Published Nov 07, 2017Maylee Todd is in a phase of reinvention. In other words, it's business as usual for the Toronto-based singer-songwriter and multi-disciplinary artist. New album Acts of Love is the followup to 2013's Escapology and leans heavily on soulful R&B grooves.
But there was a moment, a few years back, when she was stressing about her music career direction, she tells Exclaim!
Known and respected for experimental music that incorporates elements of soul, electronic and pop, Todd was nonetheless at a crossroads. She's come a long way since 2010's upbeat bluesy-pop debut Choose Your Own Adventure, as a musician and visual artist, and it was all about what comes next.
"I definitely had a moment. I have two to three white hairs on my head. I was working really hard and I got to point where I was wondering what and who I was making music for," she says. "I got into this because it was fun. But it [was] just seeming like I was pushing out content without that sort of joyful spirit."
Focusing in on why she makes art helped her determine her next career moves, she adds. This included placing an emphasis of making art that is genuine to her, and by extension, her audience.
"I think that was really crucial for me to experiment with the music. Just play. Ultimately I had a lot of fun making it — I like to lead with love instead of fear. It's just really great to experiment and have play time without getting in your own way."
A self-described technology junkie, the origins of Acts of Love started in 2014 when Todd decided to teach herself the Ableton digital music software. But at the end of that year, her home was burglarized and her laptop stolen. While she didn't lose everything, it was a major setback.
"I had some stuff on some external hard drives and some stuff on Dropbox, so I didn't really have to start from the bottom again. But I got really nervous and I was questioning myself about the songs and if they were any good," she says.
Flash forward to 2017 and Todd was able to overcome that setback and also any fear-based thinking. Her new 17-track album is an entirely self-produced and engineered endeavour. This includes the writing, arranging and performing everything on the album, which was recorded primarily at her home studio.
Acts of Love takes both an intimate, instructive and introspective look at gender bias, addiction, solitude, forgiveness, polyamory and virtual reality. The stripped-down, synth-based songs, according to Todd, are deeply explorative, serving as mantras inspired by "science fiction, human psychology and unconventional thinking."
"I think this record it was a lot of playing, figuring out software and a lot of genre-jumping. But it's definitely groove-oriented with a lot of bass, and it's rooted in electronic so there's a lot of repetitive type of beats," she says.
"This record is a bedroom record."
Acts of Love is out now on Do Right! Music.