MARIAH McCARTHY - SINGER/ SONG WRITER
I grew up in Heathcote. I liked living in such a small community and knowing everyone in my primary school. I lived close to my cousins and friends so we were always together. We lived just near the edge of the bush so I was always exploring with my older sisters and cousins!
My taste in music was greatly influenced by my parents and sisters while I was growing up.
I remember my Dad always playing Paul Kelly, Neil Young, Meatloaf, The Dandy Warhols and Powderfinger as a kid - so quite a mixed bag.
My parents bought me a guitar for my 9th birthday and I started taking lessons at school. I have always liked performing, I loved the school plays and was always involved in them and also theatre outside of school. I don't remember ever deciding to be a performer, but I ended up getting a lot of opportunities to perform once learning the guitar and always took them. When I was 11 years old I dressed up as ABBA with my friend and sang 'Mamma Mia' and 'I do, I do, I do, I do, I do' at a school performance night. That's the first time I remember singing in front of an audience without being in a choir or big group and our costumes were amazing!!
The first song I wrote was called 'Ordinary Boy', I had chords but no lyrics so I grabbed the closest book to me which was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and sang the blurb to help work out a melody. The blurb started with 'Harry Potter is an ordinary boy', hence the name. During the writing process I changed the lyrics to my own but the name stuck. I don't think I've ever performed this one!
After high school I moved to Melbourne and attended Collarts. I studied Music Performance with my friend Georgia who played with me in the duo Deer Prudence. I was in Melbourne for 4 years, studying and then working, and always gigging. I really enjoyed living and working in Melbourne, however for the 4 years I lived there my boyfriend lived in Bendigo and we were a little over travelling! I found myself playing a lot of gigs back around Heathcote and Bendigo as well, so I decided to set up my own work here too. I've been loving it. I teach instrumental music in primary schools. It was pretty scary going out on my own but it's been brilliant and has allowed me to have a lot more time to work on my own music as well.
One of the first big concerts I can remember going to was a tribute show to Joni Mitchell with Katie Noonan and a heap of other amazing women. There's another one this year that Kate Miller-Heidke (a favourite of mine) is a part of, I can't wait!
I love listening to singer/songwriters, they always have a story to tell. I always loved Neil Young and Joni Mitchell and there's so many amazing artists out there at the moment doing the same thing they did with much less recognition. Musicians that continue singing their beautiful songs to anyone who will listen always inspires me.
Some of the songs on my EP were written when I was 16, and some were written the year before I recorded. They've all had quite different writing processes, some starting with a fully formed idea, others that I've worked out what they're about after I'm half way through. I recorded outside of Melbourne at Rangemaster studio with David Carr, I had a lot of ideas for arrangement but nothing planned. So it was a lot of fun to hash each song out separately, rather than have a similar arrangement for the whole EP which has meant using different instrumentation throughout. It's been quite a long process and was a lot of work, but I never wanted to chuck it all in, it's a relief having the songs ready to go now because I always find recording quite stressful.
July is as far into the future that I can plan at the moment. I'm releasing the EP at the end of May and then touring regional Victoria until mid July so all my time and energy has been devoted to working on getting it out into the world. After that, I'll just keep gigging and travelling.
Favourite things to do in Bendigo: There are so many great places to eat, so I always like trying out new places. I love the Blues and Roots festival and the music scene, there is always great music on at amazing venues with yummy beer.
Tips for people thinking of moving to the area: Explore! There's lot to do and see, lots of great music, fundraisers, parks and restaurants.
Tips for young people starting out in the music industry: Don't take criticism too seriously. Sometimes people have helpful constructive criticism but everyone has their own opinions and not everyone will like your music. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to sing a 'happy' or 'upbeat' song...
Mariah is playing the Gold Dust Lounge in Bendigo May 11 and The Tap Room at The Mill in Castlemaine May 27. Go!