One Of A Kind

28 August 2012 | 6:00 am | Anthony Carew

“I have to learn to be more patient, and more gracious; that old thing of ‘good things come to those who wait’. And that’s exactly what’s happened, with me, with my music.”

More Maria Minerva More Maria Minerva

As far as indie-pop exporters go, Estonia is a non-starter. It may be but a ferry-ride across the Baltic        from Stockholm to Tallinn, but against Sweden's indie empire, Estonia really only has one name to have lit up the blogosphere. That said, it's still a pretty impressive name: Maria Minerva; the plenty impressive dame who came out of nowhere to issue four records of washed-out synth soundscapes and murkey Euro-disco in 2011 alone.

“I hear that all the time, that no one has ever heard of any other Estonian indie musicians, so I hope I'm representing my country well in some way,” offers 24-year-old Maria Juur (aka Maria Minerva), from her adopted home in London. “I don't think people listen to my music in Estonia. I've gotten way more negative feedback from back home than I ever have in the international music scene. I'm one of those people who's left to do something exciting abroad. And some people are really encouraging of that, but other people don't get why I get all this hype.”

Growing up in Tallinn's seaside sleepiness, Juur never dreamt of making music, let alone did it. Yet, in 2010, after trying her hand at numerous pursuits —academia, music journalism, modelling, visual art— she dove into sound on a whim in her “last winter in Estonia.”

“I ordered an external audio interface and a MIDI keyboard from Amazon,” Juur explains. “All of my friends told me they didn't think I'd be doing it for more than a week. But I'm very happy to have proved all of them wrong.”

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Juur was incredibly nervous making her music available for others —“when I put it online my heart was pounding; I was so scared what people were going to think,” she recounts— and even more nervous when she ended up playing “four or five shows” in Tallinn thereafter. “I felt like I was at a gym class, performing exercises; just going through the motions, wanting to be anywhere else,” Juur admits.

So, when she moved to London to do her PHD (in music theory), Juur planned on putting her budding musical muse to bed. “I told myself the music thing was over,” she says. “I wasn't convinced I could ever play live and actually enjoy it, I thought I'd never be able to get over the technical side of things, I had to focus on my studies, and I was also working part time. I just felt like I didn't have time for making music... I was on the verge of giving up, that classic story.”

Yet after six music-free months in London, she sent her demos to LA label Not Not Fun, who immediately wanted to release them; and emptied out Minerva's back catalogue across four 2011 releases (Tallinn At Dawn, Noble Savage, Cabaret Cixous, and Sacred & Profane Love). They stoked plentiful blog buzz, and pushed Juur into making more music; the Will Happiness Find Me? LP - her first recording with actual expectations.

The process of making the record was “completely different” for Juur, given there was an audience in-wait, and —after all her prior recordings had been made, literally, in her bedroom (“or in my bed,” she laughs) — a studio booked in Lisbon. When the LP's first single, The Sound, was recently released; Juur was “terrified” —“like when I first put my music on MySpace”— but the positive reaction to it has lit up her life. “I wake up every day in a good mood,” she beams.

That good mood suggests that there's as much hope as despair in Will Happiness Find Me?'s rhetorical title. “In my life I've always been extremely impatient and restless; always looking for something else, always rushing things,” Juur says, of it. “I have to learn to be more patient, and more gracious; that old thing of 'good things come to those who wait'. And that's exactly what's happened, with me, with my music.”

Maria Minerva will be playing the following shows:

Tuesday 28 August - Format, Adelaide SA
Thursday 30 August - GoodGod Small Club, Sydney NSW
Saturday 1 September - The Toff, Melbourne VIC