Hot Todd(ie) the musical drink of choice at Jazz Fest


By Michael Elves

It may have seemed like Maylee Todd came out of nowhere when she released her engaging, challenging – and suitably adventurous – Choose Your Own Adventure on Do Right! Music in 2010, but the fact of the matter is the Toronto artist had been building towards her solo debut for a half-decade and the genre-hopping and blending on display in CYOA came from a playful spirit honed in the service of groups as disparate as Henri Faberge & The Adorables, Woodhands, and The Bicycles. With Henri Faberge & The Adorables in particular Todd was already choosing her own adventure as she noted in our interview that “that was like the first official band that I was in and that band was just about really making music with your friends and the idea was to play an instrument that you don’t usually play so it was a bit of a challenge but so much fun too.”

Todd has continued to challenge herself in the interim, working on a bedroom project and a series of remixes in the three years between CYOA and her sophomore album Escapology and both experiences have provided her with opportunities and ideas that eventually find their way into her ‘proper’ releases. Of the bedroom project, Todd notes that “I do all the arranging and come up with the sounds and I don’t listen to anyone’s opinion because no one’s really heard it,” whereas with the remix project other artists and producers are creating sounds that she hasn’t heard before. When I ask her whether letting others rework her material is a learning experience and whether their take on her material points her in a different direction musically, Todd is quick to agree:

“Totally. You’re so dead on, yeah for sure. The remixing world for me is sort of a new world, like only within the last two or three years. I didn’t even really think about these options before. I have to say the Tall Black Guy remix is – sorry everyone [laughs] – everybody else’s remixes were great but that remix is like ‘oh my gosh I kinda want this to be mine;” it’s better than what I came up with! So smooth and so amazing.”

There might be a bit of false modesty at work as Todd’s second record has deftly avoided any notion of stasis or slumping and has in fact drawn more critical acclaim than her debut. She continues to explore latin percussive elements and incorporates phrasing from soul and jazz in particular though these only serve as jumping-off points for her audio adventures.

“I think right now at this point in my career and with who I am right now I’m not too concerned about following a specific genre. I feel like I have the creative freedom to do whatever it is I like, and I listen to a lot of different types of music so I’m obviously inspired by different [things].”

For listeners the creative freedom Todd enjoys leads to intriguing music of the type that rewards multiple listens as new discoveries are made; and it provides an escape from the codified and rigid “silos” that music frequently gets put into. It should be no surprise then that Todd finds herself on the bill of the 2013 TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, a festival known for pushing at the boundaries and definitions inherent in its very title.

Maylee Todd plays Saturday June 15th at 10:20pm  and Sunday June 16th at 7:20pm at Old Market Square as part of the festival’s FREE opening weekend. For complete details, visit

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