Thursday, 20 October 2011

We're Only Here For The Banter - Donna Maciocia

I first heard the music of Donna Maciocia recently at The Captain's Rest supporting the wonderful Adam Holmes And The Embers (read the review here). I was so impressed by her music that I pursued her incessantly to answer some questions. (Just asked Donna, she has the e-mails to prove it!)

Donna Maciocia is a singer songwriter based in Edinburgh. She used to be the front woman of Amplifico and currently rocks it up on stage with her band, throwing in some solo numbers. Her style is hard to pin down, but involves FX pedals, looping, keys, with an underlying current of funky pop. She has a new EP out soon, and thankfully took some time to answer some questions below.

Hello, how are you?

Well, thank you. Enjoying a wee cup of tea and a bacon roll and a sit down!

Tell us a little bit about your music and influences.

I always find it pretty hard to coin! Ronan Breslin from LaChunky Towers said the other day ‘f***ing intelligent quirky pop that grabs you by the heart and soul’. My influences are really varied… from my earliest years until my teens, I knew little more than Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. I had all their albums and knew all their songs word for word. And since my teens I have fallen in love with so many different artists including Bjork, Stevie Wonder, Queen, Jeff Buckley, Portishead, Radiohead, Blur, Ella Fitzgerald, The Cocteau Twins, Rachmaninov and Massive Attack. Very recently I have been listening obsessively to the likes of Feist, St Vincent, Tune-Yards, Anna Calvi, Kill It Kid, Janelle Monae, Beach House and The Kills.

Scotland has a thriving music scene. How do you find being a part of that?

When I was in my former band Amplifico (2004-2009), I felt the rest of scotland was thriving, but that Edinburgh was really far behind. I moved to London for 3 years and since my return last year I have been genuinely blown away by the quality and quantity of new talent up here. I love being a part of that! It means there’s constant inspiration on your doorstep, you’re always learning from your peers & it motivates you to up your game.

Which Scottish artists would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

Adam Holmes & The Embers, Amy Sawers, Austen George, Chris Bradley, Hoochie Fig, Paul Gilbody, Stanley Odd, Stu Goodall Band, Super Adventure Club, The Banana Sessions, The Horndogs & The Mike Kearney Ka-Tet, William Douglas & The Wheel

What is your songwriting process like?

It really varies… I play & own quite a few different instruments, have a home recording setup as well as a live looping set up. Sometimes I start with lyrics, sometimes the music. One thing that is consistent whenever I’m writing, is my Dictaphone. I take it everywhere with me. For me there is a power in being able to listen back. Sometimes I come up with something that I really don’t rate at the time, but can listen back an hour or a year later and it totally grabs me.

What could we expect to see/hear from your live shows?

With the band, it’s pretty piano driven, kick-ass and dynamic! I like louds and softs, ups and downs... There tends to be a couple of solo live looping songs dropped into the set also, which involve just my uke, an FX pedalboard. In these songs I beatbox and put my uke & vox through an array of FX pedals, layering and multi-tracking.

I heard rumours of some new material being released at your gig at The Captain's Rest. Care to shed any light on this?

Yes! My band and I recorded our debut 3-track EP titled ‘Fists At The Sky’ earlier this year at LaChunky Towers in Glasgow. It features amazing musicians I am so grateful to work with - Neil Warrack (drums) and Bruce Wallace (guitar) from the awesomely crazy glasgow/edinburgh 3-piece Super Adventure Club, and Lorna Thomas on bass who is also working with Jill Jackson at the moment. We will be launching the EP at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh on Saturday 19th November, with the inclusion of newest band member Lewis Rumney on fiddle, guitar & backing vox.

What does the rest of 2011 hold for you?

Getting the EP launched and demo-ing/arranging songs for the album which we intend to record with La Chunky Springtime next year.

What's been your biggest achievement so far?

Without a doubt the amazing people & friends I have met through making music. And the fact that my current band actually choose to work with me sometimes boggles me. I mean, me?? Cos I can tell you right now they ain't doing it for the money!! Ha!! Each member of the band is genuinely one of my musical heroes - that is amazing!

How does the 'solo' stuff feel different to being in Amplifico?

I have way more responsibility and control over everything with the solo stuff. I’m also older & wiser with a greater awareness of my own strengths/weaknesses, and a strong sense of clarity over what it is I want from life & music in general. Therefore I am probably an easier person to work with now! There was a period of time in Amplifico where I lost sight of why the hell I was in a band in the first place, I let the business & marketing side of running a self-releasing band kind of overwhelm me and I ended up pretty unhappy. In Amplifico, we were 3 friends who had known each other since high school too, so there was a lot of history & it felt like a family relationship. That’s a really wonderful thing to have as a band, but can be quite intense & tricky if people change, circumstances change, individual priorities change and you’ve all got to roll with those changes as a team. It makes or breaks bands.

Your ability to create multi-layered sounds is impressive. How did that style come about?

Thanks! I guess it came about through hours and hours of experimentation, and a lifelong obsession with music technology geekery. I have to thank the guy who I first saw live looping about a decade ago in Cab Vol in Edinburgh too - it was just him, his cello and a loop pedal. The potential of using live looping to perform & write had me hooked instantly.

Thanks for speaking with us, would you care to share a joke with us?

A guy goes into a bar with a slab of tarmac on his back. He sits the tarmac on one of the bar stools. The barman says, what can I get you? The man says a pint of lager, and one for the road…

Check out Donna's website, Facebook, Soundcloud and Twitter.

No comments:

Post a Comment