'One Love, One World, One Marenation!'
Quickly redefining what it means to be a “rock star” with her full throttle audio visual approach to live performance, powerhouse songwriter and vocalist Maren — who just released “Hey You,” the supercharged first single from her debut album Marenation — appeared last summer on NBC’s “Star Tomorrow” and wowed none other than Grammy Award winning producer David Foster.
Despite the name of the show, thousands of awestruck fans across the country know the truth, however — Maren doesn’t need to wait till tomorrow. She’s already a star today. Though “Hey You” and the other tracks from Marenation will soon be available via all the major digital download sites—iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody—in addition to her website www.marenmusic.com, various tracks have already spun on XM Radio and episodes of MTV’s “The Hills.”
This summer, in lieu of a traditional tour, she’s joining up with Armed Forces Entertainment — the official Department of Defense agency for providing musical and other entertainment to U.S. military personnel overseas - and taking her dynamic new breed of rock and roll — a growing movement that can only be called “Marenation” — to our troops stationed throughout Asia (including Japan and Singapore), Alaska and Hawaii.
“I have been wanting to do my part for my country for a long time and Armed Forces Entertainment has finally given me the opportunity to do so in the best way I know how, through my skills and enthusiasm as a performer,” says Maren. “In the months before the tour begins, we’re doing a P.R. campaign to encourage both troop family members and all Americans to give these men and women a piece of home by communicating with them through the internet. People can post messages on a platform still to be determined such as Youtube or my website, and at some point during the set, we’ll air a specially selected recorded message from all the ones we receive for everyone to hear. Each week, people can tune in to my video blog to see if their message was featured in my live show."
Taking it from the top and what were your musical influences growing up and how many still factor into your music today? "Growing up I was highly influenced by the great entertainers of the 80’s and 90’s such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson. I was really drawn to the visual aspect of their performances which incorporated dance into their sets. As I grew up I discovered that I really loved intense rock music such as Linkin Park, Lacuna Coil, Evanescence but I knew that if I was going to perform, I couldn’t deny the dancer in me as well. It was at that point in my life, when I realized that I hadn’t seen any rock bands that were incorporating dance and the visual aspect of performance with rock music."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying your new CD, how would you yourself describe your sound? "I like to say if the Pussycat Dolls did rock music and there was only one of them then you would have a better understanding of what makes the Maren sound."
Your album title 'Marenation' is a very interesting choice, but was it always meant to be so self-proclaiming?! "Actually I have coined the word “Marenation” to mean determination. If you listen to the lyrics of the song “Marenation” the chorus is:
Stand Up Stand Out
It’s time to sing your anthem
Get Up Get Out
It’s time to show some action
Shout it Shout out,BR>
You’re a sensation
Stand Up Stand Out
That’s what I call “Marenation”
The song is encouraging others to sing their own anthem and that is what “Marenation” means."
It's been stated that you are redefining what it means to be a "rock star"! So, please explain to us the first 5 steps you have taken to accomplishing such a feat! "Well I’m not sure I can do it in 5 simple steps since there is nothing that simple or clear about redefining what it means to be a rock star. However, I can say that I am adding a new twist to the notion of “rock star.” When people go to a rock show, they expect to hear an intense strong band and indulge in the live energy of the music. However, at a Maren show, people get a little more than they are paying for. They get a full scale visual performance. I have dancers that perform many numbers with me. We use various props from cages, to chairs to wardrobe racks (you have to see it to believe it.) It is a very provocative and energetic show that adds a new dimension to the typical live band performance."
Please tell us more about your upcoming trip overseas to entertain the troops as part of Armed Forces Entertainment "We are in the process of fine tuning our show for Armed Forces Entertainment where we will be visiting various military bases in Alaska, Hawaii, Japan, Singapore and Diego Garcia. We have wanted to give back to our country for a long time now and Armed Forces Entertainment has given us the platform to that in the best way we know how, through performance. I know I also speak for my band and the other five people that are coming with us on this tour when I say we are very excited to meet the men and women that fight for our country and thank them for all their hard work."
How easy (or hard) is it to constantly create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderment's/accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? "I think to pressure myself into achieving the feat of creating a sound that “surpasses the musical wonderment’s that preceded it” is somewhat a means to an end because it is virtually impossible to come up with anything original at this point. However, what makes something unique is the chemistry of the music with the specific artist that is performing it. Sometimes it’s not the person who is more skilled as a performer or singer that will become successful. Sometimes it’s the one with the most heart. That’s not to say I don’t believe that my band and I don’t meet the criteria. It’s just that we have such a passion for music and performance and I think that shines through in every moment of our work and our show. The IT factor is hard to describe but when you see IT you KNOW it’s there."
Please tell us more about a couple of the more important songs on your new album and what they mean to you personally? "Well I have already talked about “Marenation” which seems to be the theme of my album. The other song that holds a special place in my heart is “Dare To Dream.” It continues on with this notion of marching to your own drum and pursuing your dreams no matter what people say. In this day and age, we are so pressured by society in so many ways that it’s “daring” to even think of a dream you might have. It’s never too late to fight for it and this song is the first song I ever wrote on the piano and that fight was what I was experiencing when I wrote this song."
Would you ever go back to be part of The Slam Girls?! "I loved the girls I worked with in The Slam Girls. I still keep in touch with some of them. That project was a lot of fun and was a very valuable experience for me. It was the beginning of my career as a performer. However, like all great learning institutions there comes a time when you graduate and move on to your next degree. For me it’s this solo album and the new music that I am writing with my band Orlando Mestre (Guitar), Carl Buena(Bass), Tyler Zarzeka (Drums)."
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today ... and why?! "Well funny you ask that question because I asked myself that question when preparing for this Armed Forces Tour. They had asked us to perform some covers in our set and the song that really came to mind as a great one to reinvent was “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul."
Lastly, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! "Sure who doesn’t! They are so cute and wobbly."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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