Mary Fraud Interview

In this exclusive Music Mondays Interview we sat down with Connecticut native Mary Fraud to discuss her recent creative projects, early roots and much more. 


Eastine Akuni: - Go ahead you got me

Em: Awesome, I love the title for your new EP Great Art & Undeniable Politics. I feel like it brings this frankness, very confident and direct feeling that I love so much to the EP that- to me at least, comes through the strongest on ‘TOUGH2DANCE (co. Ghostsinlove)’. Is this a welcome interpretation and/or intentional in any way? I'd say I notice a degree of directness in most of your work that I've seen.

E: It comes from the idea that art is this powerful language capable of taking the people who consume it to places politically and socially they would have never even thought of. Just because the artist said it or did it in their work. If people love what you're doing, if they love watching you express, then they may follow you the rest of the way. Great art makes your politics undeniable.

Em: I connect with that completely, I think in a much deeper way than I anticipated. So, your songs can be as eclectic as a Tyler, the Creator beat, while also at times capturing the raw, melancholic feeling evoked in an artist like Jane Remover's work. what are some of the biggest influences you draw from in your artistry?

E: I love Tyler, he's one of my muses for sure. I'd have some very different interests if It wasn't for that man. I love Jane Remover too by the way, that’s a genius and trans-sibling. My biggest influences though are definitely the Amy Winehouses, the Jamiroquais, the Sades, the Tylers, the Pharrells, the Stevies. People like that. I almost hate the question because there are too many to choose from. I'm a Jazz geek, I have loads of Jazz magazines. I'm super into Funkadelics and George Clinton. I'm In a weird ass Radiohead and Rob Zombie phase right now. I just love music. 

Em: That’s always been one of my least favorite questions as well is; what are my interests, what artists do I like? And for the same exact reason. But I can absolutely see that, I absolutely adore Amy Winehouse and her career is definitely one of the reasons I was drawn to your ep’s title  ‘Great Art & Undeniable Politics’. Have you heard of Ezra Soares?

E: Of course, had a huge Samba/Brazil phase. Baby Consuelo, João Gilberto, all that shit.

Em: As soon as I read your explanation for the title I thought of her life experiences and the journey that was her musical career. Moving in a different direction though, I understand you are as much a visual creative as you are a musician, with experience and aspirations in video/film, also fashion? Could you go into that a little bit, and how being from the relatively small New England town of Wallingford, CT has shaped your overall creative vision?

E: Yea definitely clothes, definitely film, definitely every medium I can be known for I can and will be known for. I think that growing up here made me stay inside. I've always been kind of a social butterfly, I'd like to think I can be pretty charismatic, but none of that mattered for a long time. I was the weird girl. I was autistic and trans. I could make everyone laugh but I could never find my foot in a clique. The popular kid-  or at the very least the kids that had their own friend groups, were the people who lived close to the center of town. I was on the edge of town in a suburb so for a while the only place I could find people to talk to and things to do was online. I had started producing by making bass music. EDM, dubstep, shit like that. I was really heavily in that community for a few years. Definitely was too young to be in it. Eventually I branched out, came in and out of the closet like 4 times, and finally blossomed as quarantine started to end. Now shits way different. I love Connecticut, I grew up all around this state. Lived in the hood and the suburbs, so I've kind of seen it all. I'm in New Haven a lot right now. Just handed out some fliers and put up some posters for Great Art & Undeniable Politics. Connecting with a lot of local people. This is my home, used to hate it but I'm really blessed to be here.

Em: I’m really glad you've grown to love it there, what're some of your favorite 2000s movies? I know as a trans person that the reality is that everything pre-2015 has a pretty good chance of having a transphobic trope or scene, but simultaneously there is so much great art from that time period that shaped many queer gen-z people's lives. There is truly great old art to be enjoyed in general I guess is my point really.

E: Yea definitely. As far as 2000s movies go I grew up on the Scream franchise. That shit was ill. I also watched a ton of Men in Black. My dads personality always kind of reminded me of Will Smith. The "Before" trilogy is also some of my favorite storytelling in film ever. I’m obsessed with Rom-coms and corny shit. I think that a-lot of those movies I watched as a kid formed my personality. Haven't quite figured out how that comes out in my work, but maybe one day i'll understand it more. 

Em: I grew up on Disney films essentially and also was really sheltered as a kid with some exceptions so I'm like only recently discovering a lot of the really good movies from the 2000s, but I absolutely watched the shit out of Men in Black I loved those movies so much. I wanted to kind of ask about any samples present in the EP? specifically the audio quips at the beginning of ‘I CHOOSE ME’ and then at the end of ‘TOUGH2DANCE’

E: So the EP is fully self produced top to bottom. The audio at the beginning of ‘I CHOOSE ME’ is ripped from a video of Sylvia Rivera giving a speech at a pride rally after she was booed by a crowd of gays. I can't help but feel like a revolutionary after watching a trans woman yell at a population that stabbed her in the back. The audio at the end of TOUGH2DANCE is of Marsha P. Johnson. Another trans woman. The clip kills me everytime. She was such a youthfully honest and unapologetic person. A black trans legend. 

Em: I love that so much I fell in love with ‘I CHOOSE ME’ within the first 15 seconds. and the audio at the end of ‘TOUGH2DANCE’ makes me want to cry every time i hear it n now I think i know why. So another thing i wanted to talk about is Marjorie Taylor Greene. Her and the alt-right pundits who she sources her proposed legislation on, deny their literal incitement of stochastic terrorism by refusing to acknowledge its existence. I think the way in which you approach hard topics in music, backed by embellished, sometimes rather warm or positive instrumentals is really cool and important actually, do you see this as something that 1. you're gonna expand on in future full length albums and 2. exploring in film?

E: Well firstly Marjorie Taylor Greene is the devil. I hope one day she hears me shout her out in ‘TOUGH2DANCE’. I'm glad I did that 'cause it was HILARIOUS. I have no idea what I'm gonna do moving forward in music or film. I hardly think that any artist is really able to predict that. I feel like something on the outside kinda plops the work into the artist's lap, and it's the artist's job to be ready for it when it comes, accept it as it is, and be a proud vessel for it. Couldn’t tell you where it’s going, but it’ll definitely keep going.

Em: As someone who sees themselves primarily as an artist- as do most of the other people I write with who are actively putting out music, I deeply understand that. You actually keep putting things into new perspectives for me that feel similar to what I could never put into words but always felt inside. Do you have any dream collabs with that being said?

E: So many people I met recently that I wanna work with. Local people like Keila Myles, I just met her a couple days ago she's the sweetest soul. I'm obsessed with her album Just Add Water. Khemistry off that is amazing. The people from 202 Collective are ill people. We've had a mutual love for each other's music for a while now but life gets in the way of making something shake. I wanna work with everyone that makes music. Even if nothing comes out I just wanna make art to make art you know?

Em: Oh I totally get where you're coming from. Well, I think that about wraps up my questions today, I’m honestly really excited to put this out. like seriously thank you so much for having this conversation I have so much new music and media to explore and people to learn things from and about. Best interview  I've done so far thank you.

E: Of course em, this was sweet thank you for having me

Em: Anytime!

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Written By Em Bishoff: