Photography by: @david_porche
Last week, Artist Uprising partnered with boutique clothier Abi Ferrin in West Village for an evening of art, entertainment, and shopping.
Champagne and macaroons in hand, those who stopped by were treated to quite the evening. While our very own in house muralist, Desiree, painted an awesome, 8-foot-tall, Lauryn Hill-inspired mural outside, Saint Marie was laying down the groove inside amid Abi Ferrin’s designer clothing and jewelry. The lounge outside offered a perfect respite from the bustle of West Village, and a great place to check out our 2017 issue of Artist Uprising: Featuring the Top 25 most Influential Creatives of DFW.
Artist Uprising had a chance to sit down for a chat with Saint Marie, a.k.a. Aymi Cordero. She has a worldview beyond her years, and there’s a lot to learn from both her soulful, soothing music and the woman behind it. Originally founded as a duo under the moniker WilliamMarie, Saint Marie has recently gone solo, and Aymi forges ahead into the unknown with a strong vision of her future. She has an attitude not unlike a self-help speaker, tempered by a comforting and disarming honesty, and she navigates big questions with ease.
Her rapid-fire answers flow out almost too fast for even her to latch onto, but she’s far from careless. Each sentence is measured, practically worthy of writing down. No faking it here - you can tell that she’s lived it. That undoubtedly extends to her music as well. There’s no doubt, Saint Marie has a fan in us, and we’re very excited to hear more from her as her career unfolds.
Photography by: @david_porche
Artist Uprising: So, how long have you been in Dallas? Native Dallasite?
Saint Marie: I was actually born in New York, raised in Jersey. I’ve been in Dallas for almost 3 years now! I last came from Wisconsin though.
AU: Wow, I’d call that being from ‘all over.’
SM: Pretty much.
AU: What brought you to Dallas?
SM: I worked for a music studio in Wisconsin that was actually based in Fort Worth. I only found that out later that Fort Worth was actually DALLAS Fort Worth. I came out with an EP and decided I was gonna tour with my friends Dee&Chi in coffee shops all over Dallas and Fort Worth, but decided instead to pack my bags and just live in Dallas after the tour. Sort of bizarre, but stoked it worked out.
AU: So you've been doing the music thing a while.
SM: I started when I was in college, I started practicing guitar and piano and singing around that time. Compared to my friends, it was later in life. My mom would put me in competitions as a kid and I hated it. I told her I never wanted to sing and play an instrument. I’m so kicking myself for being mean to my piano teacher in 3rd grade.
AU: There's always something about being FORCED into it that just doesn't work. But that foundation is still there! Whether you loved it or not.
SM: TOTALLY. I think it’s helped, in the end.
AU: Where did the Saint Marie project originate?
SM: Believe it or not, we were called WilliamMarie at first we started as a duo group and we were sitting at Drugstore Cowboy in Deep Ellum and decided over a few beers that we were gonna use our middle names. Later as our sound developed and my other teammates went a different direction, Saint Marie was born. My good friend and brother David Porcheddu sort of blurted the name out and it just seemed so right.
AU: It is a cool name! Enigmatic and interesting. I was going to ask about the duo - can you tell me what spurred the decision to go solo with it? How have things changed in the process?
SM: The duo was awesome! He is still one of my very close friends and continues to spur me on. We both had a very unique sound, so while it felt very natural to sing with each other and write with each other, we had different desires to do more. It was one of those deals where we're just excited to see each other succeed. We’re big fans of each other’s music and even the stuff we created [together]. The writing is still the same, but there definitely more freedom to mold the sound that you want and hear in your head. The music I am releasing as Saint Marie is definitely different than what we put out as WilliamMarie.
AU: Do you write most of your own stuff?
SM:I write it all.
AU: Awesome. A lot of respect for that.
SM: Thanks! Lyrics are my jam.
AU: Many artists have a sort of ‘manifesto,’ especially when they start out. Was there a goal in mind when writing songs for this project? Obviously that may have changed in the last few months as you took it more in a solo direction.
