We caught up with LA based singer/songwriter with a voice of an angel, Mara Connor. Read on to learn about how she got her start in music, her new duet with Langhorne Slim, and advice on how to stay creatively inspired.
When did you start playing music, and when did you decide you wanted to pursue it as a career?
Since I can remember I’ve been singing and making up songs. At age 11 I got my first guitar (a cherry red Fender Squier Stratocaster starter kit from Guitar Center in Hollywood) and started learning Beatles and Nirvana songs, which eventually turned into writing guitar parts for my own songs. I didn’t take it seriously until I joined my first indie rock band at the end of high school.
What has been your favorite performance you've done so far?
I think it’s a tie between my “No Fun” video release show in LA and my band’s NYC debut at Baby’s All Right. The release show was a huge party - we premiered the video and had a bunch of special guests perform. The NYC show was special because I used to live down the street from Baby’s in Brooklyn and walked by it every day, dreaming of playing there. It was emotional singing the songs I wrote about my time there with some of my closest friends in the front row and a big supportive crowd cheering us on.
What was the highlight of your SXSW experience?
SXSW was a trip. It’s hard to pick a specific moment because it felt like one hazy, sleep-deprived, week-long dream. I love the spontaneity of it. You can try to make plans there but you never end up following them. You just have to surrender to the adventure. One day I wandered into Charm School Vintage and found a pink beret that I wore onstage at my SXSW showcase later that evening then ended the night in a cloud of smoke (of the herbal variety) in a Victorian mansion with a bunch of strangers. Another day I started the afternoon playing a DIY venue in a backyard shed then wound up at Willie Nelson’s ranch in Luck, Texas, watching him play a private show for like two hundred people…that was a life highlight.
The music video for "No Fun" had a lot of fun scenes and cute outfits! What was your favorite part of the shoot?
Thanks! It was (ironically) very fun to make, with the help of lots of friends. My favorite part of the shoot was watching my 1970s dream world come to life. The wonderful Aza Ziegler styled it (my floor-length gold lamé dress is actually her mom’s from the ‘70s and Aza’s fashion line Calle Del Mar is featured on the skater girls). We shot at some amazing locations…a Mid-Century house, a retro bowling alley, underwater and inside a powder blue 1966 Chevy Impala convertible.
Name 3 of your fashion icons
Francoise Hardy, Audrey Hepburn and early Cher.
While writing your record who/what were your sources of inspiration?
I was listening to Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, Jackson C. Frank, Nico, Big Star, Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, Neil Young, Sufjan Stevens, Blake Mills...the list goes on. I also moved from New York to LA and spent time recording in Nashville…each city has a distinct sound and personality that influenced my songwriting.
Any advice to other artists on how to stay inspired?
As cliché as it sounds, I think the best inspiration comes from living life to its fullest. Put down your phone. Feed your soul. Surround yourself with nature, music, poetry, art, aesthetic beauty, meaningful human interaction…whatever fulfills you. Then find a place where you can reflect and write about it. I like my living space to be a blank canvas. I keep my apartment pretty neat and minimal with white walls so there are no distractions when a song comes to me.
Your second single "Someone New" (a duet with Langhorne Slim) just came out last week. How did it come about?
I wrote "Someone New" after running into an ex at a party with his new girlfriend. I love writing duets because you get to tell both sides of the story. Langhorne and I met briefly in New York then I heard him sing on NPR’s World Cafe while driving around LA and knew he was perfect for the song. We recorded it to tape at the Bomb Shelter in East Nashville with Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes). Stay tuned for more new music soon.