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An Interview, December 2008

I started working on a Charlottesville article a good two years ago, but it has only been recently that it has begun to jell. It seems like for every layer peeled back, three or four are discovered. Such it was for Mariana Bell. The name was familiar, but I could have easily passed her by and possibly would have if not for the intervention of Joia Wood, one of many of Charlottesville's seemingly hidden treasures. You have to talk with her, Joia said, and would not let it go just as Danny Schmidt would not let it go when he mentioned Joia. When I talked with Mariana, it was for the purpose of a little vignette, an article on her new album, Book, but when I typed out the transcript, it was obvious that I could not enhance what she had said. So here it is. Charlottesville, music and her new album, in her own words:

Q: I'm in Oregon. I've been on the West Coast all my life. Why haven't I heard of you before?

Mariana: Because it's tough to get wide acknowledgement in this day and age when there is so much good music. I think the Internet has allowed for a proliferation of talent that it makes it kind of hard to be known by so many people. The market is so much broader and you have to work every angle that you can to get recognition in even a small area, let alone a larger one.

Q: How frustrating is it for you?

Mariana: You called me on a good day. Today, it's not too frustrating because if you work hard enough at it, it does pay off. I just had my CD release show on Saturday and I was hoping that at least ten people would show up and they came out in droves. I was surprised and honored and flatter by the whole thing. It shows you that if you work hard and put out there what you want to get back, people will appreciate it. You have to create a community for yourself. There are hard days, definitely stressful times when you think that 90% of what you're doing doesn't matter, but the 10% that it does really makes it worth it.

Q: You seriously thought that maybe ten people would show?

Mariana: Yeah. Like every artist, I get insecure about what I'm doing. It's just so hard to know. Maybe there is something cooler going on that weekend. You never know. It was a cold night, it started snowing that day a little bit. I mean, you can't account for everything and you can only guilt-trip your friends so much, you know? To be honest, I didn't think only ten people would come, but I wasn't sure that the 140 or -50 which showed up would, so it was really, really wonderful.

Q: What venue?

Mariana: It was at a venue here called Is. It's a beautiful space that just recently got going a month or two ago. It's right in the heart of Charlottesville, a really cool spot. It's a club. Downstairs is a tapas restaurant and upstairs it's full music and bar.

Q: So you played above a topless restaurant. Did you play topless?

Mariana: Tapas! Tapas!

Q: Damn. I thought that would be pretty cool. That's too bad.

Mariana: Well, it would have made for a more interesting story.

Q: Hey, I could sell that to a ton of magazines. But I see that your bass player almost didn't make it?

Mariana: My bass player...? Yes! You already read my blog. Wow!

Q: Of course. I'm not going to call without doing some research.

Mariana: Well, of course I am flitting about like some little ADD social butterfly, so excited that all these people turned up. Two really good friends that I have had since kindergarten showed up and I hadn't seen them since at least high school graduation. They kind of surprised me. I said what are you doing here and they said ?We're here for you. We heard that you were playing.? So I was just having a great time. But in the background... the secret workings of my fabulous band... they were working behind the scenes so that I wouldn't flip out because my bass player wasn't there. I mean, I didn't even notice he was gone! But I'm glad they kept it under wraps because I probably would have had a heart attack.

Q: You take things too seriously evidently, eh?

Mariana: Aw, no, but not having a bass player show up for your CD release party when all of these people have paid eight dollars or whatever to be there... I wouldn't want that to happen. I was pretty confident that he would turn up anyway. I mean, you want to give people their money's worth if they make an effort to come out for you.

Q: Do you play out a lot?

Mariana: I try to. Yeah. Within reason of not over-saturating the market. We try to keep ourselves out there. Especially now that the full band is really getting going and it's the sound that I really like. It takes a couple of shots to find the musicians who understand where you want to be sonically and who really jibe together as a unit.

Q: Let's talk about that band. Who do you have besides Teswar?

Mariana: Teswar. Teswar Wood is I think one of the oldest members of the band. I've know him forever, since high school probably. I didn't mean oldest in age, I meant oldest within the band. He's fantastic. I have this wonderful kind of prodigy keyboard player named Grove Miller. He's just finishing up at UVA. I have two percussion/drummers--- when one can't do it, the other one fills in--- and they're both fantastic: Drex Weaver... his specialty is Latin music... he went to Berklee for that stuff. And James McLaughlin, who played Saturday... he's also very talented and plays all around with a lot of people and has his own projects and a recording studio. Ian Lawler is the most recent addition. He's my guitar player. He's extremely tasteful--- creates these landscapes sonically. He doesn't have to shred to prove that he's an amazing guitar player. He's really understated and wonderful support for the sounds we're reaching for.

