Artist Feature 009: Mary Yalex
July. 20. 2015
Welcome back to the ADSR blog’s Music Monday. This week’s guest Mary Yalex, is a talented young producer and resident of Leipzig, Germany, active since 2008. Her current sound infuses elements of techno and deep house, often providing uplifting choruses and evolutions of light tones and harmonics, maintaining a deep sense of curiosity with elements of the organic world via field recorded samples. Whether it’s bright bouncy progressions, brooding hypnotic sub grooves, or the tapping and shaking of a sugar bowl, she manages to find an interesting interplay of lush and funky sound design sending the listener towards an enjoyable and (e)motion filled experience. Below Mary talks influences and gives us a snapshot of her production process on her latest LP…
Hi Mary. How is everything going in Leipzig? What have you been up to recently?
I have lived for over 7 years in Leipzig. I enjoy the weather and meeting with friends. I like it here very much. I have been working on my B-Sides of Beyond Borders for the last few weeks. Part of it is almost ready. I think it will be released in late Summer.
What are your musical influences and how did you first become involved with music and production?
When I was little I took a liking to the drums. My mother was already a classical and blues player, but sent me to keyboard lessons at age thirteen. I really didn’t enjoy classical keyboarding at the time. I couldn’t identify with the sound or aesthetic then, so I quit soon after. I was listening to quite a mixed up variety all around, and I had no determined direction. Then, when I turned seventeen, I bought my first sequencing software, and smashed a lot of time into it, building my first beats, and really started developing a sharp knowledge and interest from listening to and playing my mother’s piano. While I lived in Austria for a long time, a friend showed me how to build beats using a Roland MC 303, so I picked up my own MC 808 along with Ableton. During this period, I was strongly influenced by downtempo, techno and ambient sounds, which is reflected in my production. Over time I have been listening to and still love classical music, indie, blues and EBM among others. My family is full of hippies, who initially influenced me towards classical and blues styles.
Are there any specific moments in music that have affected you to this day?
I think what has influenced me the greatest are Moby’s albums. His Ambient LP was my favourite. Also Trentemöller and Moritz von Oswald. They are still in my record shelves.
You released your second feature length album, Beyond Borders, this past winter. Can you talk about what the recording process was like for you, as well about some of the equipment you used?
Last year I was on summer vacation in my hometown of Erfurt. There I was with my family, and we usually go out hiking and exploring nature. Every Sunday, we have a tradition to go walking in the Thuringian Forest. I’ve always really loved the natural sounds that occur there. So I bought a professional unit, the Olympus LS-12, which is way better than an iPod for recording, whether loud train sounds or forest noises. I started editing the samples I took using Ableton to pleasing effect. I then had a vision that I began implementing. Beyond Borders is the beginning of this new vision. I work in my studio a lot with Clavia Nord Rack 2, Waldorf Blofeld and Ableton Operator. These are my favourite synthesizers. I would like to obtain a Moog next.
Was there a difference in your mindset and method from your first LP “Hidden Poetry”?
On my first album Hidden Poetry I tried different things. It was only when I produced the first tracks of Beyond Borders, that I knew which way to take things and find myself in the music. Hidden Poetry, for me, was more an experiment.
You seem to be very production oriented. Do you ever DJ as well? What’s your setup of choice?
I play live with Ableton and an Akai APC-40. I haven’t performed out much, although I spend a lot of money on house and electronica records. I am a collector and I mix vinyl at home a lot, but am very busy with producing. So far I have no booking agency, but I prefer to perform live.
You’ve done some really nice accompanying photography for Beyond Borders on your website. Is photography something you spend a lot of time on?
Yes, I love to take pictures, especially in nature. Landscapes and forests mostly. My photography is more spontaneous, I have my camera wherever I go. My music is far more consuming. I was in Berlin a few days ago, and I recorded footage on the road and put together a video for the track Silbergrund. It was the perfect moment. I shoot with a simple Canon Ixus and my iPhone.
What were you doing in Berlin?
I’m on vacation right now and wanted to get out. Berlin has so many vinyl stores.
I am just a little bit jealous.
What can we expect from the Beyond Borders B-Sides out later this summer?
It will be much in the same style. I am mostly using my library I’ve created and recordings from acoustic sampling. I think it will be six tracks, maybe seven, with a few remixes.
Is there anyone in particular you would like to collaborate with or do more remixes with/for?
I’d like to make music with David Jorre. He makes really good music. He is doing a remix for me of Bright Lights.
What will you be up to over the next while after your B-Sides release?
I have a few things sketched out that I will be happy to focus on. I applied to a label from Hamburg which is interested in some demos. I need to take the demos to a more finished state. It’s a lot of work I haven’t even released. There are many small labels but they hardly promote their releases, so I have to decide carefully what steps to take next as a musician. I still hope to find a good external label.
Do you have any parting words?
I hope that it was interesting to hear a little insight into what I do :)
Thanks for sharing with us Mary, check out "Crossing wires" below coming out on her album: Beyond Boarders: B sides Oct. 30.