TORONTO-BASED SONGSTRESS PERFORMS TONIGHT AS PART OF CMW
Story by Odessa Paloma Parker
Photo provided by Martha Ramsay
Clear, honest, pure – all things that describe Martha Ramsay’s airy odes to love and love lost. Martha Meredith, as she’s known on the music scene, will take the stage as part of Canadian Music Week, and she spoke to Plaid about her fledgling interest in music as a young girl growing up in Peterborough, why she loves playing live, and the new album on her horizon.
What’s your earliest musical memory?
Besides my parents singing to me when I was little, my earliest profound musical memory is sitting at the piano, bored of practicing the songs I was supposed to be practicing. So instead I tried to teach myself Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”. Six-year-old me thought I was clearly a genius. I think my parents were both really impressed for about 10 minutes… at which point they got pretty sick of me playing the opening lines of the song over and over and over again. In retrospect I can see how a six-year-old’s version of Mozart might not actually be delightful…at all.
When did you first start making music?
I was making music for as long as I can remember, singing constantly and dabbling in instrumentation…but actually writing my own music didn’t begin until I was in University. Once I started taking the guitar seriously I started to need to write songs to stay sane.
Who would you count as your influences?
There are so many. My biggest influences are probably Emily Haines, Regina Spektor and John K Samson. Very different sounds, but incredibly insightful lyrics all around. I spent years living through words they wrote. But I listen to everything and anything and love finding new things that inspire me all the time.
What are you listening to right now?
Newest albums I can’t get enough of include Tennis – Young & Old, The Elwins – And I Thank You, Bahamas – Barchords, and most especially a beautiful debut album called Typewriter by my pal Jos Fortin.
What do you prefer – recording music or playing live?
Playing live is often more gratifying…being in the moment, watching the effect that the music you poured your heart into has on people listening to it. That is pretty special. I can’t really describe how gratifying it feels to watch a feeling that you made into a song be a feeling that resounds with others. Recorded it’s much easier to listen to things you wish you could change, to pick it apart. Playing live is living in the moment.
Why did you get involved with the CMW showcase? What do you hope to accomplish from playing?
Well, I love the Toronto music scene. I honestly love this city for all its artistic talents all over the place. Being involved in a festival in the city just seemed like an obvious thing to do. I love meeting other musicians and other artists and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. Of course I would also hope that my show might bring my tunes to some new ears and resonate, too! That is always the goal.
How would you describe your music?
This is always the hardest question for me. I guess I write pop songs, but that word scares me because pop has such bad connotations to me in mainstream music. On the other hand I like the idea of pop because it’s relatable, catchy and engaging. So I suppose it is indie pop….with a little folk and a little rock underlying too.
What do you feel is important for listeners to know about you while listening to your music?
To be honest I don’t really think its important for them to know anything. I hope they hear themselves in my words and my melodies. I’ve spent so much of my time figuring out my life through other people’s songs and stories that I just hope that mine can do the same for other people.
How does making music make you feel?
Making music is my favourite feeling. It is the perfect mix of release and challenge that really brings my life into balance. There is no better feeling than a blank page filling up with fresh words and a new tune emerging on the piano. Except the feeling when I get to play it for someone and they can relate to what I wrote in their own way. That is a pretty great feeling too.
What’s next for you?
This is the question I’m most excited about. After CMW and the next few shows my band and I will be hard at work preparing to take my new album into the studio in May! I am thrilled to be recording it with James Bunton (of Ohbijou, and the man behind many amazing recording projects) whose work I am an enormous fan of. Everything is really coming together and leaving me generally ecstatic about completing my first full-length record.
Martha Meredith plays CMW at The Cameron House (408 Queen Street West, Toronto) at 1am tonight.