Following the release of her organically crafted, politically driven and emotionally loaded new EP Rings Around Saturn, we caught an interview with artist and songwriter Marion Halliday to find out more about the music and the ideas behind the songs. Here’s how it went.
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Hi Marion, thanks for the interview! In your own words, what does the project Rings Around Saturn represent?
Hey – thank YOU for interviewing me! And, to answer your question, Rings Around Saturn is my debut solo album so it represents a GREAT deal for me personally as well as professionally as a writer/artist. It was a two-year birthing and I am now thrilled to have my baby out in the world.
How long have you been writing songs and making music, and how does this project differ from what you’ve done before?
While I have performed professionally for years, been on other albums and even produced an EP a few years ago with my band Trickster Sister, this is a ‘first’ for me to be out there, front-and-center, as a solo artist (though I had a great amount of support from my band and others in making this album!).
What inspired you to write Good Things Will Come?
I tend to write about a lot of ‘heavy’ topics and I felt I owed it to my audience to intentionally write something that would focus on the positive. I am fundamentally an optimist and truly believe the refrain of the song – that good things WILL indeed come – as dark and depressing as the current time might seem to be (at least it seems that way to me).
What comes first when writing – lyrics or melody, concept or feel?
For me – and I would perhaps classify myself as more a story-teller, first, then a singer—I think the concept, whether a simple phrase or a full story-line, is the germ of things. Then I usually sit with my guitar and fiddle around looking for the melodic line that the idea evokes.
How does the songwriting and recording process compare to live performance for you?
In the last several years, especially as I have recorded my own material, I have gained more experience with recording so I become more comfortable with the process. The results too can be really special when you work with a great producer/studio as I have with Jim Salamone/Cambridge Studio. I think we took some of my music on this album to a very special place through the recording and production process. That said ,however, I still prefer live performance as it allows me to really connect with the listener; there is nothing more gratifying than to have someone say afterward how much a particular song moved him or her.
Will you be touring in the near future, and will that be with a band; or solo?
I have a number of festival appearances in the area coming up in August and September and those will be with my band or at least another musician or two. I think for now, with my schedule and other commitments, I will be keeping my performances in the PA/tri-state region.
What do you hope people take away from the song Thoughts And Prayers?
I believe in the power of prayer; and I also appreciate sincerely expressed condolences when tragedies occur. However, sharing one’s thoughts and prayers after a mass shooting is NOT enough – we need to do more, MUCH more. I am particularly disappointed in the speed with which our elected leaders will issue statements sharing their thoughts and prayers . . .and then the absolute SILENCE on any sharing of ideas on how to solve the underlying crisis that the mass shooting represents.
Do current political and social issues always play a part in your creative process?
I guess they do and I sometimes wish that weren’t so. Maybe if the world were in a perfect place, nirvana if you will, I wouldn’t have much to write about. For me at least, however, the creation of music, and the expression of it through performance, is how I process and cope with what I am observing around me and what I am concerned about. I do have a few songs about relationships and other general life experience topics but typically I don’t really feel I have anything interesting to share on those subjects. They sure get a lot of coverage from many other artists – so perhaps that is why the political and social topics resonate more for me.
If you could sit down to lunch with anyone at all, past or present, who would you invite, and what would you ask them about?
Jesus. I’d love to ask him how he feels about his teachings being used to justify what seems to me to be some pretty un-Christian things. If the table were big enough too, I’d like to include some of the ‘Christian right’ so they can discuss these topics with Jesus.
What’s the bigger picture for you as an artist?
I don’t know that there is any one, single ‘picture’ on a given topic. I think the way I might view the topics that are important to me might be one of many valid perspectives. I’m not of the opinion (or delusion) that I am an expert on any particular thing or have the answers. But I do think I have the obligation to ‘speak the truth’ as I see it.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned through music so far?
To be a ‘successful’ professional singer-songwriter (‘success’ in this instance measured as some degree of monetary reward and having some type of following) required a lot more than simply creating great music. You need the support of a lot of people, good business management skills, a LOT of energy, and you need a REALLY thick skin as there is a lot of rejection along the way.
In what sort of setting do you recommend people listen to the new project?
Probably best consumed in a quiet space, where they can really digest the lyrics and the message; maybe not ideal for your gym workout.
Is there anything else we should know?
My music is available on all the usual music streaming platforms (Bandcamp, Spotify, Soundcloud, etc.). Also, please feel free to visit my website and even shoot me a message and I can send you a CD through there.
And thank you so much for the great questions and conversation!
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A big thank you to Marion for her time & insight. Visit her Website for more information.