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Spotlight - Alexandria Maillot
Spotlight - Alexandria Maillot
Your music has been described as captivating and intimate, drawing listeners into your stories. How do you create such a sense of intimacy in your songs, and what do you hope your audience takes away from your music?

I have a hard time explaining the relationship I have with music, other than it has always felt extremely precious and personal. I remember being very young (around 4 or 5) and feeling like singing was some sort of hidden treasure that I had unearthed, and I wanted to keep it a secret. I was evidently not very good at keeping my love of singing under wraps, however, as we would often have neighbors stop by our house and comment on the young voice coming from our backyard patio.

Music has always felt like a diary of sorts or a best friend you can confide your innermost feelings with. I struggle with writing and listening to music void of that sense of intimacy, so I guess I naturally gravitate towards music that is more exposed and vulnerable. As an aside, I am not interested in manipulating listeners into feeling a certain way, so I try to write music that floats somewhere in the middle of the emotional spectrum, where the music doesn’t lean too heavily into sounding sad or happy.

I would really like for those listening to my music to have their own experience and take what they are able to from it without any significant emotional bias. I always feel let down by music that tries to make me feel any sort of particular emotion, as it is ultimately up to the listener to determine how they interpret a song.

Being part of the Women In The Studio National Accelerator, how do you anticipate it will impact your artistic growth and career trajectory? Are there specific skills or areas of expertise you're excited to explore during the program?

The Women in the Studio National Accelerator is a very exciting current chapter, in that I am focusing on production in a community setting with a strong support system. It is difficult to calculate the trajectory of where this program will ultimately land for me; we are only one month in, and I already feel my goals are evolving from the initial starting point.

Ultimately, right now I am just focusing on honing my production skills and becoming more confident in my choices as a producer. I am extremely interested in collaboration, so I feel that will be a focus for me throughout this program. The beautiful thing about the Women in the Studio Accelerator is that the curriculum and lines that are cast out for opportunities are tailored to each participant, so I know that whenever I pivot, there will be guidance along the way to work toward meeting those newly realized goals.

Collaboration and community are essential in the music industry. Have you had any opportunities to connect with fellow participants in the Women In The Studio National Accelerator Program? If so, how has this camaraderie influenced your creative approach or opened new doors for your music?

It is still the early days in the Accelerator, but I have already had the chance to work with some of the other cohort participants, which is one of the elements I am most excited about. I love observing how other people work; all I want to do is sit in a room with each person and watch them dive into their creative workflows. In collaboration, I always leave sessions having observed a new perspective and believe it is an essential process in helping one overcome their own internal barriers and roadblocks.

Your music often touches upon thought-provoking themes and social issues. How do you use your platform as an artist to address these subjects, and what role do you believe music can play in raising awareness or sparking conversations?

I have always had an instant attraction to music that sits with me long after I have listened to it. Whether it leaves you with a question or takes you to a place of unfamiliarity, music holds weight when there is something to be explored. I am grateful to artists whose work helps articulate the complexities of the world and contextualize polarizing topics. Music has been used to offer safe passage, communicate warnings, and lead revolutions; music will always be at the forefront of politics and change. There will always be truth in music, as music ultimately helps unravel the human experience.

Can you share a memorable fan encounter or a moment when someone reached out to you about how your music impacted their life? How does hearing these stories from your listeners affect you as an artist?

This isn’t quite the answer you are asking, but I went through a cancer diagnosis in 2022 and was able to connect with a young student working on a school project who was also going through their own cancer journey. Their class was required to reach out to a person who had experience in their chosen field of interest and interview them for their project.

The student was interested in music, and their teacher had seen my social media posts about navigating music as a cancer patient and thought it might be a good fit. It was really insightful to have a young person 10+ years my junior trying to get their foot in the door with music whilst moving through the world with cancer. The questions they were asking came at a time when I was overdue for a personal check-in, and we were ultimately able to help support each other through their class coursework.

When you experience a serious health crisis, how you navigate through the world changes, and with it so does your perspective. I have had a number of people reach out to me over the past year about how my openness with my cancer journey has helped them navigate their own health journeys, and have even had a friend be diagnosed with a similar cancer who had only ever heard of my type of cancer (sarcoma) through my social media posts. Being able to show up as myself through my music has been deeply rewarding, as I have had some truly special encounters that would not have happened without music as a conduit.

The Women In The Studio National Accelerator aims to promote gender equality in music production. What advice would you give to young women who are aspiring to enter the industry, particularly in the male-dominated realms of production and engineering?

Personally, imposter syndrome has always been a major factor to overcome throughout my journey into production and engineering. Even after over 15 years of being a working studio and performing artist, I struggle with identifying as a producer and singer/songwriter/musician. The advice I can offer to female and gender nonconforming artists looking to get into the production and engineering realm is that your voice will always add value.

