For most, music is a passion, a love. For pop artist Marisa Maino, it’s as essential as the air she breathes. “My inspiration for music is constantly coming from all over the place - I’m always thinking about a million things at once. Writing is the only time that process slows down and lets me focus on one thought. Music is the only thing I can get in a clear thought about.” With a self-awareness and fearlessness those twice her age haven’t mastered, Maino’s developed a sound that truly encapsulates her persona: a quirky (and often humorous), upbeat delivery of messaging that’s refreshingly honest and youthful. As she prepares to introduce that sound with her new single “Hot”, due out November 17th, Maino remains vigilant of the higher calling a career in music begs. “I think that music (and art in general) is such a promotion of change, and there is a lot of power that comes with that. So many artists have so much power and capability in influencing the public. I’d like to see more artists using their platforms. So I want to make sure I always do everything I can to use music as a tool for positive change.”
Unlike most, Maino paved her own path, landing in the pop genre after years of dabbling in other art forms. “I started with a Russian ballet company - it was a lot like Broadway.” After a knee injury forced her to quit dance, and at the encouragement of a few show writers, Maino shifted her focus to acting and music. She moved to L.A. and began acting, but found casting directors plans for her to be too singular. “Everyone wanted me to try out for comedy shows and told me that I couldn’t act and sing.” Going with her gut, Marisa auditioned for X Factor as a vocalist. “At the time, X Factor was huge. I stole my mother’s computer in the cloak of night and signed up to audition.” Though she decided television wasn’t the path she wanted to take, it set the stage for Maino’s ultimate move to music.
Through the show and other auditions, Maino began getting referrals for co-writes. “I had a co-writer who wanted me to be a jazz singer, and talked to me about ‘not talking on stage.’ That’s when I realized ‘well, if I can’t be myself during a performance, that’s probably the kind of music I need to stay away from. I think my personality is just one of the reasons pop suits me so well.”
Now living in Nashville, Maino has settled into a sound she deems the perfect representation of who she is. “My sound is always going to be reflective of me - so quirky pop in a way. I think that as I get older, I can always have that ‘Adele vibe’ with the more serious tones. But at my age, I want to make sure my music stays young and vibrant. I want to make sure I live it, and that people feel young and youthful when they listen to my music.”
Drawing inspiration from fellow pop artists Hayley Williams (Paramore), Beyoncé, Rihanna, Fergie and Katy Perry, among others, she delights in the artists that are unapologetically themselves - and aren’t afraid to use their platform to promote social change. “I’m really inspired by those who do music because they love it - and not because they just want to be famous. There’s so much that we can do with music in the arts. Society is trying to grow in this but I sometimes feel like it doesn’t grow fast enough. Music has taught me so much. Listening to interviews with celebrities has taught me about living life and that’s not what you learn in the classroom. That’s something I’d love to give back.”