Photo Credit: Valeria Shashenok
When it comes to learning, Mary Middlefield is always up for a new lesson to be had and took in plenty of new knowledge when it came to making her debut, ‘Thank You, Alexander.’ We talked about the March 2023 release, as well as why birthdays aren’t for her, what decade was her musical muse, and more in this back-and-forth exchange.
Kendra: Was music always the creative outlet you found most intriguing throughout your life thus far?
Mary Middlefield: Music and writing were for sure the main outlets. They keep me busy and on my toes. I get ideas in the most random places…But I also love painting. I’m very very bad at it and no one will ever see my paintings but there’s definitely something special about the process that keeps me calm and focused.
Kendra: So before “This One’s For You” you released “Two Thousand One,” and they showcase various perspectives. You also penned the latter after a not-so-great relationship came to an end. Was “Two Thousand One” sort of the jumping-off point for the rest of the record?
Mary Middlefield: “Two Thousand One” was actually the last song we wrote for the record. Everything was done and ready to go before I wrote it.
I had this phase where I couldn’t stop writing shortly after the album was “done.” “Two Thousand One” was part of the many songs that had been written during that period. I felt that it deserved to have a spot on the record. I ended up showing my producer the song. He enjoyed it and we recorded it a few weeks later.
The moment I really knew what the record needed to sound and feel like it does now was when I came up with the name ‘Thank You, Alexander.’ We just built everything off of that initial idea and tried to make the work sound as cohesive as possible.
Kendra: Let’s go back to “This One’s For You.” In it, you sing about a yellow brick road. If you were to compare the journey of writing this record to Dorothy’s whole excursion in Oz, which of those characters would you say you were most like throughout the process and why?
Mary Middlefield: I love this question. I’d have to say the Scarecrow. I definitely had so much to learn and really wanted to learn. Everything about this field fascinates me. In some moments, I felt really dumb for not knowing things and kind of wished I had the brain everyone around me did. But that just motivated me to learn more.
Kendra: I also love to shout out videos whenever I can because I grew up during the last great wave of MTV before music was gone from the network. But yes, the video for this single captured my attention right away with the letter magnets, and also that birthday cake that simply read, “You’re really old.” Do you have an aversion to birthdays?
Mary Middlefield: I really don’t like birthdays. To me, they always seem like reminders of “your parent/loved one has one less year to live” or “you’re one year older and still haven’t done or accomplished anything.” Maybe I’m just too much of a pessimist and look at the bad side of things. I like the idea of celebrating life, but birthdays always seem to celebrate a number rather than anything else.
Kendra: Overall that song reminded me a lot of music that the ‘80s was built upon. Did that decade play any inspiration on the rest of ‘Thank You, Alexander?’
Mary Middlefield: If I have to choose one decade where most of the inspiration came from, it’s definitely the ‘90s. In my humble opinion, that’s when the world had the best music and the best artists/bands. But we tried to mix it up and just went wherever the wind took us; all the way from the ‘60s to the 2010s.
Kendra: Time for a side note – We’d love to know when you perform, do you have any sort of lucky charms you take with you on stage, or do you have any sort of pre-show traditions you do to ensure you have a great show?
Mary Middlefield: I have an embarrassing collection of stuffed animals that I have collected throughout the years and kept with me. There’s always one or two I bring everywhere I go. Also, my band and I are all very close, so spending time together and hyping ourselves up before shows is always a must!
Kendra: Lastly, with “Thank You, Alexander” out now, what else can the world expect as we focus on spring and soon enough, summer?
Mary Middlefield: Well, the “Case Closed” music video is out now! I made it almost entirely myself with the help of my mom and my bestie, Anna Borkenhagen, behind the camera. It’s a weird one. But I like it.
Other than that, we have recorded a live session in the studio where most of the magic happened and played some of my favorite songs, so I’m very excited to put that out soon.
We’re also going to start playing the album this summer in Switzerland, which I’m so so excited for!
Maybe, maybe…There might be some new music hitting the shelves towards the end of the year…