Q: You were happy with the sound last night?

Mariana: I was. Luckily, I brought in my ringer sound guy, Mike Bullock, and I pretty much trust him with anything. It sounded great. Two dear friends of mine, violinist Julie Stoessel was there, and then Joia Wood, who is a powerhouse vocalist, very kindly lent me her voice doing backing vocals on some of the songs as well.

Q: Joia is the reason I contacted you.

Mariana: That's right. She briefly mentioned it, but I was a little too distracted with the show, but yeah. So you know how amazing she is.

Q: I have been very impressed with Joia. I figured she would never talk with me again if I didn't contact you, so know that I have been browbeat into this. I checked out a couple of the videos on YouTube.

Mariana: I hope they are the more recent ones. Some of them are a bit old.

Q: One was from South By Southwest from a couple of years ago, and the other was with Joia and Robin Wynn and Helen Horal. The a capella thing that you guys did at the Gravity.

Mariana: Man, that was such a fun time.

Q: Was the whole show a capella?

Mariana: No. That was sort of our finale. It was an in-the-round women musician's night and we each would play a song and talk about it and try to relate to each other, and we each learned a couple of the others' songs and sang backing vocals and harmonies. The video was our little encore, a special number.

Q: Does it happen often?

Mariana: Yeah. That group of ladies, plus or minus one depending upon schedules. We have gotten together a few times to some really nice, appreciative audiences here in town. I love it. I love singing with people who are so good at what they do on their own and then are so supportive of you. Even though it can be viewed as, oh, they're all chicks basically doing the same thing, we are all so different in our songs and our styles that it's really a varied and unique experience. But presenting a united front. You know what I mean?

Q: You grew up in Charlottesville, right?

Mariana: Sure did.

Q: Tell me why Charlottesville is home to so many good musicians.

Mariana: Well, I don't think I could even begin to make the definitive call on that. I could give you a couple of reasons that I could suppose. One has to simply do with the fact that the university is here. I think a college town is a place where art can be more readily appreciated. I just went to a visual arts show recently and I think it translates across the board that wherever there are young, educated and motivated people, there will be a burgeoning arts scene. There is also an undeniable appeal to the Dave Matthews heritage that we have here. ATO Records is based here, as well as Red Light Management and Coran Capshaw and, without giving that too much credit, I think it might be part of the draw for a lot of people. And there has been, for some reason, a parallel between New York and Charlottesville. I certainly have that connection, having gone to college in New York. Another reason is that the general trend in the music industry is that you now don't have to be in New York or Los Angeles or Nashville to do well and I think there is an overall freedom that people are feeling, to do what they want to do wherever they want to do it.

Q: But why do they want to be in Charlottesville?

Mariana: Because it's a cool town.

Q: You like it there.

Mariana: I do like it. I do get frustrated because six years in New York will put a different perspective on a smaller town, but Charlottesville is great. There are amazing restaurants, a good arts scene, good people, and beautiful backdrops. You have the Blue Ridge Mountains and it's just really pretty and a nice fun place to be.

Q: Do you feel like you're a part of Charlottesville, as regards the music scene?

Mariana: I do. And, again, you caught me on a good day after a very good weekend. I definitely feel that everybody has to have their niche and you need to work to find it, and I don't think any artist is ever going to feel 100% accepted, because we're hopefully always going to be challenging ourselves to stretch further and not settle. But that being said, there are any number of people I can call and make arrangement to play together, so I feel like there is a great network here that I have at my disposal. I would hope that the other people here feel the same way about it, in general.

Q: Do you find it harder to play Charlottesville than, say, New York? Does the fact that you know so many more people in Charlottesville make it a bit more daunting?

Mariana: It's just different, I think. I think that maybe in New York, because of the relative anonymity that you might have, you put fewer expectations on yourself because you can say, at least I'm in New York and I have a show. Maybe it's a little easier for me because on any given night in New York City, there are a million other things going on, so you're not going to take it personally. And here, because I know so many people, I do tend to take things a little harder if it doesn't go well. It can be frustrating. But conversely, it is just that much more rewarding when things go great here. Because there is so much less to do on any given night here, if people do choose to come and see you and come and support you, it feels that much better because they're your friends.

