Legacy can mean different things to different people. For some, legacy is simply about blood ties. For others, it’s about making positive decisions that will impact future generations. For Austrian-born Maria Burger, who performs as indie-pop singer/songwriter OSKA, legacy is about both of these things. It’s a theme that looms over her remarkable debut album, My world, My love, Paris.
The youngest of eight, with four older siblings and three half siblings above her, Maria grew up in a large family where music was in every room of the house. Her mother, also a musician, filled their home with the sounds of guitar, Irish music and ballets. As she grew up, Maria learned to play guitar herself, racing home after school to write songs, drawing influence from all over the spectrum: Joan Baez, Regina Spektor, Jack Johnson, Kate Nash, Sara Bareilles, and even Irish Traditional Music.
Today, Maria has taken her rich musical upbringing to Vienna, where she’s putting the finishing touches on My world, My love, Paris, which features the already-released singles “Lousy T-Shirt,” “Crooked Teeth,” and “Woodstock.” Her tastes, of course, have evolved over the years; at 25, Maria cites today’s most innovative singer-songwriters as influences: Phoebe Bridgers, Adrianne Lenker, Sufjan Stevens, and Christian Lee Hutson. As OSKA, Maria creates an inviting world of bright melodies, grooving rhythms, and poetic, storytelling lyrics. On her debut EP, Honeymoon Phase, audiences got a taste of Maria’s elegant songwriting, which touches on familiar themes like love, heartbreak, climate change, and family.
“Family has influenced me so much,” Maria says. “I’m fascinated by family structures in general and how they work,” Maria says. “I’m fascinated by the families my friends grew up in, how I grew up, and what my family at some point will look like. I think that’s a very big part of growing up, to question these family structures. I’m so close to my siblings. They influence me a lot as a person. Just having this net of people that you can always fall back on. And it’s so beautiful, but at some point, you also need to grow up.”
On the spare, acoustically strummed “Crooked Teeth,” Maria considers the ways her siblings have experienced loss — something she can understand much more fully as an adult. “My siblings and I all have crooked teeth,” she says. “The idea was that everything changes after experiencing a tragic event. It’s hard to feel joy, to laugh like you used to – carefree laughs with carefree smiles, crooked teeth and all.”
Even the album’s title, My world, My love, Paris, is an anxious reminder that the planet’s future has never been more uncertain. Conceived near the start of the pandemic, “My world, My love, Paris,” as the album’s title track, tells the story of a couple who board a boat as the world comes to an end. As they sail away, they ask each other, “Could we have made more of our lives?” It’s a spiritual cousin to a song by one of Maria’s major inspirations, Edith Piaf, who sang, “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (“No, I do not regret anything”).
The first taste of My world, My love, Paris is the recently released gorgeous, jangling lead single “Starstruck,” which borrows inspiration from the classic 2004 film Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. “If I ever lose you, I’d want to clear my head / Because a spotless mind is what I need for a life without you,” Maria croons over an echoing chorus and quickened beat.
Elsewhere, the aching “Lousy T-Shirt” is a classic heartbreak ballad: Over delicate acoustic strums, Maria opens up about the end of a relationship, singing, “Every time I think of us, it’s like a movie that I used to love.” And on the upbeat single “Woodstock,” Maria again leans into direct inspiration to tell a story about herself. Inspired by a famous photo of a young couple huddled under a blanket at Woodstock ‘69, the pop-minded track about wanting to live in the moment. (“I’m a person who does not live in the moment at all,” Maria laughs.)
Despite its various themes, My world, My love, Paris is ultimately a snapshot of a young woman attempting to make sense of getting older in an increasingly uncertain era. On the forthcoming track “Responsibility,” Maria implores would-be (and current) parents to think about the world they’re passing down to their children. After all, someday they will have to get by on their own.
“I was always helped because I was the youngest,” Maria fondly recalls of her childhood, while acknowledging how mindsets inevitably shift in adulthood. “My mom lost her mom when she was 28. As a kid, I never really thought about what that meant. And now that I’m getting to that age more and more, I’m realizing, this is the most horrible thing ever. Perspectives change. Relationships with friends and family and the people around you — My world, My love, Paris is about making sense out of that.”