Musical Discoveries: Our review copy of your album was called Starting Over. How did you pick the title?
Mariette Davina: I decided in the end to not put a title to the album - I just didn't really think it was necessary for my first European album. The first track, however, is entitled "Starting Over" simply because it reflects that regarding my career and pretty much every aspect of my life at the moment I am starting from the beginning again, and in a new country as well!
But having said that, although the track is written from personal experience, it is really meant to connect with all the listeners that have found or are finding themselves in a similar situation. It's really about taking stock of where you are and your current situation, accepting mistakes and wrong choices you have made in life and moving on from them. Its about taking a risk to embrace new opportunities that lie before you with hope and the expectation of a brighter future.
This sentiment pretty much reflects the general message of the album which is really one of encouragement and not allowing circumstances to get you down. I don't want people to listen to my music and think 'Oh that's great song' or 'I like the voice,' No! my desire is that the listener be challenged on a deeper level than that, and be truly moved by the music and lyrics to the point where they are motivated to step out of their present circumstances and really take hold of whatever their destiny is in life. I'm starting to sound a bit like a motivational speaker but that is truly my heartbeat!
How would you contrast the music on this album and the work you did in South Africa?
The difference between the music that I made in South Africa and over here in the UK is so vast from each other it is difficult to articulate. I've just grown so much as a composer and there is much more depth to the music simply because as a person I have matured so much in my personal character. Vocally I have learned to play with my voice and have fun with it too! The great thing about singing your own compositions is that there is no expectation of how the songs should sound. It's difficult to criticize something you have never heard before, which really opens the door to immense personal interpretation and creativity.
What led you to the classical crossover style of music and how did you develop the sound we hear on the new album? And did you foresee the significant growth in this style that has occurred the past 10 years?
Writing my own music has definitely led me to the classical crossover style. I think that when you have trained in opera--I started at thirteen--and have grown up in a classical environment it will always come across in some degree in your compositional style and/or vocal delivery.
The untrained ear will always pick up there is something different in the vocals from the normal contemporary singer, hence the classical crossover genre.
No, I definitely didn't foresee the growth in my musical style, and I hope to continue developing and growing which is why I am regimental in putting time aside each week to compose new material.
Please describe to us how you have integrated the theme of inspirational worship referred to on your website into your musical recordings and your work as a musical artist.
Inspirational worship is difficult to describe if you haven't experienced it live. It usually takes place in a church setting where basically a new completely unique song will develop out of the current song that you are performing. I guess its a bit like the worship equivalent of a jam session in jazz except that the audience often starts to sing along to the new lyrics and tune. Gosh, I hope I'm making sense!
In any event Inspirational worship is where I am most comfortable. I love the thrill of a new song developing from the chords of an existing one. This is pretty much what starts to happen at the end of most of my songs. The endings are really just freestyle vamp and every time I sing them they will be something new and different. My desire is to release a live DVD of complete inspirational songs. It's really the height of musical creativity for me and I'm completely in my element doing it!
Please also tell us about your collaboration with others included in the album's credits.
The keys to any great album is: a wonderful and experienced producer/engineer whom I found in Neil Costello at ICC studios in Eastbourne UK, and an amazingly talented and accomplished programmer and keyboardist whom I found in Mark Edwards. He is a remarkable pianist who is an accomplished jazz performer in his own right! It also takes an innovative string arranger whom I found in Patrick Horrax. It's imperative to surround yourself by greats in the field to produce anything of quality. No compromise can ever be made on this point.
You returned to the UK several years ago after living in South Africa. What led to your return to the UK?
I returned to the UK because my heart has always been for my music to reach beyond the borders of South Africa into Europe and the rest of the world. I realized in order to accomplish that, it would be necessary to return to my place of birth even if it meant that I would have to sacrifice all that I achieved in South Africa and start from scratch again in a wider more competitive world.
There are still large differences between music scene of South Africa and the UK. In the UK a greater emphasis is put on live musicians which is why most of my album has live players in it. The UK also has the advantage of being exposed to a wider variety of high quality music and musicianship which is not always readily available in South Africa. In any event, I took a risk and I don't regret it for a moment!
With the album having such a rich orchestral sound, do you have any plans to tour to promote the album?
The ultimate would be to be backed my a live full orchestra, but I will have to settle for chamber and backing tracks right now. I definitely want to tour and have an interactive audience experience. As more doors continue to open for me, I believe that that expectation will be quickly realized.
The album cover includes a variety of your portraits. What were you trying to convey?
Oh my gosh I wish I could say that there was a deeper meaning to the collage of pictures. In reality they were shot in such a way that I couldn't enlarge those particular photos. I then decided to be innovative and put them all together and try something new! That's my life motto!
What fills your days in addition to releasing your recordings and promoting the new release?
I've just come fresh out of three years of full time study at bible school. Coupled with my six years of study of my honours music degree I calculated that I could have been a doctor by now. All jokes aside I'm really just dedicating this year to promoting my album. I try every door and go with the ones that open. I'm a firm believer in never forcing an issue. Some doors will open straight way which I embrace wholeheartedly, some will only open in time. Correct timing must always be recognized, and some will never open which must be accepted. Who wants a wrong open door? Not me!
You chose to self-release the album.
It's a temporary decision. I really want to build enough of a reputation so that I can attract the attention of a label that can distribute me with radio play from the major stations. Independents and indies just don't have that kind of pull yet. From my experience in South Africa, being backed by a major does give you unsurpassed credibility in the music industry.
How has the internet influenced your career as an emerging female recording artist?
I love the internet! it's a wealth of unexplored opportunities and marketing. It's the opportunity to reach millions of people that cannot be reached live. I've received such positive feedback from all around the world through the internet. What a remarkable tool!
In addition to music and inspirational worship, what else rocks your world these days?
I would love to get more opportunity to develop my gift as an motivational speaker. I'm extremely comfortable speaking in front of crowds of people. Motivational speakers like John Maxwell really inspire me and Im EXTREMELY passionate about the subject of restoration in every aspect of people's lives. There is so much hopelessness and devastation in the world, if I could just encourage one person to look past their present negative circumstances and make it in life and be fulfilled. It all would have been worth it for me! I'm a bit of an idealist I guess, but bringing value to other people brings personal value - I am a firm believer in that!! May all my fans be enriched by my music and be inspired to greater things!