Pack away the synthesisers for a moment, and let Carla Troiano and her band Mayfield demonstrate what an electrifyingly fun experience a skilled live band can be.
It doesn't get more exciting than when you hear a bass guitar locked into a kick drum with the precision of a brain surgeon. Together, they form the engine room for funk, playing a stack of different grooves while an electric guitar and a retro electric keyboard skats in a simple and and yet complex manner, and a powerhouse voice cuts through the mix, her background vocalists backing everyone the whole way. Soul-filled, and buzzy as all get out. Well, that is what you are in for with Melbourne band Mayfield. Together with their lead singer Carla Troiano, the group have released a brand new energetic, and gutsy album called Victim of Circumstances. In short, twelve tracks drenched in fun and skill in equal measure. And this weekend, Carla and Mayfield will launch their new record in Melbourne. And, in a world filled with pre-recorded backing tracks and photoshopped-esque sonics, it is refreshing to get back to a live band - locked in, rehearsed, loose and tight all at once, with riffs and hooks for days, months, years. Meet Carla Troiano as she tells Music Love how she loves live music because audiences will witness something that will never be recreated again. Indeed.
What does music mean to you?
Music to me is about telling a story and expressing your heart and soul. I am so grateful that i have this avenue to express myself, my thoughts and my experiences. I think music is so powerful as everyone has a song or an album that represents a moment in their life, makes them feel good or makes them wants to dance. It's a snapshot in a time i think for an artist and a person listening. It creates connection and unity. You often hear the expression "the soundtrack to..."my school years", or " my Summer Europe trip." It creates lasting memories and triggers emotions of all kind. It is also the absolute love of my life. I can't imagine my life without a love of music.
You sing with an incredible band. How does it feel, when, at the moment, the current climate is all about electronic music meaning usually 1-3 people take the stage?
Yes, they are incredible and I feel so lucky and honoured to be surrounded by such talented musicians. I learn a lot from them. Singing with a band is electric. It's alive and you really have to listen to each other and be aware of what is happening on stage. I don't think anything can replace a person playing an instrument they have spent years learning and perfecting. I think technology has opened up many doors and opportunities for artists. But I look back to James Brown, Aretha franklin or Frank Sinatra on stage. It was organic, alive and real. When you see a live band, you are seeing something that will never be recreated again. Live music is exactly that. LIVE! I wouldn't have it any other way. I believe bands are making a come back. In a world so bombarded with technology, I think working with a live band is a ironically a breath of fresh air.
What is the soul/funk/R&B scene like in Australia? Are audiences receptive?
The Melbourne soul/R&B Scene is on fire!!!! And audiences absolutely love it!!! There are so many incredible soul and R&B musicians making some really great sounds in this town and the response is phenomenal. I feel so lucky to be in such a creative town with such a beautiful and supportive community.
How are you feeling about the upcoming album launch?
I am beyond excited. It feels surreal. We have been working on it for two and a half years, so sometimes it was hard to envisage the end goal. I'm so proud of this creation and the stories behind the all the songs. Mayfield is such a family unit - we are all very good friends outside of the band so this is so special for us professionally and personally. I feel so proud, like I've had a little musical baby. These are the moments you work so hard towards. I'm ecstatic for the world to hear it.
Your voice is wonderful – how do you care for it?
Awww thank you. I have worked on my craft for many years and I still have singing lessons and want to learn all i can about my instrument. I don't think you ever stop learning and discovering things. I also have a therapy called "vocal unloading" which is physical therapy for the voice and i can't recommend it enough.
Are you doing any solo projects at the moment, or only working with Mayfield?
I am currently working with the incredible [hip hop/soul producer] Robert Amoruso of Jakubi on a solo project. It's very different not working with a band. I was a little nervous at the start but Rob is a musical genius and I am feeling more confident about my songwriting ability. I feel so lucky to be able to work with him. I'm looking forward to spreading my creative wings and writing and working with some different people on this project. Mayfield have also started working on new material. So it's all happening. I am really looking forward to my musical future.
How do you make it work financially?
It can be hard at times, but I was brought up to be a hard worker and a good multitasker. I was once told by a very successful musician that, "In order to make amazing music and art you can't be wondering where your next meal is coming from, or how to keep a roof over your head, as that will take away from your skills and growth." I think that the "rockstar" life can be glorified and misrepresented. I'm not saying be stuck in a job you hate, but sometimes it's a means to an end, a stepping stone to get to where you really want to be, and no skill you learn or acquire is ever wasted. How do you finance an album and pay your rent with no job? I am very fortunate to be able to have a job in administration and marketing where the skills cross over into the music business, and I have learnt a huge amount as a person and artist from being in this environment. I also have a side business in social media management, branding and creative direction and I am so lucky to be able to sing at corporate functions, weddings and cool bar gigs. My voice has gotten better, and I have been able to meet some incredible people and musicians. I believe you need to work hard and it will pay off.
Tell us about your love of Tina Arena
Ahhhh Tina, she has been one of my biggest inspirations since I was four years old. I think she is fierce, insanely talented and resilient. She has been able to craft and sustain a career as a child star and then be a successful and bold artist as a woman. She has had incredible moments in her career and moments where she perhaps wasn't as successful. But she is still one of the greatest Australian artists of all time. She can can sing in several languages, has had enormous success abroad and has constantly reinvented herself. She has also overcome a number of personal issues and is a working, loving mother. I think she holds a huge amount of integrity, grace and humility, and has a solid work ethic. There aren't many singers you can say that have a career that has literally been a lifetime. Her voice and talent blows me away. I also feel I have a lot in common with her in the sense that she is a little Italian girl, with a big voice and a big heart and just wants to show the world what she is made of. I adore her. It's a dream of mine to work with her someday.
Who are your favourite Australian women in music?
Some of my favourite Australian women in music also happen to be some of my great friends and have been great mentors. Kylie Auldist, Chelsea Wilson, Thando and Zoe K. I'm also a huge fan of Ella Thompson from [electronic duo] G.L. I have so much love and respect for the amazing [artist and artist manager] Claire Hennekam of Two and Four music. She is so passionate and supportive of independent music and my publicist Cassie Walker is a total goddess. I'm very blessed to have so many wonderful females in my life. Fierce, talented, intelligent and making waves behind the scenes and on stages. I also have to say i'm obviously a massive fan of Tina Arena, but i adore Renee' Geyer and Katie Noonan.
What is your favourite place in Australia?
My favourite place in Australia is my home town Melbourne. The city is an urban and cultural playground. There is always something to do here. I love Melbourne because any night of the week you can see live music. It could be a singer songwriter at the local pub or an international act at the Forum. Live music lives here!
We have an abundance of festivals that allow artists to the opportunity to showcase their talent and some of the best live music venues in the country. Original artists are really embraced here. Also, we have the best food and cocktails in the world. I love my city.
Maybe some sleep? Hahaha... I'm excited for what is to come. I want to ride the wave of the Mayfield album release, write songs for my solo project and with the band, and continue to learn all I can. I would love to do a duet or write some songs with my lady boss singer gals and I would be really keen to get involved in some summer music festivals. I also really hope to get back to New York sometime soon. My second favourite city.
Mayfield's album launch is Saturday 15 July at The Gasometer Hotel, Collingwood as part of the Leaps & Bounds Music Festival with support from Chelsea Wilson and Zoe K Tickets here