Exclusive Interview: Margaret Davis
The beautiful harp sounds and sultry voice of Margaret Davis brings a new horizon to the landscape of Jazz music and beyond.
Thank you for sharing some time with our readers today, what have you been up to in 2019?
Hi, thanks for having me! 2019 has been crazy and super exciting for me. This has been my first year out of music school and working as an independent musician. It’s been truly liberating. I spent most of this year gigging in New York City where I’ve been based for a long time. New York is a really special place to be an artist; I’ve learned a lot and really owe the city for the opportunity it’s brought me. Recently, I made a major move down to Houston, Texas to spend more time focusing on my original music project: my band, Astoria Window. My band features harp, ukulele, vocals, and electronics, and is comprised of myself and two other musicians with classical backgrounds. Our mission is to bring our classical training and the complexities of that genre, along with my very classically oriented instrument, into a more modern, pop-oriented space. We’re working on our debut EP and also, our major project this year is composing an original piece for Astoria Window and orchestra which will be premiered in April, 2020, by the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra. It’s a really cool project for us given our history, and we’re totally thrilled to be working on it.
Any LIVE show experiences or road stories you would like to share?
Something that comes to mind is a show I played last June at the Jazz Gallery in New York. I was playing and singing the music of this amazing composer/performer, Camila Meza. She wrote this incredibly epic, one hour concert of songs with solos and transitional material in between called Portal, and we played it straight down without pauses or breaks so it really was like traveling through a portal. Something that’s been really helpful to me as a freelancer has been to play multiple genres; my training is in classical harp and I take a lot of classical work with orchestras, chamber ensembles, etc., but I also perform as a singing harpist and my repertoire there is mostly jazz. As I mentioned, my real passion project is my band. We’re really inspired by electronic music, R&B, soul, and other contemporary genres, and I think our songs reflect a range of musical influences. Putting that music out, as well as my jazz and classical stuff has been getting me a reputation as a harpist who just kind of plays unconventional stuff, and that’s lead me to work with other singer/songwriters, fusion music, world music, avant-garde jazz, contemporary classical, and a bunch of other genre areas. It’s really refreshing for me to switch up the style I’m playing in regularly. Playing that show with Camila and the rest of her band was literally magical. The instrumentation was so unique and cool that whenever I wasn’t playing I felt like I would just float away and get lost in the other musical textures going on.
With such a busy performance schedule, how do you find the time to rehearse and create new music?
Well, that’s been a big part of this move down to Houston. I love New York and I still take work there and have plans for some trips back this year. I’m really fortunate to make my living in music and I’ve been building up my gig schedule here in Texas since I moved down last month, but coming here was a very deliberate step towards getting my original music perfected and released. I feel like a lot of artists have this sort of ache to share the music they’re feeling on the inside. That’s super cheesy, but I really feel it, especially as I experiment and find my product closer and closer to the sound I want it to be. I’ll never complain about being busy with gigs, it’s a huge honor to be an artist in 2019, but I’m really excited for a little more space and time as I meet more people in Houston to focus on writing and recording with the band for a while.
Where are you currently located and what are your favorite local spots to play, or hope to play?
I’m stoked to find my favorite spots in Houston! Like I said, I’ve only been here about a month, and I’ve been out of town for more than a week of that playing some gigs in Seattle, so I’m just now starting to settle in and get ready to play some gigs. A lot of people have been telling me to bring my jazz act to the House of Blues in Houston, which would be super cool, but I’m also really excited to play some band shows in Austin, I’ve heard a lot about that city and I can’t wait to check it out.
When we follow our dreams in life, there are sacrifices. What do you find to be the greatest sacrifices and the greatest gifts of your career?
Great question, one kind of trivial sacrifice is that I don’t have very much feeling in the tips of my fingers from playing harp haha. It’s kind of a cool party trick though, I can touch hot things for a long time, very helpful with baked potatoes. But no, honestly, I don’t feel like I’ve had to sacrifice that much. It’s kind of an expensive business to be in, in the sense that albums, equipment, traveling to gigs and stuff all cost money, but that all just kind of makes me feel more grateful to be doing this. Things that are time consuming and hard to do make me feel more accomplished when they’re done. I’d definitely have to say the greatest gift to me as a musician has been my education. I went to Juilliard for undergrad and got a master of music degree from the Yale School of Music, and I honestly feel like my teachers at those schools have equipped me for whatever musical task comes my way. Since they’re both very serious, classical music programs, I was really nervous to launch my ‘singing harpist’ act and put out jazz and my original music, but my teachers and colleagues have all been extremely supportive and encouraging which means so much to me.
Please share with our readers how we can support your music on line as well as in real life!
Friends, check out my instagram @margdavismusic and my Youtube channel (linked on Instagram). I post singing harpist covers, classical harp snippets, and sneak peaks of the album I’m working on with Astoria Window (@astoriawindowband). If you want to learn more about me or my band, peep my website, margdavismusic.com. I’ll be posting shows and album updates there, and as always, thank you for listening!
Thank you for your time and wishing you all the best with your musical career.
Thank you! This was really fun.
End of Interview
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