Interview: Marinho Dives into her Intimately Vulnerable Debut Album ‘~’

Marinho © Marta Olive
Marinho opens up about her burgeoning artistry, processing emotions through music, and the ups and downs of her debut album ~, an intimate, confessional, and deeply vulnerable introduction.
Stream: ~ – Marinho




So let me keep that in mind for the next heartbreak – that the memory of pain, it can turn into a good time.

Filipa Marinho’s debut album always seems to end too early for me: As the song “Freckles” fades into the conclusive “Outro,” I find myself wishing I could dwell in the alternative/indie folk world for just a little while longer. At the same time, it’s hard to see what more the Portuguese artist could have added to her 28-minute release: An intimate, confessional, and deeply vulnerable introduction full of nuance and character, Marinho’s ~ [pronounced “tilde”] captures the raw friction at the heart of our broken, emotional experience.

~ - Marinho

~ – Marinho

Littered with moving, thoughtful, and empowering lyrics (such as the above, taken from the song “Window Pain”), ~ is the first full-length album by Lisbon-based alternative artist Marinho (out October 18, 2019 via Street Mission Records). In premiering lead single “Ghost Notes” back in March of this year, Atwood Magazine observed “a young singer/songwriter easing into her skin while overcoming insecurities and uncertainties – the specters of a not-so-distant past,” praising the music itself as “a reflection on transformation and change; of one chapter closing and another one beginning.”

A song sung with pain to a former love, “Ghost Notes” offers a faithful lens into ~ as a whole: Marinho holds nothing back in her poetic, half-hour upheaval. The reflective and often quiet record engulfs its listeners in a dim-lit world of hazy guitars and childhood memories – some good, some bad. “~ is about accepting that life is made of ups and downs,” the artist says. “It’s about transitioning into someone that looks inwards to resolve faulted emotions, instead of searching for resolution in other people. It’s about the search for healing.”

Marinho has been open about growing up in an emotionally abusive home, recognizing that much of her music is a reflection on love and rejection, acceptance, fear and abandonment, and so on. Her song “I Give Up and It’s Ok” offers insight into part of her worldview, finding her relinquishing control on certain ideals and finding strength in the person she is today:

a billion grains make up the reddish sandy ground
this mountain is the prettiest that i have ever found
all along i was searching for nothing
all the truths blown away by the insular wind
and as i fight my way up
i give up and it’s ok
i thought i treated myself kind
thought i could bear it all with a small mind
when all along i was looking at something
just don’t know how to give up my ways
– “I Give Up and It’s Ok,” Marinho

In our interview below, Marinho explains how writing is her way of processing emotions. Throughout her album, we watch as she untangles a complex web of thoughts and feelings. This comes to life in the artist’s particularly moving song “Freckles,” which looks at life from youth to old age and attempts to understand the relationships between our past and present lives.

this is just a part of being lonely
this is just a part of being lonely
and when the freckles take over my body
when the freckles take over my body
acceptance is a currency
and we’re the lower class
emotionally poor since our infancy
raised by kids with no abilities
momma always said I was an easy birth
– “Freckles,” Marinho


Perhaps what makes ~ such a vivid experience is the level of honesty and fullness of self that Marinho brings to the fore in her music. She injects a library of faults and strengths, highs and lows into this singular encapsulation of a soul on the mend – slowly healing, one day and one song and one cut at a time. Sure, ~ may sometimes feel like it ends too soon, but it is also a perfect length for the story Marinho needed to tell here: One of release, personal growth and recovery, self-confidence and knowing. Her debut marks the end of a turbulent first chapter, and the beginning of something altogether new and different; and while we can only guess where she’ll go from here, the beauty of ~ is that can revisit any part of Marinho’s initial outpouring whenever we feel the need.

Marinho opened up to Atwood Magazine about her burgeoning artistry, the ups and downs of her debut album, processing emotions, and more: Dive into our exclusive interview below, and stream ~ out now!

Life is a series of ups and downs. For me, there’s a comforting feeling in accepting that. Everything is temporary and everything is part of the same energy.

