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Get Acquainted With Eclectic Singer/Songwriter Alexandria Maillot

Photo: Loudmouth Artist Management

Alexandria Maillot is musically building momentum through her eclectic and swoony popish sound.  Last year marked the Vancouver-based artist’s first Western Canada tour, first cross-Canada tour and first batch of “legit” showcases and festivals outside of the country. In-between travelling on the road was time for writing, recording and even battles with chronic bronchitis. Looking forward into this year are plans to release a sophomore album “with novel narratives derived from latter-day love, loss and life lessons.”

The next Western Canada tour kicks off February 12th through Alberta and British Columbia, and promises to combine charming vocals, melodies and lyrics. After 7 stops around Alberta, Alexandra Maillot and Kirsten Ludwig play two shows in Kelowna on February 20 and end the Western Canada tour in Vancouver at Guilt & Company on February 21.

Tour Dates

Check www.alexandriamaillot.com for more information.

As a singer and songwriter, what first made you connect the pen to paper?

I was – what my family in unison would describe as – a “demon” child; I was unable to control my emotional outbursts and was constantly screaming and ended up with this super scratchy voice as a child, but the one thing my parents did notice early on was that music would shut me up pretty good. Every car ride I would demand them play either the Lion King or The Little Mermaid, and in return my parents would get a happy singing child with a smokers-voice and a peaceful car ride. I can’t remember how old I was when I started recognizing that writing words down on paper and creating lyrics for songs had a proper term, but I can remember being 6 or 7 years old and “songwriting” and feeling a huge release in emotion. I don’t know why I was such an angry child, but I am guessing it was my lack of an outlet to express myself, and once I found music, I finally had an appropriate channel of expression.

What is your sound and do you fit into a particular genre?

I am not one for made-up genre descriptors… but in all honesty I feel like the most apt genre-title would be “alternative bedroom pop”. I don’t like calling myself pop, even though the formula I work within is definitely derived from popular music, and I don’t think of myself as “singer-songwriter” because for me that’s just about as vague as saying “indie”. When I think of alternative bedroom pop, I think of music written in the middle of the night recorded on a shitty recorder with the intention of only being heard by the writer. We ended up using a lot of elements from the initial voice memo demos or loops I had used in garageband for the final tracks on the album, which gave the songs a lot of life and realism. I don’t know, I always digress when I’m asked this question and I’m still not sure how to elegantly answer it.

Photo: Loudmouth Artist Management

How did your debut EP Just Another Girl encapsulate your adolescence? 

There are so many emotions that flare up when a song from Just Another Girl comes on shuffle in my music library; I’m reminded of so many pivotal moments of personal growth. I began writing it when I was 13, which was one of the harder years for me, as my parents were divorcing, I had lots of health problems, I was being bullied in school… I like to think that was when my response to music began to mature. I self-financed the recording of each song over the course of several years, and within that time frame: my parents began new relationships, I graduated high school early, I moved out when I was 16, I began my first serious relationship, I made a living busking (specifically, the Inner Harbour in Victoria) and paid my rent in rolls from the bank, moved to Vancouver for my first serious acting job, etc. Writing was the only constant amidst all of the change. After I finished recording, I held on to album for a couple more years until deciding perhaps it was worth releasing as a means of applying for a BC based music program called the Peak Performance Project, which was a development program for emerging artists in its fourth year. I released the album, then being 19, and like I had hoped, was chosen as one of the 20 artists to be in the project. I am quite proud of what I was able to accomplish on my own from such a young age with this very naive but passionate determination. I think my problem since birth has always been that I am incredibly stubborn and have a hard time listening to advice, but that stubbornness has been my constant companion and has provided some pretty amazing endeavours. That’s what I am reminded of most, listening back to the album.

What is the greatest thing you’ve learned over a decade of performances?

