If the flatlands of Norfolk seem an unlikely setting for a half-Barbadian, half-Nigerian electronic artist, it probably goes some way to explaining why Maria Uzor is drawn to themes of the outsider. That, and an early childhood experience of cosmic boundlessness.
Maria merges electro, trip-hop, and twisted bass-techno to take us on a playful yet slightly haunting journey through space and time where the destination is of little consequence. Dancing shoes are recommended but totally optional. “I want people to feel that it’s ok to not be like everyone else. Throw away your insecurities and just be, without self-judgement”.
Growing up in Norwich, music piqued her interest from an early age. Between the all-night Caribbean parties her mother would throw, where sounds of lovers rock, soul, dancehall and Trojan mingled with with the aromas of Caribbean food drifting up the stairs to where Maria and
her sister sat watching in awe, to the weekly highlight of Top Of The Pops, she wrote her first song aged 6. However, it would be years before she took to the stage; first with punk outfit The Incidentals, then solo as Girl In A Thunderbolt, as one half of post-punk electronic duo SINK YA TEETH, and now solo again under her own name.
An artist lured by hybrids, she describes her sound as post-genre. “It’s influenced by everything I’ve ever listened to; from afrobeat to Bowie, Silver Apples, jungle, punk, Nina Simone, Massive Attack…”
A seamless amalgamation, you’d be hard pushed to pick out those influences in her work. Maybe the quirky melodies of Silver Apples, perhaps the gut-punch production of Massive Attack, or the occasional face-melting bass of jungle?
Prior to Lockdown, and as one half of SINK YA TEETH, Maria released two dazzling albums that were championed by the likes of BBC 6 Music and KEXP. With rave reviews from The Guardian to Electronic Sound, the pair found themselves supporting the likes of A CERTAIN RATIO and CHK! CHK! CHK!
But then lockdown came, proving a turning point. A line in the sand, a fresh start. Sacramento funk rockers Chk Chk Chk got in touch, and she provided lyrics and vocals for ‘Storm Around The World’.
Adrian Flanagan – of THE MOONLANDINGZ and ECCENTRONIC RESEARCH COUNCIL was next on the blower. Two tracks on his acclaimed ACID KLAUS album feature Maria’s distinctive voice. The Chk Chk Chk collaboration was also the first single, and a standout track, from their 2022 album, ‘Let It Be Blue’.
Between collaborations and opening for artists like YOUNG FATHERS, BLACK MIDI and LONE LADY, Maria self-released 3 EPs on her own label ‘Hey Buffalo’.
The release of her debut album ‘Soft Cuts’ in October 2023 sees her teaming up with much lauded boutique electronic label Castles In Space. “I spent a lot of the last 3 years re-evaluating what’s important to me,” explains Maria. “What’s bullshit in my life? Where do I want to go? What’s important? If I died tomorrow, what am I gonna wish that I’d done?”
‘Soft Cuts’ is just the start…