Whether through literature, music, or images, Mauvay is a storyteller of universal stories about love. Usually accompanied by his musicians, he will be alone on stage for his Montreal premiere as part of M for Montreal. The creator proposes a cinematic experience, mixing music, light, and image. In addition to the songs that made him popular, he will perform live exclusives and a selection of pieces from his next album to be released next year.
PAN M 360: You were born in Ghana and you grew up between the UK and Canada; How did those places shape you as a person, an artist and how did it shape your music?
Mauvey: That’s a really good question, I mean firstly it has really founded my music taste because I was exposed to afrobeat, 90’s R&B, soul music… just being able to experience different kinds of music is really valuable. Also just trying to figure out my place was the most difficult part, because other than Ghana, everywhere I’ve been I’m so different. I went to England being the only black person when I went to Canada just feeling different because you’re English, on top of that you are black. The journey of trying to fit in is why now my music stands out, at a certain point I was tired of trying to fit in and I just went to be me.
PAN M 360: Before writing music, you were writing novels and short stories, how did your creative process evolve from writing literature to music?
Mauvay: For me, they are all stories, whether it’s a novel, a feature film, or a song. The difference is a story that takes three minutes, a novel is longer, I approach the story the same. When you need to get to the top and descend to the end, how far is the distance? I started writing poems and then short stories and then essays, novels… so it was an easy transition to songwriting because I have got the accompaniment of melody which makes telling a story easier. When you have a melody that it’s compelling it makes writing the words easier.
PAN M 360: Music clips are also another way to tell stories, are you involved in some way in the creation of your music videos?
Mauvay: I actually directed the short films that will be released on Friday, I wrote the story, co-directed the film with a company called Amazing Factory based in Vancouver. It’s very much the same thing, being able to tell a visual story is really fun and the most exciting thing to me right now.
PAN M 360: On YouTube I saw you launched “9 days of flower”, an initiative to connect to members of your audiences, can you tell me more about it?
Mauvay: I just wanted to say thank you and celebrate the people who celebrated me. People who helped me, the first single that was released was “9” so it’s nine days of flower. I went to people’s houses, said thank you and give them flowers. My purpose in doing this is to distribute love. One of the easiest ways is to distribute flowers, you get a smile, you get happiness.
PAN M 360: Can you tell me more about the Florist Film Series you created, did the “9 days of flowers” inspire you in any way?
Mauvey: Actually I wrote the Florist Film Series a couple of years ago. The character I created years ago and was the inspiration to go deliver flowers. Inspiration came for me that if in another life if we got paid the same for every job and I could just pick what I wanted to do, I would probably be a delivery man, it’s a really easy way to make people happy. That was my initial thought and I wrote the story of the Florist and I turned it into a film series.
PAN M 360: The character you created, the Florist, seems inspired by silent movies, comedy especially, I feel a bit of a Buster Keaton vibe… a mix of sadness, funny, and uplifting.
Mauvey: I love and I’m very inspired by silent films. This is something that maybe has nothing really to do with the Florist but there is a silent film called The Snowman and it plays every Christmas, it’s like a cartoon but the idea of trying to convey emotions without words, really inspires me, it’s actually more emotional. Of course, you listen to the music but if you are really looking at the images, the stories are quite heartbreaking, trying to explain different avenues of love and it’s quite emotional. I have got a lot of inspiration just in my life in general but there’s a few references to the Neverland world in the films. Other than that truly, all the characters are me in different ways and that’s why I play them, they reflect my real life.
PAN M 360: When we look at your EP covers, we can easily see the color mauve grew on you, going from details to full-on, does it reflect growing confidence in your music or in your personality as an artist?
Mauvey: The color mauve, obviously it’s my name Mauvey. I love all shades of purple and when I found this shade of mauve, it was the hardest for me to define. It’s a bit purple, a bit blue, a bit silver, a bit pink, a bit grey and when you would look at my music, it’s a bit pop, cinematic, hip-hop… that’s kind of why I connected to that color. I made a commitment, whenever I perform, it’s all mauve, I want people to see that color in a store, in nature and they think of me.
PAN M 360: What can you tell us about the music scene in Vancouver?
Mauvey: There is an incredible amount of talent here. It’s a phenomenal place for creation with the mountains, the water, the forest. The scene is very competitive but at the same time, I can say that I found some of my peers and we are working to support each other.
PAN M 360: What about your musicians, are they from here?
Mauvay: If I’m in Europe I will tour with the same band and when I’m here I will play with the same band. When I come to Montreal or even Toronto, I’m actually be playing by myself. With help from my producer we created a cinematic show, it’s just me performing. It’s a bit scarier to be on stage by yourself but I’m really excited to explore that as well. It’s a different type of energy when you are by yourself. I have included unreleased songs, sneak peeks of my album that will be out next year, songs that only play live and may never be recorded. It’s an occasion to showcase the different genres I explore.
Mauvey will play M pour Montréal on Friday, November 19th, from 8 to 11 p.m., with Jaywood and Naya Ali at La SAT.
Photo credit: Bree Ross Laryea