Mary is a part of the Muziclab family – visit her profile here.
Mary moved to Boston from her native Traverse City, MI in 2003 in order to study at Berklee College of Music.
She wrote her first song at the age of 9 and more recently released her debut album Lovely Life.
If you could tell me in one sentence what music is and what music means to you?
Music is sound and emotion – emotions coming together
Hard to put it all in one sentence, right?
You capture it with one sense – if it’s good music, it builds up all your senses in a same way that a really good story would.
When you’re singing a song, what goes through your mind?
It depends on a song, so a lot of my songs about a particular experience – not all of them, but if they are about one person or an experience that I had, then I’m thinking about that.
If it’s something that I made up, I’m still thinking about the emphasis in my life and capture what I think the song is supposed to be about, what it would feel like to be in that person’s shoes.
When I’m performing I’m thinking about stupid things like “What’s my hair doing right now?” and my face…..nobody looks good singing.
Everybody is making the ugliest face – they look hideous!
Then you try to bring it back to “Remember – you’re performing!” – You should pay attention to that!
Inevitably, nobody cares.
What about inspiration – where do you think it comes from? Personal stories?
Certainly, personal stories – for a long time I was happy. I don’t write well when I’m happy – it shouldn’t be a problem and I feel like it’s a problem for a lot of people.
I haven’t found a good way to write happy and have it not to be cornball or cheesy.
I’m trying to work on a tune right now which talks about letting go of all these ways to think of myself.
The way that everybody feels at 13, awkward, ugly and “I hate who I am” and still feeling that way 15 years later!
What about your favorite artists/people that inspire you?
I get particularly inspired by seeing local artists – I feel inspired seeing something good in my community and I say “I want to do that and I want to draw on that” and I get really fed by that experience.
Any particular names?
I could listen to Ben Folds all day.
People kept telling me that I sounded like Sara Bareilles – I started listening to her stuff and I have to say she’s fantastic!
I was just listening to an artist from Australia – her name is Kate Miller Heidke – she’s amazing.
Right now I’m working on a project called “Songs I hate”, where I cover really terrible songs and try to make them good, so I guess I’m getting inspired by bad music as well!
If you think back, was there any specific moment where you said “I want to do this!”?
I don’t know if there’s any particular moment – I was really fat, ugly, awkward kid, really socially inept, but I found piano when I was young and really liked it
Lessons were sporadic for any numbers of reasons – financial, family, but I kept up with it.
I remember being 10 years old – listening to someone like Mariah Carey and saying “God, I wish I had pipes like this!”.
I thought – “Maybe I could!” and I recorded myself and I went “Oh, that’s terrible, I should try learning to sing better!”. Then I started working on my own, trying to improve.
I started taking lessons when I was in mid-teens – that was wonderful!
I thought I was going to do theatre when I started coming out of my shell – 12-13.
I fought the idea of becoming a musician for so long. I remember this internal struggle when I was 14-15 – “No, I want to act!”, but I kept being more and more drawn into it and it become my life.
I tried other things in my life and I was miserable about it, so I said “I guess I have to keep doing this. Misery is not an option”
What about the future – do you think of music being a lifetime pursuit?
Like I said – I can’t do anything else! I tried, it doesn’t work.
After a birth of my daughter – she’s 18 months old now – I was a little scared that it was over and I have to change gears.
I didn’t want to let that piece of me go, but I thought “I got to do what’s right for her”.
I found over the course of the last year that I actually gotten more work than I ever had in my entire life as a musician.
I’ve been working solely as a musician this entire year, working harder than I ever worked and I’m exhausted but in the most wonderful way!
It’s something deeply spiritual and personal – honestly, I could care less if I get famous.by