Q: When did you pick up the guitar?

Mariana: I started playing when I was about fifteen. I am now 26, although somewhere out there is a bio which says I am 22, which would be wrong. I just had an interview with a local paper here which said I was 22 and a couple of friends said, really? So that means you were in elementary school when we were all in high school.

Q: Whoever printed that is probably cringing as we speak.

Mariana: I hope not because it was such a nice article. It was really well-written.

Q: For us, though, it's like spelling someone's name wrong. We go, oh God, how did I do that? But it happens.

Mariana: Well, I always like them to err on the side of younger.

Q: Was that the Hook or the C-ville Weekly?

Mariana: No, it was The Daily Progress.

Q: The Daily Progress! Boy, you have hit the big-time.

Okay, let's talk about this new album. Your label?

Mariana: Well, it's not even on a label. I couldn't even be bothered to create a label, but yes. It is independently released by me.

Q: And the EP and first album also?

Mariana: Also.

Q: Los Angeles? Why Los Angeles?

Mariana: At some point, it came down to the people I wanted to work with and what made the most sense with their schedules. One of the main producers is in New York and the other is in L.A. It worked out where the studio in California had more access to the people we wanted to work with in terms of session players as well as the instruments, the rigs and the board that we wanted to engineer it with. They were all there, plus spending the summer in California is a hell of a way to do it. It was pretty fun.

Q: It took the whole summer?

Mariana: Yeah. I think I was there for six weeks almost and then came back and did the vocals in New York.

Q: Did you feel any exuberance being in L.A.? Did it change your music at all?

Mariana: I don't know if it was being in L.A., per se, but being in the studio...

Q: What studio did you use?

Mariana: It's called Angel House West. I'd done some studio work before--- obviously. I have two other releases. But I had never done anything where it was seriously concentrated. Every single day, we were in there from twelve to fourteen hours and in a very focused way. It was really, really cool, but some days it was exhausting and I would find myself falling asleep on the couch because I don't really care that much about one drum sound, which might take three hours or whatever. That's why you have producers. But it was a very invigorating experience, in that sense, to almost give myself permission to take it seriously. And when you pay for studio time, you had better take it seriously. So in that sense, it was definitely invigorating and exciting.

Q: Who produced?

Mariana: At Angelhouse Studios, it was produced by Andrew Kapner and Alex Wong.

Q: And how did you find them?

Mariana: I had known Alex from the music scene in New York since my sophomore year in college--- since 2002, I'd say. He is someone I deeply respect on a music and professional level as well as a personal level. I met him through a project called The Animator, so he's a multi-instrumentalist/songwriter/producer. Through him, I met Drew and I immediately knew that I wanted both of them because they have extremely different perspectives. They helped me keep a balance and keep the ideas flowing, versus a one-on-one, me-and-Alex or me-and-Drew kind of a thing.

Q: They were there at the same time, or was one in New York and the other in L.A.?

Mariana: They were both there every day.

Q: When you went to New York, who was there?

Mariana: Both of them.

Q: So they flew to the respective cities to work on it?

Mariana: That's right. Drew was in L.A. and Alex was in New York.

Q: How long did it take to get the vocals down?

Mariana: I think it took about ten days.

Q: Did you do any vocals in Los Angeles?

Mariana: I think we tried to start on it and then someone had to go off and do something else and schedules just did not permit, so we decided to do the vocals all in one go back in New York.

Q: So the basic tracks were handled in L.A. Did you do any instrumental work at all in New York?

Mariana: No. Just vocals and backing vocals. I don't know how much of the record you heard, but there's a lot of fairly involved vocal arrangements. A couple of the songs were hard for me to wrap my head around. One song would sometimes take an entire day.

Q: Why is that? You couldn't let loose?

Mariana: It wasn't that. It just takes X amount of takes to warm the voice up and then X amount of takes for them to get what they want. It was good be be with perfectionists, too. They coached me through and reminded me that whereas I was in a tiny little vocal booth, I was still singing about what I cared about and singing the words that I wrote which matter to me. And sometimes part of it was not letting loose, having one of those days or whatever.

Q: Is it hard to let loose in a little square box with a microphone stuck in your face?

Mariana: Sometimes, it is. Sometimes you just miss the crowd and the people and your band helping you out. You feel a bit like a karaoke singer sometimes. I feel lucky that I have a little theater training and was able to picture myself and put myself in that scenario so that I could create the atmosphere that I was after. Sometimes, I had to go out and run around a little bit so I could come back in, fresh.

