Heathcote born, Bendigo based, folk artist Mariah McCarthy is one of regional Victoria's most prized possessions. Since living and performing in the big smoke with her old band Deer Prudence for a time, Mariah has returned to her neck of the woods a solo artist and is focusing all her energy on launching her own career with gusto. After kicking off 2018 with the release of the title track to her forthcoming EP Counting Sheep, and revealing its follow up single 'Hail Mary' last month, the budding young talent is now ready to share the remains of her stunning debut out Friday 25 May.
With a beckoning voice of home and soothing rhythms akin to travelling among regularly-visited far off places, Mariah marries feelings of here and there; comfort and ache; dream and reality on the EP's title track -Counting Sheep'. An ode to awakening remote desire and accessing the lucid brightness within our dream selves, the single is a warm, honest, and mature account from the budding young talent.
'Hail Mary' is a homage to memories lost and wrinkles gained; stories to be told and the adventures that lie ahead. Warm with heavenly vocals, delicate guitar strumming and beautifully written lyrics, -Hail Mary' along with the entire EP, was produced, recorded and mixed by David Carr in the serene surrounds of his Dandenong Ranges' Rangemaster Studios, and features instrumentation from fellow EP contributors Ben Langdon, David Williams and Carr himself
Having made notable festival appearances at Wintermoon Festival (QLD), St Albans Folk Festival (NSW), Yackandandah Folk Festival (VIC) and Majors Creek Festival (NSW) in her time spent in country folk duo Deer Prudence, Mariah is an honest and tender performer, whose captivating live presence captures every ear in the room.
Catch the exquisite storytelling of Mariah McCarthy when she launches her debut EP Counting Sheep in a pair of cosy live shows in Melbourne and Bendigo this winter.
Counting Sheep EP Launch Dates
Bendigo: Saturday 2nd of June at Old Church on the Hill
Melbourne: Saturday 26th of May at The Wesley Anne
Supports: Georgie Currie (The Northern Folk) + Jarrod Shaw
Other Upcoming Shows
Friday 11 May - Gold Dust Lounge, Bendigo
supporting Cousin Tony's Brand New Firebird
Sunday 27 May - Taproom, Castlemaine
Saturday 16 June - Martian's Cafe, Deans Marsh
Sunday 17 June - The Door Gallery Cafe, Geelong
Friday 22 June - The Delatite Hotel, Mansfield
Saturday 30 June - Kilmore Celtic Festival, Kilmore
Sunday 1 July - Gypsy Bar, Echuca
Friday 13 July - Oscar's Alehouse, Belgrave
Counting Sheep is out Friday 25 May and available for pre-sale now via Bandcamp
Question: What inspired you to return to regional Victoria and take on a solo project?
Mariah McCarthy: I decided to return back for a number of reasons! Firstly, I was working in Heathcote one day a week already, and found myself playing gigs around the area frequently so I was always travelling back and forth. I really loved my work in Melbourne - teaching instrumental music in Primary Schools - so I decided to start working for myself teaching in Heathcote and Bendigo and I've really loved it. Also, for four years my boyfriend was living in Bendigo while I was in Melbourne so we thought it was time for a change! I decided to start playing solo because the other half of my duo Deer Prudence decided to focus on her country band Georgia State Line and it's been a really rewarding experience.
Question: How would you describe your music?
Mariah McCarthy: Contemporary folk music, deep with storytelling. Having extra instrumentation on this EP has helped bring new life and aspects of different genres into my music as well - the drums and guitar in particular add an element of americana and country.
Question: What inspired Counting Sheep (EP)?
Mariah McCarthy: Counting Sheep is basically a compilation of songs written from when I very first started writing up until now. When I went back to playing solo I wanted to get into the studio pretty quickly and I had all these songs under my belt already. Almost all of the songs are written about something I've experienced personally so they're quite close to my heart.
Question: Which is your favourite song to perform live and why?
Mariah McCarthy: This one changes all the time! It depends on the audience I think, if they're intently listening then Seeking Refuge or 1821 would be one of my favourites because of the stories those songs tell.
Question: What should we expect from your upcoming shows?
Mariah McCarthy: For my two launch shows in Melbourne and Bendigo I've got a band! I'm super excited to put a little more life into my songs with extra instrumentation - which is how they sound on the EP - and to work with like-minded musicians.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Mariah McCarthy: I much prefer performing live! I find recording can be quite a stressful process, I still enjoy it but it can be pretty draining. Performing live is much more fun and exciting for me.
Question: What motivates you most when writing music?
Mariah McCarthy: Trying to tell a story and to have that resonate with those who hear the song. I find writing can be a way to say something you may not otherwise say - sometimes it's easier to speak through music so I like to write about things that I've experienced, that can often help for me when dealing with a situation.
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Mariah McCarthy: I like a lot of different kinds of music from folk, to rock and punk. I always like buying albums and EPs off those I see perform at festivals I play. Currently in my car I've got William Alexander, The Bean Project and Willie Wagtails on repeat.
Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Mariah McCarthy: I've sung and played guitar for almost as long as I can remember, so I never really thought about doing much else besides performing. My guitar teacher Bianca Maes was a massive influence and inspiration for me. I watched her gig from when I was 13 and she helped me to start performing live regularly. I also remember seeing Paul Kelly when I was about 16 playing in one of the big arenas in Melbourne and being captivated for his entire performance. I remember thinking that it was possible to be a soloist, you didn't need a massive band behind you, his songs were his most important thing.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Mariah McCarthy: I've just started watching the last season of the tv show -New Girl' and absolutely love Zooey Deschanel and her band -She & Him'. Their music has something nostalgic about it and I think her arrangements are always super fun! I reckon she'd come up with an awesome backing vocal extravaganza!
Interview by Brooke Hunter