Maylee Todd
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Maylee Todd

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
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Arguably, all you need to know about the sophomore album from Toronto dynamo Maylee Todd can be summed up in one statement: She covers “Pinball Number Count”—a.k.a. the Pointer Sisters’ “one-two-three-FOUR-five” song from Sesame Street—and nails it. Really, though, that’s not even the most magical moment on Escapology. As whimsical as she is soulful, as tender as she is over-the-top, Todd occupies some butterscotch-ripple wonderland in between the electrifying funk revival of The Quantic Soul Orchestra and Sade’s after-hours boudoir balladry.

She roams all over her personal musical treasure map: “Did Everything I Could” is a Norah Jones–esque slice of honeyed Hammond-organ sunset soul; “Do You Know What It Is” delivers hard-pounding, brass- and bass-buoyed dancefloor grooves; “Successive Mutations” floats her feathery vocals over a chimera-like harp and unmelodic retro synth bloops out of an R2D2 dream. On “I Can’t Stand It,” which should be Ron Burgundy’s go-to sex jam in Anchorman 2, Todd (no joke) deftly interpolates the theme from COPS before the jazz flute kicks in with vigour. She matches these shifts in style and energy with shapeshifting vocals, modulating the timbre and range of her voice with ease. She channels a Jackson 5–era MJ with eerie precision on “I Tried,” and two tracks later, harmonizes with her own whisper-soft purr on the fragile music-box lullaby, “Clementine’s Nights.”

For all its zaniness, Escapology is a brilliantly cohesive album. All one-two-three-FOUR-five-six-seven-eight-NINE (and 10, if you include the bonus track) tunes here are as daring and delightful and deliriously entertaining as a vintage episode of Sesame Street. - The Grid


By David Dacks
"I was always into being natural and organic but that's all changed in the last five years," says madcap Toronto chanteuse Maylee Todd. As Canada witnessed in her cross-country tour last month, Todd combines comedy, theatricality, callisthenics and soul into a true spectacle. But the centre of the action is her unique musical sense animated by gutbucket jazzy grooves and cosmic interludes.

Todd's kaleidoscopic first album Choose Your Own Adventure was the result of her exploration of the Paraguayan harp and a digital looping station. "When I got a harp," she recalls, "I wasn't thinking 'OK, now this is how I'm supposed to play it.' I'm more like 'how many different sounds can I get out of this instrument?' The instrument dictated the songwriting. Everything [on the album] was written with the [Roland RC20] looping station and the instrument. Because I'm not a schooled musician and I can't read music, the looping station would help. I could do bass lines and beats so [the band] could get a general idea of how it should sound and obviously put their spin on it."

Todd's multi-part songs sound like a suite of patterns for the harp and the band, but retain a verse/chorus pop sensibility throughout. Her often dreamy voice and penchant for bossa nova rhythms is filtered through baroque flourishes and a psychedelic Tropicália point of view. The Brazilian influence on her music goes way back to her origins as a classical guitarist in thrall with the characteristically Brazilian nylon-string sound.

But her current musical identity got sorted out around five years ago. After the sudden dissolution of Toronto indie pop favourites Henri Faberge and the Adorables, wherein she played electric guitar for the first time, Todd started exploring the potential of the harp. "I got into the harp by being inspired by people like Joanna Newsom and classical players. I started looking up different types of harps, and I noticed the Paraguayan harp bass notes were nylon so they sounded like a double bass in the way it resonated. Even the way [it was played] was pretty much like a flamenco guitar, using nails and going back and forth and doing little trills. Playing chords, but holding down a rhythm with amazing, awesome bass lines. Very percussive, but very melodic. So I got a cheap harp for 200 or 300 bucks, but it was a good intro for sure. Then I bought a harp from Paraguay. It's light ? it's 20 pounds ? but it's huge. I have to play [standing up] but I bought a smaller lap harp that I can take on my bike. They do have Paraguayan harps that small but I'd have to go to Paraguay to get it. Next time when I'm in the hood I'll pick it up."

She treats her harp like the electro-acoustic music workstation. "I bow my harp, put paper in the harp to get as many different sounds as I can in musical contexts. It's great to make beats with the harp, to use the sound box as a drum."

