There have been plenty of curious paths to fame—but when a 17-year-old Maris Ward grabbed a bottle of Kikkoman soy sauce and belted out a jazz-inflected cover of Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon” in 2017, she could hardly have expected it to go viral. But 50,000 retweets later, she was a digital sensation.
But now 20, the Missoula girl is hardly a fly-by-night phenomenon. She has also performed, by invitation, at Carnegie Hall’s American Protege series. And now truncated to just Maris, her new single, the curiously titled “Elephant Skeleton” (which BlackBook premieres here), channels Lana Del Rey and David Bowie—or perhaps imagine a gospel-gothic Kate Bush—on the way to making some emotional sense of the unsettling solitude so many have experienced during this long pandemic lockdown.
“For me, this song was about processing loss and isolation,” she explains. “I wrote it after being socially isolated in my apartment when COVID first hit. I also lost a few relationships over the past couple months that really meant a lot to me; so as I was producing the tune, rewriting, etc., I began to explore the iridescence in loneliness. Where I once thought it was a desaturated void, it became a glimmering and multifaceted beast.”
The accompanying video, the result of a Zoom brainstorming session with several close friends, finds Maris extrapolating the theme of the single’s cover art, having to do with being…wrapped up in space. Which would seem to be the Bowie influence further exerting itself.
“I bought 24 yards of green cloth, [my friend] Erica sent me all of the amazing, twinkly backgrounds to be keyed on the green, and I filmed the whole video on my kitchen floor. I’m so proud of the work we’ve put into it, and I feel so liberated, excited, and grateful to be finally sharing music again. So thankful for all the help from friends I’ve gotten along the way, too.”
For our part, we’re impressed by anyone who has been able to make the best of this terrible coronavirus reality.