Market Laneis a female vocal trio; this is what can be definitely said about them. They are also a trio of relentless musical explorers, determined not to stay within the line of any set genre. Coming from a jazz background, Lauren Irwin-Ray, Dominique Garrard and Mel O’Neill are keen to use the language of improvisation with intricate poly-rhythmic approach, blending the jazz tradition with folk, blues, roots, world music, creating a signature sound that seems to be contemporary and ancient at the same time, resonating with the human condition.
Their latest venture has them creating a series of videos, called the Train Line Sessions, in which they collaborate with musicians they admire and respect. Their second foray in this series features a true Australian legend, Lisa Young , putting her signature konnakol skills to use in two songs, performed with guitarist Nick Kyritsis and bassist Ben Robertson.
The first song to come out of this collaboration is called Hold on you, and it is making its debut here, much to our delight and pride. Enjoy.
Market Lane: “The concept behind Market Lane is that the voice is the most natural form of human expression”
AustralianJazz.net: How did Market Lane come to be?
Market Lane: The three of us studied the Jazz Performance degree at Monash University. That’s how we met. The concept behind Market Lane is that the voice is the most natural form of human expression. We share a love of improvisation. That’s how we started singing together – doing free improv in uni practice rooms between classes. We also love driving rhythmic pulses, as well as evocative lyricism, so when we formed this group those strengths just naturally started coming out in our music.
AJN: What was the first song you worked on?
ML: The first song we ever worked on was Zah-ee-ah by Lisa Young. Very apt.
AJN: How would you describe your sound?
ML: On the surface, our sound is a mix of friendly folk and pop familiarity, like the melodic lyricism that drives most of our music as well as our inclusion of rich three part vocal harmonies. However, looking deeper into the compositional tools, song forms and varying rhythmic pulses we utilise, you discover how influential and informative our study of jazz in its various forms has been on this group. Our approach to musical challenges, whether it be writing new music, recreating a cover or improvising, is heavily informed by our studies of and exploration into jazz. Our shared appreciation for jazz starts with a love of standards sung by the beautiful Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, to the bebop prowess of Sarah Vaughan, leading us finally to a true shared obsession with modern masters including the likes of Gretchen Parlato and Esperanza Spalding– with both of whom we have collectively had the incredible opportunity to study and perform!
AJN: What are the ‘Train Line Sessions’?
ML: Train Line Sessions is an audio-visual series independently run by Market Lane. In each session, we collaborate with a feature musician and produce two videos. We record an original song from our feature artist and a Market Lane original, arranged in new ways. The title‘Train Line Sessions’ was coined in reference to one of our oldest original tunes, Train Line, which we’ll be releasing as our debut single at the end of the series. Plus, it makes for a great graphic and catchy name!
AJN: How did you choose the guest artists?
ML: Choosing guest artists is always an enjoyable challenge. At the crux of our choice lies the question: what can we bring to their music and what can they bring to ours? Our main wish behind the collaborative video series is to celebrate Australia’s current thriving writers and performers. We’ve chosen performers whose music truly moves us, shapes our own sound and brings something complementary yet alternative to the Market Lane sound platter.
Lisa Young: “I’m extremely honoured to think that anyone in the next generation would be influenced by my work”
AJN: Lisa, how did you get involved with this project?
LISA YOUNG: I was absolutely thrilled to be invited by Market Lane to collaborate with them. I’ve always admired them from afar and any of my dealings with them at Monash, where they were students, were lovely. They were always outstanding students. And not only just outstanding students, but really all have such a great creative vent, and they’re really fun to be with. So a collaboration sort of needs all of those things, really. It needs fun people, great music and then that element of creativity where we can openly process what were doing. So I was just really thrilled to be asked. In my work, I play in two main ensembles so it’s really fun for me to collaborate with new musicians that I don’t have that performance relationship with.
AJN: What is it like to see younger musicians be influenced by your music?
LY: I’m extremely honoured to think that anyone in the next generation would be influenced by my work. It’s not something I’m very conscious of. It’s only recently that I’ve really realised I have a body of work and that there is something to look back on as a developmental process and different things that influence me. But it’s very special to think that Market Lane would be in any way influenced by me, because I’m just sort of busy doing what I’m doing and I don’t think about that very much. I’m really wrapped that they would see me in any way as somebody who could mentor them and I would be always delighted to mentor them, but mainly encourage them, because their skills are fantastic and their ideas are great. They just need encouragement really, and they need to be clever with how they craft their careers, I guess.
AJN: What’s your experience in being part of that Australian canon of original music?
LY: I feel like I’ve been really fortunate in that I’ve been able to record and perform lots of original music – particularly with Coco’s Lunch and my quartet – and I have been fortunate with grant applications to just get all of those recordings over the line. I guess I offer that to the world, that body of work. I feel very lucky, actually, that there are so many incredible artists in Australia, and to be able to have loads of definitive versions of songs that I’ve written, or pieces that I’ve collaborated with Ben, or in whatever way. And also in choral music, trying to write contemporary choral music that has an improvised influence or language influence, highly rhythmic music, which comes from my study of Indian music, but also from the jazz tradition. So I just feel really lucky actually, that I can go: “Oh gee, how did that happen?” Isn’t that awesome, that there is a body of work there that hasn’t just disappeared or only been heard in live performance? And actually I think there’s a big future in videos now, its a very visual world. We should all think about moving into that, having great recordings of the music but also great visuals.