Chicago-based singer-songwriter Brianna Brock, better known by her stage name queen mars, sat down with The Phoenix on Zoom to discuss her musical roots, rise to success and upcoming project “trust issues” set to debut April 9.
Similar to many childhood aspirations, queen mars fixated herself on dreams of becoming a singer from the young age of eight.
“I feel like it all sparked from this idea that I want to be a singer and all singers write their own music,” queen mars said. “When I was around 12 years old, my grandma gifted me with one of her old keyboards and that’s when I began banging on the keys to find whatever sounded good and write a song over that.”
Flash forward to queen mars’ 2018 breakout into the world of streaming, flexing impeccable pen game, with her single “Love Me?”
“That was my introduction to taking what I write in my bedroom and blowing it up into a full artistic vision,” queen mars reminisced. “That was my first time planning a music video, showing it and seeing all those details come into completion.”
Performing over harsh drums and a Latin-inspired guitar melody, queen mars seamlessly molds her unique storytelling ability and vocal capabilities into a rhythmic pop track.
Experienced and motivated, the release of her first single on streaming sites catapulted the singer-songwriter into an immersive 2019 and the release of three additional tracks.
queen mars confessed it took her almost a year to create three tracks, and an explanation as to why is self-evident upon a first listen. Ranging from hip-hop and trap on “B!Tch,” electronic and hyperpop on “Devil on My Shoulder” and R&B on “Queen of Hearts,” queen mars exemplifies versatility in her ability to sing on a plethora of production styles.
“I like to make music that is reflective of my musical taste,” queen mars remarked on her diverse discography. “I don’t feel the need, and don’t feel like any artist should feel the need, to box themselves in because most people have an eclectic taste in music.”
Despite her comprehensive production, a style she has coined as “Kaleidoscope Pop,” queen mars unifies her musical endeavours with one underlying foundation — an unmatched lyrical confidence. And with a year-long hold on concerts and tours, queen mars found herself rechanneling childhood aspirations and past relationships as lyrical inspirations for her upcoming “trust issues” extended play (EP).
“I put it together right after quarantine started happening, and when you have all that time for yourself you start to grow back those parts of you you didn’t even realize you were sacrificing for years prior,” queen mars stated when asked about the creative process behind her debut EP. “I got into a space where I feel like I started to revert back to my childhood self.”
After a year of desocializing and focusing on her story, queen mars was able to construct tracks with an amplified representation of herself as an artist: ambitious, badass and vulnerable.
The lead single “Boys Like You” finds queen mars unearthing lyrics written four years ago that detail her first relationship. Over a vicious, warped R&B instrumental, queen mars conveys a combination of cold-blooded cockiness and emotional chaos.
“That song is pretty aggressive and assertive, it is still quite vulnerable because it is very much so about this person,” she admitted. “I had to give people the background as to why I am the way I am.”
To accompany the release is a music video where queen mars elevates her cinematographic performance into the same lane as pop-stars such as Rihanna.
“You,” the upcoming project’s second single, finds the artist in an intimate headspace once more as she sings about a different past relationship. The track changes gears entirely as a warm acoustic guitar melody, playful layered vocals and vivid imagery of the changing seasons merge to formulate a soft-pop song fitting for any summer afternoon.
Looking beyond the release of the April 9 project, queen mars hopes to continue crafting her own voice and expressing her identity, without compromise, by diving into the production realm.
“I’ve always co-produced with the people that I work with, but I’ve never really learned how everything works myself,” queen mars said. “I’m very excited because I’ve been able to develop my sounds a little bit more because I can be a lot more experimental. I can mess around with sounds for 10 hours and not waste anybody’s time.”
In addition to self-produced tracks, fans should expect more music videos to follow the release of “trust issues,” including a video to accompany the EP’s final track “lonely.”
“trust issues” will be available for streaming on Apple Music and Spotify April 9.
An earlier version of this story misspelled Brianna Brock’s first name and has been edited.