Mad Violet

Nathaniel Christopher Toast [Peterborough, Ont.] Volume 2 Issue 2

“I’m sorry we’re late,” says Brenley MacEachern of the musical duo Mad Violet. “We were just on the phone with our producer in London, talking about our next album.”

Lisa MacIsaac arrived just in time. “I just rode my bike into here and am a little short on breath.”

Whether they are rushing into their office or performing shows around the globe, Mad Violet is constantly on the move. They recently returned from a 34 show tour of Australia and already have a series of concerts lined up in Europe. “I love the road!” declares Brenley, “We both love it. I’m much happier living out of a suitcase than being home where there’s too much time to think. There’s fewer distractions on the road.”

“We get more stressed about going into the studio than the road,” admits MacIsaac. “When we do a show, each is different from the next. When we leave that stage, we’ve left that particular audience with a sense of who we are. When we record we have one shot to lay down everything and that’s what the world hears and we have to be happy with that.”

The road is a prominent motif for the artists and their music. Most songs from their current and upcoming albums were written on the road;they found their name on a trip to New Mexico. The moniker “Mad Violet” came from a song-writing stint, which landed them at a remote New Mexico campground. Violet was the woman who checked them in and, according to Brenley, was “absolutely mad.”

However, there is no madness or chance in their success. Both Lisa and Brenley come from very musical families – Lisa’s older brother is renowned fiddle player Ashley MacIsaac. “I grew up in a musical family,” says Lisa. “My brother is a full time musician, my brother Henry is a really good piano player, my father is a fiddle player and my mother is just starting to learn [to play the fiddle]. So it’s definitely in the blood.” Lisa grew up on Cape Breton Island and her father was childhood friends with Brenley’s father. “I come from a huge family” says Brenley who describes their musical get togethers as “big kitchen parties” where everyone would dance and sing their lungs out. “My brother and I played guitars when we were young. Nobody on my mom’s side is musically inclined but my mom plays a mean radio!”

Their Atlantic-Canadian roots come through on their debut album Worry the Jury in the concluding, track “Mississhippie,” a short fiddle piece. However, Worry the Jury is not an overly Celtic sounding album. “I think we’re both very aware that there wasn’t going to be a lot of Celtic on this album,” recounts Lisa. “Although there are a lot of great pop and rock bands coming from the East Coast it’s not hard to get pigeon holed as a Celtic band if you come from there, especially with the last name MacIsaac.”

Worry the Jury is an ethereal whirlwind of focused lyrics, sophisticated production and astounding vocals. The opening track, “Light it Up” has a big, robust sound that fills up a room with Lisa and Brenley’s sublime harmonies. “Wake Up” is another song that has that “big” pop sound to it. “ The prominent sound of acoustics melded with tense, fast-paced vocals lends “Take your Things” an ever so slightly folky sound that Ani DiFranco fans might appreciate. They step over into bluegrass with “Left Foot” giving the Be Good Tanyas a run for their money.

Mad Violet will be playing at the Peterborough Festival of Lights on Saturday, July 30.

I am a resident of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada who has blogged here for 20 years. I like to share my thoughts and feelings on my own online space. From 1998 until 2017 I worked as a journalist and I hope to use this website as an archive for all of my stories.