Artists often treat their music as personal diaries open for the world to read and interpret, from the ups and downs of their long-term romances to the quick flings and gripes on life and love. For Mariah the Scientist, the art form of translating heartbreak into relatable ballads worked in her favor, earning her a growing fan base and budding mainstream career.
Born Mariah Buckles, the 23-year-old artist adopted her stage name from her genuine love of science. Before she decided to pursue a music career, Mariah the Scientist moved from the eastside of Atlanta to attend St. John’s University in Queens, New York, and earn a degree in Biology. While enrolled in college, she began to write songs in her dorm room with the encouragement of friends. She eventually released her To Die For EP independently on SoundCloud in 2018 which led to her big break.
The once hopeful anesthesiologist moved back to the south and began to take her music career seriously. In February 2019, she signed a deal with RCA Records and issued her major-label debut album, Master, in August of the same year. The album features fan-favorites such as “Beetlejuice” and “Reminders.”
Now, a couple of years later, Mariah the Scientist has grown in experience, an aspect reflected in her latest release, Ry Ry World. She moves back-and-forth between Atlanta and Miami staying in her home-grown territory. This time around, her sophomore effort takes a different path than the aforementioned Master, offering a variety of sounds and new perspectives. While Master was wholly a serenade of a problematic romance, Ry Ry World finds Mariah experimenting with new, updated sounds.
On Ry Ry’s World, Mariah leans on her ability to tell stories through song however adds a brighter outlook of her universe. The varying and sometimes extreme emotions remain, however, the sultry singer adds more playful tunes and upbeat moments. Fellow Atlanta artists Lil Baby and Young Thug are both featured on separate songs.
“I definitely feel like Atlanta has influenced me, this is my hometown. And people like Lil Baby and Young Thug, I just really like their music and resonate with them as artists,” the singer said over an audio-only Zoom chat to VIBE. “I really liked them in general and I really wanted those features because I just respect them as people.”
“I’m just really relieved. I feel like it took so long to get this project out. And the feedback has been really beyond what I was expecting. So that’s been really exciting!” she exclaimed.
With her latest project, Mariah the Scientist creates just that. For her, the music is very personal and the ultimate signifier of her continuing evolution. We caught up with the singer shortly after the release of Ry Ry World and discussed the project, creating from experience and her genuine appreciation of science. View the conversation below:
This interview had been edited for length and clarity.
VIBE: How do you approach bringing, the less positive aspects of romance and relationships to your work?
Mariah the Scientist: I think I’m just discussing my experiences. I mean, granted I wish they were better experiences to talk about but that’s just how it’s gone so far. Hopefully moving forward, it changes. I mean I think lately it has been evolving into a more positive space but generally speaking, what I have to go off of so far hasn’t really been the best. This is more like being honest about that.
Do you think that singing about your experiences and your personal ups and downs is an important part of your own healing process?
I think that when I have something on my chest … like something I just want to get off my chest. I do think it’s easier to relieve myself of that when it comes to writing a song, but a lot of times I don’t have much to talk about. You know at all like, go on long binges of not writing anything and then like, all of a sudden, I’ll have something to talk about again and then I’ll just binge write for maybe a week or two weeks at a time. It definitely goes back and forth a lot. I think overall it’s just…I don’t know, it just comes down to honest emotion. I feel like it comes in waves, you know?
What made you decide to name it Ry Ry’s World? If it were a real place we traveled to, what are we going to see? What does it smell like in Ry Ry’s World?
Initially, there was a different title and I think I just sat on it a little too long. I didn’t like it as much by the time the project was coming out. Plus, like the dynamic of songs and everything it was just shifting. I felt like it was just more oriented around myself, and I didn’t really want it to be… I don’t like the idea of this project necessarily being fully about somebody else I kind of feel like it’s just more about me
I think it would just be a lot of scientific sh*t going on (laughs). Literally, I swear I love science. I know a lot of people don’t really make that correlation, I think it’s just a name, but I’m obsessed with it. If Ry Ry World was a place, I would bring space closer to the skyline, the skyline will be like the planets. I think you will find the most exotic plants and flowers and fruits, as the norm, like you can go outside and pick it. I think it would be colorful. I think it would be just like a utopia, to be honest. All of the natural things in life but enhanced. Like on steroids, the most beautiful things but just really more vibrant.
Do you think you’ll ever branch off your music career and get back into science professionally?
I’ve definitely thought about it, especially over Corona. It [coronavirus pandemic] just changed my perspective on a lot of things including [my] career. I had a lot of time to … I don’t want to say studying and reading books every day, but I definitely was more in a place where I was trying to pick up more information on subjects that I found interesting. I definitely would go back into it [science] professionally for sure. I’m trying to see if I can find some sort of avenue to make a hybrid out of my career. I don’t really like the idea of having to pick and choose. I feel like you should be able to have everything. I don’t like the idea of being categorized or having to pick a category. I just feel like life is really vast and you should be able to jump around, to be honest. It’s not like we just are single faceted.
With Ry Ry World, it’s been about two years since Master was released. What can you say have been some defining moments or some pivotal points for you personally or as an artist between the two projects? How have you been able to kind of keep track of that growth and evolution?
I think I’ve just changed in general as a person, and I think I’m still changing every day. In a good way, though. I feel really good about it. I was just in a completely different place when I was writing and recording Master. It was more dark. I think I still have that capability of being in some darker place but realistically, that’s not what I want to be. That’s not necessarily the kind of person I want to be. I don’t want to be constantly in a dark place. I do appreciate the mysteriousness that I hold but, I don’t think that I would just want to be constantly speaking on dark and dreary moments. I would rather have better things to talk about. Like I said earlier, it’s not that I wanted it to be like that. Those are just the experiences that I had, but hopefully, I’m hoping that it evolves to a better place. I mean, I feel like it is already, but you know it probably gets even better.
What do you think or hope fans take most from this project?
I just want them to like this project. Granted, it seems like it’s about someone else, but a lot of times I’m talking to myself. I just feel like it’s more about the perception. I think you should just be honest. I would like them to take from it that…I think I just have a lot of layers, very many layers. I just feel like I’ve been a million different people in this lifetime, which is weird because I’m only 23. I’m sure things will change more but I just feel like I have just changed so much and I’m still changing.
Even with that being said, that doesn’t mean that I have to be one person. I could just be different things every day. You can just be different. I just want everybody to realize that we’re different on purpose. If we were all the same… which makes no sense as to why everybody’s forcing this narrative to just all be on the same sh*t. Everybody wants a bust-down, everybody wants to go to the club every night, and everybody wants a Birkin bag. That’s cool, but do you want that because everybody else wants it, or do you want it because you really like it? I just feel like you can be different and have a bunch of different layers and they don’t have to look anything like the layers of someone else. This should be respected. This should be cool.
Do you think you’ve been able to learn more about yourself as a musician?
MTS: Cognitively, and the ability to make everything into a metaphor, I feel like it’s pushed me creatively. It’s shocking. It shocks me sometimes. I’m a big fan of myself…I know that sounds weird, but I like how my inspiration comes out. How it winds up being produced or what I wind up creating, I’m just a big fan of myself creatively. And I hope that doesn’t sound, you know, some sort of cocky I just… I really shock myself sometimes in this. It’s really cool. [My] imagination is just so interesting to me and it’s just an amazing place and I just wish people would tap more into that instead of being so forced [into] these boxes.