IBG Interview – 8 Questions With… Life As Mary

For a songwriter, a song idea can come to you at any moment. Even after a break of 15 years, the musical ideas still remain in the mind. Our recent find Life As Mary is back to create the thing she loves.

We caught up with Life As Mary for a deeper look into her development as an artist. Enjoy the interview here:

First off, tell us about the name Life As Mary?

 My first name is Mary, but my parents never called me by that name. My close friends and family all called me by my middle name. It could get a little confusing in school and with official matters. Anyway, I always wondered what life would be like if everyone called me “Mary” and that’s how I came up with the artist name. Now people call me by both Mary and my middle name. 

How would you describe your sound?

Early on, critics found it difficult to label my sound. It was described as eclectic folk pop. More recently, my music has been described as punk or indie or alternative rock. I was trained as a classical pianist and grew up singing church hymns. I didn’t really begin listening (and by listening, I mean studying) popular music until I was 16 or 17. All of these factors definitely had an effect on my sound which continues to morph through my experience as a songwriter.

Who would you say have been your biggest musical influences?

Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Brahms, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Natalie Merchant, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, Morissey, Siouxie and the Banshees, Ramones, Violent Femmes, The Pretenders, Elliott Smith, Lucinda Wiliams, Jenny Lewis and whatever I’m hooked on at the moment. When I find music I like, I tend to exhaust it sometimes for days, weeks or even months.

How does a song come to you? What is your songwriting process?

Sometimes it’s the lyrics first, sometimes it’s the melody. Sometimes the words and melody come at the same time. Usually, inspiration occurs when I’m not at my instrument, so I keep my phone handy to take voice memos. I prefer to write in a spiral bound notebook with lots of scratching out and circling and side notes – much like what I imagine a mad scientist’s notebook might look like but with words and chord progressions instead of numbers and equations. 

Your latest single “Deconstructed” seems to have some angst behind it. Can you share the story in the song?

I was at the piano playing some chords, and I just started singing the first line – “I don’t want to make you cry, just want to make you hurt for awhile.” I didn’t know the story at that point. It’s like the emotion came out of me before I could piece the story together. It’s definitely about anger, and about being the type of person who doesn’t openly express anger but pushes it all down inside. And even though the feelings and emotions are being pushed down, there are still thoughts of what you wish you could say or do.

What do you hope the listener takes away from a song by Life As Mary?

I think it’s important for listeners to relate in their own unique way, whether that’s humming along to the melody or finding special meaning for themselves in the lyrics. It would be amazing to know that someone felt a connection to one of my songs in a deeply personal way.

Give us some advice for other artists creating a unique path?

People will give you bad advice so be careful whose advice you take. Learn all you can about the writing and production process so that you can take the lead in all the creative choices surrounding your music. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Continue to work until it’s the way you want it. Don’t settle for something less. 

What does the future hold for Life As Mary?

I took a long break from writing – 15 years! Now that I’m back, I don’t plan to stop. I love writing and creating and that’s what I’m going to keep doing from now on.

Follow Life Of Mary on Instagram.

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