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Mariel Buckley Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Mariel Buckley Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Lamitschka:  Music has many new fans throughout Europe who may be hearing about you for the first time. How would you describe yourself and the music you play to someone who has never seen or heard you?

Answer:  My music is based in country and roots. The new album is certainly more contemporary, I’ve drawn a lot of recent influences from the Americana and Alt-Country movements. The focus is always on authentic lyrical content and a well arranged melody, either very stripped down with 1-2 players or a full 6 piece band.

Lamitschka:  How was the last year for you? What were your highlights?

Answer:  The last year has been great, lots of amazing shows, festivals and development opportunities. We opened two shows for k.d. lang, opened for Hayes Carll, played 5 local festivals and improved the live show significantly.

Lamitschka:  What is your latest CD and how's it doing?

Answer:  “Driving in the Dark” is our next album, and it drops May 4th, 2018. We’re hoping it does quite well!

Lamitschka:  How did you choose the title for the CD?  Is there a story behind the name?

Answer:  The title track was a co-write between myself and three other Canadian songwriters. I had had the tagline “Driving in the Dark” in my head for some time. We met while spending four days at a winter writing retreat in Winnipeg, Manitoba (for those who aren’t familiar, it’s probably one of the coldest spots in Canada.)
Something about the darkness of February and our chemistry helped to turn that song into what it is now. I get chills listening to the demos we recorded the first time we sang it live in a cabin. It holds a lot of personal sentiment for me and I’m very proud of how it turned out.

Lamitschka:  Do you write the songs yourself? If not, how do you go about finding the songs for your CD?

Answer:  Mostly, I write my own songs. Only recently have I explored co-writing with other musicians and songwriters. It’s a very gratifying experience to open your mind and create with someone else, though I still prefer writing my own material. Usually I have a batch of about 20 songs I’ll go into the studio with and we will trim down from there. My goal for the next album is to have 50 songs to choose from.

Lamitschka:  Please tell us about the songs on your album (influences, etc).
Answer:  The songs on this album draw influence from the Americana movement. Some of the artists who have inspired my newer sound are Ryan Adams, Patty Griffin, Neil Young, Neko Case and Bruce Springsteen. My favourite song on the album is Jumping the Fence, because it feels like a rock song and I’ve always wanted to be in a rock band!

Lamitschka:  What is the difference between your last CD and your current one?

Answer:  The songs on “Driving in the Dark” have a heavier, more electric and rock n’ roll feel than the songs on my last album, “Motorhome” (2014) - which was largely based in traditional country music’s arrangements and writing styles. You can still hear those traditional influences on the new record, they’re just not quite as prevalent. My writing style has evolved significantly and I’m working to be a more thoughtful, while still concise songwriter.

Lamitschka:  Your current single is being played by radio. What do you feel is special about this song that makes people want to hear it?

Answer:  Rose Coloured Frames is another favourite of mine from the record. I think it’s relatable in the sense that nostalgia is such a universal feeling. It commands memory which is one of the strongest human senses. Combined with the sort of dreamy production, it sounds pretty cinematic which I think delivers the message well. 

Lamitschka:  What will your next single be?

Answer:  The next single is One Time Asking. The song acts as a dramatic plea to someone, begging them to remember the happy moments that seem so far away.

Lamitschka:  What kind of songs do you like to record the most?

Answer:  I think as I record more and more my opinions and tastes will inevitably change. Right now I’m feeling like there’s a lot I want to say, and how I say it will depend on each producer and album that I record. Right now I’m focused on putting on a great live show with the full 6 piece band and writing as many songs as possible to record again.

Lamitschka:  What is your favorite song among all the songs you have recorded and what's the story behind it?

Answer:  I think my favourite recorded song at the moment is Rose Coloured Frames. When I was writing the song I could very literally feel it passing through me instead of taking hours upon hours to “craft”. It felt like a gift. I think those songs are special and it shows in the recording.

Lamitschka:  How much creative control do you have over your music?

Answer:  For my EP and first full-length album I arranged most of the songs with my producer, Derek Pulliam. It was a fantastic experience and taught me an immeasurable amount. For the most recent record I arranged the songs with a lot less help. I think Leeroy Stagger (producer) wanted to honour the songs as they were written. When it comes to instrumentation, dynamic and mix levels I usually leave that entirely to my producer. As long as the arrangement and songwriting is strong I trust my producer to conceptualize the rest.

Lamitschka:  Do you have any interesting stories about how fans have been affected by your music?

Answer:  Over the last year I’ve received a few emails from people who listened to Motorhome and were affected by the songs. A woman named Winter, a truck driver from Lethbridge told me a beautiful story about travelling across the country and listening to my song Seven Hundred Miles, feeling tired and missing home. That stuff means a lot to me.

Lamitschka:  Who inspires you musically and how deep do your musical roots run?

Answer:  I’m inspired by all kinds of music, but lately I’ve been drawing a lot of inspiration from John Fullbright, Lucinda Williams and Jason Isbell. My family is very musical. My dad’s whole family played in the orchestra growing up, and my older brother of seven years is also a singer-songwriter.

Lamitschka:  What do you think about today's music scene versus its post and where do you see it going in the future?

Answer:  I see a huge shift in the way people consume music and certainly the amount of music being produced. It can be tough to set yourself apart in a world where music and people are so readily accessible on social media and streaming services. I think as long as there are people making music there will be great songs being written, in and out of the spotlight. That’s what I try to focus on when the anxiety of the “music business” gets to me.

