The bilingual beginnings of Marías, MOVIE THEATER, received a Grammy nomination last month for Best Engineering, Non-Classical Album – a rarity for an album that contains lyrics in Spanish.

Nomination in this category goes to engineers and mastering engineers, not the recording artist. However, Josh Conway, one of the members of the Los Angeles-based indie pop quartet, is credited as one of the album’s engineers. Thus, Conway is nominated, along with fellow engineers Marvin Figueroa, Josh Gudwin, Neal H. Pogue and Ethan Shumaker and mastering engineer Joe LaPorta.

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The best-crafted album, non-classical category has been featured since the first Grammys in 1959 and traditionally recognizes fluid, orchestral and instrumental works. outraged MOVIE THEATER, the other nominees in 2022 are: the fusion R & B / jazz album by Yebba Dawn, Low’s powered by percussion Hey what, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s Cole Porter Classics Collection Love for sale, and the collaboration of Pino Palladino & Blake Mills Notes with attachments. (Mills is named as one of the engineers.)

Inspired by cinema and in particular the classics of Pedro Almodovar, MOVIE THEATER’The genre sound features reggaeton, indie and rock in Spanish.

In conversation with Billboard, Conway (who does vocals, drums, engineering and production on MOVIE THEATER), María Zardoya, the quartet’s lead singer, engineer Pogue and mastering engineer LaPorta reveal the process behind the creation of the first album.

Conway recalls the conceptual motifs and sound themes of CINEMA emerging around Zardoya’s birthday in 2020 when he transformed his bedroom into a movie theater. According to Conway, much of the project’s muse came after spending entire weekends watching contemporary classics, such as Black Swan, Golden state, and “all the films of Pedro Almodovar”.

Talk to him (Hable Con Ella) Almodovar is the one movie we all immediately fell in love with, ”Conway recalls. The film served as inspiration for both the track “Hable Con Ella” and the closing track, “Talk to Her,” the latter detailing a dark period of The Marías’ first tour as a supporting actor in 2018.

Once the overall theme of the album was established, Conway’s instrumental-heavy, melody-driven production style made its way into the album’s infrastructure – guiding listeners through a narrative beginning with an introduction, a climax and an end.

Regarding the mixing process, Conway kept in mind the advice of “our very reliable A&R Ricky Reed, he once told me, ‘Try to get the mixes as close as possible before you get them. to put back. “

Previously, The Marías operated independently, which meant there was no fancy group of mixers to choose from, just Conway and occasionally a few mixer friends who would lend a helping hand on selected songs. But with a label everything changed and Conway set to work perfecting each mix. “It made it really tough, just a lot more time, but I’m so glad I did because you can’t put so much strain on the mixers. Once I gave it to them I was more than happy with what I got in return.

After combing through the many layers of MOVIE THEATERFrom the production process of, Conway and Zardoya point to their recording space in Los Angeles’ Beachwood Canyon as the atmospheric backdrop that served as a sanctuary during the quarantine summer of last year.

“We were recording in our neighbor’s house. She was gone for a few months and asked us to keep the house. She said, ‘Can I pay you?’ and we were like ‘Well you wouldn’t have to pay us if we could move our studio here!’ Conway laughs.

“It was a very long process of working on the album,” Zardoya shares. “Just as we were in the mixing stage, our studio was flooded. It was just a lot of obstacles that we had to overcome and obviously this album was recorded during the pandemic. When we finally got Neal’s mixes [Pogue], who is just amazing to work with, seeing the track list and seeing it all together, we both had a moment of relief. We were really proud of ourselves to have persevered, to have this project to show these really crazy but special beautiful moments of our lives.

The group’s first EP, Superclean Vol. I, dropped in 2017 and followed up with a second in 2018. Both projects reflected the group’s euphoric soundscape of jazz percussion, haunting guitar riffs and Zardoya’s distinctive satin vocals.

Sensual and romantic details are revealed in The Marías discography, adapting the sound to suit different moods, themes and genres. With Spanish cinema as the main inspiration for MOVIE THEATER, Zardoya says his love of movies and music dates back to his bicultural childhood, acknowledging how his Puerto Rican and Spanish ancestors materialized through his art.

“I grew up listening to a lot of music in both languages ​​and therefore [CINEMA] from this point of view [of] grow in culture, ”Zardoya explains.

Beyond the album’s cinematic roots, Pogue – who is also nominated for Album of the Year as an Engineer on Doja Cat’s Planet her (Deluxe) – cites singer Zardoya as the “cement” of the operation to move the project forward.

“She’s the main detail, whatever style they do from song to song. She keeps it together, ”he explains. “They sound like no other. The different musical cultural influences they bring to the table create a special sound. Whether they know it or not, they have an old-school style that I identify with and that made me fall more and more in love with the project as I mixed each song.

“The group’s very specific vision for the record allowed us to obtain excellent results at the mastering stage,” explains LaPorta. “Neal, along with Josh Gudwin and Josh Conway, already had the mixes in a great place, so it was all about the niceties when it came to bringing them all together in the context of the album.”

On the album, “‘A Million’ has the most recognizable reggaeton roots and ‘Fog As a Bullet’ has a Spanish guitar – nylon string guitars are really all we use,” Conway adds, describing the mix. unique instrument and complex chord progressions at the heart of the group’s sonic exploration. Plus, in “Hush,” Conway’s pulsating bass experimentation unfolds tiny details that dance with every brood. “Silence“, that brings you back to the chorus.

“Then the melodies came out for the chorus and we both looked at each other – we thought, ‘Okay, this is our Britney moment’” – in reference to the futuristic and lively pop beat supporting the delivery of the songs. lines: “(Every night) I made you go around in circles, I know (Touch me) Get your paws off my Dolce Cologne.

After ending a year full of career highs, notably the signing of an agreement with Atlantic in early 2021 and a first placement No. 1 on Billboard‘s Adult Alternative Airplay chart – the group is optimistic about what 2022 may bring. The Marías are set to tour in January to perform their nominated album for the first time since its release.

“Whether it’s in the passion or in the nostalgic melodies, I think it goes beyond language or even rhythm – it’s the general feeling of growing up in Latin that is naturally implemented in all music” , explains Zardoya, summarizing the ethics of MOVIE THEATER.

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