Q: When you went to Los Angeles, did you have a completed idea of what you wanted on the album, or did you go with a variety of possibilities in your head, or did you get there and then decided the direction? What was the process? Did you talk it over with your producers and say, here are the songs and then they made suggestions before, or did that happen in the studio?

Mariana: We had emailed back and forth with the songs, as a semi-pre-production step. I did not have any preconceived notion at that time other than I wanted it to be cool. I wanted it to sound really good and sonically have a lot of variety while being true to what each song is rather than trying to make every song fit under some cohesive umbrella. In that sense, we were pretty open-ended, which was cool because as we started, we could put down a scratch track and work around it. We might say, hey, this song might sound good with a trombone, and then we'd do it. That was really freeing and lots of fun.

Q: After you were in the studio, were there any drastic changes? Was there maybe a song that you thought would be a certain way and then it turned out completely different?

Mariana: Let me think about that. I... yeah. Probably a lot more than I am willing to admit. There were a couple of songs we left bare-bones and beautiful--- vocals, guitar, cello, done. It was nice to retain the integrity of those original songs. And there were a couple that I had been playing with my band and when they took the songs into the studio, they flipped them upside down and made them whole other songs. It was great because to have someone else's opinion is part of what pushes you to stretch in new directions ands hopefully that's why one would hire someone else. So, yeah, there were a few songs that they came at from left field and surprised me and I liked them, and sometimes I'd put my foot down and say, nope, that's too far and then we'd come back and find a compromise.

Q: The ones that you did change, are you now changing the arrangement with the band?

Mariana: I would say we were doing a mish-mash of both. We're going back to what the record sounds like and modifying it for the instrumentation we have. I can't have a permanent slide-trombone player in my band and don't think I would. In that sense, we are trying to recreate some of the basic ideas with the instrumentation we have. It's modification with new ideas and a fresh perspective.

Q: Are you taking the same lineup to New York when you play?

Mariana: Unfortunately, Joia can't come up with us, but everybody else will be there plus another couple of singers will join me in the City. Which should be really fun.

Q: Is it going to be kind of a New York CD release party?

Mariana: That's exactly what it is and I am very excited.

Q: You sound really pumped. Is it because of last night, or is it because you have endorphines flowing through your system?

Mariana: It could be a little bit of both. I'm just in a good mood today. Again, the negatives creep in now and again, but if you think about it too much, you'll just dig yourself a self-sabotaging hole. That happens all too easily.

Q: You've done that before, I assume.

Mariana: Oh, yeah. Everybody has, I think. Maybe not. Maybe some people think they're awesome all the time, but.....

Q: The sense that I'm getting after talking to a bunch of people is that the scene is so supportive, it is hard to stay in a funk. That when you start to feel down on yourself, there are musicians who look you up and say, why aren't you out here doing more.

Mariana: I would agree with that. If nothing else, I have an accountability that I feel toward my band. If I would up and bail, they would say, well, what was all this work for? They're upset when I bail on them because they like doing it too. Friends have asked me when my next show is and I have to say I haven't booked one yet. There is that sense of responsibility to the people around you and it's great because it keeps you fired up. It keeps you on your game and hopefully on top of things. Like when they asked if you have any new stuff and you think, I haven't written anything lately, and it makes you motivated. If I didn't have that, I'd probably be a couch potato.

Q: Do you tend to do that occasionally? To just sit around and maybe get away from it as much as you can?

Mariana: Yeah. Sometimes you do want to. Sometimes it's daunting and scary. I don't have management and I don't have a record label, so there are days when I am sick of it, of all the work that it takes to feel even mildly successful. Then again, as I said, on the days that it works, it all comes together in a perfect storm of PR and radio time and interviews and other things. It just all works out suddenly.

Q: Are you getting radio interviews?

Mariana: Yes. I was just on 106.1 The Corner, one of our local fabulous radio stations. They are really supportive. They will even call me and say, hey, we're doing something down at a festival or something, would you like to come down and do a set. They've been great and they've been pushing the new record right up to the release. They gave me an interview. It's nice. In fact, it's really wonderful.

Q: Does it surprise you when people come to you, or is this just part of the business that you're used to?

