Vintage & Morelli and Arielle Maren
Trance fans are undoubtedly familiar with Serbian artist Vintage & Morelli, aka Marko Cubric. His sound is deeply inspired by late 90’s progressive. And his releases on labels like Anjunabeats, Armada, Future Sound Of Egypt, and Silk Music (now Monstercat Silk) carry the emotional weight of the golden age of trance. He teamed up with singer Arielle Maren to create a unique vocal-driven trance album titled The Light. Maren’s lilting alto elevates Cubric’s emotive sonics. The 12 track album tugs at your emotions and pulls you to the dance floor.
They are longtime collaborators who first worked together on “Sweet Surrender” in 2016. They instantly locked into a groove when they met. “It was super easy,” Maren says about their first meetings via Skype. They spoke every day and their chemistry was obvious. “We just had a natural flow,” she recalls.
Maren is the consummate world traveler. Born in Texas, she’s spent time living in Estonia and Finland. So, when she decided to move to Belgrade, Serbia, it wasn’t a huge surprise. But as she says, “When I look back, I'm like, wow, that was kind of ballsy.”
“Honestly, I knew nothing about Serbia, besides Yugoslavia falling apart. I moved to Belgrade and never met him, I just moved. So, I had no idea what to expect. And then I get off the plane, and I'm like, 'Where am I? How did this happen? It looks like you're crazy! I can't believe you're doing that.' And I'm like, 'Well, you know what, I have a return ticket. So, it sucks. I can come back.' But obviously, I loved it. So, I'm still here.”
Their musical chemistry carries into the real world. As we speak, they complete each other's sentences. They have an effortless organic push and pull.
The entirety of their new album was written in quarantine. They aimed for emotional relevance. The Light succeeds as a time capsule and a lasting poignant reminder of human emotions.
Maren says, “We wanted to include topics that really affect everyone. One of the songs on the album specifically speaks about depression. I actually lost a friend to suicide.”
The takeaway is a message of resilience and interconnectivity. “[We want to] remind people that despite us feeling isolated, that we are really still connected. I think people are coming to the realization that we really are super interconnected. So like, the problem that happens half a world away is actually your problem, too.”
While Maren and Cubric share a distinct commonality, their upbringings are worlds apart. Cubric, grew up during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. He remembers with brilliant clarity many of its financial and physical hardships.
“Me and my sister, we would have to wait in line to get the basic stuff like cooking oil and a bread loaf,” He remembers.
Between March and June of 1999, NATO forces bombed Belgrade and the surrounding cities in Serbia. With the country falling apart around him, It was terrifying.
“Every time before the old planes from NATO started rushing towards Serbia, we had his alarm going off and there was this guy [he] was like the voice of a Savior. He was on the radio, on the television. And he was telling us what we need to pack, where we need to go. All those really creepy ethereal sirens just became like a normal routine…The bombings were terrifying, because we had to go down into shelters. All the windows in every building in my neighborhood, broke.”
Despite incredible adversity, he has fond musical memories. He made cassette mixtapes of Enya, Enigma, and Deep Forest. It was clear even at that age that he had an ear for ethereal melody. He also recalled how his mom’s boyfriend used to bring him CDs of classic trance from artists like Blank & Jones. He instantly fell in love with the music.
Arielle grew up in Texas. Her dad was a concert pianist, so she grew up with a backdrop of classical music, but no formal training. It was her sister who introduced her to dance music.
“She took me to the gay clubs because they were under age and they had the best music. She kind of opened that door for me.”
She fondly recalls first discovering the underground rave scene. “I remember going to these underground raves they used to have where you'd call this random number and they like tell you the secret location.”
Cubric and Maren’s love for the music shines through in every word they speak. Maren tells me that she sees herself as a storyteller first and then a singer. “I just love how trance tells stories. I like to tell a story with the music. I love connecting the words to that feeling the music.”
Cubric’s connection is just as visceral. “Trance is just pure emotion. I don't know any other way to say it,” he tells me with a gleam in his eye.
“I feel like trance is going to kind of have more of a comeback. Because I think now people are really looking for that release, that outlet. It was never about, you know, ‘We're going to do the most popular music now.’ We're going to do the music that feels like, that's our soul. If it were to speak. Yeah, [it] would speak trance.”