There is room for everyone; I find that when I am in a supportive setting, the opportunity for learning is endless, as everyone is making space for each other. The only times I have felt my voice is not valued is in the presence of someone too busy filling up the room with their own ego. People are tired of the latter. People are yearning for community, connection, and new perspectives. Your voice will always matter. Do not authorize others the power to dim your light. Take up space, always.

Your sound has evolved over the years, blending elements of folk, pop, and alternative genres. How do you navigate these different musical influences while maintaining a cohesive and authentic sound that is uniquely yours?

Songwriting is a long, arduous process of finding your voice and learning how to best serve it. It is a lifelong lesson in showing up for yourself and learning how to excavate your essence in an honest framework. I am in a perpetual state of growth and learning and feel that the music I make is in tandem with these ebbs and flows. As long as I can anchor my music in truth, I feel it will always stay grounded regardless of where my sonic curiosity takes me.

What is something on your go to playlist someone wouldn’t expect you to have in rotation?

My musical palate is all over the place. Maybe if someone didn’t know me very well, there would be some unexpected songs on the playlist. If I were to play it randomly, it would go from Vashti Bunyan to Ghost to Ata Kak to Missy Elliot to Carolyn Dawn Johnson to Preservation Hall Jazz Band. So, take what you will from that.

Visual aesthetics often play a significant role in conveying an artist's identity. How do you incorporate visual elements, such as stage design or music videos, to enhance your artistic vision and complement your music?

Visuals are such an incredible way to expand on their sonic counterpart. You can open up the landscape of a song into a vast, expansive universe. I sometimes struggle on the branding side of things, as that is more related to the packaging of myself into a product. But, I truly get lost in the possibilities of turning songs into visual entities, and feel so creatively inspired in that thought process. I am an actor, and my partner and I are always going through films released through the Criterion collection that we may not have otherwise heard about or watched, so visuals directly play into another passion of mine. I find myself constantly daydreaming about turning my next album into a short film. A personal goal is to get into directing and explore what form my voice takes through visual representation.

As an artist, you've likely encountered both triumphs and challenges. Can you share a significant turning point or breakthrough moment in your career that shaped your trajectory and artistic approach?

There was this one moment when I was on tour in Ontario and I was having a particularly low day. I had booked all of my shows on that tour, and I remember sitting upstairs of the venue we were about to play in a makeshift greenroom feeling like I truly had no idea what I was doing with my life. I had negative dollars in the bank account, and the shows we had played thus far had all felt empty (literally and figuratively). I vividly remember saying to myself, “Ok, Alex, if this show doesn’t have a silver lining at the end of it, then you should just go home.”

We played the show, and one of the individuals in attendance happened to work at a national radio station. We connected after the show, and the next day, our new single was being played on their show. Among many cool things that came from that opportunity, the founder of a boutique booking agency I had been following had heard our song on the radio and wanted to pitch us for shows via their roster. From that, we got to play some incredible, milestone festivals and events. I think back to that show often, and how important that reality check in the greenroom was.

Up until that point, I think I had approached performing in a rather aimless and romanticized way. It was the first time I had questioned my music pursuits in such a significant way, and it was the first time I felt like I had to prove to myself that I should be onstage.

What do you do to stay grounded outside of music?

When the pandemic set in, I had to pivot back to having a regular day job to keep the bills paid. But, outside of juggling multiple jobs, I love to spend time with my elderly Yorkshire terrier (Tobias) and turtle (Porridge), as well as spend time in my vegetable garden. Lately, I have been harvesting all of the available seeds in my garden (chives, dill, kale, cilantro, etc) so that I can give them out as gifts to family and friends next season. I like to draw, paint, and read… If you can’t already tell, I am a bit of an introvert. It can be difficult to stay grounded in the chaos of life, but I do feel it is important to carve out a portion of each day to just be present with yourself.

Looking forward, what are your aspirations for the future? Are there any specific goals or milestones you hope to achieve, and how do you see your music evolving as you continue to grow as an artist?

I have so many goals and aspirations in and outside of music. After my cancer diagnosis, though, I have been shifting my focus away from achievement-based planning. I spent the majority of 2022 fearing I would die before I would complete some of the objectives I had set out to do over the last couple of years. It is truly an awful feeling when there are endless loose threads before you that you may never see come to fruition. Life is short, and I am learning to move forward with the mindset that whatever I am able to experience in my lifetime is of equal value. Yes, I have big dreams and goals, but I am trying to not fixate my gaze far into the horizon where the harder-to-obtain goals sit just out of sight.

This Spotlight – Alexandria Maillot is a wrap. It’s great to see such talent get a little boost

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