At the ripe-old age of 19, instrumental folk artist Marie Hsiao, also known as Mree, has already produced songs that have been tweeted about by folk musician Bon Iver, performed at renowned venues like Rockwood Music Hall and the Highline Ballroom, and studied at New York University’s prestigious Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. Mochi caught up with the Bulgarian-Taiwanese songstress to talk about her latest album, Winterwell, and learn how she balances her music career with being a full-time student.
How does Winterwell differ from your first album?
My first album, Grow, features the singer/songwriter, acoustic, folk side of my music as I was starting out. On the other hand, Winterwell shows more of where I feel my sound is heading, as I develop into an individual artist. I incorporate electronic elements and a darker ambient tone alongside the atmospheric and acoustic sound my fans know me for.
You’re a singer and also a full-time student at NYU. How do you balance school and work?
It wasn’t easy to adjust to at first. I can be a perfectionist when it comes to school work and my music, which is a good thing, but it can drive me crazy. Since I’m from New Jersey, I would come home almost every weekend to finish up the recording and mixing of Winterwell and do my homework for the upcoming week ahead of time, so I wouldn’t get too stressed. It taught me to prioritize and organize, but it also helped me realize that I have my limits. You can only do so much, so it’s important to take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy life.
You shoot and edit your own music videos. The promo for Winterwell, features paper cranes, which you mentioned you love. What’s your process for making the music videos?
For my past videos, I’ve done the filming and editing. When you’re working by yourself, you don’t have to communicate your vision, you just know what scenes you want to have, from what angle, when they appear, etc. I like being able to have full control over the direction and final product, but it’s harder to carry it out while working alone.
The process for my new video, “Into the Well” was a bit different because I had my friend Joey See film the shots. I already had a concept so I whipped up a video treatment to properly convey the vision I had in my head. Working with him was great. He took care of all the lighting and shooting, making sure to follow my concept while offering tips and feedback. I still did the editing myself, but having another set of eyes to give me helpful notes was wonderful.