Uma Bloo — the project of Chicago musician Molly Madden — shares “Marguerite’s Novels ” the second single off their forthcoming album, Don’t Drive Into the Smoke, due March 23, 2022 via Earth Libraries.
Speaking on the track, bassist Luke Blanco declared:
“It may just be the name, but it is absolutely not a misnomer. This song is the sonic equivalent of finding a dusty book, unearthing it for the first time in 30 years. You used to love this book and fall into a romantic sense of nostalgia upon reading the opening paragraph. The verses and their staccato instrumentation are reminiscent of a plucked string section, conjuring up images of Victorian times, a time where you could only read the novel by candlelight. The final outro of the song, the most passionate and intense affair on the album, strikes a tear as it falls onto the yellowing pages.”
“The death of anything (a body, a relationship, a career, a core belief, etc) is nothing to fear,” he continued. “Death isn’t something we fully understand, but at least within the realm of the living endings aren’t anything but a catalyst for transformation.”
What’s your story?
I’ve always been someone who imagines a lot but I didn’t start sharing any work until I came to Chicago in 2013. For my first handful of years in the city I was taking acting classes and performing burlesque. During that time I created my onstage persona, Uma Bloo. Burlesque especially acted as a kind of catalyst for me getting over some stage fright and allowed me to embody a confidence I knew I had but didn’t like to show. After dancing and acting for a while I repurposed my persona for music. I’d been writing music in the background since I was about sixteen but kept it a secret. Songwriting and performance have been my main and most public focus roughly since 2017 and continues to unravel day by day.
What inspired this last release?
Marguerite’s Novels is about wrestling between wanting to escape and wanting to live. I think it was Plato who had said that poets (or artists) can’t be trusted because they take the pain of life and disguise it as something beautiful. He said that poets were deceivers. There is the line “make me into a poem” because while there is life in a poem, it doesn’t have to be physical. I often wish I could dissolve into something weightless, but that would deny me my human experience that is very much weighed down with responsibilities, the burdens of life.
I was reading a lot of Marguerite Duras at the time and, while she sometimes wrote of difficult things, I still wanted to live inside her words. I was in this loop of experiencing some difficulty and wanting badly to exist without a shape, and so the song came to be.
Do you get inspired by other art forms?
Yes, definitely. I used to worry a lot about having many different creative interests. I would get anxious investing time into projects that weren’t musical because I had it in my mind that I needed to have singular focus in order to be impressive. While that may be true for people that desire to be technically masterful in something like playing an instrument, what I’m concerned with as an artist is expressing whatever story I’m trying to tell in my own distinct voice. I’ve held onto a lot of the exercises and teachings from my time at acting school. I try to keep reading stories and plays, I dance and explore movement when I can. When I’m in touch with various forms of art, especially the ones I have the freedom to be unknowledgeable on, I am all around more creatively active. I try to follow my instincts day to day on what I want to explore or work on rather than put on blinders to all but one art form.
What was the recording process like?
Honestly it’s hard to remember all the little moments from recording. We could only afford to book three nights at the studio so we were just going all in and recorded ten full band songs and four or so solo songs in that time. Whenever we were laughing it was probably half out of delirium.
What’s the best writing environment for you?
I like to be in my bedroom to write songs. I prefer being totally alone in my own space where I can get quiet and uninfluenced by the presence of another. This way I hear myself better and it’s easier for me to be honest and get to the bottom of a feeling or idea.
What’s a record that forever changed you?
Fiona Apple’s “The Idler Wheel…” for sure. It’s inspired me to allow even my most tender feelings to stretch from being soft to aggressive. I appreciate the range of her expression.
Who is an artist or band you look up to today?
Kim Gordon, specifically from her solo artist era.
What excites you the most about what you do ?
I like the idea of maybe phrasing something in the way another person needed to hear it or having the opportunity to create something a stranger could see themselves in. Connection, really.
What is your view on genres and music styles since you mix a lot of them in your music?
It always confused me when people would ask artists who or what they wanted to sound like. Not that it’s a nonsense question but when I’m writing it hasn’t been helpful to consider. I don’t strive to write in one specific style, I just allow myself to express whatever needs to come out in whatever form it takes. My goal with songwriting is to make a sound that elicits the physical emotionality we experience as humans, not to be specifically known for any specific genre.
What is music to you?
It’s an act that connects us to all people across physical distance and time. It is critical to the experience of being, life would look completely without it.
How would you describe your actin one word?