Mara & The Marigold
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Mara & The Marigold

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Alternative Folk




"Local Roundup - Mara & The Marigold, "Wanderer""

By Nicholas Tristan

Every band has an awkward adolescence – half-baked ideas executed in poor quality demos, uncomfortable and unattended gigs and jarring tonal shifts. Keeping this in mind, that Mara & The Marigold seem to have charged at full speed right out of the gate is all the more impressive. “Wanderer”, their debut single, is self-assured, focused and at times brilliant.

Mara Nesrallah, the group’s leader, vocalist and pianist; has a mysterious charm about her. Her voice is both strong and vulnerable, and her songwriting showcases a range of powerful emotions. Mara & The Marigold lays its humanity on display in “Wanderer”; there is no detached irony here, only a sincere statement of human emotion.

Helping “Wanderer” stand out even further are the contributions of producer and engineer Thom Varey, who creates a surreally influenced sound world for The Marigold to live in. The musicians of The Marigold; pianist Mara, guitarist Ian Culley, bassist Wes Allen and drummer Michael Boyd (who is no longer with the band, Ian Wright is the new drummer); play dynamically and with intensity, each note and rhythm seem carefully and deliberately chosen. The end result is wholly unconventional sounding, while still being anchored by the accessible and pleasing musical base.

Mara & the Marigold will surely inspire comparisons to other “art rock” artists: Joanna Newsom, Fiona Apple, Florence and the Machine, even the similarly surreal The Flaming Lips. But there is something original lurking in Mara’s music, a combination of art school sensibility with a strong emotional core.

May 3rd, 2013 - Nicholas Tristan

"3 live music shows to see in Ottawa area this weekend"

Mara and The Marigold @ Zaphod's, Saturday night

Back in Ottawa Saturday I have a couple picks, and I'm going to keep with the garden theme. Another staple among annuals in a Canadian flower bed is the humble marigold. Common, yes, but also bold and buttery-bright.

Funny though, if I were to liken Mara & The Marigold's sound to a flower, it wouldn't be the showy marigold, but maybe something more demure and darker, like lavender or those deep purple clematis that seem almost black. Click for a listen to Mara & The Marigold's Mourning Bells.

Mara Nesrallah is the band leader on keys and vocals. She's an Ottawa gal who's been making her musical way in Toronto for a few years now. Although she cites Bon Iver and Grizzly Bear among her musical influences, she can boast Rik Emmett of Triumph among her fans. He's quoted as saying, "Her lyrics and melodies paint impressionistic imagery as she performs. If there's a category called alt-prog-folk-art music, I'd say The Marigold is helping to define it." Mara & The Marigold play at Zaphod Beeblebrox Saturday night with The Noisy Locomotive and Ptarmigan.

Amanda Putz
August 15th, 2013
- CBC news | Ottawa


Still working on that hot first release.



Mara & The Marigold is an alternative folk band based in Toronto, Ontario. Originally the artistic expression of a girl (Mara Nesrallah) with strong roots in both folk and classical music, Mara & The Marigold was born when this Ottawa-native brought her poetic and melodically compelling songs to Toronto in 2010. Rik Emmett, singer, songwriter, guitarist and founding member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame super group Triumph, has said, "Mara is a gifted, poetic, creative, unique artist. Her lyrics & melodies paint impressionistic imagery as she performs. If there's a category called alt-prog-folk-art music, I'd say The Marigold is helping to define it".

Now in 2013, Mara & The Marigold have gained a reputation in Toronto's music scene through energetic performances at venues such as The Rivoli, The Piston, and Lee's Palace, and have been able to share their stories further throughout their summer tour across southern Ontario and into Quebec. Jian Ghomeshi, musician, producer, writer and CBC broadcaster, speaking of Mara & The Marigold, has said, "Solid and satisfying sounds. I look forward to hearing more from this group".

Mara's musical vision took shape after she moved to Toronto where she met an experienced local bassist (Wesley Allen), a guitarist with a distinct musical voice (Ian Culley), and a drummer possessing high technical ability as well as a richness of musicality (Ian Wright). Together, they create music that stems from a melodic foundation on the piano, which is then woven with contrapuntal lines and ambient textures from the guitar. It is supported by intense and driving rhythmic concepts from the bass and drums. Mara's clear and organic vocal delivery floats overtop of the interlocking instrumentation, drawing the audience into her stories.

"It has been exhilarating to take our music on the road", Mara reveals. "Although the album was the product of the studios, bedrooms, schools and garages of Toronto, it reflects both the stories of the countryside and of the city. I have taken that trip between Ottawa, Peterborough and Toronto countless times in my life, and it was amazing to return to the places where the music was born, and give back to the people that helped shape our lives". Mara & The Marigold's debut six-track EP, including their previously released single 'Wanderer' was released in June 2013. Following in the footsteps of their musical idols Grizzly Bear, Joanna Newsom, Dirty Projectors, Radiohead and Bon Iver, they have developed a body of original material that walks the line between accessibility and art, and of forthright lyrical intention and poetry that cries out for interpretation.

As a band with so much on the horizon and who are constantly gaining momentum, Mara hopes that Mara & The Marigold will continue creating music that leaves their listeners with the feeling of both familiarity and newness, like a well-told story. They are currently back in the studio recording new content to be released in the summer of 2014. "If I can write music that is relates to my listeners since it is closely drawn to my experiences, and yet challenges my listeners and myself to new ideas... I will always be satisfied".

Band Members