MAWD is a small town mountain girl from Placerville, California. The singer-songwriter has just released her self-titled debut EP on Sound X3 Records. Her raspy voice, honest songwriting, and folky style are well worth giving a listen. I spoke with the peppy and bubbly artist this past week about songwriting and growing up in a mountain town.
How did growing up in Placerville affect your music and creativity?
Well, it is a really small town, so there is not a lot of music going on. I found solace in this cafe where they had open mics. When I was 16 I started going there and found my own little music community. Placerville is in the foothills of South Lake Tahoe so it is a mountain town which inspired me a lot lyrically.
What is the music scene in Chico like?
I moved to Chico for the music industry program at Chico State which I just graduated from this past semester. The scene is not as thriving as Los Angeles, but it is a lot more thriving than Placerville. There is music going on about every night of the week, but there are only five solid venues. The great thing about Chico is that it's really easy to kind of weasel your way into the music scene and really grow. It's not a huge scene so you can get more connected with all of the people and it is more of a family of musicians. It is not overwhelming at all, but at the same time, it is not too small either.
What inspired you to start writing songs?
I can't pinpoint when exactly I started writing songs and what inspired it, but I definitely think that when you are feeling something really strong, and a certain emotion has taken over you, you have to get it out somehow. So songwriting was the go to release anything pent up inside of me. But now I get this like itch or tingle in my body where I am like "I have to get this out of me!"
So you recently went on your first tour, was it everything you expected it to be?
It was really awesome but it was a lot of work because you have to wake up really early when you were out really late the night before playing another show. Then you have to drive five hours to the next place and after that there is sound check. You don't really get to nap and you just have to keep powering through. You are just in this daze the whole time, but you are playing music so you are like "okay!" The whole day you are so tired, but every time we were playing a show it was like "oh this is why I am doing this." It was really fun and exciting because it was my first time in Europe and my first time in a different country. It was probably one of the best experiences I have ever had because I learned a lot.
I love the song Dark Room, could you tell me more about writing it?
I wrote that song last Summer when I interned in LA at a record label (Sound X3 Records). I was talking to the head guy and he asked me to come play him a few songs. It turned out they really liked my music and they decided to sign me! It was really cool. When I wrote Dark Room I was living in a dorm in Northridge that I was renting through my college. My roommate would be gone all day, and our dorm room was really dark and dingy so that is what inspired the name. I didn't have a whole lot of friends and most of them were busy a lot, so I was just sitting around on my days off. I was feeling homesick and missing my loved ones and figuring out how I fit into this new place because LA is such a huge and different scene. So I started to change myself to fit in for a second and then I was like "wait what am I doing!" So this song was a combination of that and being homesick.
Who are you listening to right now?
I just saw Gregory Alan Isokov a few months ago so definitely him. I love him! He is a really awesome folk musician. I listen to a lot of local music. There is also a local artist here named Pat Hole who is really really good and I listen to him a lot.
Have you faced any obstacles in pursuing music because you are a woman?
Definitely! Especially in Los Angeles last Summer. There was a lot of sexism when I was working for this band, not from the band, but from a lot of the venues. I would show up and they would be like "oh your holding a camera! Do you know how to do that?" I took music theory in college and I was one of the top music theory students in my class. When I would talk with my classmates or play music they would be like "oh don't you know that about music theory," and I would be like "yeah I do, and I am actually really good at it." In the studio, men would be like "oh do you know what this inverted chord is?" I would be like "yeah I do!" I have just noticed that people are more surprised by what you can do when you are a woman compared to being a man. People tend to underestimate your ability.
What is some advice you would give to other girls trying to start their own career?
Don't let people make you feel like you are less than you are, and let them take advantage of you. I am a really nice person and I feel like a lot of people like to take advantage of that. They assume that you will do things for them, but you just have to say "no." I don't always want to come off as a bitch, but it is important to remember that it is ok to be a bitch and to be assertive. If people talk down to you and say things that you don't like, you need to let them know. Because if you don't, nothing will ever change. I have worked really hard to get where I am and initiative is key. It is super important to figure out who to know and who not to know. Those are all really good things.
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