Maria Elena has performed in a wide range of musical settings from the punk rock music of The Horror! to her current folk/jazz-driven duo El Cuco to The Great Plains.
“My name is Maria Elena. I play the guitar. I’m a singer-songwriter even though I don’t really love that term. But there’s really no better way to explain it for people to understand it.
I’m currently involved in a couple of different projects. One is called The Great Plains. The other one is called El Cuco, which is Spanish for the boogeyman. It’s a different kind of boogeyman than ours. He’s much scarier.
The El Cuco project is really personal—for me. All of the six songs that I wrote for that record I wrote within a month after my stepdad passed away. They were all kind of coming from this really twisted sense of … I hadn’t grieved. I was living in China when he passed, so I came home and it was a whirlwind of two weeks of getting everything with my family and then going back. And not really having time to think about anything.
I want to talk about The Great Plains a little because I feel like it’s the best writing I’ve ever done. It’s so impersonal. It’s fictional. It’s a story. It’s not about anyone that I know or any situation that I’ve been in or anything like that. There was some really amazing freedom in being able to write a completely incoherent story about a robot apocalypse.”