Todd has recently become still more electronically oriented. She speaks excitedly about her imminent shopping trip for a vocal pedal, and has recently become obsessed with Yamaha's Tenori-on, a Lite Brite-emulator/electro-party touchpad. The Tenori-on is a good fit for Todd: it's a fun electronic instrument that accommodates spontaneous ideas and looks good on stage. Surprisingly, one thing that's going to play less of a role in the immediate future is the trusty looper that was so important to the creation of the album. It's been a pain to sync loops with the band onstage, and Todd acknowledges "I've always written songs but arranging for a big band is really new." Given the band's ever more intense slate of live work, such activity will no doubt pay exciting and unexpected dividends.

One thing is certain: Todd has a knack for making the most creative use out of any situation she finds herself in, musical or otherwise. "I'm definitely not a technical musician," she says, "but for me it works, cause I'm always coming from a creative place." - Exclaim Magazine


By David Dacks
"I was always into being natural and organic but that's all changed in the last five years," says madcap Toronto chanteuse Maylee Todd. As Canada witnessed in her cross-country tour last month, Todd combines comedy, theatricality, callisthenics and soul into a true spectacle. But the centre of the action is her unique musical sense animated by gutbucket jazzy grooves and cosmic interludes.

Todd's kaleidoscopic first album Choose Your Own Adventure was the result of her exploration of the Paraguayan harp and a digital looping station. "When I got a harp," she recalls, "I wasn't thinking 'OK, now this is how I'm supposed to play it.' I'm more like 'how many different sounds can I get out of this instrument?' The instrument dictated the songwriting. Everything [on the album] was written with the [Roland RC20] looping station and the instrument. Because I'm not a schooled musician and I can't read music, the looping station would help. I could do bass lines and beats so [the band] could get a general idea of how it should sound and obviously put their spin on it."

Todd's multi-part songs sound like a suite of patterns for the harp and the band, but retain a verse/chorus pop sensibility throughout. Her often dreamy voice and penchant for bossa nova rhythms is filtered through baroque flourishes and a psychedelic Tropicália point of view. The Brazilian influence on her music goes way back to her origins as a classical guitarist in thrall with the characteristically Brazilian nylon-string sound.

But her current musical identity got sorted out around five years ago. After the sudden dissolution of Toronto indie pop favourites Henri Faberge and the Adorables, wherein she played electric guitar for the first time, Todd started exploring the potential of the harp. "I got into the harp by being inspired by people like Joanna Newsom and classical players. I started looking up different types of harps, and I noticed the Paraguayan harp bass notes were nylon so they sounded like a double bass in the way it resonated. Even the way [it was played] was pretty much like a flamenco guitar, using nails and going back and forth and doing little trills. Playing chords, but holding down a rhythm with amazing, awesome bass lines. Very percussive, but very melodic. So I got a cheap harp for 200 or 300 bucks, but it was a good intro for sure. Then I bought a harp from Paraguay. It's light ? it's 20 pounds ? but it's huge. I have to play [standing up] but I bought a smaller lap harp that I can take on my bike. They do have Paraguayan harps that small but I'd have to go to Paraguay to get it. Next time when I'm in the hood I'll pick it up."

She treats her harp like the electro-acoustic music workstation. "I bow my harp, put paper in the harp to get as many different sounds as I can in musical contexts. It's great to make beats with the harp, to use the sound box as a drum."

Todd has recently become still more electronically oriented. She speaks excitedly about her imminent shopping trip for a vocal pedal, and has recently become obsessed with Yamaha's Tenori-on, a Lite Brite-emulator/electro-party touchpad. The Tenori-on is a good fit for Todd: it's a fun electronic instrument that accommodates spontaneous ideas and looks good on stage. Surprisingly, one thing that's going to play less of a role in the immediate future is the trusty looper that was so important to the creation of the album. It's been a pain to sync loops with the band onstage, and Todd acknowledges "I've always written songs but arranging for a big band is really new." Given the band's ever more intense slate of live work, such activity will no doubt pay exciting and unexpected dividends.

One thing is certain: Todd has a knack for making the most creative use out of any situation she finds herself in, musical or otherwise. "I'm definitely not a technical musician," she says, "but for me it works, cause I'm always coming from a creative place." - Exclaim Magazine


We've written about Maylee Todd's videos before, and how she's partnered with indie videographers like Southern Souls and Live in Bellwoods—she's had recurring motifs, like elaborate and out-there costumes and interstellar travel. Now, thanks in part to a MuchFACT grant, Todd has pulled out all the stops with a comic romp for "Aerobics in Space."

The video, directed by J. Lee Williams, is a delightfully zany pastiche of TV references—primarily the live action 60's Batman show. There's also a purposefully shoddy Mork & Mindy–style sitcom interlude, featuring Punch Drysdale's Norm Sousa; Second City's Inessa Frantowski plays a mystic Great Gazoo/Tinkerbell character who keeps the plot moving; and there's a robot mayor whose victimization prompts Todd's avenging crusade.

