Thanks for taking the time to meet and talk about your new album, Canvas. How long have you been in the process of developing this record?
It started about a little over three years ago, right before I discovered the loop pedal. I had been writing, as always, and came upon this device that I could use to do the vocal layering and that kind of really got the ball rolling on the newer work.
I noticed that a lot of the songs on the album were full band. Did you plan that? Who did you work with and how did you decide to build those ideas as a solo artist and loop pedal vocalist?
Well, I had always worked with a band before, so the loop pedal was kind of a different thing for me in getting to play just as a solo artist. I love being alone on the stage with just my loop pedal, but the fun part about the studio is not having that limitation and getting to build all the songs and have a full band along with the loop pedal on all of the works. So, that was a lot of fun to play with. A lot of the guys were people that I’ve worked with for years; just excellent musicians. A couple of them were newbies that I brought on specifically for the project. The cellist on the record is a guy who does beautiful work in his own right with a loop pedal. I wanted to bring him on for the string arrangements.
Are you a fan of Andrew Bird at all?
I am, I love Andrew Bird.
I really love the use of the soundscape in the beginning and I believe it’s reversed in the end of “Beautiful Strangers.” Where did you get that from?
I recorded it on the Metro in D.C., and we just played around with it. Yeah, we flipped it on its head. It’s of a train slowly approaching.
I can tell you put a lot into making it a really dynamic and instrumentally involved project. Is that something that you thought about intentionally or did it come about naturally?
A little bit of both. There’s a bit of intention to the little details and what sounds would cooperate with it. It’s not anything that hasn’t been used before, but more intentionally used than I had thought about before in my previous work; like the crystal glasses, there’s a glockenspiel in there, and lots of weird vocal things that we played with.
What would you say most of the songs are about and what has been your inspiration?
There’s certainly a fair bit of love songs. One may or may not be about lightheartedly stalking the crush (both laughing), but there are a few different things like “Beautiful Strangers,” kind of my ode to the district, and that’s why I really wanted to incorporate some sounds from the city. There’s a song that I wrote for my late mentor as a dedication. There’s a song that kind of draws the line or other ambiguity of the line between recreational and prescribed drug use. A few different topics about happiness and finding happiness. I’d say it’s about half other subjects and half love songs. Just things that I’ve pulled throughout my life and things inspired by my own life and others that I’ve seen.
I haven’t seen your live show yet, but I’d love to check it out sometime. What touring opportunities are coming up for you this year?
Well, I’ll be going on tour a little bit. I’ll be heading over to the UK in the spring, doing a some playing over there, and hoping to get more exposure throughout the U S of A. I’ve only done a little bit of touring up and down the east coast, so just trying to expand on that, and always learning more music.
How has your team helped put that together?
I just have the PR group that I’m working with, and they don’t really do any of the booking, so that’s all me!
Tell me a little bit about your work with Musicians On Call and More Than Me.
Yeah! Two great organizations. More Than Me is an excellent group that helps little girls in one of the poorest slums in Liberia, and they started their D.C. chapter a few years ago. I, by very strange circumstance, ended up meeting the founder and kind of helped in their beginning stages in D.C.; helped them gain exposure and get out there – lay some of the groundwork here. I still every once in awhile get to play for their fundraisers and help in the small ways that I can. Musicians On Call is a group that I worked with when I was hosting showcases for BMI. I would find an organization to team up with and all the donations for the show that night would go to the organization and it would be over the course of a few months. They raised a lot of funds for Musicians On Call. I’ll still go over to the hospital sometimes and play for the patients because our number one goal is to bring music to the bedsides of patients.
That’s really awesome. There is also a little known fact about you roasting individual marshmallows, anytime, anywhere. What’s that about? (both laughing)
That’s just a nice little personal tidbit that I decided to add to the end of it. I have very occasionally been known to pull out marshmallows from my purse and roast them on site.
That’s the best addition to a bio I think I’ve ever heard! (both laughing)
Now do you setup a campfire or is it just a lighter?
All depends on my circumstances (laughing). There has been a lighter situation before, but I’ve also gotten a little tiny campfire going.
You’re an independent, DIY artist. What advantages come with being independent and what do you look forward to with the release of Canvas?
I don’t know, just getting to call the shots. It’s a lot of fun having both control over the music that I made and getting it out there. I love what I do, and if the right person came along, I’d be happy to pass along some of the duties that I really do enjoy running by myself; booking the shows, and making the music.
For those that are musically challenged or not exactly tech-savvy, Margot’s unique sound is created by beat boxing and layering her voice on itself with a loop pedal to create complex harmonies and arrangements. The 12-track album, featuring the current single, “Speed of Sound,” showcases MacDonald’s creative use of a full band. Canvas showcases a variety of instruments and tones specifically chosen for each song. Click on the album art below to listen to Canvas and get the latest on shows, updates, and more.