Mariana: It's emotionally surprising, but professionally it is what you would hope. Because this system you are raised in--- like at school, if you do your homework and work hard and study, you will get good grades. There is this give and take which equals a certain amount of awards. But with music and everything creative, you don't really get that. There is no ladder with specified rungs to climb and basically what it comes down to is that if you work really hard, it still might not work out. So the schoolgirl in me is saying, I'm working hard, therefore there should be a good turnout. In that sense, I hope that it pays off in some way, but the real payoff for me is the happiness I have just being onstage.

Q: You get a real thrill out of playing?

Mariana: Yeah, it's really fun to be up there.

Q: Do you get nervous? Besides worrying about your bass player showing up?

Mariana: I don't really get nervous anymore. I get a pre-show anxiety which doesn't allow me to focus on any one person for too long of a time, but that stage fright thing left me quite a few years ago.

Q: But you used to feel it?

Mariana: Yeah, I used to feel it. I used to get sick to my stomach and red in the face in a big way. That was partially because I knew I was under-prepared and I didn't really know how to play guitar, but I forced myself to do it anyway. God love my friends who would show up at open mike night and hear me play two songs, and badly. But that's the thing. You have to put yourself out into the spotlight and suffer through it, and unfortunately make your friends suffer through it as well, until you get better. I think preparation and working real hard and rehearsing as if it's a performance makes for a more confident show.

Q: Out of all the time you've been in Charlottesville, has there been anything that you thought people who covered the music there missed? Something that you thought was important but was never mentioned?

Mariana: The first thing that came to my mind is the Music Resource Center. That's a place that helps kids who might not otherwise have access to certain things--- a recording studio or musical instruments or what have you. It is an extraordinary way for younger people to get involved. They even pair up kids with people already in the music business.

Q: Is that through the University or is it freestanding or what?

Mariana: I'm pretty sure that it stands alone. I have a couple of friends who have worked there--- kids who have worked there and adults who have helped out. I think the importance of stressing music at a young age and giving it the respect equal to what might be considered more important, like sports or whatever, is a good thing. I think that the high schools around here have decent and developing music programs that also encourage that. I don't know if the Center has been overlooked, but it's something that I see in bits and pieces here and there--- not in a huge way, but in a nice way which makes me feel like there is a growing tradition and support for music here.

Q: How long has the Center been around?

Mariana: I think they started after I left. I don't remember having that when I was in high school.. It was in the past seven or eight years.

There is a lot of stuff going on like that, where people contribute to the local scene. There's a band called Trees on Fire--- a couple members of that group teach at the Renaissance School. And Jay Pun and Morwenna Lasko teach at the Renaissance School, as well, I think. My guitar teacher, Ian, is a teacher. One of my drummers, Drex. I think it's wonderful that these people, who I think are extraordinarily talented, make it their duty and their job to go back and teach.

Q: Do you teach?

Mariana: I don't know enough about music to teach. Unfortunately, as a self-taught musician, I have zero theory. I can't read music. I'm humbled by those people who have those abilities. Maybe I'll go back and take lessons from my friends.

Q: Have you thought about maybe going to school to learn some of that in the future?

Mariana: I have. I've had a little bug in my ear to take piano lessons. I used to play piano and I was I used to play piano and I was lucky, I guess, because I memorized things quickly. But I never learned to read music and I played piano for like ten years.

Q: The two people who have mentioned what you said about how hard it was on the business side were Danny Schmidt and Devon Sproule. I caught Devon at an airport waiting for a flight to the Kerrville Folk Festival and she mentioned that it was wearing her down.

Mariana: Yeah, it can be so crushing to maintain those schedules and be on top of it on your own.

Q: Do you drink coffee?

Mariana: Ha! Yes. By the boatload.

Q: When you started this interview, you sound like you'd just had three or four pots.

Mariana: Well, I'm trying to steer in a healthier direction, so going to the gym is good, and tea is also good.

Q: You know that there are juxtaposing views about caffeine and its effect on the body.

Mariana: It can be horrible for the voice.

Q: There have been studies which show that if you drink coffee in moderation that it can have beneficial effects, especially if you are doing anything physical.

Mariana: Well, I like to think that bad coffee is bad for you. Burnt coffee is bad for you. (laughs) And a perfect cappuccino is good for you, no matter what.

Q: There you go. That's the thing. Everybody thinks that everything they enjoy is good for them.

Mariana: Exactly.

Q: Let me toss a few names by you and just give me an idea of what you might know about them or what you think about them.

What about Devon?

