The Scotsman Sessions #329: Maranta

Welcome to the Scotsman Sessions. With the performing arts sector still impacted by the pandemic, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, from a living room in Leith, Gloria Black and Callum Govan – aka synth pop duo Maranta – perform their single My Man

From a living room in Leith comes an angry lyric delivered in a rather joyful, angular performance. Gloria Black and Callum Govan have been firing out energised electronica since forming their synth pop duo Maranta, named after the so-called “prayer plant”, in 2018.

Their Scotsman Session is a vibrant version of former single My Man, which started life as a poem written by Black and was originally and pointedly released on Valentine’s Day this year. “The song is about difficult things – suicide, sexual abuse, misogyny, rape culture, trauma,” says Black. “It’s also about forgiveness and hope. It’s personal, vulgar, and shocking. It should make you feel uncomfortable. We also hope it empowers people and sends the message out that we are all in this together and without collective action for change, then no change will come.”

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Black has previous in a number of “dark and ethereal” bands; Govan started out home-producing his own electronica. The pair have been friends since their teens, eventually coming together creatively a mere three weeks before their first live show, and releasing debut EP Care ii Cure in summer 2019 on Edinburgh’s Paradise Palms Records. They also released a track Miss Dupé on Leith label New Teeth.

Maranta
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“Our early work was written in a short space of time with the intention of being performed,” says Black. “With our more recent music it is almost the opposite. We spent the later part of lockdown time writing and recording new material. This was after the initial fear and confusion and lack of creativity that so many artists suffered from. It was hard to feel that creative buzz that comes with live music culture. Come the return of concerts we actually had to strip back our tunes, re-learn them and figure out how the hell to play them live.”

Maranta’s live shows have grown arms, legs, sets, costumes and choreography of late, courtesy of their Maranta in Microsteria collaboration with visual artist and set designer Chell Young, dancer Hannah Draper and costume designers Vomiton. This self-styled “symbiotic circus” was the specially commissioned opening night extravaganza at the Hidden Door festival in June.

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The creation of this playful creature feature “seen from an insect’s-eye-view” has gone hand-in-hand with the writing and recording of Deux Pleasure, Maranta’s forthcoming second EP, and first with the Isle of Eigg indie empire that is Lost Map Records. It’s a 20-minute post-lockdown reflection on human interaction which Govan reckons is “as much about embracing hardship as it is about celebrating life”.

There will happily be one last chance to witness the wonder of Maranta in Microsteria when the duo launch their EP at Edinburgh’s Voodoo Rooms in October. Black promises “the collaboration in full swing with creature appearances and epic visuals as well as some fantastic support acts yet to be announced.”

Deux Pleasure is out now on Lost Map Records. Maranta play the Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, on 5 October, see