Stream: ~ – Marinho



MEET MARINHO

Atwood Magazine: Hey Marinho, thank you so much for speaking with me today! With your debut album so close to release, what’s going through your mind right now?

Marinho: Oh thank you for taking the time and supporting the album. To be honest it hasn’t really sunk in that I’m about to release my very first album. It’s kinda crazy how a whole year of your life can amount to that. That being said, I’m very proud of myself and everyone involved!

What was your musical upbringing like?

Marinho: My musical journey led me to not believe in guilty pleasures. Since I was a baby there was always a lot of jazz and ’60s folk music around the house. For example, when I was between 4 and 6, my favorite song in the whole world was Egberto Gismonti’s ‘Palhaço’ (spotify link here). The kids’ laughter, the melody, the way the soft drums kick in and how the song builds up. I loved it! I used to sit on the floor, in front of my dad’s giant stereo, and listen to it for hours. But I also spent many afternoons listening to The Lion King’s OST or the Spice Girls’ first two records.

In my teenage years I was well into The OC and that show shaped a lot of my current music taste, introducing me to artists like Sufjan Stevens, Jeff Buckley, Death Cab For Cutie, Cat Power, Sun Kil Moon, Stars, Rilo Kiley, and many other gems. I have a very eclectic music taste; it’s hard to pinpoint where all of that came from.

You’ve been very open about growing up in an emotionally abusive household; how does the story of your life translate into your music?

Marinho: My writing is my way of processing emotions. It’s how I talk to myself to overcome and accept certain pains. So it’s only natural that certain life events are going to impact my music, whether it’s cryptically or explicitly the lyrics or even the sonic textures I choose to translate a certain feeling.

Do you see music as an escape, or an indulgence, or something else entirely?

Marinho: It’s all of that. Sometimes it’s a need for pouring out emotions. Sometimes it’s an escape from reality. Sometimes it’s just fun.

Why have you named your debut album ~? What, if anything, is the overarching theme or message of this record?

Marinho: Life is a series of ups and downs. For me, there’s a comforting feeling in accepting that. Everything is temporary and everything is part of the same energy. It’s good to remember that, especially in hard times. “~” symbolizes that up and down movement.

And the album was born out of my own personal growth and transitioning into someone that’s more in tune with their feelings, understanding where they came from and how they take control of one’s life. Owning your emotions is very freeing and that’s what I believe the album is mostly about.

Do you feel you could have made this album five years ago? Why is it special to now, and this moment?

Marinho: No way! Five years ago I’d only be writing about how some ex-girlfriend had cheated on me or something. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and a lot of my favorite songs were born out of heartbreak, but I’m glad that now my writing goes deeper into my inner self and doesn’t just scratch the surface of how others relate to me.

In premiering your debut “Ghost Notes,” I was struck by your openness about insecurities and uncertainties, and by your complete surrender in song. How did you learn to write like this, and how would you describe your approach to the songwriting process?

Marinho: Thank you! I’m a very emotional person and have generally always felt things very deeply. Sometimes that backfires and limits my vision, other times it’s a blessing to be able to go deep into thought and introspection. Usually the songwriting comes from wanting to say something I can’t quite say in any other form, so I think maybe that’s why it comes out with such vulnerability.

“Ghost Notes” certainly made a powerful and lasting impression. Why did you opt for this song as your debut single?

Marinho: It’s a delicate song and I wanted that to be my introduction as an artist.

I love that you bookend the record in a gorgeous intro and outro. “There will be no pain at all,” you sing in the record’s lead-in. These seem to set the stage for the intimacy within; what was your vision for them?

Marinho: That’s funny because to me, the intro starts off with a premise that if we reach a certain goal, whether futile or meaningful, we’ll finally be whole. And that once we get to that finish line, all our troubles will be done with. As if we’re climbing a mountain and at it’s top we’ll look down at our frustrations and heartbreaks and they’ll automatically seem smaller from a distance. But now that you said that, I realised those lyrics kind of set the tone for the record — to try and search for a higher self instead of searching for some external goals and validation.

