Sep 17, 2013

McGill alumnus Mary Alouette explores gypsy jazz on a lark

Singer-songwriter adapts creative roots in Montreal to New York showbusiness

Max Bledstein

McGill alumnus Mary Alouette explores gypsy jazz on a lark
Mary Alouette’s subgenre of jazz mimics her nomadic lifestyle. (maryalouette.com)

What would gypsy jazz and electronic music sound like together? Singer-songwriter Mary Alouette provides the answer on her latest EP, The Lark.

“I love both genres of music, and their styles complement each other well,” Alouette says.  “The combination is a way for me to realize musical interests that I have and to see them all.  I feel a little bit cheated if I’m only doing one—why not do everything that you enjoy?”

Her casual approach undersells the remarkable cohesion that she finds between the two styles in her music.

Alouette’s fusion of the genres was part of the natural progression of her career.  She found gypsy jazz by answering a Craigslist ad, after which it became a constant source of fascination for her.  “It’s funny how Craigslist can change your life,” she says with a laugh.

Alouette had always been interested in  making electronic music, but until working in a New York City recording studio, she hadn’t learned how to do it properly.  She took a job doing mixing and sound engineering, which led to her aquiring the necessary tools to create  her own electronic music.

A Maryland native and McGill alumnus, Alouette graduated in 2008 with a major in vocal performance and a minor in drama and theatre.  During her time at McGill, Alouette went by her birth name of Mary Kavalauskas, and later adopted Alouette as a stage name.

Currently, she lives in New York, where she can usually be found performing, recording, or composing.  Alouette sees a sharp contrast between life in Montreal and her life now.

“Montreal’s francophone culture has had a profound influence on me, almost to the point where I feel like I’m from Montreal more than from where I [actually] grew up.”

“It’s much more business-minded here in New York,” she continues.  “In Montreal there’s much more time to be creative.  There’s more governmental support of the arts and rent’s less expensive.  In New York, money is a major factor, and people are all about making it.  I feel like you have to push harder to make ideas come to you and be creative here.”

Still, Alouette has also benefitted quite a bit from her current home.

“I thrive on the energy of New York.  It’s always moving, and it suits me well.  It’s big—there are so many cultures that are brought together here.  A lot of young artists are established here, and it’s great because there’s a huge network of artists.  Most of my friends are artistically involved, so we all collaborate and work on projects together to build our own portfolios.  Ideally I’d spend half a year in Montreal creating, then come back to New York and promote the material the other half of the year.  I love them both dearly.”

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