She crept into the nation’s heart as one of the members of local girl-group Jamali but now, Mariechan is paving her own path as her solo career takes flight. Her collaboration with Shekhinah on ‘Different’ became a massive hit for the star who essentially dropped her new EP ‘Cherry Blossom’ late last year. Now, Mariechan opens up about the high times she had with Jamali, the ups and downs of reality singing competitions and her new solo material.

What is your fondest memory of being part of Jamali?

My fondest memories was one of the first we ever had. I remember the three of us waking up early in the Popstar house excited to come up with a name for our group – the names we spewed were hilarious! We were almost ‘Trilogy’ but one of the judges suggested we join the first two letters of our names. It was the best decision!

You recently dropped your brand-new EP ‘Cherry Blossom’. How have you grown as an artist on this new collection of tracks?

‘Cherry Blossom’ is about owning my growth and the evolution of my voice as a woman and an artist. So, I wanted my fans to know that I am blossoming and they should be courageous enough to heal, experience self-love and to blossom themselves. The songs on this EP are quite personal and writing them healed many wounds.

You released ‘Missed Calls’ as the lead single off the project. What inspired the lyrical content of the song?

I’ve had so many girl chats about guys that sell us dreams but failed at consistency and, in most cases, that stems from them living double or sometimes triple lives. ‘Missed Calls’ was a product of exactly that – a guy that never answers his phone when he’s not with you, but in the back of your head you know why.

You mentioned that the song and your new EP is a reintroduction to who Mariechan is as a solo artist. Tell us more about why you feel that way.

When you’re packaged for a group, there’s no real attention or focus placed on the individual. Everything is done for the group’s best interest – neglecting that we’re still individuals with our own dreams and desires. We were blessed with an amazing opportunity as Jamali but, at the same time, I wasn’t able to show my artistic and unique side. Many fans and peers felt that I had not reached my full potential and wanted to see more. That’s why this album is a reintroduction.

You were featured on Shekhinah’s hit single ‘Different’ – which became a massive hit countrywide. What was it like seeing the country really respond to the single?

I mean, it’s Shekhinah! I expected nothing less. Us joining forces was the cherry on top of a delicious cake! It is a winning recipe. What I saw was when you know who you are, stay true to that, have a signature sound and surround yourself with incredible talent, nothing and no-one can hold you back from soaring.

Coming from a reality TV background, do you still think shows like Idols or The Voice are still important for the music industry today?

Yes – but there’s a twist. I believe music shows are important because they give you an instant platform, recognition and access to the industry, it forces many out of their comfort zone and it also exposes the viewer and industry to all the talent our country houses that they would never otherwise have known. The flipside, though, is after the show is over and the spotlight is no longer on you, you’re instant fame could be a hit or a miss. So, you have to learn about the industry instantly in order to sustain yourself.

Now that Cherry Blossom is out, what do the next few months have in store for you?

Work work work! The real work has just started and I’ve only scraped the surface promoting my EP. There are deals to negotiate, shows to attend, rehearsals to sharpen my act and keep me on my toes, an album in the pipeline, traveling to do and just working my butt off to get to the next level. Hard work supersedes talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

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