Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Olivia Mainville & The Aquatic Troupe - New Single + Interview

Happy Halloween

Fitting for a holiday where the macabre and ghoulishness is nostalgically glorified, here's a new song by Olivia Mainville & The Aquatic Troupe about falling in love a skeletal soul who's wasting away even as she pines away...

Mainville is a talented and imaginative singer/songwriter from the Grand Rapids/Holland area music scene and she's been making charmingly eclectic tunes for five years now. She released her full length album, Maybe The Saddest Thing, in 2015, adorned with her old soul's romanticizing of gypsy folk and theatrical soul. Her ensemble utilizes roots and baroque-styled acoustic instruments and brass, like standup bass, trombone, and softly-brushed jazz percussion. Mainville plays the guitar, electric guitar, violin, and sings lead vocals.

"The song was written more from a request from a friend to write a Halloween song. October has always been one of the most inspiring times of the year to write music, so I was excited about the project."

photo by Victor Vague
pictured left to right, ghostly Bleu Quick, Mainville, ghostly Adam Schreiber, and ghostly Brandon James

At just 21, she already has a keen sensibility for an arrangement that's coated in evocative ambiance, to where you can almost see a music video for the song played out in faded, sepia-toned 35mm film, fluttery and frayed with shadows. Mainville makes pop songs that have a patina of whimsy on top, but can draw a curtain of darker themes around you, even as you're catching melodies in your head of melancholic motifs and heart-heavy swoons.

It's definitely going to be a stretch to say that with "Danger Death Ray's" lyrics about feeling greedy for someone that's already near (or in) its grave could connect to the way she extols the vibrancy of bygone era artists like Django Reinhardt in a contemporary electro-pop-dominated music world.... But my point would be that that's just the sort of special thing Mainville does with her songs; dreamlike, or theatrical imagery and vocal stylings consistently render poetic ruminations on life, lessons-learned, or renewed resolve. Macabre or not, you can still find meaning in this danceable ditty...

Mainville's next performance is on Nov 17th, near Holland, at Tripleroot - more info

Meanwhile, we caught up with some Q&A over the weekend...

When you look back on the last 5 years of developing your songs and this band, performing, recording, touring, etc... what are some of the biggest lessons or insights you've learned about what it takes to keep everything rolling along in the life of a professional/diy-touring musician?
Olivia Mainville: One of the biggest lessons I learned is to never get knees deep in another job.. unless you have to and it doesn't take up a lot of your time because at the same time, balance is important. I also know that you have to constantly be reaching out to people and venues and making contacts all the time. 

When you think about what you've always loved most about writing and performing music, what is it? 
Mainville: I'm a big fan of film. I love watching movies and shows. And I've always been inspired by movie soundtracks, so, naturally, I like to write songs that I feel could be placed in film... So I guess you could say that I love hearing what I, what we, have created all come together with a slightly cinematic sound. Creating music that can be accompanied by imagery is what always keeps me writing!

Have you, along the way, discovered newer, more nuanced reasons, to be in love with all of this? Mainville: I'm in music for myself. Knowing that I'm not trying to please anyone is what also gives me much enjoyment in writing. Of course it's always a plus when somebody takes something out of what they hear in my music. For performing, I just love to play music in general..whether its solo, duo or with a full band. Performing is just genuinely a fun thing especially along side my whole entire band. There are days when our live performances don't go as well as we had hoped for, but when it does and when we all play our parts with our own dash of originality and energy the song calls for, the feeling is always rewarding.

Can you talk about how the new single came together? What the song means to you? 
Mainville: I recorded the rough idea of Danger Death Ray on my little crappy recording kit last Halloween. I finished the idea and the boys from Jack and the Bear (Brandon and Adam) helped me arrange it and Bleu added trombone to the live version and sousaphone to recorded version. The song was written more from a request from a friend to write a Halloween song. October has always been one of the most inspiring times of the year to write music, so I was excited about the project.And how your songwriting process/approach has, if at all, changed in any way, over the last couple years? 
Mainville: My songwriting approach hasn't changed much but my songs have. I've always been a big picture type when writing. I usually figure out the parts or ideas of parts I'd want to add to said song before i finish it. 

Do you have an all time favorite genre of music? 
Mainville:  it would have to be gypsy jazz and swing. I'm also a huge fan of french ye-ye pop. 

Do you remember any eureka-moments when you realized whatever it was about all these styles, be it orchestral....or pop....or folk.... that drew you to the nexus of all three? 
Mainville: We actually had a band come over when I was first starting in music called Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra. My dad hired them to play a house show and do a 3 day workshop at our house and it inspired me and gave me a new love for music..just seeing a band in the works. One of the members told me about Django Reinhardt and since then iv'e been a huge fan.

In your journeys on tours and meeting new music people, you haven't had anyone suggest that you try just one genre specifically, more than any other, have you?
Mainville: I can't remember if anyone has ever asked me that, but if they did.. Well, I don't know what i'd say, but there's no way I could confine myself and the band to only one style of music. 

What's up next? 
Mainville: ... I have a southern December tour on it's way. Iv'e been writing new songs for the new album that I am planning to record in February or March of 2018. 


No comments: