Maria Isa in Museum Exhibit | First Ave: Stories of MN’s Main Room

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I discovered Maria Isa through her song “Royalty” with Muja Messiah in 2008. I tried to keep an ear to Minnesota’s thriving music scene after migrating to LA months prior, and found Maria and Muja’s tunes refreshing, adroit and most important – original. By 2011 the duo formed Villa Rosa, debuting their LP Blue Diamond Island.

When I saw their name on the 2012 Soundset flyer, I knew I had to plant a seed for future potentialities. After their set I gave props and introduced myself, the next day I hand-delivered Maria raw video of their set on four DVD’s.

April 2013 we rendezvoused at Venice Beach for an impromptu photo shoot. When Maria returned to LA in August, I documented her performance at the X-Games.

2014 I brought in Picture Perfect Paredes (Michael) to turn the collaboration up a level.  From Joshua Tree and LA, to Minneapolis and the Bay, we beasted on countless sessions with Villa Rosa.

Music videos w/ hip hop legends, album covers on mountain tops, even a short film for my sociology class, Villa Rosa is not only Drastic family, they’re the source that suggested our name.

DJ Keezy is a DJ and event curator from Minneapolis. In 2015 she founded The Fixx which evolved into The Klituation, a dance party celebrating women, women-identifying, non-conforming, and queer women. Maria had been involved since the start, and plugged me w/ photo access anytime I was in Minneapolis.


Since its conception, The Klituation has transformed into one of the biggest parties in the Twin Cities, from consistently selling out venues to partnering w/ Soundset.

A few months ago I received an email from the Minnesota Historical Society, requesting use of a capture I shot of Maria & DJ Keezy w/ Lexi Alijai backstage from a 2017 Klituation show.

The feature ended up being in an exhibit at the Minnesota History Center museum, honoring the most legendary music venue in Minneapolis, First Avenue.

This recognition is beyond deserved for Maria. Not only is her music & performance catalog top tier, but her fervent activism, community service and youth education are lightyears past any artist in the Western Hemisphere.

Her work ethic is unparalleled, she fights for what’s right and her smile is contagious. She’s a unicorn.

I happen to be at the right place, at the right time.

Minnesota Historical Society’s exhibition First Avenue: Stories of MN’s Mainroom showcases over 50 years of the heart of MN’s music scene, from disco & punk shows to Prince & hip-hop. Without question one of the coolest exhibits showcasing music history in Minnesota. Old booking notebooks, movie props, video footy, they even got Doomtree’s tour van in there. The exhibit is open through May 2020, be sure to check out the stories and legacy of one of the country’s longest independently owned music clubs. Until then, follow Maria, listen and buy her catalog, and show your friends.

Story & captures by Adam Stanzak