Maria Minerva usually comes across as an effortlessly cool synth-pop pin-up, but on the morning LUNA caught up with her she seemed a touch more Grandma than electro Goddess.
“You know those people who always make complaints? I think I’m going to turn into one of them!” she laughed.
The Estonian born/London based musician was irked at her local post office, which was supposed to open at 9am (thus allowing ample time for Minerva to post her package before returning home for our chat), but didn’t open until 9.30am.
“It’s the first time in my life I tried to get up to do everything… and have a nice start [to the day], but instead I just end up standing in the street with a box. So I want to make a complaint!”
If only everyone in the throes of a bad day could be this charismatic. Née Maria Juur, Minerva was genuinely delightful to speak to. Her answers, delivered in a breathy accent best described as a less-nasal variation on French, were frequently interrupted by bouts of girlish giggles, and peppered with the occasional swear word. She was also prone to wandering off on informative verbal tangents – our 20 minute chat includes musings on the movement of working class musicians in the sixties, and a brief lesson on the migratory history of Estonian people to Australia. Apparently, thousands of Estonians flocked to our shores in recent years to take part in working holidays: as Minerva explained, “Even people who had really, really nice jobs back in Tallin, they went to Australia to do like a shitty job just to be somewhere where it’s nice, and they said, ‘I’d rather pick strawberries even though I have a Masters; I just want to be somewhere where the sun shines and people are really friendly’”.
Minerva, who moved to England to pursue a Masters of her own in Aural & Visual Cultures at the prestigious Goldsmiths University, will soon be heading Down Under for the first time herself. A whirlwind seven-stop tour will allow audiences throughout Australia and New Zealand to get a glimpse of her self-described “‘bedroom, dreamy girl music’”.
“I was just explaining [my music] to someone I met on the plane last week, and he misheard me – instead of girl, he heard goat.” There’s that laugh again. “Now I’m just telling everyone that I make dreamy goat music, which sounds ridiculous.”
The tour coincides with the release of Minerva’s sophomore album, Will Happiness Find Me? – the follow-up to 2011’s Cabaret Cixous which is sure to be another grimy, hazy, lo-fi avant-pop offering.
“[My music] started out very DIY and it still is,” Minerva elaborated. “I would say it’s ‘late night’– the majority of it is made late at night, [and] I don’t think that during the day it has the power to impose itself on people.
“People say that it’s sort of too amateur or too down-tempo, because I’m very bad at making beats,” she continued. “But there’s a huge wave of this kind of music right now and I think I started at the right time. I mean, this kind of stuff is still going to be around in 10 years, but by no means will I be doing the exact same thing [then].”
The Not Not Fun/100% Silk alum doesn’t mind being part of this wave; nor does she mind the fuss the media often make of her standing as a woman making electronic music.
“When I started making music I thought you needed to be a bit of an eccentric, or have this extra charisma that relates to your, I don’t know, appearance and style or whatever,” she admitted. “[But] I think it has only done me good, the fact that I’ve been a bit, like, goofy and vain (laughs). When you’re a girl and you’re doing stuff solo, it’s actually a very good starting point to have, even though you’re supposed to say that you don’t like being categorised as a woman, blahblahblah.
“I think, all in all it’s actually easier for solo women to get attention than it is for anyone else doing music; and this is what you want, at least when you start out – you want to be noticed and you want to be heard. So I don’t really mind; I can wear a short skirt, and I can wear sweatpants – I don’t give a shit about what people think,” she laughed.
She’s needn’t be too concerned as to what people think, though. Alongside peers Laurel Halo, Nite Jewel and Grimes, Minerva has been earning praise from across the globe; still, she embraces the fact that not everyone will appreciate her eclectic musical stylings.
“I know a lot of people like me who make music for people like me, so it’s a bit of… it’s just like a circle of giving and taking,” she said. “It’s funny: it’s really underground and independent but the audiences for this kind of music are, you know, the smartest audiences you can have; people who have the freedom to consume underground culture. I think it’s a massive privilege and I think more and more people who are producing it are very privileged themselves.
“I can’t really see myself doing a bigger crossover to like, ‘mainstream’,” she continued. “It depends on the music you make and the people who are willing to hear this kind of sonic language – there’s not too many of them around the world. It’s like small groups everywhere I go, I suppose – and that’s fine, I mean they’re the nicest people and I love people who come to me and say, ‘I’m doing my PhD on women in music, can you give me short interview?’ and I’m like, ‘yeah!’ (laughs) It’s not going to be a teenage girl in a bus stop in Hackney; she will never like my music, I’m afraid.”
That’s pretty much all Minerva wants out of her forthcoming Australian/NZ tour – the chance to meet her audience and see what life in Australia is really like. That, and to enjoy a nice view.
“I’m a big fan of just views because you don’t have time for anything,” she explained, “the only thing you can absorb is a view. [So] I stand there and maybe take a picture and something, so it sort of stays with you for a while.”
Friday, August 24 – Whammy Bar, Auckland
Saturday, August 25 – Medusa, Wellington
Sunday, August 26 – Maylands Yacht Club, Perth
Tuesday, August 28 – Format, Adelaide
Wednesday, August 29 – Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane
Thursday, August 30 – Goodgod Small Club, Sydney
Saturday, September 1 – The Toff in Town, Melbourne