Mariana: I think Devon is Charlottesville's darling. She has toured internationally. My producer, Alex, called me from New York from The Living Room and said ?Oh my God, I'm in love. Have you ever heard of this girl, Devon?? and I said of course I have. She's Devon. She has been around for awhile and doing her own thing. I think she's just exquisite.

Q: Do you think she's going to make it?

Mariana: I think she has made it.

Q: It didn't sound like it when I talk to her.

Mariana: No one ever thinks that they've made it, themselves. Defining success for oneself as a musician is really, really tough. On the indie level, I think that she is doing great. Of course, it's never enough, and that's about pushing yourself and challenging yourself. But I think she's doing great.

Q: Paul Curreri?

Mariana: Equally talented. Of course, they're married. I played at the Crozet Music Festival with him and he'd just quit smoking and had not played for awhile as his vocal chords adjusted to that. He's subtle and very talented.

Q: Is he well thought of in Charlottesville?

Mariana: Yeah. Very respected, I would say.

Q: Sam Wilson? Sons of Bill?

Mariana: Sweet Sam. Sam is just the nicest guy and so talented at what he does while remaining humble. And Sons of Bill are local favorites. Sam was supposed to open for me for my CD release and then ended up out in California recording with Sons of Bill. But he's such a good guy. That's what I would say. He's such a good guy.

Q: You knew him before Sons of Bill?

Mariana: No. I met him through--- well, he plays with Shannon Worrell and plays with Peyton Tochterman and other people and I knew him through the grapevine. When it came up that he might open for us, I jumped on it.

Q: What about Shannon Worrell?

Mariana: She's certainly a Charlottesville standard. She helped set the tone for female singer/songwriters in town and I think she's lovely.

Q: Peyton Tochterman?

Mariana: He's a good guy. Man, he managed to get himself a show at the Paramount with all the Charlottesville bigwigs. Sam Wilson played with him and John D'earth and Ann Marie Calhoun. I don't know how that guy does it, but he's great. I mean, I don't think any local artist had ever played the Paramount Theater. It's this big, beautiful old-timey thing which had just been renovated. So, yeah. I'm impressed by that.

Q: What about John D'earth?

Mariana: I don't know him personally, but he plays all the time, everywhere. He's very much local. I don't know to what degree his regional or otherwise experience is, but he's a local standard. He can be caught whatever night of the week it is playing somewhere. I think he's happy to be where he is and happy to be doing what he's doing here.

Q: Sarah White?

Mariana: Well, she's a rock star.

Q: She's a what?

Mariana: She's a rock star.

Q: I don't think so. At least, she doesn't think so.

Carleigh Nesbit?

Mariana: Yeah. She's in high school still, right? She played at the Vegetarian Festival that I was just talking about, that 106.1 The Corner did. She's a prime example of somebody young who has the confidence to try. To give it an honest and professional effort despite her youth. I haven't heard her CD, but I've heard her live.

Q: It's interesting. For eight or ninth months, I've been talking to people about Charlottesville and I find myself slowly getting sucked into the whole scene. Like the more I talk with people, the more human you all become.

Mariana: I think that the way music is going right now, instead of the top 5% of the artists being known by absolutely everyone, there are dedicated small groups of people who know a lot of musicians. So people who really want to dig and really love music will find a way of connecting, be it through MySpace or whatever, and you can find these amazing niches of people. There might be one person in South Africa who is a fan of my music, but they're devoted, you know? It is a weird way of thinking about music, but it is certainly a good thing for the little guys, I think.

Q: What direction do you see the industry going? Is it going to be like the tail wagging the dog, or is the dog going to make a comeback?

Mariana: I have no idea. I have absolutely no clue. If you think about your place in the grand scheme of it all too much, you'll just go crazy. Which is what Devon said. You can't think of it like that, like I've finally made it, because there is no real definition for that anymore. So you just have to keep working your tale off.

Q: Who's going to distribute your new album?

Mariana: Well, it's on CDbaby and it's part of their digital distribution package, so it's available through iTunes and eMusic.

Indeed, it is on CDBaby and available through iTunes and eMusic, but downloading through the Net has always seemed a bit cold to me. I guess I come from the generation which fondled album jackets while reading liner notes, music blaring and never in the background. Mariana Bell is young and I'm sure has never known the physical joys of the vinyl fetish. She knows her music, though, and whether it's MP3 or CD, it is the music that sets her apart.

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