"Mary Magdalan's iPod is filled with Janis Joplin, Madonna and Tina Turner." – Interview

Fans of Nine Inch Nails and Eminem are in for a treat with Mary Magdalan, a band fronted by Mary herself. Mary Magdalan’s journey to stardom is fueled by drug use and maintained by staying sober. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Mary about her musical beginnings, the band’s sound, and what guilty pleasures she has on her iPod.

Q – Real quick, how did you get involved with music?

A - Music saved me. When I was 13 my mother died. She always had drug problems since I was born. Within a year or two of that a lot of my family died as well (aunt, uncle and grandfather) so the first chance I got, I got the hell outta New York and moved to LA. I figured the farther I could get away from there the further I would get away from death. So I moved to Hollywood. It didn't take long to fit into the scene and it didn’t take long to realize that the higher I got the less I thought about my past. I went on a bender that lasted about three years. I was on a steady diet of “cocktails” that kept me numb 24/7. That’s when I met DJ Ray, aka Gzus. He wasn’t much better off than I with his habits, so when we first met up to do music we would party. And Party. And Party. We realized that we were either gonna get serious and make music or just keep partying until one or both of us died from it. So we did an experiment. If we could work on one song completely sober and it came out cool, then we would get clean. In one night we wrote and recorded “Rehab.” The song came out amazing. We were stuck in our own words and had to get clean in order to make music. Chances are if we didn’t make that pact that day and stick to it we would both be dead by now.

Q – I got the chance to listen to both “Pity Girl” and “RIP.” Your sound combines Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails and some Siouxsie and the Banshees, all the while incorporating dance/techno. How would you describe your music?

A - We like to call it Hood Rock. If it’s hood and it can rock then its probably us (laughs). The Hood Rock sound is a mixture of Brooklyn concrete mixed with the LA Riots. Throw in two shots of my dysfunctional family and the voices in my head and you've got Mary Magdalan. The thing that I think lets our albums stand as individual art pieces is the fact that they are one continual true story of my life. When we wrote “Pity Girl” I was just getting clean. I was scared of reality because I had been so high for so long that I had no idea what reality was. I had been through so many traumas so quickly that I kinda blacked out. Then the drugs took over, so I had a period of about 3 years that literally drew a blank in my memory. “Pity Girl” was very much what was going on in my life during that time. When it came time to do “R.I.P.” I was going through a lot of depression. I was trying to find happiness but I just kept on coming back to the coldness. I wasn't scared as much anymore, but I was extremely numb. I questioned everything around me and lost my edge to care. It was definitely my second chapter and I couldn't tell it in just one album. Now I am ready to live my new chapter out for the world to hear and I couldn't be more excited.

Q – With the musical landscape filled with Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Bieber fever, how does Mary Magdalan go about making its mark on the music scene?

A - I think that we are a sound amongst itself, so chances are we are going to leave our own scar on the music scene. I didn't grow up listening to one style of music. I was raised on Eminem and Nine Inch Nails. Manson was just as cool as Snoop Dogg. I also went to hella raves so that pulse is in my DNA. I love all genres of music so I want to be able to create and work in all styles. I'm able to capture that in my music more now than ever.

Q – Who were your musical influences growing up and what have you learned from them?

A - My biggest musical influence for my sound was my mother. Her inability to control her demons really taught me life lessons at an early age. As I grew into my teens I started to see a lot of her impulses in me. By the time I got to Hollywood I was doing the exact same things that she did at my age. It seemed natural. But of course it didn't take long before that came crashing down. Now I spend my days fighting those impulses. I have to say though if it wasn't for the way she treated me I’m not sure that I could have made this music.

Q – How do you incorporate your musical influences yet still maintain individuality?

A - I think the fact that we have done all of this on our own attributes to our sound. We do this off instinct. No voice lessons and no technical training. If we do a song and like it, then we drop it. That simple. My upcoming new album is more of a streamline sound than heard on “Pity Girl” or “R.I.P.” I've shed all the skin I needed to in my first two albums.

Q – If I were to turn on your iPod, which artist would be on your playlist that would be a surprise to your fans?

A - My iPod is mad throwback. Lotsa Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin. Some classical. Some Madonna. Some of the Beatles. Some old school Tina Turner. Some insane dub step mix my friend sent me from Ibiza. Besides that, I don’t listen to much current music. I feel like it taints my sound and I might start sounding like everyone else.

Q – When I heard your music and then saw a photo of you, I was actually surprised to see how attractive you were. Why wouldn’t you go for the slam dunk, pretty yourself up, turn on the drum kit and sing fun pop songs like Katy Perry?

A - Everything is not always as pretty as it seems. My story is different than most people so when I set out to do this music my goal was to make something that feels relative to what someone else who may have walked in similar shoes would like to hear. I knew it had slamming beats and crunchy guitars. I also knew that I had to get all the voices in my head onto paper. So my producer DJ Ray (aka Gzus) and I just started tinkering with things until we found a sound that we were comfortable with.

Q – I love your music and would love to see the band live. Are there any plans to tour nationally?

A - We are gearing up for our biggest touring run ever. Chances are this is the year that we go worldwide with touring. We got a good taste of the road on our last two US tours so now it’s time to start killin' em all over the world.


Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at jason@zoiksonline.com.
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Jeanne said...

Yeah, Mary! Love you!


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