Maria BC Shares New Single 'Still'

This ghostly, nostalgic single arrives ahead of their upcoming full-length, Spike Field, out October 20 via Sacred Bones.

By: Sep. 27, 2023
Maria BC Shares New Single 'Still'

On Maria BC’s dual August singles, “Amber” and “Watcher," the Bay Area singer-songwriter pushed their ambient-folk formula into pastoral new terrain. Their new track out today, “Still,” builds on this, carried by reverberant guitar and a wistful piano motif that BC composed as a teenager.

“Raised at an empty table, a backlit door / Still in the blue moon on the floor,” they sing on the outro. “Still” is addressed to BC’s childhood self, and pays surrealistic homage to the ins-and-outs of the songwriting process. This ghostly, nostalgic single arrives ahead of their upcoming full-length, Spike Field, out October 20 via Sacred Bones.

Maria BC will be making their EU / UK live debut this fall, and has also announced a string of November US headline, West Coast tour dates.

On the track, "Still" Maria BC offers: "I wrote the piano part for this track when I was 16 and never forgot it. The original song I wrote then was awful, but in the years since, I’ve wanted to resuscitate the piano riff for something, to write a new melody on top of it. I thought it might be healing in some way, since I struggle to feel compassion for my past self/selves and in fact often find myself wishing I could mindwipe anybody who ever knew me - a clean slate! Would if I could, but I can’t.

So, how to move on? A lot of trial and error, then I found the melody for “Still” and these lyrics came out that seemed to describe the process of writing the music, these lyrics addressed to my childhood self, like, “I haven’t forgotten you. You’re still with me."

In the early 1990s, a team of linguists, engineers, anthropologists, and archaeologists were tasked with constructing a type of communication that could transcend time. How might we converse with future civilizations when language may evolve or dissolve entirely?

The result yielded the design of spike fields; a strange construction of granite thorns bursting from the earth to alert its viewers to the deadly uninhabitability of nuclear waste disposal sites. For Maria BC (they/them), this state of temporal focus molds the wanderings on their second full length album Spike Field. How do we connect with the weathered shadow of our experience, while envisioning the self a few steps ahead of us?

Spike Field amplifies the conflicting nature of wanting to both kill and honor our past. It investigates failures of communication, within ourselves and with others, by unfurling the catharsis of reckoning with what has gone before. While their debut album Hyaline (2022, Father/Daughter) explored grief and anxiety through a series of character-led accounts, Spike Field recognizes that our histories will continue to lurk below the surface until we decide to break through the soil.

“I had a very strong tendency to want to destroy any previous version of me,” they explain. “I wanted to erase the memories of anyone who knew me more than a year ago. It’s the effect of shame.”

To work against, or rather, alongside this shame, Maria BC decided to try and incorporate every and all parts of themselves into the LP. On the album’s title track, the Ohio-born, Oakland, CA-based artist imagines what the sign would read at a spike field, warning its viewers of the waste below the foundation.

This waste, Maria BC says, is akin to our past but still, we must reckon with it in order to move on. Hazy, lethargic tolls dance alongside echoing keys, as their irregularity begins to softly shift into a sole, sparkling instrumentation. It’s not until the song’s final moments that Maria BC’s vocals enter into the arrangement, as if giving themselves space to form the right language.

“Still” resurrects a piano accompaniment that Maria BC wrote when they were 16, in an effort to extend a tenderness to their previous artistic explorations. “Even though I'm absolutely humiliated by the work that I made when I was a teenager, I also wanted to see if I could alleviate that fear by looking for seeds of sounds in past work,” they say.

These seeds extended a wider sonic approach to Spike Field as a whole, as Maria BC soaked their arrangements in a denser and more kaleidoscopic way than any of their previous work. Describing it as “filling out the sonic space,” Spike Field builds on the intimacy of Hyaline through liberating instrumental embellishments.

The artist has slowly opened up their process over the years, moving from the one-room recording process of 2021 EP Devil’s Rain––careful not to disturb their roommates or neighbors––to the untreated apartment wanderings of Hyaline, Spike Field was recorded in the home of a family friend. The home featured an out-of-tune baby Steinway piano, complete with squeaky hammers and strange, sporadic sounds. The piano is sprinkled throughout the album, and features extensively on opener “Amber,” showcasing Maria BC’s looser, more extensive arrangements.

The song flickers with electronic wonder, like a wave seeking out its station, before crashing into the angelic choral introduction of “Watcher”. Maria BC enlisted the help of two of their closest friends to add vocals, decorating a story of watching a loved one go through a painful, difficult time. “It's about confronting other people's pain and figuring out how best to show up for them,” they explain.

Strings, plucked guitar and buzzing swells accompany their classically-trained mezzo-soprano voice on “Return to Sender,” a song that focuses on the frustrations and turmoil of being unable to reach a loved one––both physically and emotionally. The beautifully dark underbelly of “Mercury” investigates those who seek out self-destructive behavior in order to kill off a part of themselves, but how these experiences, especially when done communally, can be ecstatic, wonderful healing moments.

As “Mercury” transitions into closer “Spike Field,” we’re reminded that we cannot kill off the path that has gone before because it lives with us, in the ground, in our foundation. “It's whether we want to listen to it, face it, coexist with it or not,” they say.

Spike Field reminds us that despite our best efforts to bury certain aspects of ourselves, they will always lurk beneath the surface. Instead of ignoring the seeds striving to break through, we can point to these places with a curious grace, concocting a language that transcends words to converse with our previous selves.

Maria BC pieces together juxtaposing sonic landscapes and oscillating vocals to represent the thread of miscommunication, or the failure of words, that weaves throughout the album, transforming it into a distinct and ever-evolving sonic tongue. If we listen, we might find something new within ourselves.

Listen to the new single here:


10/25 - Lisbon, Portugal @ ZDB
10/26 - Brussels, Belgium @ Botanique
10/27 - Amsterdam, Netherlands @ London Calling
10/28 - London, UK @ MIRRORS Festival
10/29 - Bristol, UK @ Crofters Right
10/30 - Glasgow, UK @ Glad Cafe
10/31 - Leeds, UK @ Headrow House
11/01 - Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen
11/02 - Brighton, UK @ Mutations Festival

11/03 - London, UK @ Rough Trade West (in-store)

11/29 - Portland, OR @ Show Bar

11/30 - Seattle, WA @ Vera Project

12/06 - Los Angeles, CA @ Gold Digger

12/07 - Oakland, CA @ Bandcamp Oakland

Photo Credit: Damien Maloney


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