West Midlands music scene is one of the the most original and diverse scenes in the United Kingdom. It has always been very strong with acts such as Duran Duran, Black Sabbath and the girl band Cleopatra coming out of Birmingham and changing the national musical landscapes. Grime, hip-hop, psychedelia, experimental rock, lyrical and even choral music – West Midland have it all. We would like to invite you to meet another talented artist from our region that is making a name for herself. Maria Theresa Rodriquez, better known as a MeMe Detroit sat down with Indieterria to discuss growing up within musical family, acting career and who she would take to Glastonbury with her.
Maria Theresa Rodriquez (vocals and guitar)
Paris Moon Fennell (bass)
Nick Sharman (live drummer)
There are many theories as to what “MeMe Detroit” stands for. Brum Radio speculated that it is the name of your alter ego that you take up on stage, BBC Introducing wrote that it was taken from an old American movie. What or maybe who is MeMe Detroit?
Maria: “MeMe Detroit” is in fact the alter ego of me, Maria Theresa Rodriguez. MeMe comes from the nickname given to me by my Grandma as a kid. The Detroit part? That just happened to be written my other half’s T-shirt when thinking of a name! (laughing)
Everything about you is a bit mysterious. In interviews you refer to MeMe as a “project” but you perform with the same musicians. We need to ask is MeMe Detroit a solo endeavour or a full fledged band? Who accompanies you on stage?
Maria: MeMe Detroit started off as a solo endeavour, however as the live show came together, it morphed into a bit of both. My band members are now a massive part of it. Paris Moon Fennell is a kick ass bassist and she just oozes cool. We’re currently auditioning for a new full time drummer but have the awesome Nick Sharman in as our current live drummer.
Tell us about the striking make up you are wearing during performances? It looks like a tribal tattoo. Is there any meaning behind it?
Maria: I wanted to do something that says, “This is MeMe Detroit”, something I could almost morph into, a branding kind of thing. I sat in front of a mirror for several hours, getting a numb butt and trying out different make up and colour designs before settling on what you see on stage now. It was inspired a little by Daryl Hannah’s look in the original “Blade Runner” film.
You grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon in a mixed raced family with Colombian and English family members. Was your childhood any different than that of your peers?
Maria: I wouldn’t say it was different, although I used to secretly pray that the teachers wouldn’t read out my full name during registration (laughing)! There was a small element of bullying in school that came with being “half foreign” which I’m not gonna lie, did affect me but I think now I’m older, it made me want to shout out about my background and heritages even more! I’m proud as fuck of my British and of my Colombian ethnicity. Also, I got to have well cool holidays as a kid visiting British seaside towns and South A-fucking-America!
Has your upbringing shaped you as an artist?
Maria: My whole family were and still are all pretty big music fans so I was constantly surrounded by music of all genres growing up. My dad used to play Latin hits, turning the volume up really loud in the car and winding down all the windows driving through the town centre to embarrass me as a kid! Whilst my Grandma would play dress up with me and get me singing and performing plays & musicals! Then there was the box of vinyl that’s been passed through generations, each adding their element. Having that huge influence of multi-genres in my every day life has definitely shaped me as an artist.
Despite developing an acute allergy to Shakespeare in your youth, you worked as an actress, with much success. Is your stage and film experience useful in your current career?
Maria: Ha ha ha! Funny you should ask! We’ve just shot a new video which we’ve approached as more of a short film. It’s mega handy being able to act when you’re in need of an actor for a video. And it is helpful when shooting videos in general, especially live streams!
You debuted in 2016 with an EP entitled “‘Live to Love You’ll Love to Live” to one of the best reviews for an independent release we have ever heard. Punk rock legend, John Robb (The Membranes) called you “outstanding”, Louder Than War magazine wrote that you “bridge the gaps between indie, grunge and blues rock” and BBC West Midlands insisted that your music is “simply spectacular”. Have you ever thought of receiving such positive reaction to your work?
Maria: No I have not. You always dream of it but I’m also my own worst critic! I do believe in my work now though more than ever so to have that backed up by such awesome comments and reviews is really humbling and just is really bloody ace!
Tell us more about your newest material “Life In the now”. You have described it in previous interviews as your best compositions so far. Where have you recorded it and how many tracks are on it?
Maria: “Life In The Now” was recorded at Park Studios in Birmingham with producer Alastair Jamieson. There’s 5 tracks on it including singles, “Soc Med Junkies”, “Churchside Inn” & “De Moe”. I wanted to make a powerful in-your-face record with a running theme of positivist underneath it, a fun fuelled blast of Uplifting Angst.
You will be touring quite a bit in the coming months: Birmingham, Stourbridge, Oxford, Mossley – can you tell us what people can expect from your live performances. Also, is there a chance to catch you at any of the summer festivals this year?
Maria: For me, playing live is really what being a musician is all about but it would be nothing without the fans. They’re as much a part of it as we are. Being up there and getting to be completely engulfed in a music fuelled intoxication, music that you’ve made and then getting to share that magnetic euphoria with a crowd of people all on the same level. Nothing fucking beats it!
So far on the festival front, We’ll be at Lichfield Arts Fuse festival in July.
The word on the circuit is that there may be a new single shortly. If it’s true, are you able to reveal anything about the song?
Maria: That it is! We are actually releasing a single version of the track “Will You Be My Lie” which is taken from the “Life In The Now” EP. It’ll be released in May alongside the short film/video and with a brand new remix by an awesome artist called DantannaBeatz, which incidentally, I have just heard for the first time this eve and it’s killer!
Cheeky question but we just can’t help ourselves. Imagine you were given the right to curate a stage at Glasto and you can take 5 acts from West Midlands. Who gets to play?
You can follow Maria on social media at:
You can stream and buy Meme`s music from the link below:
Me Me Detroit will perform at The Victoria in Birmingham on Saturday, 23rd of March alongside London based bands MOSES, Dirty Orange, and Malvern rockers, The Dead Dads Club. The show is organised by Modern Age Music. Tickets costs £5 and the doors are opening at 7:00 pm.
See you soon!