Next-Gen 2020: Lucas Mariani (Maria Benz)
Every January, Milk.xyz announces the 10 people we believe will have the greatest impact on the art/music/fashion/activism spheres in that year.
Currently making music under the moniker of his self-proclaimed 16-year-old self, Maria Benz, Lucas Mariani is a Milk alum. Previously featured as Ones To Watch in May of 2019, the 23-year-old French-Venezuelan artist is still just that. After three years of touring and writing for the Australian surf-jazz band Babe Rainbow, he’s spent his time researching and uncovering his individual sound (but take note: as Mariani shifts and slides into each project, it’s as if a different form of his emerges.) The Paris-based musician crafts his records using melodies and instruments you wouldn’t think would sound as sweet as they do. His newest album Y&B&S (along with a new record label) is coming for us this year, so stay tuned.
What’s your 2020 vision? What do you hope to accomplish?
I don’t know, we’re entering a decade that feels it’s going to be more transformative than anything we’ve been through before. I just hope to keep learning and push to create things that embrace the beat and strange harmony of the universe. I want to tour more, too.
Why do you do what you do?
Music was distilled into my life early on, it quickly became my obsession and only way of expression. I practice it devotedly and naturally like breathing, but I feel like the “Why” changes. Whatever I’m processing intellectually or emotionally, it will shape what I want to make and how I make it.
Tell us about your new record Y&B&S?
It’s a collection of minimal R’n’B lullabies.
You wrote this record in Brooklyn and finished it up in Paris — how did the different cities affect the end product?
Brooklyn was like a home to me because my brother Jules and his wife Desire were living there. I felt tuned in to a hectic and progressive frequency there that made me more confident with musical decisions. I moved there over June after I was done touring and I rented this studio set up by minimal/micro-house artists. It was a wall of original 808s, Junos, 101s, and modulars… so that’s how I started to approach these songs. Paris is more mellow to me, it’s more preserved and romantic. That energy of still beauty created the right space for me to finish writing words and make the record a whole.
Tell us about the different artists you collaborated with?
The Grei Show, I met two summers ago when from New York I took a trip to Jamaica for my birthday. We met over a smoke in Bull Bay and he instantly took me to his studio. We connected over all kinds of music and spent the week making songs and shooting a video. He’s a brilliant producer and artist, I’m very grateful we crossed paths. For these songs, unfortunately, we had to work with email. We’re going to make an album together eventually though. His girlfriend SWNKAH is on Lovely too, I haven’t met her but she’s an amazing singer and they sound great together. Amour Courtois is a very gifted Parisian musician and writer who’s been my good friend for many years. He’s started to come to the studio I now rent in Paris and there’s always good chemistry.
You’ve released work under many different monikers – tell us who they are and how they differ? (Stylistically? Sonically? Your outward expression?)
When I stopped touring, I had so much music in my chest that had been wanting to come out. Music gathered from different perspectives and in many different ways, but I knew I wanted to honor all of it. I first put out records under Domingo Mariani, which is my name but also my Abuelo’s name. If this character represents my roots emotionally and sonically, Maria Benz is my inner sixteen-year-old.
How did growing up in France and now living in Paris affect your work?
I’m very lucky that I grew up where I did. I feel connected to a profound and timeless appreciation of life here. Everything I do has to be a ceremony and Paris is one of the cities on Earth where that flows. I can be devoted to everything here. Everything can be sacred. Other places feel like a rush.
What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on?
I’ll always cherish making the Babe Rainbow albums in the hills of Coorabell, Australia. I lived on an immaculate beach with the loveliest people in the world, swimming with dolphins, and eating like kings and queens. We made three albums without having to put shoes on at any moment. That’s what I aim to go back to eventually, hopefully in Venezuela.
Highlight of your year?
Seeing Tierra Whack perform and call me beautiful.
Could you sum up your year in one word?
DIRECTOR: Lucca Lutzky
VOICED BY: Ingvild Gillet
PHOTOGRAPHER: Juliet Wolf
MUSIC: Maria Benz
Stay tuned to Milk for more from our Next-Gen.