Marina Maximilian is still sounding a bit under the weather. A week earlier, the stylistic singer/songwriter had been forced to cancel the Tel Aviv premiere concert of her debut album, Step into My World.
The versatile 25-year-old performer certainly has not followed a cookie-cutter career progression since rising to national prominence as a teen in the fifth season of Kochav Nolad (A Star Is Born) in 2007, where she finished as runnerup.
Instead of rushing out an album and cashing in on her sudden fame, she took her time, releasing a single “Sof Sof” and hitting the concert trail. She also veered off into a side trip of acting – onstage with the Cameri Theater and on TV with a regular role in HOT 3’s Hasufim (Exposed).
Still, an anticipated debut album never materialized. And now, more than five years after her initial success, with only two additional singles released – 2011’s “Deep in the Dew” and this year’s “Two Pigs” – Maximilian’s debut, Step into My World, finds her further confounding followers by singing exclusively in English.
“I think that at the moment, my material in English is riper. I tried to write in Hebrew, but it wasn’t working,” says Maximilian. “I also think that all the sides of my personality are able to express themselves right now in English. It’s easier to express myself in song in English because Hebrew is a less emotional language for me.”
Born in Ukraine, Marina Maximilian Blumin arrived in Israel at age three with her parents. The Blumins settled in Bnei Brak, where her mother taught in a music conservatory and the young Marina studied piano and sang in a choir.
“My mother was directly connected to making music part of my life,” says Maximilian. “Later, I got to pay her back by introducing her to a lot music that she didn’t know because she educated me only about classical music. At some stage, I exposed her to some other styles like jazz and pop and my own material that also crosses genres.”
By the time she was 15, Maximilian was performing in jazz clubs and later at the Red Sea Jazz Festival, impressing audiences with the scope of her vocal talents. But it was her stint on Kochav Nolad that propelled her into the Israeli consciousness.
“I had experience already, but in totally other aspects of performing,” she says. “Kochav Nolad was a real education – it was learning a craft by receiving such wide-ranging feedback and seeing how I reacted to it and how it influenced my creativity,” she explains.
“I discovered that even though I came from a different field, I liked the change. It interested me to develop myself because I discovered that there are other things that out there I wanted to know and gain skills in. The experience really opened me. The most important part of Kochav Nolad was that I met my real self,” She reveals.
Step into My World offers a number of Maximilian’s selves, from operatic diva, to r&b soulster to piano balladeer. Sometimes it sounds natural and sometimes forced, but Maximilian’s dominating presence cuts through all the production at any given moment.
Even though she has been dividing her time between her singing and acting careers, Maximilian has no qualms about expressing where her allegiance lies.
“Acting and music are totally different. My heart isn’t really in acting, it’s in music. I really like being onstage and performing. I’m much less in control as an actor,” she says.
“In music, I’m the screenwriter, the director, the editor – I’m all these roles in my performances. As an actress, I’m one small cog in a big system. There’s something nice about that, and I love and connect with the action that takes place on stage. But it’s impossible to compare anything to my life in music,” she asserts.
Maximilian’s debut of Step into My World is taking place on September 21 at the Rishon Lezion Music Festival during chol hamoed Succot.
Other artists appearing at the festival include Ivry Lider, TIslam, Ehud Banai, Lior Narkiss and David Broza.
Upcoming performances by Maximilian are scheduled for October 1 at the Zappa Club in Tel Aviv, October 9 at Zappa in Jerusalem, and October 19 at Zappa Herzliya.
Catch her while you can because just as she’s taken the path less traveled until the age of 25, Maximilian doesn’t expect to stay stagnant in the future.
“I want to do more than music and acting in the future. I’m sure that I’ll develop in more directions, everything connected to performance and creativity.”
Sapir Sharvit contributed to this article.