At an interstellar dance bar (in actuality, Parkdale's Wrongbar) frequented by her own rogues gallery, Todd lays the smackdown on her enemies—among them Gentleman Reg (who's the first to be socked by our caped heroine) and Naomi Snieckus. While a lion-clad lounge singer—Todd again—and her satyr band keep the tune bouncing along, the bar fills with BIFs and POWs as our heroine pummels the outlandishly dressed villains one by one.

The wild costume sequences are supplemented by retro Saturday morning cartoon sequences, complete with mock wavy lines from a shaky cable signal, and there are plenty more surprises we don't want to ruin, including a reveal at the end of the evil unseen mastermind, a la Inspector Gadget's Doctor Claw, and a promise of more to come. We hope so. - Torontoist


Maylee Todd, as a performer, is a chameleon. You're as likely to see her biking around town with a large Paraguayan harp strapped to her back as you are to see her toting a guitar. From gig to gig, she'll bust out avante garde electronic instrument the Tenori-on, or show up with a headset mic and a posse of exuberant aerobicizers for a Sweatshop Hop session, or play a set of smoky jazz and blues songs with her band, Pegwee Power.

This wide variety of showcase skills has her much in demand among up-and-coming filmmakers, and Todd thrives on collaboration (she's played with Woodhands, Henri Fabergé & The Adorables, The Bicycles, Circle Research, and many more). It also helps that she has a sense of humour (her YouTube handle is mayleepooface); she trained with Second City as an improviser before settling on music as her chosen vocation.

"Maylee is so wildly creative and unpredictable," says Mitch Fillion, creator of the popular acoustic video series Southern Souls. Todd's first set of videos with him (they've just released a second set), where she plays her harp at the Toronto Zoo while gorillas tussle and an otter swims playfully in circles, ranks among the most popular on the site. (The videos may not work right now, as Southern Souls has had its video library deleted by Vimeo.)

For Live in Bellwoods, whose video of "Heart Throb" is embedded above, Todd returned to the scene of her first official video, "Summer Sounds." In the latter video, by Jared Sales, Todd went from dancing in the grassy park to blasting off into space to dance with aliens on an asteroid. For the acoustic performance of "Heart Throb," produced by Humble Empire, the alien dancers come to her, surrounding her in a circle of bright spandex and silvery bodysuits. The CN Tower is nicely framed in the background, and curious onlookers can be seen in the distance; by the end of the video, a quick pan reveals that a sizable crowd has gathered while the video was being filmed. It's possible that many of them just stopped to watch the action, but it's just as likely they recognized Maylee.

Todd's debut album Choose Your Own Adventure is out today on iTunes and at record stores via Do Right Music. You can also order it through her website, and score some free remixes and other swag. - Torontoist


How to describe the uncategorizable wunderkind that is Maylee Todd? Singer and songwriter, sure -- but also former member of the late indie-rock squad Henri and the Adorables, ad-jingle provider (that's her crooning 'For What It's Worth' in the Telus commercial), comedienne, aerobics instructor, player of the Paraguayan harp... And that's just for starters.

So it's fitting that her bright, breezy new debut album is titled 'Choose Your Own Adventure' -- clocking in at under 30 minutes, it's more of a taste of the Toronto musician's prodigious talents rather than the entire experience, but what an introduction it is. Keeping the focus on Todd's honeyed, feather-light coo of a voice, the record nimbly flits between styles (bossa nova, funk, folk, pop) without ever sounding disjointed or forced.

It's just the soundtrack for sun-dappled bike rides or picnics in the park, all infused with a jazzy bent in keeping with her label Do Right's focus.

Like labelmates Elizabeth Shepherd or Jessica Stuart, Todd also goes for a timeless, not trendy sound, though with far more eclecticism than most female vocalists operating within a classic idiom. The girl's got soul -- both in the musical and personality sense -- and that verve is writ large all over 'Adventure'. Interestingly, however, it's the quieter moments that really resonate, such as slow-burn stunner 'A Lullaby For My Fictitious Children Lucious & Sumat,' a gentle gem that tips its hat to Billie Holiday's 'Gloomy Sunday' with its spare but emotive vocal take.

While Todd can really belt it out when she wants to, what's impressive is that she doesn't even need to -- though her voice rarely rises above a soft croon on 'Lullabye' (perhaps befitting the title), the approach nicely suits the sweet melody and imagery in a way that sets the tune apart from the livelier numbers on the album.

Opening with a gorgeous waltz-y intro before the strummy melody and doo-wop backing vocals kick in, 'Lullabye' recalls the kind of genuinely fresh-sounding take on neo-soul Brit songbird Corrine Bailey Rae used to do so well. The song echoes the kind of old-school vibe you'd swear you've heard before, but at the same time doesn't sound like a stuffy re-tread of a well-worn template.

By the time the horns kick in -- ever-so-gently, mind you -- and the song swirls into its swoony finish, Todd's managed to make you wish you could fall asleep to her tender voice every night. "Know there are monsters out there," she sings, "Who cut you down/Please don't be afraid of those monsters out there/They've got their own upon their backs." A simple sentiment, perhaps, but a reminder even those of us who've outgrown the imaginary demons under the bed could certainly use from time to time.

Todd may have dedicated her lullaby to her "fictitious" children, but whenever they do come along, one can't help but think those little ones will be pretty lucky to have such a beautiful tune to call their own -- until then, the fact that we listeners get to enjoy it in their stead makes us the fortunate ones.
- Spinner


"There's going to be things happening and I'm going to talk about stuff later," said Toronto songstress and multi-instrumentalist Maylee Todd at the beginning of her set at the Piston during NXNE. This may sound like an ambiguous phrase, but somehow it seems to make sense -- not just to her set but to her presentation as a musician. Todd does things her own way, and people are accepting that. She'll explain her reasons when she has to.

Todd's longtime fans know her as a quirky part of bands such as Woodhands, Henri Faberge and the Adorables, Circle Research and Pegwee Power. The list keeps going. But now it's her time to shine on her own. Todd's debut solo album, 'Choose Your Own Adventure,' comes out this Tuesday and she used her festival set to show that she's taken things a different direction, not only cooling the music down and then working it back up again with her own grooves and soulful voice, but also being the frontwoman.

But who would Todd be without at least one costume change and some crazy antics?

Ripping off her salmon coloured dress to unveil an animal print romper, she announced "I'm going to go Mariah Carey on you right now!" after performing four songs. "If Mariah Carey can do it, so can I!" She then proceeded to take a moment to just dance in the crowd barefoot as the smiling audience parted a path for her.

Todd was joined by a great backing band (Chris Kettlewell, Andrew Scott and Eric Woolstion) and all four handled a few instruments during the set, including harp, electric guitar, accordion, synth, trumpet, upright bass, drums and glockenspiel. Together, they played about five songs from the upcoming album -- including 'Summer Sounds' and 'Aerobics in Space,' fan favourite 'Hooked' and two covers, Slide's 'Loose' and 'Haven't You Heard' by Patrice Rushen.

Towards the end of her set, Todd took a moment to officially plug the album by way of throwing copies into the audience. Audience members were goofing around, trying to grab a copy while Todd squealed, "Yeah! Let's fight!" Todd and her audience are about as harmful as a kitten figuring out its claws, but the point is how much the audience loved what the singer is doing now on her own.
- Spinner


John Kong, hot from the afternoon haze, steps into the cool of Play De Record, an outpost of rare vinyl on Toronto’s Yonge Street. He tips back his hat. Beside him is eclectic pop singer Maylee Todd, petite and hipper than hip with her extremely close-cropped hair.

Play De Record, with its racks of soul, hip hop and jazz LPs, is like a second home to Kong. He’s been shopping here for years. Now, the store also stocks albums from Kong’s own Do Right! Music, a boutique Toronto label getting wide attention for taking jazz into a new realm of soul-jazz singer-songwriting. It’s doing that with releases by such wide-ranging local artists as Todd, Elizabeth Shepherd, Jessica Stuart and Valerie Gore, all making big waves right around the globe in the happening, tightly knit community of new-music and jazz fans.

Ask Kong to describe his label’s sound, and he has a tough time. Instead he motions to the stacks of discs around him, as if to say Do Right! essentially caters to people just like him, buying LPs at vintage vinyl stores just like this.

After following his family from Hong Kong to Toronto in his late teens, Kong, now 38, became a regular at the shop, gravitating toward the older soul and funk records from which hip hop gets its samples. Eventually, he started DJing and promoting club events, and by 2002, while still working a backroom job at Bell Canada, he began putting out some limited vinyl releases.

Eight years on, Do Right! Music’s albums are defining a unique new wave of jazz songwriting, its top names gigging at clubs in Europe, Japan and here at home, and getting lots of play time on non-mainstream radio. The sound is jazz-influenced, concedes Kong, but he bristles at such terms as “jazzy” and “acid jazz” – descriptors he sees as associated with the kind of music played in pseudo-trendy shops and the chill-out rooms of dance clubs.

Still, he concedes, putting any label on his kind of music makes him cringe. “I always have a problem describing the sound. I think that’s a good thing, though. If you can’t describe it and you can’t label it, then it’s fresh. Once somebody can label something, it’s time to move on.”

Among his influences, he points to British DJ Gilles Peterson, who started the acid-jazz movement at the tail end of the 1980s, when he and such fellow DJs as Patrick Forge began fusing jazz, funk, soul and Latin beats.

In Peterson’s eyes, as that sound got co-opted by radio executives and the soft-jazz industry, quality soul-jazz re-established itself underground, with Peterson and a handful of other DJs keeping the best of the music alive. Now, the new breed of Toronto jazz-influenced singer-songwriters is broadening the sound in multiple directions.

Across the aisle at Play De Record, Todd is flipping through rare Brazilian vinyl. Earlier this year, she played a show in the teeming port city of Recife and carted back a few Brazilian LPs for herself, along with CDs bought from local cab drivers. Her album, Choose Your Own Adventure, which came out this summer, flows with bossa-nova beats, strings, harps and the kind of intense variety at home in what’s known as Brazilian Tropicalia.

With a background as a comedian (she has performed with Toronto’s Second City) and with past stints recording and touring with the Toronto electro-pop band Woodhands, she has taken an unconventional road into the unconventional world of soul jazz. “My taste is pretty broad,” she says. “I find writing this way interesting, not because I’m, like, ‘Okay, here we go for a funk song, guys, and here’s the template for it.’ It’s more that I’m evolving in certain genres.”

“That’s the reason I signed her album,” says Kong, “because it’s the label’s aesthetic: different sounds, but at the end of the day it’s cohesive. I find it boring to be just one thing. There’s so much music out there, you can’t limit yourself to just one thing.”

Certainly guitarist Jessica Stuart doesn’t. She lived for a year in Japan as a preteen, and now she (like her mother, who is an ethno-musicologist) plays the koto, a traditional Japanese stringed instrument, in parts of her Do Right!-distributed album, Kid Dream. The koto gives her songwriting an added cosmopolitan air. “I would call it jazz-influenced art pop,” she says, laughing at her own description.

Stuart agrees that a real movement seems to be building around jazz-tinged singer-songwriters in Toronto. “In the independent music scene, Canada really favours indie rock as its independent music,” says Stuart. “What I’m doing isn’t as common, so it’s really nice to band together, because then we have the chance to play off each other’s audiences, share resources, and I guess also share the vibe – without sounding too hippie-ish.”

Her influences range from the electronica beats of Stereolab to the heavy rock of Led Zeppelin – polar opposites, yet both fundamentally focused on momentum and groove: the main difference between Stuart and the indie rock scene - The Globe and Mail


Anyone expecting to find the unpredictable quirkiness common to a Maylee Todd live set captured within may be surprised to hear the incessantly playful singer decidedly reserved (though no less creative) on her aptly titled debut, Choose Your Own Adventure. That reference to choice likely alludes to the impressive number of sounds and influences the sprightly vocalist and musician manages to pack into the record's ultra-brief 25-minute runtime, all of which combine to make the record feel unexpectedly expansive. Cuíca-based jungle sounds lead the bossa-based "Summer Sounds" assault before quickly giving way to full-on broken beat rhythms, until the record diverges into a bout of quant doo-wop melodies. Todd's delicate vocals and detailed harp work soothe the soul on the adventurous "Pegwee Power!!!," while the star and her talented backing players channel their united inner funk, complete with dancing horns, a mid-cut drum breakdown and the ringleader's inspired screams on fitting closer "Aerobics In Space." Take it as a satisfying little glimpse at just some of what this artist has to offer. - Exclaim Magazine


Flying dogs in space! A woman in a jumper with a square butt! A guy dressed like Waldo! An Elvis impersonator eating a gigantic sub sandwich! Gentleman Reg getting beat up. OK, that last one sucks. Poor Reg.

Maylee Todd's new video for "Aerobics In Space" is all kinds of weird super heroine awesome. Nobody's made a video this unique and special in a while. You are doing yourself a disservice if you don't watch it.

"Aerobics In Space" appears on the recently released Choose Your Own Adventure. - Chart Attack


Toronto harpist/multi-instrumentalist Maylee Todd's Choose Your Own Adventure debut album has been a long time in the making.

"I recorded it and fronted the money myself, and it just got to the point where I couldn't afford to actually put out this album," explains Todd.

That's where Do Right Music came in though, and with the help of a label, Todd's record was completed and released this summer.

"It's a slow process when you're nickel and diming and playing for free, but it was a great process."

Choose Your Own Adventure is a quirky collection of Todd's oddball pop melodies about everything from searching for heartthrobs to aerobics in space — "Aerobics In Space" was written as a joke at first — and is flushed out with dreamy harps, fluttering flutes and every instrument imaginable.

Todd draws from all genres including funk and soul, but the actual recording was as a learning curve for the musician-in-training as well.

"I feel like this album is me trying to play these things and working them out, it was a great way to document your process."

For those who pick up the record, there is one hidden gem at the end — one of which Todd's mother wasn't even aware.

"There's a secret track at the end, and it's actually my mom," reveals Todd.

The Sharon, Lois And Bram tune her mom sings is a childhood memory Todd wanted to sneak onto the record as gift and a surprise. The recording itself was from a one-off karaoke jam recorded for Todd's sister for her birthday.

"She played the piano and sang and I played the glockenspiel and sang over it. It's just so sweet."

Todd adds that she hopes her mother doesn't take it the wrong way and that, "I'm not making fun of her; I do believe it's a really heartfelt song."

In addition to Mama Todd, though, the record also features a slew of Toronto friends including Laura Barrett, Bruce Peninsula's Steve McKay and comedian Holly Prazoff.

As for that jaw-dropping, head-scratching outfit on the cover?

"My sister made that!" Todd exclaims of her sis, who takes charge on most of her elaborate costumes and designs.

"That lion head in my press photos, she did that, too."

You can see Todd at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre on Friday and at the city's Dundas Square on Sept. 29. - Chart Attack


Having played with the likes of Woodhands, Henri Fabregé and the Adorables and the Bicycles, Maylee Todd is no stranger to the indie rock scene, but her solo material jumps across genres, with hints of pop, jazz, funk, R&B and more.

"I hear a lot of Latin influence," Todd says. "Growing up, my father, who's also an Elvis impersonator, listened to a lot of Latin music." Todd's father taught her classical guitar, and inspired her to later pick up the Paraguayan harp (she plays both, as well as synth and percussion, on her album). "And Disney movies. I'm going to call Disney music a genre."

Todd's playfulness and quirky sense of humour colour her newly released first solo album, Choose Your Own Adventure. There's a light-hearted, summery feel to the album, which features song titles like "Aerobics in Space" and "PEGWEE POWER!!!"

The latter was inspired by depression, Todd explains. She works as a personal trainer at her day job. "They'd give me the more artsy clients, and I kept getting these people who weren't ready for training, they were ready for a therapist," she says.

"The Pegwee is a motivator, it's a little creature that helps you through the day...it's fuzzy, with big ears, big googly eyes---it's just supposed to help and motivate you." Audiences at her Halifax and Evolve shows may see more: Todd is having a Pegwee mascot costume made, which she hopes will be completed in time. Her love of costumes also comes out in bizarre styles on her album cover and her online videos. "We're all kind of big kids, as much as we pretend not to be," she says. "I have a very playful outlook on life."

Of her album title, Todd says, "I love the [Choose Your Own Adventure] books, but besides the books, this was a bit of an adventure for me, I was learning to play a lot of these instruments, I'd played with other projects but this was the first time working on my own material."

"I didn't feel like I was ready, you're never ready, but I thought it was time."
- The Coast


Mixing music and comedy is a strange thing. Most of the time it doesn’t work: the jokes suffer from repeat listening, and it’s not easy to take silly songs seriously. Once in a while, though, someone brings it all together in a delightfully weird package, which is exactly what Toronto’s Maylee Todd has done on her wonderfully wacky debut album.

Style-wise, she’s all over the place. There’s trippy, ethereal harp strumming, lilting bossa nova influences, cosmic jazz vibes, doo-wop references, uptempo soul grooves and chanting children, but somehow it all jells. The subject of a song like Aerobics In Space is definitely on the goofy side, but she delivers the tune with such giddy joy, you can’t help appreciating its ridiculous fun.

It’s a lot easier to write deathly serious songs than to capture the spirit of light-hearted good times, but which would you rather listen to on a sunny summer afternoon? - NOW magazine


Maylee Todd’s debut album Choose Your Own Adventure is a light-hearted romp through classic jazzy funk, spiced up with her harp playing and goofy sense of humour.

It you live in Parkdale, you may have noticed dozens of people in crazy costumes wandering around Queen and Brock about a month ago. Well it turns out they were extras in her new video for Aerobics In Space, which she’s launching Thursday night at the Drake Hotel Underground.

NOW Magazine obtained an exclusive look behind the scenes, which should give you a taste of what to expect. - NOW magazine


Since the dawn of time, humanity has engaged in a battle between good and evil. Not long ago, Maylee Todd created a spirit that offers an alternative to that struggle: the Pegwee.

“You know how most people have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other?” Todd asks over coffee at Moonbean Café in Kensington Market. “Well, the Pegwee kicks those guys off and is just like, ‘Go! Go! Go!’ It’s all about having a good time.”

The imaginative singer’s make-believe muse, who comes from another planet, is the driving force behind her latest venture, Maylee & Pegwee Power. The group started as a solo act, with just Todd on her harp accompanied by a looping station. She soon realized that wasn’t enough.

“I was writing all these horn and string arrangements, so I thought I should make it how I’d like it to sound and get a band together. So far people seem to dig it.”

While their first proper show was just in September, the jazz/funk/soul/pop band is already building a reputation for rowdy performances.

Which is why her instrument of choice, the soothing and dignified Paraguayan harp, seems a bit of a contradiction. Todd was drawn to it due to her predilection for obscure instruments. Plus, she confesses, it’s not as hard as it looks.

“Anyone can play it,” she says. “That’s the big secret.” - NOW magazine


A voice that is the sound of the city bursting open for the season: sweet like birdsong, limpid like a nylon-stringed guitar in the park, silky like dappled sun through the urban forest. That’s the sound of Maylee Todd floating out from your hi-fi, and if there’s any justice in the universe, her just-released debut, Choose Your Own Adventure, will be high on the play count of many an iPod this summer. The album was recorded a year ago, but Todd took time to prepare her music — and her life — for a proper launch, hooking up with eclectic local label Do Right! Music to get her Tropicália-drenched, funky jazz/R&B hybrid message out into the world.

Meet Maylee Todd: writer, harpist, singer, badass dancer, personal trainer, daughter of an Elvis impersonator. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist raised on the King and Gilberto Gil, she recently picked up the Paraguayan harp. Todd isn’t content to restrict her energies to one form — she’s started her own aerobics mini-cult, gigged as a mascot in a Burlington Sobeys and covered Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” in a Telus commercial.

I purposely put this all out of my mind when I meet her on a crystalline afternoon near Christie Pits, but there can be no separating the many facets of an artist like Todd. For years, she was one of the rotating cast of Henri Fabergé and the Adorables, along with The Bicycles’ Dana Snell and Andy Scott, Woodhands’ Dan Werb and Laura Barrett. When I ask what led to her writing her own material, she responds emphatically, “Comedy school!”

When Fabergé (né Henry Fletcher) moved out of the city, the sudden dissolution of the Adorables motivated Todd to turn back to her own songs. She had new ideas, along with material that had been percolating and shape-shifting for years. But it was her background in comedy that gave her the courage to
go for it.

“I think everyone should try stand-up at least once,” she says. “It’s totally terrifying, and awesome.” She had spent a year in comedy training at Humber after a stint in musical theatre. “It was a perfect way to learn the writing process, the idea of work — that you have to write and rewrite. It made me very aware of what I was doing.” She also picked up a technique that she uses to this day: eavesdropping. After being instructed to go to restaurants alone, listen and take notes, she noticed that people’s storytelling changed with the realization they were being overheard, that they began to ham things up.

And hamming it up has served her well. If you ever wondered what Feist would sound like if she just busted loose and let herself freak out, take a listen to Todd’s track “Aerobics in Space.” Better yet, watch the video for “Summer Sounds,” a crazy concept video she designed and shot with former comedy classmate Jared Sales. She’s totally deadpan as she describes the plot, where “zombies take over the earth. I have to build a spaceship quickly and get the hell out. Then I get to another planet and the aliens take a bite out of my head and I, too, am an alien.” That the video is sexy and dreamy, lusciously art-directed and deliciously funky, is something she forgets to mention.

Others have noticed. Esthero left a gushing comment when it was posted online. Praise from the now-LA-based singer, an early attendee of the Adorables’ Embassy gigs in Toronto, led to an opening slot for Esthero at Lee’s Palace this Sunday.

