This is the world according to Maria Brink

As In This Moment bring their musical circus back to ever-bigger stages, we get inside the head of the woman behind the controversy and the chaos

“So many people have inspired my singing style. For female vocalists, I’d say Lisa Gerrard [composer, and singer with Dead Can Dance], because she’s just enchanting. For male vocalists, the list is so long – Trent Reznor, Chino Moreno… Luckily, knock on wood, I don’t usually lose my voice. I don’t really warm up; I feel like I have to get ready mentally more than I do physically. I do think singers should warm up, obviously, but most people have a different routine, and mine involves creating the mindset where I can become the characters in the songs. If I do that, the voice just comes.”

“I started directing to make sense of the ideas that were in my head. I’m such a passionate person that, if I come up with a song, it only makes sense for me to build the conceptual idea around that song. I don’t just think, ‘Oh, there’s that song’ – I start to think up stories and characters that inhabit the world of that song. I’ve co-directed with Robert Kley, who’s more the cinematographer – the artist, if you like – and he’s amazing. But it’s something I’d like to do more of. I’d like to get into films and acting – it’s the same energy where you can leave your life behind and escape reality. It’s very exciting, it’s all imagination.”

“When I’m writing songs, I’m seeing the costumes and how they will look onstage. As a little girl, I had this really cool mom who was such an inspiration to me. She loved Alice Cooper and Stevie Nicks, and showed me The Rocky Horror Picture Show; I’ve always loved the theatrical side of things. I’m inspired by anyone who’s creative with their style – anyone who’s instantly recognisable. Going back to the pop world with people like Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson… you have to have the music, of course, but you aim to have an emotional reaction to how they look, too.”

“If I had a dinner party, there’d be a lot of cheeses and wine. I don’t really have a signature dish, but I’d cook maybe a portobello mushroom with tomato and cheese. I only eat fish, so there’s a salt fish that I’ve been cooking since I was a little girl. I guess that would be something people associate with me. I’m also half Cuban – I don’t think a lot of people know that – so there’s a lot of Cuban-inspired food in our house.”

“I couldn’t pick one greatest place in the world or live in one place, because there are so many things to see, and so many beautiful places. If I had the chance, I’d live in a different country or city every year and then move, to really see the world. There are so many places and we travel such a lot. If we get somewhere early, I may have some time to have a look around, but usually you’re taken off to do press and you’re thinking, ‘I’m in Paris! I want to run outside and see something!’ Paris and Amsterdam are both so exceptional. Tokyo, too… ”

“I stay active by dancing onstage with my band for an hour and a half. I’m not a gym girl. When I’m home, I do yoga to stay toned. It helps with my body and my mind. As for plastic surgery, I do think about when I start to get older and whether I would want to alter myself. But I don’t want to change who I am. Like, I’ve got this pointy little nose. But it’s my pointy little noise. But if it was just maintaining how I look now? Who knows? I wouldn’t judge any women that get surgery to do that, but it makes me sad when women get it to change who they are. Because I’d like them to love the person they are.”

“It’s exciting to shock people. You have to do it in a classy way, though, or it comes across as contrived. Controversy is more of just who we are, rather than me going, ‘How can I create controversy?’ There are statements I want to make, things I want to say. Often we choose to do them in a harsh and straightforward way. If you take something like Whore [the 2013 single for which Maria posed naked], people might have been offended, but if they looked a little deeper, then they’d see the point I was trying to make. If you have something to say, there will always be haters and people who want to shut you down.”

“I try to make myself part of the party, but I’m more of a chilled, relaxing music, laidback, candles, hippy person, rather than a ‘Let’s go to the club and get wasted!’ person. I run from that! If we’re on tour, we’ll throw parties and invite people to hang out with us, but I’m throwing the party then, so I feel like I’m more in control of what’s going on. It’s my vibe; I feel more comfortable in it. I’m not a huge drinker, although I do love a glass of wine.”

“I’m more interested in sci-fi and fantasy than romantic comedies. I’m not the usual girly girl, the cutesy girl. I’m more interested in anything with a story that’s engaging and imaginative , that takes me away from the real world. Although one of my favourites is [2001 drama] Drive – such a great movie! Another one is [Ridley Scott’s 1985 fantasy adventure] Legend, with a young Tom Cruise. He’s such a great actor.”

“It’s hard for me to sit and read a book. I think it’s because I’m a manic person. I read some autobiographies, like Jim Morrison’s, and I read The Hobbit. But it’s been a while. One of my favourite books is Alice In Wonderland, and I have a lot of the characters from that around my house. I’m a fan of anything that captures the imagination and takes you off to a fantasy world. You’ve made me realise I’ve not read in a while. Maybe that’s going to inspire me to go out and search for something to read now…”

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.