Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Feature: Mia and the Moon (19/05/15)

Sister duo, Laura and Mary-Anne, make up Mia and the Moon. Mary-Anne’s own songs ‘Solitary Confinement’ and ‘Scenario’ reached the top ten dance chart through Radio 1 airplay and Laura performed worldwide onboard cruise ships, yachts, for hotels and was a guest vocalist at the 2011 New Orleans Jazz Festival. The duo walked from X Factor in 2012 and officially launched in the same year. The past three years have seen them rejects labels, record their debut album and now they’re ready to release it on 30th May. I caught up with Laura ahead of their ‘Fall Awake’ album release for a Q&A.

General Questions:

1. How old were you when you started getting involved in music and how?
I remember trekking around bluegrass festivals as toddlers with our parents who are musical. We used to get bored though, so would walk people’s dogs for a pound but then started hearing and copying harmonies for the first time. Our Dad played with Dolly Parton, Mum is a songwriter and Step Dad ran the ‘Acme Band’ since the 60’s so they’re able to guide and help us, which is great!

2. What is the most inspiring gig/concert/festival you’ve been to?
I wasn’t there in person but I watched Liane Carroll perform Tom Wait’s ‘Picture In A Frame’ at the Brecon Jazz Festival and she just blew me away. No fancy techno gadgets, just her voice with piano, bass, drums. The instrumentation was so minimal and I realised how stylishly instruments can be used in arrangements and how free the voice could be. I worked so hard on my vocals after watching that – practicing every day! You can catch the moments she’s to another place in her mind while performing and it’s beautiful.

3. Who have you been listening to lately?
I am a ‘situational listener’, so John Mayer’s live album is always on when getting ready for a gig! The energy and great grooves get me going! Sarah Mclachlan when I’m in the bath, I have Alanis Morissette’s live album on in the car at the mo and if we’re chilling out in the evening I love London Grammar ‘If You Wait’ or something folky like Nathaniel Rateliff.

3 Questions for Mia and the Moon:

1. Do you regret walking from X Factor and why was it important to you to walk when you did?
No regrets at all! We love it. Although I did go out of tune on the bit they showed – (I was so nervous). So I hope I get to redeem myself on TV one day! The first rounds were amazing fun and we were on cloud nine but then at bootcamp the atmosphere changed and it was like working as an extra for 12 hours a day. Then they asked to stage fights for the cameras but not film the big jam we organised and stuff like that so literally on the last day before judges houses we packed our things and bolted – I remember producers chased us down the street shouting ‘you’re making the biggest mistake of your lives’… time will tell… When we got home we thought we’d try and make an album by ourselves instead so we’re very proud and almost protective of it! And can’t believe it’s finally finished!

2. What three countries would you most like to tour and why?
I used to sing on cruise ships so have been lucky enough to travel to some freeking amazing places! Def. love to go back to New Orleans, USA! It’s like no where else on earth! We’d love to do an official tour of Europe – people stream us in Sweden/Germany/Spain so would be lovely to go there! And just for personal preference I’ll say Bali! Can you even tour to Bali? Not sure, but it looks beaut!

3. What process did you through creating and recording your debut album?
Honestly… Probably 300 more than we needed to! Neil Segrott; our producer has been an absolute star! He’s like Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid. He’s given us room to learn and stretch our producing wings while guiding and also knowing a hell of a lot more than us about how to record. Some of the tracks are from way back when Mary-Anne started writing like ‘Fall Awake’ and ‘Beautiful Burden’ then others like ‘Moira Clara’ and ‘Seldom See Ya’ were written as the album was being recorded. We wanted to stay true to the individual characters of the songs, for example ‘Mr Sophisticated’ has a live jazz trio of the recording, empty life is about being raw and alone so Maryanne just sat with a guitar – no reverb or anything on the voice, then you have something like hey pretty thing which is a bit gospel/feel good – so we have church organs, choir – it was all soooo much fun!!

Random Q:

Whose record collection would you most like to listen to and why?
Yours! Anyone that does a blog in music is going to have a pretty sick record collection!! Hopefully Mia and the Moon will make the cut!! Haha

'Fall Awake' Album Review:
The album opens with the title track 'Fall Awake', it introduces the listener perfectly and summarises their music incredibly well. It has a subtly soulful feel to it, with honest lyrics and beautiful vocals accompanied by the piano. The album follows on with 'Midnight In London' a more mellow bluesy track, painting the perfect picture of London at midnight. Similarly, the track 'Mr Sophisticated', later on in the album, holds a bluesy tone, but with a contrasting upbeat piano. 'Seldom, See Ya' is the third track on the album and offers a happier, upbeat tone reminding me of Sara Bareilles or Lenka. 'Moira Clara', 'Hey Pretty Thing', 'Moments' and 'River' hold the middle of the album (unlike some albums, which is pleasant), highlighting to me that all their songs are generally great songs. All differing slightly, whether that be because of guitar or piano, all with emotive and honestly written lyrics, stunning vocals and especially 'River' being a subtly powerful song. The album continues with 'Beautiful Burden', a slow and emotive track, with strings, piano and guitar accompanied with stunning vocals reminding me of Christina Perri. 'Snow' is the penultimate song, a little more 'folk pop' compared to others on the album, but still continues with vocals and layers that are incredibly easy to listen to. Closing the album with 'Empty Life of a Rich Man' finishes it off perfectly, it's a relaxing song reflecting their songwriting ability really well. 
Overall, it's a brilliant album, that I could easily sit on a beach, in a field, or in a warm room with a fire on, on a record and just sitting and listening to from start to end. I really liked their characterisation throughout the songs too, allowing a mix of genres to influence their songs but still showcasing their lyrics sung with their incredibly smooth vocals and harmonies. Also, as I was listening to it, I was thinking how it would make a good soundtrack, to which kind of story, you can answer when you listen to it... It's definitely a debut album for the duo to be proud of and I can't wait to hear and see what they have to offer in the future!

Live Dates:
30th May: ALBUM LAUNCH, The Green Place in Sileby, Leicester (TICKETS)
7th June: The Bierkeller, Leeds
11th June: The Bierkeller, Manchester
12th June: Rose & Crown, MOLD
15th June: Mr. Wolfs, Bristol
20th June: Foxton Locks Festival
23rd June: Maltcross, Nottingham
27th June: The Blacksmiths, Loughborough
30th June: Arts Centre, Stamford
3rd July: Golden Horse, Northampton
23rd July: St. Pauls Church, Croydon, London
25th July: Walkabout (Tramlines), Sheffield
1st August: Moggies for Doggies @ The Mount, Brigg

Mia and the Moon's Links:
'Fall Awake' (order): (available 30th May) http://www.miaandthemoon.com/shop/4584126061

Thanks for reading!

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