photo by Mike Pulido - Otto Photography
Fresh off her new album, “Meet Me in Madison,” out last fall, we caught up with singer/songwriter Elizabeth Mary and producer Paul Schluter to discuss the new record, why she loves being a musician in Madison and why she doesn’t fall into one musical genre.
Maximum Ink: Thanks for taking the time to chat. Tell us how you got to where you are today, releasing a new studio album and playing a ton of shows!
Elizabeth Mary: I’m originally from Dubuque, Iowa, and have been writing songs since I was 8 years old. Dubuque is a great music town and I really got started playing in a cover band. In 2018, both the band and an acoustic duo act I was in split, which gave me my shot at a solo career.
I learned something like 150 songs on guitar to go play acoustic shows and soon enough I cut an EP of my originals that ended up getting great radio play. With some local and regional success, I really wanted to cut my next project with someone new that had a lot of experience. I found Paul [Schluter] after a short Google search and before I knew it we were cutting what would be my next single from scratch.
We connected instantly and recorded a full-length album at Paul’s studio, Megatone. I came in with bare bones of songs I had written in my music room and we crafted an entire album. It was amazing!
Maximum Ink: What was the name of the single?
Elizabeth Mary: “Breathe in Girl,” which is on the new album. We released it in October, 2018 and it’s still getting airplay around U.S. and 43 countries!
MI: You mentioned starting writing at a young age. How did you get inspired to start playing?
EM: Growing up I was always singing in choir and had a natural draw toward music. When I was 18 my parents bought me my first guitar and I taught myself. Even when I was singing in the band I was kind of a secret guitar player.
Once I went out on my own I was able to really pursue that. Now I’m at a point where I played well over 100 shows last year. It’s been just an incredible experience.
MI: Your music sound doesn’t place you into any one genre. How would you categorize your songwriting and music style?
EM: I’ve never written for a genre and I’ve never written songs for anyone but myself. I essentially write what I feel and every single song has a story. So, I’ve always been really vulnerable with my music and we’ve found that this album has really connected with a lot of people–men and women–through the lyrics and music.
I never used that as my inspiration but it’s incredibly exciting to know that your music is resonating with people of all ages and I really think it’s because they speak to shared human experiences and moments that we can all relate to.
Paul Schluter: She’s opened for a lot of country bands and musicians and at first that was kind of the perceived area but it really isn’t your typical country lyrics or feeling.
I think Elizabeth really captures a singer/songwriter style and her experience in playing in a rock band for years definitely shows! We’ll be crafting a bridge and the first thing she’ll suggest is throwing a guitar lead in. She really captures all kinds of music.
MI: Let’s talk the new album, aptly titled “Meet Me in Madison.” What are some of your favorite moments on the collective record?
EM: Yeah! The album was officially released on November 8th. The latest single “Stronger” actually releases today! So, we actually have four songs on the album rotating around the country.
This album was a labor of love and my favorite part is probably being backed by this amazing band that believes in the music! I really do feel like the luckiest girl in the world with them behind me.
One of my favorite tracks is called “Sweatpants and Wine,” which features Paul’s son, Ethan, on bass. That single is already out. “Breathe in Girl,” stands out, along with “Meet Me in Madison,” which we ended up naming the album after.
PS: “Home to Me” is also really special. As a kid, Elizabeth’s mom recorded the kids on all these tape cassettes. She’s on it singing “The Night Before Christmas” when she’s 5 and as a producer I couldn’t believe how perfect it was. I was saying, ‘Hey we have to digitize these! Let’s archive this stuff.’
So, we ended up slicing a snippet of those audio files into the track. It’s really quite amazing how it worked out.
MI: Speaking of Madison, what has been your experience as a new musician in the city?
EM: After playing a few shows around town, I noticed that Madison appreciates the original music, which is a little different from other towns. People come up at shows and ask, ‘Was that an original?’ And that’s the one they were really interested in. It’s great to have people excited about your originals and not just the covers.
PS: It’s almost odd to play more than a handful of covers in Madison, which isn’t the case everywhere. And people will come out on a Sunday to see Elizabeth’s show. That’s the sign of a truly great music scene.
MI: What has it been like meeting other Madison musicians?
EM: All the musicians I’ve met are amazing! It can be natural to be jealous of other people making strides or doing their thing but in Madison everyone is very supportive and respectful. It truly makes a big difference.
MI: Well, we’re so excited for you and to have you in Madison! Where can people check out the album?
EM: Thank you! The album is available on all streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, etc.) and available on our website: elizabethmarymusic.com. You can also get our touring schedule and other info on our social pages (@elizabethmarymusic).
We’re also selling some great “Meet Me in Madison,” apparel on the site as part of my clothing line, so check that out!
Catch Elizabeth Mary on Friday, January 17th at the Riley’s Tavern in Verona and on Saturday, February 1st at The Majestic Theatre in Madison.(1855) Page Views Elizabeth Mary Online:
• Website • Facebook
CD: Meet Me in Madison Record Label: Self Released
• Download Meet Me in Madison on Amazon