One track into Maria Domark‘s debut E.P Flawless, and you get the sense that you’re about to be taken on a psychedelic sonic journey. Thumping bass and simmering and growling hyperpop synths are juxtaposed by Domark’s signature lackadaisical vocal. With a bratty lilt that at times slips into demure cathartic sincerity, the E.P is a statement with a capital S. An arrival for an artist who has stepped comfortably and confidently into her own lane.
It wasn’t always this flawless, however, Domark’s story is one of a constant battle to fight for her artistic integrity. Best known for her modelling career and high-profile appearance on Big Brother, Domark was pigeon-holed as a vapid TV personality and model. The songstress, however, had different plans. The plastic shallow and superficial world of celebrities and modelling soon grew tiresome and left her unfulfilled, leaving Domark with no choice but to leave everything behind, disconnecting herself completely, in search of authenticity, finally following a lifelong passion for creating music.
We caught up with Maria on the heels of her debut EP and remix release to talk all things Flawless, pop-music, and the pursuit of artistic freedom.
Let’s start off talking about Flawless. Tell us a bit about that as a body of work. How it was working on it, what’s the story behind it and how that project came to be?
Well, I started working on it when the lockdown first started. I didn’t know at the time that I was making an EP, but I’ve just created Haunted, and it was the first song I actually produced on my own and the first song I ever finished writing on my own. And I composed it. I decided that I really want to make music and I don’t want to be dependent on anyone because before that, I was going between a lot of producers and everybody was trying to tell me what to do and what kind of music I should do and what would sell, and I didn’t want all that. So I think that’s why this EP is so experimental because I really wanted to play with a lot of sounds, a lot of different stuff, and explore what I want to do and who I want to be as an artist. But yeah, it’s definitely on the more experimental side of things. So it’s like the first debut, the first step I really took on my own as an independent artist.
Are you involved in the production aspect of your music?
I co-produce it. I’ve worked with a producer named Modern God. We did it all together. I was usually working on my own computer, like, doing this demo and the basic idea, and then we would do it together in the studio.
What was the impetus and the genesis behind that song and how did it kind of lead to the rest of the sound of the EP?
So when I started working on Haunted, I only had the melody. And because I didn’t have any practice in writing songs, like, from start to finish, I didn’t know what I was writing about, but it felt sad and it felt like I should. I was playing with lyrics, and I just knew how I wanted to sound with the syllables and stuff, but I didn’t know about what I was writing. So when I finished, I figured out it was like, I was in a dark place because I just quit modelling and I was lost and I was used to being told what to do. I was being in an agency with a manager and everybody. Everything was so figured out for me.
So that’s what I wrote about. Like, I have to do it on my own. I have to do it my own way. No one is coming to save me, and I have to take control of my life and do what I want to do with it. Because otherwise, I’ll just be standing alone in a crowd.
Describe your sound in three words.
I don’t know. All I think about is, like, experimental, but I guess it’s like more experimental dark pop.
Who were some of your pop idols growing up?
Actually, Avril Lavigne has always been one of my favorite artists. I was a crazy fan of hers. I had, like, a whole website dedicated to her. Seriously. So, like, at one point in my life, I think everything in my life revolved her. And I remember reading that she started making music, like, started playing guitar and stuff when she was 13 years old. So I think I was twelve, and I decided I want to beat that even before she did because maybe I could make music as good as she does or maybe that’s what made me start the whole thing. But I also really loved Britney Spears. Like, she was another idol for me. Still is… and Shakira.
I think it was Max Martin Who said Britney Spears has the best voice in pop music.
She is pop music. She defined the sound for all pop artists, like all-female pop artists.
Who and what are your other musical influences and what would be on your playlist? Like right now?
Right now? I’m heavily influenced by hyperpop, I think but not all hyperpop. It feels like future pop to me. Like very good production, very good sound with high pitched vocals and a lot of glitches and like an ambiance inside them.
Is that something that has been intentional? Did you want to sort of settle into that lane and really explore that aesthetic and that sonic world?
