Music Interview

Mara's Torment

By Jett Black

Mara's TormentWidely acclaimed as a masterpiece composition, "Dreams Like Mine," debuted by Mara's Torment, precedes MT's latest release "Across For Show" which, in this writer's very humble opinion, even excels above and beyond the debut. Rik MacLean orchestrates these masterpiece recordings from ground zero in Toronto, Ontario. Rik pauses between live performances to address a handful of questions...

How have your musical messages and styles evolved since you first began recording?

I feel more confident as a writer, much more familiar with the capabilities of my equipment, and much more familiar with recording and production. Each release, show, whatever, adds to that and ultimately that leads to a better representation of where I want to go with my music. I don't necessarily want to make a message, but I think that I'm becoming more able to lead somebody to a place to find a message of their own.

Laughs, oh wow, that last one made me sound soooooooo pretentious...

Dreams Like MineWhat experiences have been most influential in the development of your music?

If I told you, then the people involved would have an incredible amount of power over me, knowing how much of an impact that they had in my day to day life. ::Smiles:: I think that a lot of what I do is based around my feelings of my surroundings from day to day, and my observations of where I'm at. I try to be open to all of it, and a lot of my songs are reflections on that. Chance meetings, things I've been thinking about, day to day magic, they all creep into what I do.

Where have you found the largest positive support for your music?

Certainly college radio has been an invaluable help. There are just so many great shows that promote independent music, and I really appreciate them all. There are also a number of really cool sites on the 'net that have helped spread the word. Gothic.net has been totally fabulous, and I'm really grateful to them. I've also been really lucky with different magazines like Carpe Noctem and Outburn. They're both so great, and their support has been really positive. There have been so many really fabulous people that have been supportive, that I don't have the room to name them all here. Suffice to say that I'm grateful to have so many people that believe in what I do.

How would you describe your band's music that is ultimately performed and recorded?

I like to think of Mara's Torment as a series of aural landscapes, with each song depicting a different shade of the emotional spectrum.

What messages infuse the music you create?

Ideas and messages change from song to song and I try to capture that change, but I think that to a large extent I like to think that the stuff I do would inspire the listener to come up with their own ideas, and their own messages. Music is a very personal trip and I think that as a musician I have a responsibility to my audience to keep that in mind while writing.

Since the late '80's, differentiations in "underground" music have resulted in many varied distinctions. Where do you believe these distinctions in darker music are headed?

Certainly all musical forms have evolved with the technology available and I would expect that it will continue to do so, but I think that the darker musical forms will maintain a little bit more of an organic nature to themselves, just because of their romantic origins. There will always be a heart behind the machinery.

Any reviews/interviews currently available or soon to be in print?

My webpage at http://www.marastorment.com/ features a couple of interviews and some links to reviews and so forth.

What impressions do you have of the new music festivals? (Some examples include Convergence, CopFest, and ProjektFest).

I quite enjoy the idea, because it restores the idea that a show is an event, rather than just a concert. Further, package tours and shows allow for the opportunity to see a lot of bands that might not have the chance to make it to your city on their own. I had a great time at Convergence IV (Toronto). It was fabulous. I was hoping that ProjektFest would make it into Toronto (last year), but alas, maybe this year...

How do computers, and the Internet, impact how Mara's Torment presents itself?

All of the music I do is played through sequencers, and I have yet to integrate computers into the process, but certainly the Internet has done wonderful things to spread my music around. I think that even ten years ago a band in my position would be limited to an audience in their city and would have to wait for a label to pick them up and support them. And even then they'd be limited by the amount of time and money that a label would put into them. These days the Internet allows a band to reach a much larger audience without even leaving the house. The Internet puts the power of expression and communication back in the hands of the artist, and gives them a forum to ensure that their thoughts will be heard by others around the world.

Who would you say characterizes the personality types of people most likely to identify with your music and its messages?

"Mara's Torment. Music for Cool and Friendly people with an appreciation for the Darker things in life."

What influences the development of the music and lyrics of Mara's Torment?

The look of my ceiling while I lie on my floor, the sound of streetcars passing my apartment, the emptiness of my bedroom and the noise my cat makes in the morning when she wants to be fed.

What problems have you experienced with audio during your live performances in the past?

Two words. Always sound-check.

What really adds to your personal satisfaction of your own live performances?

Certainly a show where everybody, band and audience both, are really into it; really appreciate what's happening.

What do you like most about performing live?

I've discovered a latent exhibitionist streak that I didn't know I had. Playing live lets me appeal to that fetish...

Which writers/artists have had influence upon the development of your music?

Across For ShowThe artists that have had the most influence on my work are probably the artists that have done work for me, either for cover art or through my web site. Katie Miranda, Andrea Wallace, Suzette Cooper, and Brooke Breyfogle are definitely the most talented, inspiring group of individuals I know and they're totally inspiring when it comes to my work.

When will you be recording next?

Currently, I'm in the process of recording. Songs are written and going through the dreaded mixing/post production stage.

Would you be interested in working on a side-project band with members of other bands?

I'm actually in the process of working on a couple of different things outside of Mara's Torment, but I'm afraid it's too early to talk about what those things are.

When will the next release be available?

I'm hoping for late spring/early summer. I want to get something out with enough time to enjoy it before Y2K issues make it impossible to do so.

Does Mara's Torment appear in any music video or video compilations?

Currently no, but there are plans to do a video for Another Wish from Dreams Like Mine.

When will you be touring next?

No touring plans currently, but I do play live in Toronto with some regularity.

How might fans reading this be most likely to contact Mara's Torment for more information?

My site has a wealth of information about me and my stuff. By all means, everybody is welcome to visit and to sign my guestbook and to order a CD. http://www.marastorment.com/. Thanks for your continued support!