San Francisco singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Maria Donjacour joined MJ on West of Twin Peaks Radio for a deep dive into her solo project, Medscool, in February 2023. Maria is the former drummer of Lofi Legs and currently drums in another local band we love, Secret Secret. Maria stepped to the front of the stage and songwriting process for Medscool’s emotionally revealing debut LP RAW, all about finding and loving yourself. It made’s Top Local 30 of 2023! Listen in to their full conversation here, and enjoy a few snippets below.

MJ: Raw is literally raw, lyrically. You're exposing a lot of intense personal emotions. How are you feeling about performing that live?

We've been playing these songs for about a year now, so it's feeling a little bit more distant from the experiences that triggered these songs. I feel a little bit of distance from that vulnerability, but it's still also pretty exhausting to go back into those feelings. But it's a little less scary now, and after I perform these songs, people come up to me and say how much it resonates with them.

MJ: So let's do a little backstory on this. When did you write these songs?

Up until the pandemic, I hadn’t really been writing too many songs. I just kind of gigging as a drummer, and I would say I was part of the writing process for both Secret Secret and Lofi Legs, but I was never the lyricist or, you know, making up the melodies. I kind of wanted to take a stab at that. There was a moment when I just kind of had to, like, let go of the self-judgment that was coming up. I was stopping myself from writing before I had even started anything. I had to go through a process of being like…that little voice in my head is just stopping me, there's no merit behind what it's saying. So just go for it.

MJ: I see this entire album being a self discovery album, and the freedom in embracing that, getting past that self-judgment. That seems like a big turning point, not just in your songwriting, but in your life.

Most definitely. I was in a relationship that was not that was not serving me. A lot of these songs were written right after I made the decision to leave that relationship behind and the feelings that were coming up after that. I'm glad that you got that from the album because that's definitely how it felt: self-discovery and self-love and, you know, choosing to be raw and vulnerable rather than hiding. Really being true to how I was feeling and what my needs were.

MJ: One of the songs that jumped out at me was “Clouds of Dust.”

“Clouds of Dust” was written at a turning point before I realized that this relationship was not good for me. I think it might have been the first song that I wrote for this album. I was kind of in the midst of…lockdown so a lot of, like, depression and confusion about what was going on in my life and the world in general and also realizing that I was stopping myself from loving myself and being self-critical. So that song is definitely like a clearing of like, “Oh, I don't have to hate myself. I can just love who I am right now and work on things I want to work on, and I don't have to be so critical.”

MJ: You are a huge part of the San Francisco music scene because you play in so many different projects. You're not old by any means, but at the same time, you've been around for a while. How would you describe the health of the San Francisco music scene right now?

I think that the music scene is doing really well. I know some folks get a little bit frustrated with how small it can feel here. It's just, you know…it’s physically smaller. San Francisco is only seven by seven, though we have the East Bay as well. Secret Secret has played a few shows in LA, so I’m just starting to see what it's like in other places, and I've realized that the SF music scene is very small in comparison to a lot of other scenes. But I think that's kind of the beauty of it. There's a lot of community, and there's a lot of support between bands. If you go to a show, you're gonna see some folks that you know. I love that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing who's around, but there's still new people to discover as well.

For more about the recording process, how Maria’s background as a dancer influences her music, and the story behind “Northlake Blvd,” listen to MJ’s full conversation with Maria. Medscool has a new 2024 line-up and is playing new shows, too! Check them out at Kilowatt on February 10. Details here.