SM: Honestly every time I sit down I think “there are no rules.” I’ve always had that thought too, more now that I'm solo, but it’s always been - what are the rules, and how do we trash them? I try to be as honest as possible too. Why not sing a sad song upbeat or a happy song slower? Crossing genres and just creating stuff that I would love to hear on shuffle in my iPod. Not just who am I targeting and what do people want to hear, but what would be so badass and so FUN to play live or hear in the car!
Photography by: @david_porche
AU: From where do you draw your biggest inspiration? Be it musician, book, person, anything.
SM: One of my favorite authors is Donald Miller. He's raw and isn't afraid to just say things the way they are, but with truth being the main purpose. I love twenty one pilots for the way they cross genres and even tempos in songs just for the hell of it. Lauryn Hill was one of my favorites because it was so clear what she stood for and she was so raw. I’m really inspired by visual arts too. There’s a lot to be said about an idea frozen in time. You can cover a song and almost be exact, but it’s impossible to replicate the brush stroke of an artist.
AU: Very true, and interesting point. I don't feel like people talk about the relationship between visual art and music very often, but it's an interesting thing to bring up.
SM: IT SO RELATED. Art is art. And inspiration is just peeking at every corner.
AU: As a musician personally, I’ve often wrestled with the idea that music is inherently “entertainment” - like there’s more important work I could be doing. Do you feel like music has the potential to do more than just entertain? Or that it even needs to?
SM: I’ve been in concerts where it’s pure entertainment and then the artist goes into this moving song, and seems almost uncomfortably intimate. You feel what they felt if not what the song wants you to feel. You're drawn into this moment that you can go back to. I think all art is entertaining AND moving. Depending how you allow it to. Having that tension is what makes an artist. Keeping that tension is hard, but pays off.
AU: One of the things Artist Uprising is interested in is understanding how artists balance the creative side of life with the 9-to-5 side. What do you do outside of music, if you don't mind me asking? Does it get in the way? What do you find is the biggest challenge as an artist?
SM: The hardest part is believing on the bad days that choosing your dreams are worth it. It seems like simple math. You work, you get money. So we tend to habitually just do what we know. Waking up every morning saying, how am I working towards my dream.. and sticking with it. But also honoring your 9-5 and not neglecting your duties. I manage a coffee shop in Deep Ellum and most of my songs come from there too. Using that as a force to your creativity is important too. Creativity is inside of you and you can’t separate that. You wear that hat always. You ARE a creative, and you work as barista, delivery guy, receptionist…
AU: If you just look around, there's songs everywhere.
AU: Beyond paying attention, and living a creative life in everything you do, are there any tools in particular that you’ve found helpful as an independent artist getting their start?
SM: When you're getting your start don't say no. Say yes to any opportunity. Get in front of as many people as possible. And TRUST me, not for publicity. You almost wish those people don't remember you. Haha! But solely for the practice, to push yourself, to rehearse, to write, to play your songs and come up with a better melody. Ask questions, learn, go to other artists’ concerts, go to the ones you don't really wanna go to. Support the music you wanna see grow in your area and the art you wanna see take off. And finally, just listen to as many people as you can find. Broaden your horizon, break out of that box and try things. If they flop, they flop… all three twitter followers will feast for a week and get over it. Make the mistakes now.
AU: Great advice! So, it seems like you’ve done a lot of shows with like-minded artists. Have you found the arts community to be very collaborative and inclusive?
SM: I was so intimidated by the music scene. Everyone was so cool as a cucumber and doing their own thing. But honestly they were so open and welcome. So many photographers and videographers, singer songwriters and even visual artists have just reached out to collaborate and it felt like a real family. It seems we're just one person away from knowing THAT guy or THAT girl. It's a very inclusive community, in my experience.
AU: All that being said... what’s next for Saint Marie?
SM: For Saint Marie… I don't wanna give too much away, but I hope to come out with some music that will really stamp the new direction I'm going in. Lots of collaborating!