Lamitschka:  What do you think about today's music industry?

Answer:  I think today’s music industry requires a lot more of the independent artist. You have to be a consummate artist, marketing professional, web designer and accountant all in one. It can be a lot to handle. The label / artist model is changing drastically. I try not to think about all of it too much or it stresses me out (haha)

Lamitschka:  If you had the chance to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

Answer:  That’s a tough one. I’m not sure I would actively know what to change first. At the end of it all, the music industry thrives and survives on consumers. So I can’t change the way someone wants to hear their music or what they want to hear, really. I just have to make sure I’m remaining true to myself and presenting something honest to the world around me.

Lamitschka:  As an artist, you so many tasks such as recording, touring, interviews. What do you like best, what's your favorite activity?

Answer:  Touring. I love driving, performing, meeting people. Loading in and out, setting up the stage, being with my bandmates. It’s serene and it feels like exactly what I should be doing with my life. It gives me a strong sense of purpose.

Lamitschka:  Are you doing anything to take music beyond its current borders or are you happy where it is?

Answer:  We are working very hard to have this next record heard in Europe and the US. I’d love to tour internationally in the next 5 years.

Lamitschka:  What inspired you to become an artist?

Answer:  I think at an early age I wanted to express myself through music and connecting with people. My parents were very cultured and supported the arts regularly which gave me a healthy view of artists and self-expression.

Lamitschka:  What inspired you to become a songwriter?

Answer:  I can’t say for sure. Probably hearing my brother sing his own songs for the first time when I was 17. I wasn’t allowed into the bar he was playing in, so I stood outside the patio doors and listened for an hour. It was beautiful, and it made me want to sing my truth like he was doing.

Lamitschka:  What drives you?

Answer:  My passion, my unwillingness to compromise my standards, my team around me and my friends and family.

Lamitschka:  What's unique about you that will differentiate you from other artists?

Answer:  I have a unique story to tell, and I’m telling it in a way that appeals to a wide range of people. I’m not sugar coating anything, or pretending to be something I’m not. People latch onto someone who is genuine, and feel like they can be vulnerable.  That’s what I want to create.

Lamitschka:  What has been your greatest challenge in music business?

Answer: My own self-confidence, money and marginalization.

Lamitschka:  When you get time off, how do you like to relax?

Answer:  A book, a strong drink or some exercise outside, followed by a good night’s sleep!

Lamitschka:  Is there anything in your life that you would change if you could?

Answer: Only my ability to accept my choices and path the way I am accepting of others, and to be more efficient with my time management.

Lamitschka:  What hopes and desires do you have?

Answer:  I hope to be reaching my personal best as often as possible, making a steady living playing music and connecting with as many people as possible while doing it. I have a personal dream of playing Massey Hall in Toronto, and on a larger scale the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN.

Lamitschka:  What has been the biggest disappointment in your life?

Answer:  That hard work doesn’t always equal success, or talent. And vice versa.

Lamitschka:  Many European fans travel to the United States to attend the several of the music festivals for the opportunity to see so many of their favorite artists, bands and celebrities. Will you be participating and how will the fans be able to find you?

Answer:  This summer we have a great festival lineup in Canada, dates aren’t announced yet but my touring dates will be at marielbuckley.com. In September we are headed to Nashville for the Americana Conference, with hopes of performing in an official showcase.

Lamitschka:  Is there any place you haven't played that you would like to?

Answer:  Eastern Canada, the US and Europe. Lots of places left to play!

Lamitschka:  What can your fans expect to see when they see you in concert?

Answer:  Well written songs, a tight band and a great time.

Lamitschka:  When you're on tour, do you have time to play tourist?

Answer:  Sometimes, usually it’s pretty short-lived. But when the opportunity is there we love to explore, take in the local sights and get out for a nice walk.

Lamitschka:  Many music fans today get their information about artists online. Do you have your own website and what will fans find there?

Answer:  https://marielbuckley.com will have all of the information they need!

Lamitschka:  What's the best compliment a fan has ever given you?

Answer:  “Thank you for your songs, they meant a lot to me.”

Lamitschka:  What message would you like to send your European fans?

Answer:  If you dig heavier, alternative country music with some tenderness to spare you’ll like what we’re doing. The album will be out May 4th. Take a listen and if you dig it, let us know! I’d love to tour and meet some new listeners.

Lamitschka:  Fans are always hungry for good road stories. Do you have one you can share with us (come on don’t be shy)?

Answer:  I went to play a three night run of shows in Banff with my older brother. We had a contract stating accommodations, food and beverage would all be taken care of and a nice little bit of money to make the trip fun and worthwhile.
When we arrived the owner of the bar (the bar that is now closed thank Christ) told us that the “accommodations” were a crack den, in the basement, and that he couldn’t believe that any promoter would send a band to sleep there. We went down into the crack den and found broken glass, a crack pipe, two stained mattresses and what looked like mice shit. It was incredible.
We played for three hours, received one night’s pay, sent a big “thanks a lot” message to the promoter, got ourselves a hotel room and proceeded to drink whiskey and try to forget about what had just happened.

Lamitschka:  Describe what a perfect day is like for you.

Answer:  I’m driving to a show with my band and my manager, we’ve just gotten gas and coffee and have the next five hours on the road. No expectations except to stay on the road and play a great show.
...maybe after the show someone from Bloodshot Records signs us on the spot, I win the lottery and buy the entire bar a drink. That’d be alright.

Christian Lamitschka ( Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de ) for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

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