Mae Moore's real life

Supplied photo
Singer-songwriter Mae Moore looks back on her career with Collected Works 1989-1999 Supplied photo

Mae Moore is watching her cat on the deck of her cabin in British Columbia. Around her are the sights of solitude: mountains, trees and open space. It’s the perfect environment for a singer-songwriter — far away from the complications of the music industry.

Moore, best known for her top 10 hits “Bohemia” and “Genuine,” recently released her greatest hits, Collected Works 1989-1999. Her distinctive and ethereal folk-pop has earned her a dedicated following, but her ride in the music industry has not been a calm one.

Following the success of her second album, Bohemia, on Sony Music, Moore’s third set, Dragonfly, didn’t live up to sales expectations and she was dropped from the label. Left without a record label and representation, Moore received a fortuitous phone call from a fan. That fan was Jann Arden. The singer-songwriter was starting her own record label and wanted Mae to be her inaugural signing.

“It was really nice to get recognition from Jann,” says Moore by phone, “especially a songwriter of Jann’s caliber. When Jann called me, it was a really emotional time for me.”

Mae Moore, her self-titled 1999 release, was recorded in five days, with studio time financed by Arden’s MasterCard. It was a hectic way to make a record. “It’s not my preferred method of making a record,” she concurs. “It’s extremely stressful, because first of all you have to be in top form. I did have a cold during one of the days. I like to go back and revisit songs,” notes Moore.

Once her album was released on Arden’s Big Hip Records, Sony phoned Mae and expressed interest in releasing a greatest hits album. The irony is not lost on Moore.

“Well, there’s no weirder business than the music business,” she laughs. “There still are a lot of people at Sony that support my music, and the people that didn’t want me are gone. It was nice to get the phone call from Sony. I guess they thought the music was there to warrant this kind of package. I’m really happy with the booklet, and the thought that went into it — especially considering some of the contents were not flattering towards Sony.”

Still, the act of releasing music is rife with politics. “As with everything!” she responds with a laugh. “Politics really gets in the way. It’s sad. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be Sarah McLachlan. I’m sure she’s surrounded by wonderful people, but there must be some who try to hang their hat on her success.”

Moore is no longer part of Big Hip records, and, once again, she finds herself looking for a label. She says her new passion is jazz, and the record she’s now finishing reflects that.

“I think I’m just beginning to explore,” she says. “I think I’m more relaxed now than I used to be. Collected Works closes a certain chapter of my career, but it certainly doesn’t finish it. I want to be making music for a long time to come.”

Robert J. Ballantyne is Artsculture‘s Creative Director. Previously, he was a journalist at the CBC on a number of news programs including the fifth estate, Marketplace and The National. He also worked as a staff writer at the Toronto Star and other media outlets. In addition to leading the Artsculture Collective, he built and designed Artsculture‘s website. He is available for freelance web development and graphic design at Artsculture Creative.

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