Exploring Dark Places with songwriter Maria Kelly

access_time 12 minutes
person by Fiona Smith
create 06 November 2018

EARLIER this year Mayo singer-songwriter Maria Kelly released her AA side EP ‘Dark Places/ ‘Small Talk’ in which she explores topics of mental health, depression and social anxiety. The raw qualities of Maria’s voice speak volumes to her listeners and fans and through her honest depiction of her own struggles within this release, she is truly resonating with others.

GRAYCE LEONARD spoke to Maria for our Five on Friday slot…

1.Why did you decide to release music on the topic of mental health?

I spent a long time bottling up my own mental health issues, and I had only really analysed them through my music at the time. I write to understand and release whatever is going on in my head, so I had these songs building up for a while.

After chatting to friends and family, and going to a professional about my own issues, I realised how instantly helpful it is to just talk about it. To bring it out of your head and into reality, where you can actually deal with it like the health issue it is.

So publicly sharing the songs that I had created during that time seemed like the right thing to do.

2.How has the reaction been so far on the release?

Incredible. So many people have reached out to me with messages of thanks for shining a light on the subjects of depression and social anxiety, it is crazy to see how many people it affects on a daily basis. It’s been incredible to connect with people over something so personal like that.

3.Can you tell me about some of the meaning of the lyrics?

‘there’s a storm in my chest, and I can’t catch my breath
a little rain, and I’m full to the brim again’

In ‘Small Talk’, I paralleled feelings of social anxiety to that of a storm brewing – there was a blackout in my hometown when I was writing the song, and I found the similarities interesting, of how it can overtake you and stop you in your tracks. It can be all-consuming and you kind of just have to wait until it passes.

don’t mind me, gotta go, gotta be up early..
i’m sure that i’ll find a taxi’

I also included some colloquial lines to kind of break away from the abstract storm descriptions. I wanted to include very personable language that I have used countless times when I’ve been anxious in a social setting and eager to politely escape.





In Dark Places, the lyrics are a very literal description of what it feels like when depressed. I didn’t have anything planned for this song, like trying to relate it to an abstract idea or anything. I wrote it in about 20 minutes on a particularly bad day and let it sit for a while before fully realising what it was about.

It depicts the thoughts that are so frequent during a time like that – that your close ones won’t understand if you told them, that you would annoy them if you did – pushing yourself away so that they feel like strangers anyway. Losing parts of yourself in the process.

It’s a very sad one, but for me, it was an important one to write. It has opened so many conversations and it has forced me to look at that side of myself with less fear and with more care and understanding. I hope it can do the same for others.




4.Was it a therapeutic process for you? 

Absolutely. As I said, I write to understand my own feelings about different experiences in my life. I’m pretty crap and telling people how I feel, so I guess that I try to do that in my writing instead.

5.What is your favourite album to listen to when you are feeling down? 

Rae Morris – Someone Out There

I honestly dance around to the majority of these tracks daily, every song is an absolute bop!



Featured pic by Grayce Leonard

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