“Being an artist is such a risk. It’s totally a labour of love, and now that labour of love is being challenged even more,” said Brenley MacEachern of the duo Madison Violet.
She was talking about the increased obstacles faced by touring musicians these days trying to re-establish their careers now that festivals and concerts are back on the agenda.
“We’re all going through the growing pains of, ‘Did you rent the car? Who booked the hotel?'” said Lisa MacIssac, the other half of the Juno and ECMA nominated duo, who have released their newest album, Eleven.
“I think we’re all re-learning what at one point felt so innate.”
The problem artists are finding is there are no cars to rent. Flights are being delayed or cancelled, guitars and luggage lost.
“You don’t know whether you’re going to get your luggage. You don’t know if you’re going to get a car. And the car is going to be twice the amount; hotels are almost twice the amount,” said Brenley. “It’s a real jungle out there right now.”
It puts a real damper on what is an exciting stage of their careers. Madison Violet has been creating great music for 22 years now, and Eleven is the first album to be self-produced.
“This was the dream of ours to go into a studio and do it on our own,” Brenley said. “But we always thought, ’22 years together, we’ll rip each other’s eyes out!’ But honestly it was the most incredible adventure we’ve ever had making music. We got along great. There was a lot of ‘yes ands’ rather than ‘no ands.’”
“And no ‘buts,’” added Lisa.
The duo enrolled in the Berklee College of Music’s online course to learn studio engineering and using Ableton production software.
“All the things we saw happening in the studio for the last 10 albums, you learn a little bit through osmosis,” Lisa said. “But we really needed to get those tools in hand, and once we had that foundation, there were no limitations because we weren’t in somebody else’s studio. I think we found another calling.”
The end game for Brenley and Lisa is to produce other artists. To make that happen they transformed an Airstream trailer into a mobile recording studio and took a year to put Eleven together.
“It was pretty much gutted already and set up as an audio-visual studio but it was all painted black and with not high quality acoustic panels,” explained Brenley. “My dream is to take it down to the desert near Joshua Tree and have people come there to make music. I had a lot of fun, and I had a lot of faith in Lisa to reel me in when things needed to be reeled in. I think we were a good team.”
Brenley recalled an interesting conversation she had with Lisa about the making of the new album.
“I remember Lisa calling me one day, ‘I’m so stressed. This record’s got to be out by this time and we don’t have any of the songs finished,’” she said. “I’m like, ‘I know. Isn’t that amazing? What an opportunity that is. We don’t even know where we’re going’. I love this idea of creating the music and the soundscape first. We did that, and the lyrics would come.”
To Brenley’s point of view, the Beatles singing 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' might have sounded silly if there wasn’t the melody to carry the lyric.
“That’s what you take away the most,” she said. “A good strong melody is the most important part of a song and then being able to tell a little truth.”
Telling that truth has always been a hallmark of Madison Violet songs.
“It’s a cathartic process,” explained Lisa. “Both of us find it very much a meditative therapy getting out our feelings on paper regardless of whether other people hear them or not.”
For more on Eleven and Madison Violet, go to madisonviolet.com.