Q&A with El Mar
Joey Primero has come a long way from singing Selena to friends and family when she was just a kid. The former publicist is now hard at work as a solo artist, creating and performing under the name El Mar, but the transformation from a music lover to the confident singer you see and hear now didn't happen overnight. Following a musical childhood, Primero attended Berklee College of Music where she further developed as a writer before diving into the PR side of the industry and eventually creating music as El Mar.
Last year, El Mar released her debut EP, The Road and 2017 has already been exciting for her with new music out now and a follow-up coming soon. Listen to her inspirational track, "Just My Body" and learn more about El Mar now below.
Interview by Dom Vigil
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself for any readers who might not be familiar?
My name is Joey and I am El Mar. I am a singer/songwriter and this project is my vision, along with the help of an amazing collective of NYC-based musicians.
Prior to releasing music as El Mar, you were involved in the PR side of the music industry. Are there any important lessons that you’ve learned during your time working in music that have transferred over when you’re writing and recording now?
I learned so much while working in the industry. It just teaches you to really believe in your craft more than anyone else. No one will love it unless you do. And sometimes that can be a little difficult as an artist. You can get insecure and question yourself. Or at least I can. So I would say working in the industry just made me more confident and taught me that you really have to work very very hard in order to stick out in the chaos.
What first inspired you to get involved in music, be it behind the scenes or behind a mic?
I have been singing my entire life. When I was a kid, I'm talking like 5 years old, I'd sing to anyone who would listen. I was obsessed with Selena and if anyone would come over I'd make them all sit down and watch me perform. I literally had a collection of karaoke CDs that'd I'd take around with me everywhere. haha. That was one of the singers that really made me think, "I wanna do this forever." Then I started writing as a teen and picked up the guitar in high school and it kinda just kept going. I eventually went to Berklee College of Music and took songwriting classes while I was there, and wrote a lot during those years and really developed more as a writer.
Last year, you released your debut EP, The Road. Looking back on it now, what are some of your favorite things about those songs?
The Road EP was a scary thing for me to do and it'll always hold a special place in my heart. I was full throttle in the PR world and those songs felt good to me and I really wanted to document them. It was like getting back in the game.
With it being the first bit of music that a lot of people would hear from you, was there anything you wanted to accomplish with The Road?
I wanted to face my fears and just prove to myself that I can do it. I could get back into playing shows after many years of not singing publicly. I also wanted to give this project a real shot. I was very timid and worried about what people would think. People that I worked with. I felt even a bit silly in a way. It's hard to just put yourself out there, especially after not doing something for so long. But I'm glad I did it and I'm so happy to have amazing friends as musicians that stepped up and joined me on this journey.
Following the EP, you’ve released a few new singles, including “You’d Know Today.” What does this track mean to you?
I wrote this song very early one Saturday morning on the ukulele. It's a song questioning where a relationship is going and basically saying I know what I want, but are we on the same page?
I also want to talk about “Just My Body,” because I know it has a very powerful message for women. What inspired the song?
Just My Body is about women having the right to do whatever they want with their bodies. I've just always been pro-choice and think it's terrible that people still feel like they should be able to tell others how to live their lives. We released before the election, as a little anthem for women, and it speaks to me now more than ever with everything that's been going on with our healthcare system. At our shows we also have Just My Body postcards featuring images from the Women's March in NYC. My friend Alex Jensen designed them and they were inspired by the track.
With these songs out now, could fans expect to keep hearing more new music in the coming months? I know there has been talk of an album later this year, so can we expect to hear something from that soon?
Yes! The album is going to be out this summer. I'm SO READY for it to be out into the world. We put so much heart into it and I hope you all enjoy it.
Do you have any other big plans for 2017?
More shows, and I want to get back into the studio ASAP. I have some new material that I'm so in love with and can't wait to just get to working on it.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank YOU so much! And that's all for me. I appreciate it. :)