By Gul Nasreen
Tue, 02, 23

In an exclusive interview with You! this talented vocalist shares her music journey and her likes and dislikes with our readers...


you & me

Maria Unera is one of the popular female singers of today. Carrying a unique mix of musical genes from a Pakistani father and Filipina mother, Maria Unera made her debut with Pakistan’s first and only all-girls musical group performing an astounding cover for John Newman’s ‘Love Me Again’. “I have been active as a musician professionally for the last 12 years. However, I’ve been singing and playing my entire life and kudos to my mother for teaching me everything I know about singing,” says Maria.

Maria Unera has been announced as Spotify’s EQUAL Pakistan Ambassador for the month. She has become the latest female artist from the country to grace a digital billboard in the iconic Times Square NYC with her track ‘Feel’ being selected as the featured song on EQUAL Pakistan’s playlist this month. These days, she is working on three more songs that she intends to release soon. In an exclusive interview with You! this talented vocalist shares her music journey and her likes and dislikes with our readers...

What inspired you to pursue music?

My mother. Growing up in a Filipino household, there was music playing all the time, lots of karaoke sessions and lots of uncles and aunties who would ask my brother and me to sing them classics throughout. So, I guess growing up in that environment made me really fall in love with music and how expressive it can be.


What is your specialised field of singing?

I’d like to believe that I’m a contemporary singer. As I mentioned earlier, my mom sort of made me sing pretty much every kind of genre growing up, from Aretha to Etta to Whitney to MJ and many more. I was constantly taught within so much diversity in singing that now I feel comfortable enough to learn something new and fresh.

What is your most memorable concert to-date?

Oh boy! To date I have to say Dubai Expo 2020 - I feel like I have spoken about this so many times but it is only because I never even imagined to be given an opportunity like that and that too so out of the blue. Singing my own songs up on that huge stage and having so many people listen to me was truly a dream come true. I will always remember that performance and the feeling I had after I got off the stage.

How does it feel to be the Ambassador of the Month for Spotify’s EQUAL Pakistan?

It still feels pretty surreal, to be honest. I have to go back to my profile page and see the announcement post to remind myself that this is real, haha! I know to some people it might not be a big deal - but when you work so hard for over a decade and to be recognised and represented as an Ambassador, it’s truly an amazing feeling.

I think EQUAL programme is absolutely amazing, straight up. Especially for the female musicians in Pakistan, we need this kind of recognition. We truly needed a platform where women can showcase their work and be given value for it.

How important do you think initiatives like these are for women artists of our country?

Super important! Like I said, women artists needed this for themselves. We had taken the brink of negativity for way too long. We had been overpowered for way too long and we had never felt the balance in the industry. EQUAL honestly changed that for us and has given us hope to keep making music and to continue sharing our art because it will be valued one way or the other.


Tell us about your song that is being featured on EQUAL’s Pakistan playlist:

‘Feel’. I am so incredibly proud of that track. I’m not really a ‘love song’ songwriter if I’m being honest, but this one was a natural. ‘Feel’ is about two people who met each other out of the blue and knew that they were going to go through everything and anything in life together. I used the ‘space’ element in the lyrics as I’ve always been fascinated by outer space and because it’s just never ending and the love that these two people have for one another is endless. ‘Feel’ has also inspired me to write about my past love and about myself and how I’ve evolved as a person in my late 20s. It’s a pretty interesting perspective to write and sing about, and I look forward to sharing that with everyone.

Have you released any music albums so far?

So far, only singles. I feel every time I decide on releasing an album, I get so excited and in the moment that I insist on releasing each song as a single. I guess that’s the impatience in me, but I’m learning haha! I think I’ll start small by releasing an EP first and then perhaps take a year to learn and produce an album for myself.

Top 3 songs in your playlist?

My top 3 changes every month I feel. These days my favourites are ‘Kill Bill’ by SZA; ‘This Is Why’ by Paramore and ‘The 30th’ by Billie Eilish.

Your favourite international music celebrity?

It’s honestly way too hard to just pick one - but ever since I was 14 I have been in love with Hayley Williams from Paramore. I think I’ll always love her.

What was the first instrument that you learned to play?

I took piano lessons when I was about 8 years old but I got drawn towards learning the guitar by the age of 13.

How do you like to spend your Sundays?

As a freelancer, everyday could be a Sunday if you think about it. However, I had to make a conscious effort to work on the weekdays, even if it’s just sitting in the studio, and make an equally conscious effort to take Saturday and Sunday off. Sundays normally consist of either lazing around or going to the beach with friends. The beach often makes you feel like time has slowed down and it gives you the moment to reflect on stuff and be grateful for it. Every Sunday should be a beach day! It’s really therapeutic.

If you could have a musician tag along with you on tour for a month, whom would you choose?

Bilawal Lahooti - Drummer of the band KARAKORAM. I’ve known him for about 10 years now and we’ve worked together countless times and every time we get together it’s just always a blast and filled with lots and lots of laughter. Plus, he is one of the best drummers I know. I’ve seen him evolve and we’ve played a couple shows together too!

If you had access to a time machine, which era would you revisit?

I would go back to the time my mom was alive and healthy. Just so I could hug her and tell her I’m okay and I’m trying to do good for myself. Grief is heavy and it stays forever but if a time machine existed - this is exactly where I’d go.