001171122336 Maurice Gilmore

    she has the most sexiest voice…its just relaxes me when listen to her an im feelin alittle down !

  • http://twitter.com/mojamid Mohammad Shah

    likes

  • http://twitter.com/iYashMusic Steven Odige

    nice

  • Anonymous

    her voice is beautiful and poetic…..

  • http://musicnerdery.com E.

    this does not suck at all. thanks.

  • kristy gomez

    wow. i love that she chose The Panties to remake in her own way. such a sexy song and her mellifluous voice is perfection w/ the repetition of the lyric. Prince was onto something there…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000331098262 Seyni Ba

    GENUI(S)NE

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=194600892 Zelmy Carrillo

    Love it! Beautiful!

  • Kolette Allen

    Just WOW!

  • pettiho the company

    Her voice is so pretty. It’s a nice cover but I LOVE the original. I can’t wait to hear her other songs on the EP, though. :)

  • http://twitter.com/Tax86 Thomas V.

    This is an excellent addition/twist to today’s R&B. She should do a duet with Bilal, that would be the most soulful song you can imagine. Their voices would really compliment one another

  • http://twitter.com/GirlyTomboyIsh D☮ɯ¡n¡qÜε ♀

    i won’t lie the cinematography kinda makes my eyes feel weird, but her beautiful voice and dope look makes up for it. i’ll def be watching out for her…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=151800507 Pigmy Basinwood

    Thank you!

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