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"TimeOut Sydney"

***** (5 out of 6 stars)

MA (pronounced mah) is Sydney-based duo Drew Crawford and Victoria White, who have crafted a highly textured, lush album drawing on Crawford's work on scores for major Australian theatre companies. His classical training shines through to create a subtle, delicate and original listen, complemented by sublime vocals from White, both heartfelt and raucous. A perfect CD to play on a lazy Sunday morning. Nicely assisted by the Australia Council for the Arts.

Apr 2-8 2008, Issue 21 - Jonathon Valenzuela


"SMH Metro"

**** 4 out of 5 Stars

A chilled out debut from this Australian duo, fusing composer Drew Crawford’s experiential pop sounds with the delectable voice of Victoria White. To say she sounds like Bjork would be a lazy comparison. To say she sounds like a lazy Bjork would be pretty accurate. That’s not a criticism: the fragile beauty of White’s vocals remain a tease without strangling the songs, preferring to let the warm beats slide around underneath. Orchestral moments are beautifully arranged on an album dripping with relaxed melody.

- Paul Smith


"Smarthouse magazine"

****1/2 (4 1/2 stars out of 5)

The debut album from Sydney-based MA is a soulful blend of classy electro-acoustic grooves that channels the sweet-raw-layered beats of Portishead. We listen in…

MA is vocalist Victoria White and composer / programmer / editor / arranger Drew Crawford. Weaving together a range of string, drum, sax and guitar samples with Victoria's pure vocals, the album takes you on a journey through playful pop, whimsical narrative, internal reflection and melancholy.

When we first listened to the tracks, we couldn't help but be reminded of Beth Gibbons' sweet-yet-serious vocals on top of the sampled backing in Portishead's classic album: Dummy. White's vocals have that beautiful quality of a real mix of purity and power, and she is well matched with the atmospheric, textured, electro-acoustic arrangements of Crawford.

We loved the down-tempo honesty of this album; this is dimly-lit room, martini-in-hand sounds at their best. Sink back into your seat and enjoy.

Feb-Mar 2008 Vol 07 Issue 01 - Manisha Kanetkar


Discography

Across the city and into your Room (LP CD, Sept 2007)

// All tracks streaming at www.themusicofma.com and last.fm
// Available on iTunes and in stores in Australia/NZ through Vitamin (vitamin.net.au).
// Album has received healthy airplay on community radio across Australia, including Sydney's FBi and 2SER stations, and on ABC local radio in Sydney
// Light Summer Dress was iTunes Aus/NZ Single Of The Week for June 3 2008, and has been aired on ABC TV's rage national music video program.

Photos

Bio

MA is duo Victoria White and Drew Crawford. Since 2004 they have been making vocal-driven, lush-textured, electro-acoustic, experimental pop.

Blessed with a ripping set of vocal chords and an impeccable ear for harmony and melody, Victoria became a star at age 14, touring New Zealand with her band Loup Garou. Since arriving in Australia she has had an underground smash, Thrill Popper, recorded with the Hive and featured on Triple J's Hottest 100.

Drew, on the other hand, is classically trained (he holds a PhD in composition from the University of Sydney), and is best known for his opera Eugene & Roie (Sydney Festival 2004) as well as scores and commissions for some major theatre companies/arts presenters, directors and choreographers (Company B, Bell Shakespeare, Sydney Opera House Trust, One Extra Dance Co.)

In spite of his training Drew has always loved pop, particularly the smart, experimental kind.

Together they have crafted a highly textured album that explores the nature of love, sex and self-preservation drawn from their inner landscapes. The songs speak of melancholy, optimism, primal desires and a maturing acceptance of life and the unknowable; a powerful and atmospheric collection.

Independently written, recorded and released locally in 2007 through Vitamin records, MA's is a pop sensibility with an underlying intelligence.

// The making of Across The City And Into Your Room

Painstakingly completed over two years, the creative process incorporated unusual writing and recording techniques to achieve a thoroughly unique and original sound, partly funded by a grant from the Australia Council for the Arts Music Board and a private investor.

The duo spent two weeks away mid-winter in 2004, writing in an isolated village on the NSW South Coast. “I’d been working for years with choreographers and dramatists who generated and developed performance material from task-based improvisations with really interesting, complex results,” says Drew. “So I did some research and put together task-based exercises to generate lyrical ideas.”

Says Victoria “I found myself resisting often… Sometimes I really found myself hating the experience, I felt like I was being milked dry. Now I think my resisting probably meant we were on the right track. I was able to go deeper than I would have if we’d tried to do this in Sydney.”

With around 20 songs completed, the next stage of the process involved recording various master musicians improvising on conceptual tasks similar to the ones given to Victoria: Jim Denley (flutes and sax), Simon Barker (drums/percussion), Chris Cobb (drums), Michele Morgan (voice), and Steve Elphick (double bass) all recorded with Chris Townend at his Big Jesus Burger studios in Surry Hills. “It was an amazing session, they were all so generous and inventive and unpredictable,” says Drew. “We ended up with about eight hours of solid audio to sort through.”

Victoria says, “I don’t think Drew and I fully understood the massive task we were undertaking. I remember Chris [Townend] saying to us…”Well guys, we’ll see you in a year or so.” Drew and I were like, ”Oh no, see you in a few weeks!” Ah how wrong were we!”

Over the course of the next 14 months Drew worked on extracting, manipulating and sculpting the acres of sound generated from the initial improvised sessions into backing tracks for the songs written in Culburra. “But the result was worth the wait, as it gave the songs a strong and unusual ‘sound’ and identity,” says Drew.

The resulting tracks feature the sound of harmonic overtones in the spittle on Jim Denley’s alto sax mouthpiece, Michele Morgan’s glottal smacks and groans as she eats chocolate, Simon Barker describing an orgasm on cymbals, Chris Cobb playing a storm over Bondi on his kit, and Steve Elphick describing his first day at school with his double bass. These digitised arrangements were then fleshed out by star-turn performances from Milica Stefanovic (bass), Cameron Bruce (Fender Rhodes), Nigel Crocker (trombone), Martin Kay (alto sax), and strings conducted by Kellie Dickerson in further sessions at Big Jesus Burger.

“When I first heard Vic’s voice way back in 1999, it stopped me in my tracks, “ says Drew. “But working with her so closely for so long, it’s easy for me to take for granted just how incredible it is. So one of the thrills of releasing this album is that I get to watch people hearing her for the first time. And seeing their faces as they think ‘Wow! What is that voice!?””