Like the translation behind her solo project, Finnish sound artist Cucina Povera, real name Maria Rossi, uses simple yet high quality ingredients to create her beautiful, emotive compositions.
Formerly operating out of Glasgow and now based in Luxembourg, Maria released her first long player via Night School, a label who would become a home for two more albums, the most recent of which landed in March of this year. Matching her hypnotic choral vocals with electronic experimentation, field recordings and sparse minimal soundscapes, Maria sculpts haunting, stirring sounds that compel you to sit and listen.
Off the back of her latest album Tynni, we invited Maria to take the reigns for this week's Monday Is OK mix. Titled Moskito's Daydream, the mix is breezy and meditative, and features demos from both herself and friends as well as favourites both old and new...
Please introduce yourself... Who are you, where are you, what are you?
I am Maria, Finnish vocalist-composer in my twenties working on my project Cucina Povera. At the moment I’m in Luxembourg, the small and incredibly beautiful southeasterly neighbour of Belgium. I take walks in the huge forests to record the woodpeckers. At the moment it is quietly glorious, the air is thick with different smells, mainly floral. I’m getting some gardening, writing and exercise done. I feel comfortable and healthy here.
Tell us about the Monday mixtape you’ve put together for us.
It's called Moskito's Daydream and it's beautiful, surreal and a bit uncomfortable. I picked some demos of mine and by my friends for all to enjoy, and added more known songs new and old. All I've made recently has been vocal heavy. That Oliver Coates track has something unbelievably sad and glorious about it. One of my first gigs was with Oliver and he was incredibly supportive. I was going for 'goth opera singer on sequenced synth' at the time but I think it worked, at least that time. I aimed to achieve beauty and balance with this mix. Music is also a way to travel when you’re stuck on the wrong continent. That’s why I included a track by good friends of mine from Montreal as a closer. I overwork myself making these, so this is probably my last one for a while. I’m happy because this is the closest I’ve gotten to a perfect mix.
If it were to be drawn what would it look like?
It would most likely be a sprawling, mossy forest floor with twigs, gnarled roots, stones with lichen on them, a few noisy critters and a dapple of pale sunlight under a pine overhang.
If it were a food what would it be?
At first I thought it would be Pettu, a bread made of pine bark. But it is a little bit more sprawling and luxurious, so it might be a lingonberry pie.
What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?
In a forest, feet by a stream.
What should we be wearing?
Some boxy bark shoes and a hide garment, or a lace kaftan and some fly-eyes.
Where was it recorded?
I recorded this in Luxembourg-Ville, and added parts by the calming blue of Louhivesi, where I spend summers.
Are you on the same wavelength as the boomtown rats or do you actually like Mondays?
I like all the weekdays as they all bring something unexpected. I actually have no distinction between days, I’ve always worked through weekends either in a money job, or on personal goals.
Who got you hooked on electronic music?
My friend Thibau and I went to Detroit when we were in our early 20s. I had never been anywhere like it and the music and the drum-machine museum made a lasting impression. Meeting locals was the most amazing thing about it.
Who would you say are your biggest influences and what are you hoping to achieve with your music?
My biggest influence is Baroque and choral music and I hope to achieve tonal catharsis. My ambition is to self-soothe through music.
What were your original aspirations as a musician and how do you think you're shaping up?
I wanted to play around five small shows in Glasgow. Then I toured the EU and North America and will hopefully get to do that again at some point. I’ve been invited to Japan and Mexico so I will be heading over as soon as logistics are a thing again. I’m incredibly thankful for everything, stasis is a good way to take stock and think about where to wander next.
What was the first electronic record you heard and how did it make you feel?
I got Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion on CD as a teen and it made me feel like there was musical life and interesting artistry out there. I was not allowed to go to gigs during the week and that made me feel stifled, especially given that Luxembourg had some great bands come into town. Listening to MWPP in my tiny room made me feel optimistic about exploring the world.
How does your brain work when making music? How does it work when you aren’t?
When doing most things, I strive to be logical and analytical. It makes me feel more sane when I am not controlled by my feelings. When making music, I work less logically. Some of it is an inexplicable need to create. It feels like being guided by a kind of god. My music is a response to that feeling, I let it guide my musical drift. My producing has acquired a logical swiftness as a secondary aide to that temperament. I tend to make something really good when ominous things are happening to me. It is in the interests of the music industry to hurt my feelings. I’m only kidding. I feel better after finishing a piece, when the world is back to its logical, simplistic self.
What were the first and last records you bought?
I bought Dean Blunt’s The Redeemer at The Arches for a tenner and remember thinking that it was expensive. The last one I remember getting is Suzanne Ciani & Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Sunergy for playing a free gig at Commend in Manhattan. There were such cool people there but I was paralysed by my nerves and the fact that I had slept on a roof two nights prior.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
I’m obsessed with online courses, specifically in tech. I’m aware music isn’t going to pay the bills in the long run, nor do I enjoy the uncertainty of this line of work. I’m trying to break into a more wholesome space where I will be remunerated more fairly. I have to renounce some of the creative bliss but I’m keen to do something more concrete and sought after. I’m thoroughly motivated and I think that this is a reasonable path to take.
If you could travel in time... where in time would you go? Why?
I would love to go back to New York in the 80s, explore and meet writers, it seemed like a lot of adventuring and also quite difficult. There is something about the megalomania, the bigheadedness of the city that fascinates me. Hope was in the undercurrent, and some really greedy plans were afoot for the city. In many ways it was a time just like ours, maybe with less tech and more leather.
Am I excited to dive into the challenges that I have lined up for the week?
Yes. I’m teaching myself new skills and I hope to progress with those. But it’s also 30 degrees out so I am trying to be nice about it.
Am I looking forward to engaging with the people I am meeting or working with?
I work from home, which is an exciting prospect because I like being on my own.
Am I going to my dream job?
Yes, being self-employed is made for me. I’m a self-starter and I get to decide what I do each and every day. That’s bliss.
Am I being compensated fairly for the value I bring to my job?
No, but I’m confident that I can change that.
Do I feel energised, rested, and confident?
No, but I think that feeling those feelings would allow me to become too lulled into the comfort of where I am, when in fact I could be going a lot further.
If you were trapped on a desert island with one other person, who would you choose? How long would it be before you eat them?
I would try my best to be there on my lonesome. I would look into fishing and seaweed foraging.
Your doctor says you need more exercise....what do you take up for exercise?
A doctor would tell me to calm down. I work incessantly, and maintain a regular exercise pattern. I would take up climbing as an extra. It fascinates me in that it possesses people. Also, anything that’s fairly accessible and can be done alone is fair game.
What's your answer to everything?
Anything else we need to discuss?
I have had three records out since the start of 2020, support the labels by purchasing them below.
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