I definitely do now but I don’t know. I still cannot define myself 100% because I’m still playing with so many different options. I have finished tracks that sound completely different from one another, one is like a pop song like a pop song you would hear e on the radio and the other one is a dark cyber punk kind of vibe. They don’t even go together and I can’t release those two songs in one album, so yeah, that’s the place I’m in right now. But I guess it’s fun, I don’t really want to define myself. I think it’s kind of cool to do stuff per project like you can have a dark album and then you can have a completely pop and sweet bubblegum album and still be the same artist.
Who’s your dream collab?
I have to say, Grimes. I just really love that human being. I don’t know. I just feel connected to her. I know it’s weird, but I really love her. I really love her mind. I would love to be working with her and get to know her closely and how she thinks. She’s so amazing.
You recently released a remix album called Flawless Reloaded. How did that project come to be? How did you choose the collaborators? How did you choose the sound direction that you wanted to go in for that?
So we started thinking about remixes before even the EP was released. I wanted to collaborate with different artists and get a fresh perspective on every track, every artist I found. I’ve researched and looked for artists that I really like their sound and that I think they’re original and who can give a cool input on every truck, and I gave them full freedom to choose the track they wanted to remix and the direction they want to take it. So, yeah, I just told them to do whatever. I trust you.
Listening to it from an outside perspective, it sounds very heavily curated and very cohesive.
Yeah, I guess it’s just the artists that I love. Their sounds and the sounds I love are, like, pretty much the same. I love the clean glitches and stuff. So, yeah, I was drawn to them.
In your album art, you embody this sort of Cyborg alter-ego that shines through in your musical persona. Can you talk to me a bit about where she comes from and how you would like to explore that concept more?
So the story behind this character, the cyber character, she just got free from this big Corporation that was controlling her and actually build her like she was this girl that was taken from her parents to be this Cyborg with the cyber parts, and that is mostly based on my own story, being this industry puppet. And for a certain time, I really felt like I was a show puppet. I was doing what people were telling me to do. I was acting as they told me that I should act… like I didn’t know who I was. All I knew was this corporate engineering, so that’s where it came from. Finally, she breaks her cables and starts to explore the world, and we’re following her to see what she’s coming next.
What is on the horizon for 2022?
Well, actually, I have two directions. I told you, I have different tracks, so I have a pop album. Glitch kind of pop. Yeah, a little bit hyperpop, even. So, I may release this EP first, but then I have another cool project, which is, like, super dark, super, like, Cyberpunk kind of vibe. It’s like if you take My Way and just make it heavier and make an album out of it… Okay, I actually collaborated with a very cool artist. But I don’t think I should say right now.
Are you planning on touring at all? If you could tour, where would you love to perform these songs?
I would love to tour in Europe. Like, it’s my dream. I don’t know what to expect because I have never done this, and I don’t know how it works. I just really want to stand on a stage and like to observe this energy of standing in front of people who really want to listen to this music and just have fun with them, and I can’t wait to try it. I can’t wait to perform. And being this vibe, I don’t know what can happen because of Covet, but hopefully soon, hopefully, 2021 will be the year I’ll do that.
You should definitely do a show in Montreal.
I would 100% come because Montreal is one of my favorite places in the world. It’s freezing, but the vibe is perfect. No competition. Montreal is the best. It’s the best place I’ve ever been to.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
I was in this position where I wasn’t sure that I should make music. I didn’t believe in myself at all. It was my dream since I was very young, but I wasn’t encouraged by my family to do it. I wasn’t encouraged by my friends. Nobody believed in me, so I didn’t believe in myself. I was so ashamed of singing in front of people, and I did it anyway sometimes, but usually, I was just singing quietly to myself, and I was so scared that somebody would hear me. So I just really want people to take from this that they should do what they want, Even if they don’t get encouraged, because every artist can do amazing stuff and they should explore it and yeah, just listen to your instincts, because I went in a different path, like modelling, because that was like my second option of success, but I didn’t want it to be like that. So just listen to your guts and if you are an artist and you feel it in your bones, you should really follow it.
Cody is the Editor in Chief and senior contributor at liminul.
He is a photography aficionado, fashion enthusiast, avid Lana Del Rey fan, and lover of all things aesthetically pleasing.