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spotlight


by joel martens


Independent spirit, that’s the phrase that popped into my head as I was prepping to do this interview. If there is anyone who fits that bill, it’s Mary Lambert. You may remember her as the woman who wrote the hook for Macklemore and Lewis’ marriage-equality anthem, “Same Love” or you may remember her for her breakout album, Heart on My Sleeve, producing the smash single, “Secrets,” which went to No. 1 onBillboard’s dance charts, hitting RIAA Gold in 2015. If you don’t know her by now, I’d take a moment to discover her…You’ll be pleased. I had the pleasure of talking to Lambert back in 2015, about those early days and the rush of her new-found success. We talked about the vulner-


ability it takes to write and produce an album and in particular, the success of “Secrets.” Even then, I was struck by the depth of her honesty and how willing she was as an artist to be emotionally vulnerable. That certainly hasn’t changed with Bold. It’s a shining example of a woman and artist, who is not only willing to sing about life’s pain, joy, confu-


sion, love and passion, but one who is vulnerable enough to share deeply personal stories and painful experiences around the messiness it can create. She’s inviting us to connect, to get a little closer and more comfortable with the experience of just being human. “I feel like I’m a walking example of being messy and that being okay. I feel like when I speak my truth and am authentic, it hopefully serves as an invitation. It’s amazing to be a part of facilitating healing in a room of people who also have that desire.” She certainly edged me a little further along that journey. I hope you enjoy the ride as much I did.


What made you decide to take on doingBold as an independent at this point in your career? Well, I was feeling a lot of anxiety around it and a lot of pressure in the industry. I think what happens once you start building something bigger, not exclusively in the pop industry, but I think it’s build into the pop industry more, there’s a sort of dogmatic rhetoric around what success or failure is and they are so extreme. Unless you have a number one hit or a top ten hit, you have not succeeded or are a failure. Even though I had a successful number one single and “Secrets” went


gold by selling 500,000 copies, it still hadn’t achieved what their, the major label’s investment was. And so, that was difficult for me to sort of hear that language. It wasn’t just the label, I know they have their bottom lines and are used to a certain formula. I think also, they are also used to a certain type of artist and I didn’t really fit that mold. It wasn’t that I didn’t look like everyone else, or anything like that, there was never a conversa- tion about “Hey, do you want to lose weight?” That was never a thing. The biggest issue was, I think, my marketability: Because I do spoken


word, because I want to talk about white supremacy, because I want to talk about rape and other difficult things… And I also want to sing pop music. Those things aren’t easily marketed or easily digestible. I feel like in our culture, we want to be understood and want to be loved, so we make ourselves digestible and kind of cut out parts of ourselves, because that’s what’s going to make us the happiest. I just don’t know how to do that. I could never cut off a part of myself. (Laughs) I’m just so loud about all aspects of my complexity and that includes my artistry. So, it just made sense to part ways. I am really


blessed and firmly believe that letting someone out of their contract is an act of kindness and love. To me it was a very loving act for the label to recognize that this is the best move for everybody involved. I was very grateful for that. It was very amicable and I was excited to go out on my own, it ended up feeling great. It brings up an interesting point about how we measure success in our culture. To me, anyone who manages to get on a stage and perform as you do, release albums and have measurable sales, is successful. Right? It really depends on what your strengths are and what you’re


good at. I just did a gig in New York and people pay a fair amount of money to come to shows and in some ways, it’s so silly to me because I was having such fun on stage, I thought, “I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this.” I almost feel guilty, because I think this shouldn’t be a “thing” that happens. People have told me, “That’s really brave, you’re talking about your


own body and your own mental disorder and shaking your butt (laughs) in front of a group of strangers. For some, they couldn’t dream of doing something like that, you’d have to pay them a million dollars and they wouldn’t do it. It is a rare thing to find the depth of honesty that you have in your music. It also goes beyond the music because you make it very personal. It gives people a language to express what they might be feeling or experiencing. It’s a real gift. Wow, thank you Joel. I really appreciate that.


You talked in one of your blog posts about how doing music seems so frivolous, when we’re facing such challenging times, as many of us are


38


RAGE monthly | MAY 2017


| MAY 2017


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