Why do you feel the line “no pain at all” resonates for you? Why is it important?

Marinho: Doesn’t it resonate for everyone? Pain is inevitable and we spend our lives trying to get away from it.

I believe in the strength and significance of album openers; to that end, why do you introduce your debut (following the intro) with the song, “I Give Up and It’s Ok”?

Marinho: I always knew this track would be a continuation of the intro, due to what I wanted to say. And how ‘I Give and It’s Ok’ even picks up on the same music note that ‘Intro’ ends. This is a song about letting go of your idealized self and starting to make peace with what really matters to you. I see no better way of initiating the album’s journey.

With a song like this, did you go into the songwriting process knowing you wanted to write a song about personal ideals and self-perception, or did this vision develop as you continued to pen the track?

Marinho: I’d written the first half of the lyrics even before there was a song for it. And then it was only after the instrumental part was done in the studio that I went back to the poem and felt that it matched the music perfectly. But I always knew I wanted to write about my experience, inspired by my failed attempt to climb a volcano in the Azores and transporting that into bigger ideas of giving up.

~ is a heavily diverse affair, musically; did you consciously seek to incorporate so many styles into your record, or is this merely a natural display of your interests and influences?

Marinho: It happened naturally. I’m not sure future albums will be so sonically diverse but I’m happy with the different sounds in this one, which reflects how complex and eclectic my music tastes can be.

I find “Freckles” to be absolutely fascinating. What is this song about, for you?

Marinho: Thank you, it’s currently my favorite on the album. It mirrors a very vulnerable time when I was looking into my childhood and how my upbringing shaped the adult I am today. It’s about disappointment but also about accepting that life is like a tilde (“~”, the album title) — with ups and downs. And by the end of it, when our skin is filled with aging freckles, it’ll all have been worth it. I hope.

Marinho © Marta Olive

Marinho © Marta Olive

Why do you close on the acoustic “Outro”, and what is the personal significance of this song?

Marinho: It’s the same song as the intro track but recorded as I wrote it, just me and a guitar. A more naked and true way to say goodbye to the album. An ode to all the mountains we keep wanting to climb.

What are your favorite moments on this record? Do any parts surprise you now, or still feel fresh?

Marinho: “Freckles” still feels very fresh because it was the last one we recorded and it almost didn’t make it on the album. “Joni” still surprises me with it’s feel of credits-rolling-at-the-end-of-a-movie (is that a thing? haha). And I love how the bpm’s go up in the middle of “I Give Up and It’s Ok.” It’s hard to choose, so many things I love about the record.

What, for you, are any big takeaways from going through the recording process this time around? What would you change if anything about this experience?

Marinho: I don’t believe in changing the past. One of the learnings from this experience is that I can and always should go deeper in my emotions when writing and singing vocal parts. But mostly, my takeaway is that I now know that this is something I can do. So the next one I’ll hopefully go into it with more confidence and ability to explore.

Releasing ~ feels like a big deal; there’s certainly tremendous emotional content throughout it. Is the album’s release cathartic in any ways? How if at all will that be a weight off of you?

Marinho: It is a big deal and I’m very grateful that there are people like you who found it is worth their time. I am still waiting for it all to sink in.

What are your personal goals and aims once the album is out?

Marinho: Just hope to touch people’s hearts and tour the album as much as I can.

Marinho © Marta Olive

Marinho © Marta Olive

Lastly, who should we be listening to right now; who should be on our radar?

Marinho: I’m loving Molly Sarlé’s record called ‘Karaoke Angel’. Also Big Thief’s new album, they’re probably my favorite band of the last few years and seem to never disappoint.

Thank you so much for taking the time with me, Marinho! I’m excited to see this out in the world!

Marinho: Thank you so much! Hope to speak again in the future.



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~ - Marinho

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📸 © Marta Olive

~

an album by Marinho

Moving on Gracefully with Marinho’s Debut “Ghost Notes”

:: PREMIERE ::


Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com