The Flagship Blog Post

Hi friends,

Here it is, my flagship blog post! This is a project I’m very excited to launch and something I’ll do my best to keep up with. This year, my first year out of school, I’ve amassed a serious collection of lessons learned, preferences discovered, and goals set from working as a musician. For entertainment, helpful advice, or simply to share a little more of my journey with my online friends, I’m excited to write about those things here. Today, I want to tell you a bit more about myself and what I plan to share.

Gigs

To briefly summarize, I spend a lot of time playing or playing and singing a mix of genres at private events, which I really enjoy. I’ve heard some stereotypes floating around about musicians who play at events, suggesting that the quality of the music is somehow lesser than in a concert setting, which is definitely not a consistent truth. For me and many of my colleagues, the quality of the music is the top priority. That aside, it’s really meaningful to me to be a part of someone’s special occasion, be it a wedding, a party, a baptism, or even a funeral. To bring something beautiful to what may become someone’s most memorable day is an important and serious job, and it’s special to me to provide something unique that I’ve poured years of preparation into.

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The Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, New York, 2019.

Classical Music & Music School

I also enjoy classical work; in music school, I spent so much time working on orchestral and chamber music that, as someone not currently seeking an orchestra job who enjoys some genre exploration with my traditionally classical instrument, it’s nostalgic and fun to play classical gigs and continue to study classical repertoire. Not to mention, it’s good for my chops. I feel a deep connection to classical music, due to both 6 years of immersion in music school, and also growing up in a household of musicians with both parents in a professional orchestra. My studies in theory class and private lessons in college inform everything I do. The high standards of my teachers keep musical integrity and accuracy on my mind at all times, and the intricacies and detailed nature of the symphonies, song cycles, string quartets, etc. that I studied in Music Theory motivate complexity in the music I write. Fascinatingly, my professors are the musicians they were teaching us to be. Professional music elite, I’ll never forget the high standards my teachers hold and the way those standards permeate their entire lives from wardrobe, to posture, to punctuality. Thank you to all my professors forever and endlessly.

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My graduation recital at Yale University, April, 2018.

Astoria Window

Most importantly for me, I love writing music. My band, Astoria Window, is my favorite project to work on and perform. My bandmate, Jon, is a trumpet player I met in school who had recently started playing ukulele, and we sort of accidentally discovered how cool the uke/harp combo can be while we were both practicing on either side of a wall. I’ve always had a slightly foggy vision for the music I want to create that’s grown more and more clear as we’ve experimented. Though many genres resonate with me (lol music nerd joke…resonate…hah), in leisure, I gravitate towards contemporary, electronic, chill-step. Tom Misch, FKJ, Oh Wonder, Hayden James, James Blake, Joe Hertz, Bondax, Exmag, Majestic Casual, The Sound You Need, I could go on and on. While I’ve kept this general genre area in mind, I was never exactly sure of the best way to utilize my giant instrument and its long list of capabilities. We’ve collaborated with guitarists, bassists, producers, and with every collaboration, we've added a good idea or vetoed a bad one. Finally, we’ve started working with Ableton Live and adjusted our setup to really feature harp, ukulele, and electronics. I want to create textures you can float on, melodies you’ll remember but won’t get bored of, and feelings that bring clarity, change, and action. Maybe that’s a vague goal, but with every new song, I finally feel closer to achieving it. If nothing else, I’m so excited to present a more acoustic and classically informed take on the music I love most.

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7/7/19 at The Knitting Factory, Brooklyn

Last weekend we played a show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, and the crowd was silent. Literally, in a bar, no one was making a sound while we were playing. Though slightly awkward for me on stage, I later received so many accolades and descriptions including the words “mesmerizing,” and “hypnotic,” that I’ve decided the silence was highly complimentary. Thank you to all who came out to that show. Twice during our set, I found myself in a trance-like state, something I’ve achieved a few times in classical concerts only when I’m ridiculously prepared and my nerves have settled. Those moments are moments to live for: when all I can feel is the music pressing against me and whatever I’m singing is just falling out of my mouth, flowing through my body and I’m not thinking about what I’m playing, it’s just happening and I can feel the exchange between me and the audience. I think it’s the most selfless I can feel on stage. Like the stripped down, pure feeling of giving, not presenting myself onstage and demanding the audience’s attention, but truly giving something from inside me that I almost can’t help but share. Alright, everybody take a quick break and grab some wine to pair with that cheesy, cheesy paragraph.

Coastal Living

Now for a little non-musical Margaret Davis trivia. I grew up in Seattle and definitely took its beauty for granted. Now, seeing mountains from downtown, being surrounded by architectural art, and being minutes from epic nature at all times are things I miss constantly. I also value the communal feel of many west-coast cities; from political views, to appreciation for nature, to flannel shirt and Birkenstock enthusiasm, many of my fellow Pacific Northwesterners are aligned in a handful of ways. I moved to New York City when I was 18 to go to Juilliard and fell in love with the city right away. Fond memories of taking the subway all over town, patronizing bars, restaurants, theaters, museums, and concert venues, and making some of my closest friends remain very dear to me. However, it only took a few trips home where the stars can outshine city lights and personal happiness takes precedent over a fast-paced lifestyle for me to really appreciate the West. Both coasts are special to me for unique reasons, but I’m excited for a new adventure - details coming soon.

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Somewhere in the San Juan Islands in Washington State, 2016.

Jazz

In high school, I played harp in the orchestra and the Seattle Youth Symphony, and I also sang in vocal jazz and with the jazz bands at my school. Like classical music, jazz has influenced me greatly. Transcribing solos and improvising has been extremely valuable to me as an instrumentalist, and consuming hours and hours of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and Diana Krall recordings along with attending jazz festivals and concerts has been so motivating to me as a singer. It’s interesting, everyone is different in how they prepare musically, of course, but in jazz, I was always told to listen, listen, listen. Hearing what other people do and being encouraged to emulate them was as important as practicing my own instrument, where, in classical music, my teachers would often tell me not to listen to recordings of pieces I was working on until I had fully learned the piece so as to organically implement my own musical intuitions into my performance before being influenced by another performer. The goals of the two genres are very different, it seems, or maybe the goal itself is just to put on a stellar performance, but what that means in each setting is what differs. Food for thought.

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My first time singing in New York, 2012.

Wrap-up

I’ll close with a note of thanks: I graduated in Spring of 2018, and here we are a year later in this 2019 summer, and I feel grateful. Thank you to all my colleagues and collaborators for keeping me motivated with exciting projects and performances this year. Thank you to all of my clients and agents for hiring and booking me, and thank you to my online friends and supporters for listening, commenting, liking, sharing, and enjoying what I’ve been working on. I’d like this page to be a place where I can share anecdotes, lessons I’ve learned from…let’s say, “unexpected” occurrences at work, thoughts or feelings I’m experiencing as an artist in a time when it almost feels like I need to justify why art is important in America, and a place where anyone should feel free to ask a question, share an opinion, or tell me that my grammar sucks.

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Thank you for being here <3

XO,

Margaret