Interview: One of the richest voices in the West, MaryLeigh Roohan

I first heard MaryLeigh Roohan when she released the first single off of her recently released EP, Living Alone. This single, “My Friends”, channeled so many emotions and was given a whole new dimension when the music video was released. Familiarize yourself with Roohan and her incredibly powerful voice:

Not too long ago, I emailed MaryLeigh a few questions about her life, music, and how the two are intertwined. Read her answers below.

MFL: How did music become a part of your life and who were some of your most prominent influences (friends/family or musicians)?

MaryLeigh Roohan (MR): It’s hard for me to think of a time when music wasn’t a part of my life. Of course, how I interact with music is ever evolving. I was always singing as a small child and my love of music only grew as I got older. You know, you start listening in elementary school and middle school and finally in high school people have bands and you go to shows, etc. If my mom didn’t have guitars laying around the house, I don’t know if I would have started playing guitar. I got really bored one winter break during high school and started teaching myself. Of course, there have been plenty of musicians who have influenced and inspired me but my mom – even when I was very, very young – was always making sure my siblings and I were exploring the arts in many forms.

MFL: Your first album, The Docks, came out 4 years ago. Does that seem like forever ago to you or just yesterday and why?

 MR: Oh jeez! It does seem like forever ago. I haven’t listened to the record since it was mastered and I’m secretly a little nervous to go back and listen to it in full. It was my first time in a studio and I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a writer and singer since creating that album. Hahaha, now I feel obligated to go back and check it out – it’ll be like looking at my yearbook picture from middle school.

MFL: Where do you draw your material from for songwriting and has that changed over the years?

MR: Many of my songs evolve from steam-of-consciousness singing, so the material is very closely related to my experiences as I engage with the world around me.  I suppose that’s always how the majority of my writing has worked but occasionally I step outside of that and just try to tell a good story.

MFL: What inspired the release of your upcoming EP, Living Alone?

 MR: The record reflects on instances of isolation and alienation in different forms. Before I decided to record, I knew that these songs felt incredibly true to me but that made me more nervous to perform them and think about recording and releasing them. They’re very vulnerable.

MFL: Along those lines, you recently released the music video for “My Friends.” Where did the idea for this music video come from and was this idea there when you wrote the song?

 MR: Unfortunately, I can’t take much credit for the creation of the music video. Lindsey Copeland, the mastermind behind the video, has an incredible brain and I’m fortunate enough to call her my friend. We met at one of my shows in New York and she was really inspired to create something based on my music. The way she describes her visions makes them seem like they’re divinely inspired. Like they somehow mystically unfolded in front of her as she listened to the music. She also cares about her craft as a filmmaker and is incredibly hardworking. I trust her and her creative mind completely, so when she told me she had an idea for a “My Friends” video, I was totally on board.

MFL: Overall, have your experiences as a musician been mostly positive or negative? Draw on a couple of experiences to highlight prominent memories, either positive or negative.

 MR: The whole thing is an emotional roller coaster but I’ve met incredible people, seen parts of the country I would have never seen otherwise and have done crazy things because of music. I was in Buffalo and randomly met a musician at a coffee shop. He took my friend Anna and I all over the city and then we decided to sneak into Niagara Falls at 2:30 in the morning. There have been plenty of nights where I have to take a step back and really appreciate how incredible the world and the people on it can be. Everything I could describe as negative is either incredibly “small picture” or is the other side of a positive. So some small picture stuff would be like “wow that sound guy is a dick,” or “I showed up and the venue double booked, so I drove hundreds of miles for nothing.” Womp, womp, who cares? Sometimes not having more solid structure in my life or having all my friends spread out over the country instead of right in my town can get to me. But I get to see my friends when I’m on the road, which is a luxury that few people have, and I know that an office with more “structure” would eat my soul. Music has given me so much and has revealed a lot about the world and how I see myself in it. Everyday I’m better defining success for myself and learning.

MFL: Finally, what does making music mean to you and is it something you envision doing for the rest of your life?

 MR: As I said before, music has always been an ever-evolving part of my life. I can’t imagine my life without it. I know I’ll always be writing songs and engaging as a listener.

MaryLeighRoohan-9781maryleigh roohanPromo Photo 1 (1)

Living Alone is out now and can be found on iTunes and you can get a taste of her music on her SoundCloud as well.

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