Margot MacDonald is an acclaimed loop pedal vocalist and songwriter based in DC who recently celebrated the release of her fourth album, Canvas. She is in excellent company with loop pedal vocalists Imogene Heap and Grimes. She recently performed at The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage with Justin Trawick’s The Nine (Watch it here) and at The Black Cat.
Marlene: When did you first start writing music?
Margot: I’d always sung along to The Lion King, but my writing started when an arts focused 2nd grade teacher told my parents I was gifted in music. Instead of an essay, she allowed me to explore my creativity and write a song for a school project. My parents happily put me in piano and voice lessons, and it all branched off from there. Rest assured, a cassette tape of Margot’s Third Grade Hits exists somewhere in the world.
How do you write songs?
I almost always start with the music. On the loop pedal, the vocals can branch off of melody lines, bass lines, or a new funny little sound. Then it’s a matter of building and tearing down layers to see what’s compelling.
How are you adjusting to the digital age of music? It’s pretty tough these day for musicians isn’t?
Oh boy. I think it’s a strange but exciting world for music now – though certainly hard to get by as a musician. The age of streaming has its downfalls, but I’ve also discovered so many new artists because of it. I’m just following the flow and discovering what works as I go.
What was your reaction when you found out that you were selected by NPR as one of the top acts of College Music Journal?
Pee my pants excited. I’d taken a peak at the article when I saw a friend who’d made the list, half-heartedly hoping I’d see my own name… et voila!
What is your style of music?
Recently, I’ve gone with “Indie-Pop A Cappella”… but if you think of something better, feel free to advise! Because of the repetitive nature of the loop pedal, I get “hypnotic” a lot.
Who are some of your ‘musical muses’?
It’s been a long time since I idolized a particular artist, but I have a special place in my heart for Jeff Buckley, Bjork, Dirty Projectors… and so many more. Most recently, Lucius and Kimbra.
I heard you performed at The Black Cat recently. Who joined you there and what did you perform?
Along with my loop pedal, Ella, I had my full band making a somewhat rare appearance. Special guests included experimental cellist, Wytold, the lovely Maureen and Sara of The Sweater Set, and alternative rock artist Derek Evry. Vocal layers, drums, cello, guitar, keys, and more…
Why do you enjoy playing in DC?
There’s a great community here in DC. I just love discovering different pockets of the music scene.
Why do you think you have been so successful?
I’d ascribe my successes to looking outside the box and, as it is with most every artist, a combination of hard freaking work, some degree of talent, and just plain luck. Also, my lovely parentals for their early support. THANKS MOM.
What advice do you have for other musicians who are trying to succeed in the music business?
Strive to provide a unique experience. Practice makes perfect, but you’ll seal the deal when you’ve created something unique to you.
What is next on your agenda?
Tour! I’ll be heading on a regional adventure, down to SXSW, and across the pond for a bit. Infiltrating minds, one melody at a time.
Margot MacDonald’s website.