Interview with Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk

My first chance to see this indie/folk/pop band from Calgary was this past winter at the The Spill in Peterborough, ON. The band had embarked on a huge 65-day tour that spanned Canada, from Nanaimo, BC to St. John’s, NL. This summer they continued their musical odyssey with yet another cross-country tour, the “Summer Of Colour” tour. This summers tour has included dates at the Cornerstone Festival in Illinois and the Calgary Folk Music Festival.

Lauren Mann leads the band on keyboards, ukulele, and with her beautiful vocals. Her husband, Zoltan Szoges, handles a wide variety of percussion instruments and melodica. The “Fairly Odd Folk” part of the group can be any number of musician friends who accompany the band during concerts. Gorgeous melodies and captivatingly heartfelt lyrics make Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk a “must listen to” act.

The band has a full length album Stories From Home which is a compilation of songs from her two previous EPs, Lauren Mann and Lost and Found, plus three new tracks. The album showcases Lauren’s talents from her early years. Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk spent two months in Florida this year recording their upcoming album.

Lauren was kind to take time from her busy tour schdule to do an online interview with The Antidote.

Lauren, how did you first get involved in music?
Way back in the day, I didn’t really play at all outside from home, but in Jr. High, I started playing piano on the youth worship team, and kept doing that into high school, and that really gave me confidence and helped me get comfortable playing in front of people. I’ve always liked coming up with my own melodies and lyrics, and in late high school I started getting a bit of a repertoire together. My first show outside of church was in August 2008 at a house show. It was pretty nerve-wracking, but so much fun. From there I got connected with people in the Calgary music scene and began playing shows in cafes and venues around town.

Which musicians have influenced you?
I grew up listening to a lot of classical music, I think because I was in ballet and piano lessons, so that has greatly influenced my music. Some of my all-time favorite bands are Coldplay, Switchfoot, U2, and Copeland, and they’ve influenced me quite a bit over the years. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Brooke Fraser, an indie rock band from Texas called Eisley, Arcade Fire, Mumford and Sons, and I have recently fallen in love with the music of The Head and The Heart, from Seattle.

Where do you hope your music career will lead you?
To the ends of the earth! Haha. I’ve always wanted to travel the world, and music is a really good way to do that, so I’d like to continue touring in Canada, but then also travel all over. I’ve never really had a desire to be “famous,” I just want to play my music for anyone who will listen, and hopefully in turn inspire and speak hope and life into people.

Zoltan, how did you and Lauren meet?
[This is Lauren…Zoltan has a lot of emails to get through, so I’ll answer for him.]
Zoltan was managing a band from Calgary called Kiros, and I met them in Kelowna, BC in July 2007 while leading worship at a youth camp at a church there. On the last night of camp, we had a worship service and then Kiros played a show right after, so I met the guys, but not Zoltan; he was sleeping since they had a night drive ahead of them. I went to one of their shows in Calgary the next weekend, and over the next few months got to be really good friends with them. I had heard of Zoltan, but didn’t actually meet him until early 2008. We got to be friends through Kiros and kept in touch over the years. When he moved to Alberta in early 2010, we started hanging out a lot, and started dating shortly after that, and then in May of that year we got married!

You are currently on your second cross country tour of 2011. How has it been spending so much time from home? Any negative days, positive days? Recollections?
Living on the road is definitely a unique lifestyle. It looks really exciting adventurous usually, but it can get difficult for sure. I find that I get disconnected from the community back in Calgary because when you’re gone for so long, even with facebook and emails and such, it’s hard to really stay connected to people’s lives when you’re not there. On the other hand, we get to see lots of family and friends that live all across the country much more than we would if we were living in one place. And it’s really awesome getting to see all the different parts of Canada. It’s made me realize that there are so many little communities and beautiful places that can be discovered. My favorite moments on tour are when we have some time to kill and we can go explore whatever town we’re in. I love exploring!

Describe your experience recording with Aaron Marsh (ex of the band Copeland).
Recording seems like a dream! We looked forward to it for so long, and then it happened, and now it’s done. But it was absolutely amazing. It was an incredible opportunity; I’ve looked up to Aaron Marsh as a vocalist and musician for many years, and to work with him and have him as a producer for this new album was such a treat! I really hope we can work with him again in the future.

When can we expect a new album? Do you have a title for it?
Haha…we have a few name ideas floating around, but nothing finalized or announced but I’ll give you a few hints. It will be centred around the theme of travelling and journeys. And it will be out in the early new year…since we’re not on a record label we don’t have any time constraints on us, but hopefully it will be out sooner than later!

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