Originally from Ecuador, Maria Usbeck first began her music career in Florida during the early 2000s as the vocalist for the band Selebrities. Within five years, the band had set off to New York and eventually parted ways, but the singer’s ambitions didn’t end there. A reunion with her native heritage ignited the start of a solo project under Brooklyn label Cascine, with a debut LP titled Amparo, co-released by Swedish label Labrador and co-produced with Chairlift's Caroline Polachek. Usbeck’s decision to write the record entirely in Spanish was drawn from inspirations traveling around Argentina, Chile, Easter Island, Ecuador, Spain, Morocco, Portugal, Costa Rica, and L.A.
“I wanted to go places where I could speak in Spanish," she says. "I learned some Tahitian while I was in Easter Island. One day I made a connection with a woman, who said 'Iorana' to me, which means hello, and I greeted her back only because I had learned that word the day before. I realized we wouldn’t have shared that moment if I did not know how to speak her language,” Usbeck says. “People would just play music and be so happy. It made me want to keep making music myself,” she added, lifting her glass of rosé. “It’s so important to go back to your mother tongue, and your mother’s food, too. This weather is perfect for rosé, no?”
Her ease almost made me feel like we were far from New York, much the same way her song “Uno De Tus Ojos” does. Stream her new music video below and read the rest of our conversation with the artist on embracing one’s individual identity.