I think this is still an evolving idea, as I learn something new every time a new setting or situation is experienced. So far, the biggest realization has been that I am much more content playing in smaller venues versus bigger venues. I would rather play in an eclectic setting, like a house concert or hat shop or yoga studio, where attentive ears are abundant, than play in a bar or club where I feel like I am inconveniencing the patrons I am having to play over. Some of my most favourite shows to watch were when the artists had a super simple stage set-up and played right in front of their crowd and engaged each and every person and made everyone in the room a vital part of the show outcome. I’d like to play a show that means something to everyone in the room – not in a conceited manner, but everyone who is there wants to be there and cares about being there just as much as I do. I used to want to feel validated in my music by trying to emulate gimmicks and spectacles I had witnessed in the past, but those never left me fulfilled and I always felt like I was side-stepping from the reason why I started making music in the first place. For me, the simplicity in music is magic.

What is the concept behind your forthcoming and second album? 

Time is my first full-length album, and was created in a short timeline and came from a very specific mindset. The first song off the album I wrote, Time, was the first song I had written after an incredibly unexpected break-up with my partner of over 5 years. It shook my entire world, quite literally, as within a day I found myself packing my things, crashing on friend’s couches until I was able to find my own place. I numbed the days by working 16 hours and keeping my mind busy and not letting myself think or breathe deep or slow down. I went in to a pretty deep depression, which is something I haven’t really talked much about, but I don’t honestly know where I would be if I didn’t have music to help me find my path in times of severe doubt. After about a month of completely shutting myself off from the world, I wrote the song, and slowly began integrating myself into society again. And then the songs began to surface, every time I would be at home, typically in the wee hours of the morning, I would be sitting down with pen and paper, just sorting through my thoughts and trying to find sanctuary within the words. It only felt appropriate to title the album, Time, as it really took everything in my power to get out of my own isolation.

Photo: Loudmouth Artist Management

What was it like growing up on Vancouver Island and writing songs since the age of ten?

I was born in Prince George and my family lived in the interior of BC until I was 7 when we moved to the island for my mom’s work. It was a bit of a rough go in the beginning, as we moved from home to home for the first few years; we lived in my great-grandparent’s attic at one point, then we lived in a hotel for a bit… It never really bothered me and my sisters, though. We lived in Parksville for the most part, which is located mid-island about an hour and a bit North of Victoria, and I spent my days biking around town, going to the beach or playing hockey. My parents eventually purchased a 1-story house which we self-renovated in to a 2-story family home, my dad putting all the kids to work, laying down the foundation and putting insulation in. Dial up, a 7-channel television, and a tub full of puzzles… living on the island was pretty simple. We would go camping as much as we could in our second-hand tent trailer, eating lots of popcorn over the fire and picking a bucket-load of blackberries to make pancakes and compote with. I remember I wrote my first song when we were camping in Parksville (during our home renovations, so we basically lived in our tent-trailer), my mom and younger sister were playing cards – I’m pretty sure i was 9 – and I remember thinking “I want to get better at writing songs” so I asked my mom for her opinion of the lyrics I wrote and she helped me name the song “Stop Wishing Your Life Away,” and that song was actually the first song I ever recorded and landed me an opportunity two years later to perform in Bucharest, Romania for a Children’s Festival called the “Golden Star.”

What is chronic bronchitis and how have you dealt with it?

Chronic bronchitis is a respiratory disease that is but a small issue in the chain of health issues I have spent the better part of my life trying to get a handle on. I have always had bad allergies and asthma, and my immune system is pretty crap. I’m anaemic, which doesn’t help. So, my health has always been on a bit of a roller coaster. I’m dealing with it the best way I can by eating healthy, not drinking or smoking, or allowing anything that I have control of compromise my wellbeing.

Top 5 musical influences?

Stampeders, Zaki Ibrahim, Mama and Papas, Feist, Etta James

Favourite Vancouver music spots?

I really like going to the Juniper Room, which my friend Francis runs. It’s a sweet bedroom-turned-recording-studio-turned-music-venue in an industrial block that has a sweet vibe with lots of good music and good people. For more traditional venues, I tend to spend a lot of time at the Biltmore or the Cobalt. Also, places like Hiddenburg or Chinacloud or Lanalous are a lot of fun. As a side note, one of my favourite restaurants, East is East on Main, has live music every night in their Chai Lounge and I try to go bi-weekly because it is so freaking cool.

Advice for aspiring artists?

Be humble and kind. Try to support those around you with similar interests and never forget to thank everyone around you twice.

 

 

Interview by: Amar Mirchandani @amarmirch

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