What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
I’ve been playing music since as long as I can remember, starting with classical piano at age 4, and so was always curious to try new instruments and different styles of music. I played jazz piano and classical flute in high school, taught myself guitar and then tried trumpet. I’ve always been singing- in a formal all girls choir as a kid, then in a couple bands in New York when I went to college. Maybe some early Mary Poppins or Sound of Music viewing gave me the initial desire to sing, to bring joy and light into a home.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
I wrote “After All” before playing my first solo tour in Italy in October 2018. In 2017, I moved my life from New York to Paris, and after spending 3 weeks back in the US, I returned to Paris realizing that it had really become my new home. The song explores this feeling of being more comfortable living abroad, the independence in being alone and not being tied to any expectations. At the end of the day, “to whom do we really belong- to ourselves, to the clocks, to the woman down the hall.” I recorded it with my friend Kevin Keight who I met while doing a live session at Hotel Radio Paris in December 2018, and he arranged, mixed, and mastered the track, with Guillaume Gallato on the guitar.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
I listened to so much Beach House as a teenager (I saw them open for Vampire Weekend when I was 13 years old) and always loved the way their music hits me in the heart- its romantic and dreamy and holds memories well. I’m currently listening to bands like Big Thief, Julia Jacklin, Connan Mockasin, and Men I Trust. But I love to dive back into oldies, like Simon and Garfunkel and Sam Cooke. Non music wise- I know it’s a bit of a cliché- but I really love Wes Anderson’s films. I’m also reading a french book called Nord Perdu by Nancy Huston, and thats influencing me a lot right now. She talks about her experience of being an expat, and her relation to her home country versus her chosen country.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
My sound is evolving from the first EP I released in 2017, which was straightforward indie-folk, with just voice, guitar, and bass. This new single, along with my upcoming EP, adds in beats and synths, verging into indie-pop. The storytelling aspect of folky lyrics is still there though. I would describe my sound as warm and nostalgic. My music doesn’t fall into one category, and sometimes I don’t know if I can even call myself a folk artist because I play the electric guitar. My hope is that people can identify with what I’m singing, whether its through the words or the melodies. Living in Paris, I often play to audiences where english isn’t a first language, so some of my lyrics may get lost in translation. But somehow people still manage to connect with the feeling which is the most important. And maybe a big smile goes a long way.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
3 albums: Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits, Debussy collected works, and music from The Sims
3 movies: Stop Making Sense (Talking Heads movie), The Life Aquatic, and Sweeney Todd
3 books: An atlas (to get better at geography), a book of logic puzzles (including sudoku!), and a book of French idioms
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
Performing live. I used to be so nervous performing live that my hands would shake while I played the guitar, but now I’ve done it so many times and seen my progress. It’s a challenge every time I play to be calm and confident, and connect with the audience more. I feel very fulfilled and grateful after playing a good live set. Recording has always felt intimidating to me because it feels final, that people are going to hear every single note forever. Sometimes that can be a good thing if you sing a killer note.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
In middle school I turned the first twenty elements of the periodic table into a song so I could memorize them for the test. I should think about dropping that track soon.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
I would say “And The Rest” off of my first EP. I had written the guitar part in this alternate celtic tuning DADGAD, and spent months trying to fit lyrics over it but it was just too strange. Someday while I was working as an au pair here in Paris, this idea of writing about all the people living in my friends building came to me, and seemed to match the sporadic nature of the song. The friend who it was written about, and who recorded it in that same building, kept teasing me that the song didn’t make any sense. It made sense to me !
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
I am currently working on a second EP, to be released in the fall of 2019. I have lots of unrecorded material that I play in my live shows to eventually be used in a full album, but that must come later…I guess I need to build “hype.”
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
Dev Hynes (of Blood Orange). When I lived in New York I had a fantasy of taking him on a date to the fish aquarium store on Delancey street.
Photo credits: Mona Boitière (http://monaboitiere.com/)
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
Connect with Mackenzie Leighton: