Ria Mae
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Ria Mae

Halifax, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | MAJOR

Halifax, Canada | MAJOR
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo Pop Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Best New Artist"

For a scene newcomer, Ria Mae already has the achievements stacked up, but she's "over the moon" about your votes. The singer-songwriter has just returned from Iqaluit, where she played two shows for International Womens' Day. "That was certainly a highlight, not just in terms of music, but the trip itself. Margot Durling (percussionist/vocalist extraordinaire) and I got to experience a new culture and climate and meet lots of amazing people up north," she writes. As for 2009 highlights, Mae---whose first full-length album is due out in the fall---names opening for The Cliks during the Halifax Pride show on Garrison Grounds, her EP release and her acting debut in Rohan Fernando's movie Snow. Not bad newbie, not bad.

--Sue Carter Flinn

(Source:http://www.thecoast.ca/halifax/best-new-artist-2009/BestOf?oid=1577531) - The Coast Weekly

"Mae Day"

Freshly ECMA-ed, and with a new single produced by Classified, Ria Mae’s momentum keeps rolling
by Matthew Ritchie

Singer-songwriter Ria Mae isn't used to being the centre of attention. But that will change, because with a recent award show win, spot on the silver screen in Rohan Fernando's debut feature-length Snow and new album in the works, there has never been a better time to be Ria Mae.

Her successful run started this past April at the ECMAs when she won Pop Recording of the Year for her 2011 debut Under Your Skin. She originally wasn't even planning on attending the award show because she didn't want her friends to pay the $20 entry fee to the gala. "A friend convinced me to go and I was wearing a hoodie. I just wasn't prepared at all," Mae says, laughing. "I figured I would get an ECMA at some point in my career, but I never thought it would be that soon."

With all the positive attention, Mae felt confident enough to begin working on her follow up to Skin, enlisting hip-hop heavyweight Classified to produce her first single since the win.

"I've been a huge fan of Classified for a long time. I remember being really young hanging out at the skatepark and he was passing out demos to people. I knew every word to all his songs," Mae says.

A big fan of hip-hop, listening to his production for acts like David Myles and Chad Hatcher made her see his strength as a producer outside of the urban realm.

"I was really impressed with his production and realized he wasn't just a great MC, he was a wicked producer," Mae says.

"He really understands radio and has a brilliant sense of what's going to be catchy."

Mae plans to work with Daniel Ledwell on another follow-up single before getting back to work on her sophomore record. And although all eyes are on her next move following the ECMA win, she isn't worried about her next album.

"I don't feel pressure," Mae says. "I'm just excited to see how much further I can push myself."
- The Coast

"Everything's Coming Up Ria Mae"

So, I'm not sure how many of you have been following Ria Mae's Facebook fan page since she and longtime collaborator/buddy Margot Durling went out on a U.S. tour a couple of weeks ago to support Melissa Ferrick - but it's exploding. Every other post is made by a fan mentioning how awesome Mae's show was in Chicago/Austin/Ohio/everywhere, or thanking her for signing CDs, and/or gushing about how beautiful she is, and so on. It's like Elvis!

Mae's profile was raised even higher last week when she was named Regional Winner of the Mountain Stage New Song Contest. Along with five other finalists, she'll be competing for the top prize - a chance to perform on NPR's Mountain Stage and record an EP with producer Mikal Blue, who has also worked with James Blunt, Jason Mraz and Serena Ryder. The live performance round will take place Thursday October 20 in New York.

None of this is that surprising after you hear the single from her debut album Under Your Skin. I am not hugely familiar with the realm of female singer-songwriters, but I'm also not an idiot. Mae's voice is emotive, honest and painfully lovely, and she's a mesmerizing performer. She's the real deal, and will go far.
- The Coast, Weekly

"Halifax-Based Musician Ria Mae is Throwing Up Songs"

February 23, 2009

Everyone loves a good story. For Halifax-based Ria Mae, song writing is a vehicle to carry other people's narratives. Instead of looking inward and focussing on her own experience in the world, she writes pop songs about those closest to her.

"I have a habit of living through my friends," says Mae. "I like to help them relive their darkest moments every time they come out to support me at shows.

"It's rare that I write about my own stuff. Maybe one in every five songs, and they're usually not the ones that make the cut. I have a bad habit of getting in the way of the song when it becomes too personal."

At 25 years old, Mae felt a shift within herself. Instead of dividing her life into separate spheres, she recently quit her day job in construction management to focus on music full-time.

Backup vocalist and percussionist Margot Durling supports Mae's change in course, but won't take the same risk.

"For me I'll always have music in my life," she says. "Business and design is in the forefront, though music will always be a part of what of I do."

Over the past year the duo has been performing around Halifax, everywhere from kitchen parties to various watering holes.

Mae has a certain way about her. She's a mixture of cocksure, rhetoric and charm.

"Sometimes it feels like I have a personality disorder. I'm half musician, half normal person."

Lately she's been writing furiously. "Throwing up songs," she says. She's laying down the groundwork for a forthcoming EP due this spring. During these bitter wintry afternoons, she's shacked up in Spaces Between Studios working closely with local recording engineer Don MacKay.

"He's really about the feeling, the old recordings," says Mae. "Atmosphere is important."

MacKay's most recent credentials includes recording, co-producing and performing on Ryan MacGrath's EP In My Own Company, an album of sweeping instrumentation, contemporary flavour and gives nods to the bygone era. His previous recording experience highlights some of Halifax's finest, including Tanya Davis, Don Brownrigg, Jenn Grant, Amelia Curran, Damien Alexander and Caledonia.

-Shannon Webb-Campbell - Xtra

"Ria Mae has a new job"

June 11, 2009

Halifax fosters new creativity. At least that's how Ria Mae sees it. Recently the songwriter quit her construction-management day job to take on music full-time, a bold but necessary risk.

"Deep down, I know that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing," says Mae. "I've had to downsize and am living very differently, but I feel really alive."

Since the doors opened at The Company House, Mae's found herself on the corner stage nearly every week or so with backup vocalist Margot Durling. Whether the duo are playing Wednesday night's regular open mic hosted by Don Brownrigg and Dave Scholten, opening for Mathew de Zoete or headlining, Mae feels like she's in her element.

She's in the midst of finishing recording her debut EP with Don MacKay. So far she's got "Amy," "Questions," "On the Side" and "Waiting" on the final cut, and hopes to release it this summer. Fingers crossed. (SWC)

(Source: http://www.thecoast.ca/halifax/ria-mae/Content?oid=1140829) - The Coast

"Karma slapping Halifax singer high-fives"

Ria Mae has had a pretty good first year.

Born Ria MacNutt, the Halifax-based acoustic songstresser packed up and left her job as a construction manager a just over a year ago to pursue a reality woven by guitar strings with lyrical narration.

"I just didn't want to regret not doing this," she told Here. "I've been writing songs my whole life but tried to do the grown-up thing. I realized that music was more important to me. I left everything behind."

If penned to paper, the first chapter of her new life would read like a modern-day fairytale.

Since giving herself to her craft wholly and completely, the modest, cool-as-an-ocean-breeze 27-year old says karma's been slapping her perpetual high-fives.

"I had a good year," she offered shyly.

Readers, prepare to be humbled: endless road shows, a major part in a film and an invite to perform in Nunavut for International Women's Day, all while prepping to record an album? Yeah, Ria, no s--t you had a good first year.

Her songs are real life stories tuned to rootsy folk beats and chords. Experiences via early success have opened her eyes; she's received reality checks on becoming a Canadian entertainer, along with some invaluable life lessons.

A textbook example, she says, was her recent trip to Canada's frozen north.

"As soon as I was asked, it was an immediate 'yes'," she said, adding the honour of representing Atlantic women in song affirmed "how far women have come and how far we still have to go," she said.

Mae will head to the studio in May, she said, accompanied by her pal and percussionist, Margot Durling, who she'll play alongside in Moncton April 9.

The upcoming Triangles (234 George Street) show follows a stop at Fredericton's Grad House on April 8.

The gig will be a first for Mae, never having played in the Hub City before.

"I hope we start to build a fan base in New Brunswick "¦ it's going to be super high-energy."

--Victoria Handysides

(Source: http://herenb.canadaeast.com/music/article/1010435) - HERE Magazine

"Real People Roles"

November 5, 2009

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which left over a million people displaced and a quarter of a million dead, created some unanswered questions for Halifax filmmaker Rohan Fernando. For his 2007 NFB documentary, Blood and Water, Fernando followed his uncle Anton to Sri Lanka a year after he lost his wife and daughter in the disaster. But Fernando held back from seeking answers for ethical reasons, "to avoid shoving a camera in someone's face when they were crying." So he sought another way.

"I felt that a drama would be a more appropriate way of exploring those emotions and questions," Fernando says of Snow, which he wrote, directed and finished shooting last weekend. The film is about Parvati, a Sri Lankan woman who immigrates to Nova Scotia after she loses her family in the tsunami. Once in Canada, she meets troubled street musician Emily, and strikes up a turbulent yet invigourating friendship.

"The idea was to explore someone who not only loses their family and home, but also their identity and any sense of meaning," says Fernando. The friendship between the two women "clarifies things for both of them and is kind of mutually a dangerous and beneficial relationship."

For Snow, Fernando trusted mostly non-actors for parts large and small, an experience akin to working with subjects in a documentary. "They're not used to the camera and don't have a bunch of approaches to their craft already. It created a very open collaboration," he says.

Parvati is played by Toronto-based Kalista Zackhariyas, who has some stage experience, but also boasts a mixed bag of talent, including dance, martial arts and TV presenting. Ria Mae MacNutt, a local singer-songwriter (with an EP release, Between the Bad, slated for November 10 at The Company House) and first-time actor, surprised herself with the depth of feeling she drew out as Emily, a victim of a dysfunctional family and her own drug addiction. From answering an open casting call, to her audition process (which she worried might actually be a Candid Camera-type reality show, with all the expressly dramatic scenes she was required to read), to her "deer-in-the-headlights" feeling on set, Snow has been an eye-opening experience for MacNutt.

"There are things that I had to go through, but I didn't know that I did," she says. "Maybe not the heroin addiction! There's just me being able to release emotions that I wouldn't normally be able to release."

"With Ria it was a total fluke that she even heard about the audition and showed up," Fernando says, "but she was obviously a very emotive person and had access to her emotions, and had a real integrity that came out of that. It seemed very natural for her to be able to play this part."

MacNutt found that her new acting job has benefited from her songwriting skills. "It's the songwriting that helped me get into other people's lives," she says. "All my songs are written from the point-of-view of other people. 'Waiting' is about my best friend, who went through a huge break-up. I've always, since I was a young kid, loved getting into someone else's head.

"I'm loving it right now, I don't want it to end. I want to explore other parts and get the chance to do another one very soon."

--Hillary Titley

(Source: C:\Users\User\Desktop\Press\Real people roles Movie Feature Halifax, Nova Scotia THE COAST.mht) - The Coast (Halifax Weekly)

"Coming Into The Cold"

November 1, 2009

IT’S A BRISK October evening in the woods behind a Fall River cul-de-sac, as two women huddle for warmth at the base of a tree.

A young Sri Lankan woman in a black toque pulls a faded, pea-green blanket tighter around them as her companion, a young musician whose guitar lies next to her on the ground, becomes increasingly oblivious to the world around her.

There’s also a small film crew around her, capturing this Babes-in-the-Woods-style scene for a climactic moment from the film Snow.

The dramatic feature from writer-director Rohan Fernando wraps up production this weekend. His digital HD camera and tight production team allow him to get what he needs before the sun vanishes behind the distant hills.

There’s no snow on the ground but actors Kalista Zackhariyas and Ria Mae have no problem portraying their lost and cold condition. Huddled on the ground, Toronto-based Zackhariyas stifles a cough between takes while Ria Mae asks to loosen a bandanna she says is on so tight it’s making her face numb.

The snow of the title comes later, and Fernando says he chose it as a metaphor for the new challenges people face when they come to Canada from warmer climes for the first time.

Zackhariyas plays Parvati, who leaves Sri Lanka after the devastating South Asian tsunami wipes out her village and kills her family, and for her snow is a thing of shock and wonder.

"Most people here take it for granted, but for someone who’s never seen snow before, it’s a phenomenal experience," says Fernando, who moved from Sri Lanka to Canada via Switzerland as a boy.

"I think I was seven when I first saw snow. It was in Moscow after we left Sri Lanka, and I had no words for it.

"The film was built around this idea of experiencing that. When it’s something here that’s intensely different from where you come from, you have to find some way to bring those worlds together."

Zackhariyas had a similar experience, growing up in Africa before moving to Canada at 11. She had seen snow as a child, recalling a Coca Cola ad where people made snow angels, an image that became almost a fantasy over time.

"In my 11-year-old mind, that was the first thing I wanted to do," she says. "I think I was shocked, though, at how cold it was, since I’d always had this idealized image of snow, and everybody talking about how white it was, and how wonderful it was to build snowmen and go skiing.

"So I had this glorified idea about what snow was until I actually felt it. That was a shock."

Zackhariyas channels the sense of culture shock she felt as a child into her portrayal of Parvati.

As written, the character actually comes from the same Sri Lanka village the actress’s family hails from, but she says the contrast in their stories is as great as their similarity.

"There are definitely obstacles that both the character and myself have had to overcome, and there’s this continuous theme of finding that strength to adjust to your environment and carry on," she says.

"At the same time, our stories are quite different. The tsunami was such a huge and dramatic loss for the people who did lose family there, that I’m humbled by that. I haven’t gone through nearly as much as those families. So despite the similarities, in terms of the scale, I don’t think I’m worthy of that kind of comparison."

That sense of grief and loss is just a starting point for Parvati, as she has to redefine her own identity in the absence of immediate family and the presence of a whole new world full of strangers.

Her story started to gel in Fernando’s imagination while he was editing his documentary about the tsunami, Blood and Water. He knew he’d have to return to dramatic filmmaking, for the first time since 2001’s Fade to Black, in order to show the perspective he had in mind.

"There are ethical implications to showing scenes of profound intimacy in a documentary, because you’re seeing it through your eyes and imposing your point of view on someone else’s emotions," he explains. "And the more emotional it got, the more I had concerns about how to go about portraying that.

"All these existential questions came up, and so I needed to explore it further, which meant I had to go into it as a drama. That allowed me to delve into the deepest part of this character’s psyche and emotional landscape without those concerns."

Traversing that emotional landscape was a cathartic experience for Zackhariyas, who along with most of the cast was given a great deal of freedom to express themselves in an improvisatory way, within the framework Fernando had set out for them.

It was another way for him to blur the lines between their experiences and those of their characters.

"She’s almost like a child trying to figure out from the beginning how to be," says Zackhariyas. "Even though she’s an adult she goes through these childlike moments where the world around her affects her and she has to choose what’s right for her and make her own path. . . . It’s the constant sense of ‘What’s next?’ that makes the story something people can relate to, because we all go through something like at some point in our lives."

Back on the set, Zackhariyas is working on the logistics of a scene where the slender Sri Lankan must carry the taller Ria Mae over her shoulders before collapsing in a heap on a pile gym mats hidden under a carpet of dead leaves. As stunt co-ordinator Robert Seale teaches her the fireman’s carry in an area dubbed "the pit of despair" the actress laughs at her struggle to keep Ria Mae up in the air before dumping her on the ground in exhaustion.

"Your life is in my hands, my dahling," she grins in a posh accent after one awkward attempt.

"Everybody’s become like a real big family on the set, between the cast and the crew," says Zackhariyas. "I think a lot of people are going to miss each other, especially me, I’m going to miss all of them."

Like his lead actor, Fernando seems almost sad to see the 18-day shoot, made possible by assists from Telefilm Canada and Film Nova Scotia, come to an end.

"People are giving an immense amount of their creativity, their energy and their dedication." he says. "It’s amazing; we just look forward to getting on set and working together.

"We’ve gone through enough turmoil and difficult days that now we’re confident that we can deal with it and overcome it."

( scooke@herald.ca)

C:\Users\User\Desktop\Press\Coming into the cold - Nova Scotia News - TheChronicleHerald_ca.mht)

- Chronicle Herald

"Fernando Filming First Drama in Halifax Area"

October 29th, 2009

Gemini Award-nominated documentary filmmaker Rohan Fernando is filming his first dramatic feature in Halifax, Bedford and Duncan’s Cove.

Snow is the story of a young Sri Lankan woman, Parvati, who moves to Canada after losing her family and home to the Asian tsunami.

Sri Lankan-born Fernando wrote the script after shooting a National Film Board documentary called Blood & Water, where he followed a distant relative who’d lost his family in the Tsunami.

The cast for the 19-day shoot, wrapping up Sunday, features mostly non-actors selected for their life experience.

Parvati is played by Toronto-based Kalista Zackhariyas whose family is originally from the same Sri Lankan town as her character. She spent several years in a Tamil arranged marriage before escaping from her violent spouse.

Funded by Telefilm and Film Nova Scotia, Snow also features the acting debut of Halifax singer songwriter Ria Mae who has just released her first album. One of her songs is used in the film. Filmmaker and director Sobaz Benjamin also makes his film acting debut.

Fernando’s film Cecil’s Journey was nominated at the 2003 Gemini Awards for Best Documentary and awarded Best Film at the 2002 Atlantic Film Festival.

(Source:C:\Users\User\Desktop\Press\TATTLER - Nova Scotia News - TheChronicleHerald_ca.mht) - Chronicle Herald


Leaving Today *single (June 12, 2012)
Under Your Skin LP (August 30, 2011)
Between the Bad EP (November 10, 2009)



Ria Mae has had an outstanding year with the release of her debut full-length album, Under Your Skin, produced by Asif Illyas (MIR). Under Your Skin won the 2012 East Coast Music Award for Pop Recording of the Year, Ria was a finalist for the 2011 International Mountain Stage NewSong Contest, and was the Regional Winner and National Runner-up for the 2012 Canada-wide RadioStar Contest.

A versitile artist, Ria Mae creates slick pop songs with universal themes of longing, love lost, and hearts found. Ria toured with Melissa Ferrick and opened for her 17 dates in the US and in Canada; Ferrick is a Boston-based singer-songwriter with two decades of experience and a rapid fan base. From Massachusetts to New York and Nashville, they made one stop in Toronto at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern for the only Canadian date. Back in Halifax, Ria performed a sold-out CD release show and debuted the music video for her first single, the title track, “Under Your Skin.”

Her creativity is a constantly moving target. For her second single, Ria collaborated with hip-hop heavyweight Classified to produce “Leaving Today”. The song debuted on Top 40 radio stations across the country, and Ria worked with director Julian Crick to produce a music video, which has garnered thousands of views from her fans in Canada and the US.

Ria showcased at CMJ in New York, NY; at Folk Alliance in Memphis, TN; Canadian Music Week in Toronto, ON; and at ECMA in Moncton, NB; and has shared stage with JUNO award-winner Amelia Curran, JUNO nominee Jenn Grant, Buck 65, and in the US with Chris Velan, Keaton Simons, and Arthur Alligood. A versatile artist, Ria Mae’s on-screen performance in a film called Snow, written by Rohan Fernando, premiered at California’s Cinequest Film Festival. The movie won Best Score at the 2011 Atlantic Film Festival, and screened in theatres across the country.

Awards and Achievements


ECMA Award Winner Pop Recording of the Year - Under Your Skin

RadioStar Contest Winner First Runner-up and Regional Finalist

Music Nova Scotia Award Nomination New Artist Recording of the Year - "Leaving Today"

Music Nova Scotia Award Nomination Female Artist Recording of the Year - Under Your Skin


Music Nova Scotia Award Nomination New Artist of the Year

International Finalist Mountain Stage NewSong Contest


Music Nova Scotia Award Nomination New Artist of the Year

Voted Halifax's Best New Artist by The Coast


"If you haven’t heard and explored the perfection that is artist Ria Mae yet, I urge you to seek her out. You won’t be sorry. The crowd chanted her name as she left the stage, hungry for more. If only these sets could have been twice as long!" The Chronicle Herald, ECMA review 2013

"Mae combines Jonny Rotten attitude with Sarah McLachlan vocals. It is a fascinating combination to witness. Add to this a stand up comedy routine that would allow Mae to headline a comedy festival and being accompanied on stage by some marvelous musicians, and I was left with a show that I never wanted to end. Mae finished her show to rousing applause." - Halifax Musicphile, In The Dead of Winter review 2013

“Singer-songwriter Ria Mae isn’t used to being the centre of attention. But that will change, because with a recent award show win, spot on the silver screen in Rohan Fernando’s debut feature-length Snow, and new album in the works, there has never been a better time to be Ria Mae.” - The Coast

“Emotions and art are constantly changing and Mae takes comfort in shades of grey.” - Xtra!?

“Mae’s rock sound and heartbreaking lyrics are comparable to K.D. Lang while her bluesy voice appears to come straight from the 1920s jazz boom.” - The Scene

“A pop sound with a rough around the edges attitude, “Leaving Today” was produced with another Halifax heavyweight, Classified and has an Alanis Morissette feel. It’s got that poppy gloss you’d expect from a radio single but still offers Mae’s attitude.” - Guff Magazine

"Her brand of pop and folk is a balance, at times challenging her audience with intimacy, at times a gentle melodic encouragement. The thing is the subject - raw, unhinged, and uncomfortably open." - Amelia Curran, Artist

"Ria is a real musician on her way to being a force in the Canadian music scene." - Rose Cousins, Artist

"Mark my words. This lady is headed great places. The new music is lovely and at least I can say I was there at the ground floor." - John Mullane, Artist (In-Flight Safety)

“Ria Mae has the ability to be both Ria the songwriter and Ria the performer of songs she so expertly crafts – the voice, enough soft strength and character to crack the stoutest heart. Ria Mae is a rarity in my mind.” - CBC Radio Atlantic Airwaves

Band Members