If that seems fast for a newly emerged solo artist, Todd’s constellation of collaborators and admirers thinks it’s been a long time coming. “Music is just a small outlet for her creativity,” says John Kong, founder of Do Right!, later that week. Having just returned from her NXNE show, where she rocked a look he describes as “Astro-Boy Mr. T with a splash of Star Trek,” Kong is visibly awed by her productivity, musically and otherwise. “Every time I phone her, she’s busy editing some video, making a costume or recording vocals for her musician friends.”
Later, during a visit to her apartment, Todd shows me some stuffed “creatures” she’s sewn, propping them next to the live pet crab that hangs out in her living room. “These are Pegwees!” she exclaims; the creatures’ name is also featured in the title of a song on her album, “Pegwee Power.” I ask her to explain.

“You know that idea of having a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other? Pegwees sit on your shoulder and just yell ‘Go! Go! Go!’” If that’s so, then Maylee Todd is surely a Pegwee herself.
- EYE WEEKLY


The band's secret weapon is little Maylee Todd, a high-energy, full throttle pixie sex machine apparently obsessed with sandwiches and upping the crowd energy by a series of percentages throughout the night (it worked!). - Grant Lawerence (cbc radio 3)


"Maylee Todd hooked the audience at the start of the show with her looping melodic magic ..." - Steve Fisher (Gracing the Stage)


"..and finally Ms. Maylee Todd. Maylee's first album isn't out until later this year but if you listen to Woodhands or Henri Faberge and the Adorables then you know the voice. It is, for me anyway, one of the most anticipated albums of 2009."

"...the best voices in Canada you will hear this name again." - Justin Beach (pubilcboardcasting.ca)


The final act of the night and the festival for me was a local act I'd been meaning to see live for some time, called Maylee & Pegwee Power!! And wow, what a way to end! Coming out of left-field, the pixie-ish lead vocalist Maylee Todd broke all expectations I had of her, proving herself to be one of the most dynamic vocalists and performers Toronto has to offer. With her three-member band Pegwee Power which featured a drummer, stand-up bassist, and multi-instrumentalist(keyboards, trumpet, and at one point an old-school Sony walkman), Maylee (at times on guitar and harp) led the group through a variety of musical genres from Astrud-Gilberto-inflected jazz-pop, James Brown-like soul numbers, garage-y pop song, and pristine harp-augmented folk tunes. But it's not just the variety of musical genres tackled that is impressive but the fact that she can do them well and make each song feel so natural. It was one of the sleeper sets of Canadian Musicfest and one of the best Toronto music revelations I've had in a long time. What better way to end my Canadian Musicfest on that high note. - For the records: Canadian Music Week


Discography

- 'Escapology' Album (Do Right Music 2013)
- 'Hieroglyphics' 12" Single (Tall Black Guy / Makeover remix) (Do Right Music 2012)
- 'Hieroglyphics' 7" Single (KON & The Gang remix) (Do Right Music 2012)
- 'Aerobics In Space' Remixes (Do Right Music / Serato Pressing 2011)
- 'Choose Your Own Adventure' album (Do Right Music 2010)

Photos

Bio

Maylee Todd is a dynamic and multi-faceted artist, based in Toronto. Her creativity derives its inspiration from a wide range of artistic disciplines: songwriting, production, film, performance art, and design. Maylee's music combines organic and electronic forms, including elements of boogie, bossa, space funk, psychedelia and soul. She is truly a free spirit who brings all of these seemingly disparate influences into honest, soulful, harmonious yet uncompromising vibrations.

In 2010, Maylee released her debut album Choose Your Own Adventure. The album received glowing reviews from the likes of NOW Magazine and The Globe and Mail. In 2012 single Hieroglyphics from new album Escapology has already received worldwide airplay from BBC Radio 1 London, to KCRW in L.A. and J-Wave in Tokyo. Maylee has also composed original music for the film “Lullaby for Lucious & Sumat” which premieres at Cinequest Film Festival 2013 in San Jose.

Amongst sharing the stage with the likes of Janelle Monae, Lee Fields, Aloe Blacc, Little Dragon, and The Budos Band, Maylee has toured in the Europe,Transmusicales (Rennes, France), c/o pop (Cologne, Germany), Pop Montreal, Hillside Festival and in her home city of Toronto at Harbourfront Centre.

In concert, Maylee delivers a diverse repertoire of soulful tunes with an infectiously charismatic and joyful stage presence, full of warm humour and a performance art aesthetic. More than just a concert, Maylee Todd live is a creative experience that leaves an indelible impact.