Performing at Moncton’s Tide & Boar Gastropub on Thursday July 30, Halifax folk-pop musician Ria Mae knows she is one of the lucky ones.
“Generally speaking, live entertainment just isn’t as appealing for a lot of people these days. There is so much competition out there. I have many friends in theatre and they are seeing the exact same trend. It’s frustrating for me to watch them struggle,” Mae says.
Mae isn’t one to look a gift horse in the mouth. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago that she was slugging it out on the highways and byways of North America, overseeing virtually all aspects of her career from songwriting to publicity and show booking.
While that in itself is not necessarily a unique phenomenon for independent musicians in the 21st century, Mae shares that she was beginning to encounter a significant amount of roadblocks which had effectively served to stall her career.
“I was very fortunate to have made a lot of great contacts and found places to play wherever I went. I just didn’t feel as though things were moving forward. I was hitting walls in a variety of markets. Venues were getting harder to contact. I reached a point where I knew I needed help but didn’t know what to do.”
With three releases to her credit, Mae knew the help she needed was bigger than any of the resources than she had in her corner at the time.
Undaunted, Mae returned to the recording studio and cut a track called “Clothes Off” and hired a radio tracker to help give the song a push.
Fortunately for Mae, one Halifax radio station began playing the single. A short time later, representatives from Sony Music were flying to Halifax to meet with the singer to discuss the possibility of going into business together.
“I wanted to line up some people to help me promote myself and my music, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect a major record label to come calling. That wasn’t even in the realm of possibilities in my head.”
Like many budding relationships, Mae says she instantly hit it off with the folks from Sony, joking they were even finishing each other’s sentences. The label proposed a remix of “Clothes Off,” but didn’t want to alienate Mae’s vision for her music in the process.
“At the end of the day, they just wanted me to be happy with what I was putting out to the world. It’s worked out perfectly so far; it’s like a dream,” she says.
With a full-length effort due for release later this year, also via Sony, Mae’s dream won’t be ending anytime soon.
Multi-platinum rapper Classified, of whom she admits to being a huge fan, produced her upcoming album. Having had the opportunity to work with him on an entire record is just the icing on the cake, as far as she is concerned.
“I’m such a big fan of Classified’s,” she laughs. “At one point a couple of years ago, I wanted to approach him to see about the possibility of working together but didn’t even know whether or not he knew who I was.
“I can’t say enough good things about having the opportunity to work with him.”
What: Ria Mae
When: Thursday July 30, 9 p.m.
Where: Tide & Boar Gastropub, 700 Main St., Moncton