PHOTO CREDIT: Vanessa Heins

For Esme


IT is good to catch up…


 PHOTO CREDIT: Laura-Lynn Petrick

with For Esme’s lead Mar Meredith and see what is cooking right now. She talks to me about the brilliant track, Modern Love, and filming its incredible video; what comes next and when music came into her life – she recommends a rising artist we should get behind and investigate.

I discover whether there are tour dates coming up and which three albums are most important to the band’s lead; whether she gets much time to chill and, given the chance, which artist she would support on tour – she ends the interview by selecting a great song.


Hi, For Esme. How are you? How has your week been?

Hello, Sam! My week has been great, though quite hectic. I’m battling the fall cold that many people seem to have in Toronto right now and it’s been wearing me down.

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

Sure. I’m Mar Meredith and I’m the frontwoman/creative director of For Esmé, which I am currently performing with four wonderful humans: Charles Tilden, Karrie Douglas; Lewis Parker and Liam Cole. For Esmé is an unabashedly feminist exploration of self-love and the courage of conviction in uncertain times. 

Modern Love is your latest single. What is the story behind the song?

The song emerged when I got engaged to my now-husband and I was uncomfortable with the reaction that I felt I was getting for that - as if I had accomplished the ultimate goal that a woman can, in securing a husband. I was frustrated by it but also interested in interrogating my frustration. When I did so, I had to face the uncomfortable truth that my younger self often HAD defined herself somewhat by her relationships to and ability to attract men. I felt a surge of gratitude for having outgrown that and seeing myself as complete, independent of anyone else. 

I believe Joan Didion’s 1961 essay, On Self Respect, played a role. When did you come across that work and how does it feed into the song?

I seem to remember first reading it in the first apartment I ever had to myself. I remember scrawling “Character - the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life - is the source from which self-respect springs” on a Post-it note and sticking it right on the front face of my desktop. It stayed there for years until I switched over to a laptop full-time. It felt really important to remember that.

I revisited the essay when I was writing this record and found even more to love in it than I had any of the times I’d read it before. The essay always helps me get back on track with listening to myself and I wanted to create my own piece of art that would work in the same way, perhaps more accessibly.

The video is really imaginative and memorable! Was it a great video to work on?!

Thank you! It was a real pleasure to work on. Director Nick Tiringer approached me wanting to make a video for this song and, when he pitched this concept, it was PERFECT. I had always envisioned the song as something you needed to say to yourself in the mirror and I had gone as far as thinking about that viral YouTube girl from a few years ago, Jessica’s Daily Affirmations – so, when Nick came at me with this concept if felt like he’d read my mind! Watching everyone select their different mirror routines and interpret the lyrics individually was really special for me. I love each cast member’s performance so much.

Might we see more material next year? What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on new music (I was really fortunate to get to spend a few weeks of the summer in a cabin in the woods working on new songs) but I have to be honest that I work pretty slowly! I have a lot of songs on the go but I am still sorting out what is going to come next, conceptually. In the meantime, I have some more videos for Righteous Woman in the works that I am excited to share. 


PHOTO CREDIT: Vanessa Heins

Do you recall when music came into your life? Was there a moment you knew it was the career for you?

I’ve always loved music deeply for as long as I can remember. I have a quit vivid memory of being a kid and seeing an a capella choir perform and feeling my arm erupt in goosebumps. That was so powerful - I wanted to be able to create that level of emotional communication myself. I first started writing my own music when I was working at a summer camp in high-school but I was always singing, dancing and performing from as early as I could talk and walk. 

What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?

I think what I am most excited about are our upcoming tour dates. Every time we perform these songs they develop deeper and different meanings - and it has been really exciting to share that with different audiences over the past four months. So, I hope to unlock a new level of energy and sync for the show. Also, per your earlier question, I’m really keen to get further on my new songs and get them closer to being ready to record.


 PHOTO CREDIT: Laura-Lynn Petrick 

Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?

Hmm; this is tricky because I’ve had a lot of really special experiences working in music. I think the ultimate euphoria and the one that lasts the longest though is the moment of gratification when writing a song that really feels so right and pours out so quickly. A recent example was in writing For Others. It just poured out of me and I just knew it was right. Honestly; that’s the best feeling in the world.

Another really fulfilling memory was creating our music video for Small Talk because I got to work with a team of people I admire so much - and to work in a medium that is really exciting for me (dance). The final product was something I am so proud of. These aren’t exciting examples, haha, but the highs from playing a big festival or having a great piece of press don’t last as long or mean as much as the more personal milestones. 

Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)? 

Ooo; this is hard! I feel like my answer to a question like this differs based on mood and season and moment…but here goes:

Knives Don’t Have Your Back - Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton

This is probably the record that has the longest term and biggest impact on me. It makes me feel so deeply and really takes me to an introspective place. The heartbreaking vulnerability and remarkable honesty in it is really profound. 

Cloak and Cipher - Land of Talk

This was the first L.P. I ever remember buying that I wasn’t already familiar with; when I moved into the first apartment I ever had to myself. It was the soundtrack to a newfound independence and has really stayed with me ever since. I love this band. 

Hounds of Love - Kate Bush

I frickin’ love Kate Bush so much. She’s such a creative songwriter and producer and video-maker: she’s really the full package deal. This record is such an adventure from beginning to end. I spent a lot of this summer staring at big summer skies and sunsets and The Big Sky was always in my head. Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) is such an incredible song about empathy. 


 PHOTO CREDIT: @ShootYrShow (Farrel Rafferty) 

If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

Another tough one, because so much of the music I love is so different in style than my own! I’d love to tour with Robyn. She’s such a total bad-ass and she writes the best Pop songs that are also so meaningful. Plus…she gets her audience dancing - which is my favourite!

In terms of rider; I’m really not fussy. It would be pretty wonderful to have some single malt though!

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Listen to your own intuition more than anyone else’s advice! And, second, working on the craft and the art is way more important than networking and social media no matter who tells you differently. 


PHOTO CREDIT: @ShootYrShow (Farrel Rafferty) 

Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?

We’re so excited to be hitting a bunch of cities in Ontario and Quebec this month; Guelph, Windsor; Quebec City, Ottawa; Toronto, Peterborough and Kingston. 

Will you come to the U.K. and play at some point?

Yes. We want to do this so much and are working on some relationships that can help make this happen. We’d love to come to you!


 IN THIS PHOTO: Jeremy Duthcer

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

A wonderful artist named Jeremy Dutcher just won the Polaris Music Prize here in Canada, which is a pretty prestigious award in Canadian music. He makes the most remarkable and beautiful music combining his Wolastoq First Nation roots with his classical training in Opera. It’s really incredible. 

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

My favourite place to unwind is at my cottage. It’s an island on Georgian Bay with no electricity, only outhouses and very little cell reception. There, I’m able to get in touch with myself in a beautiful way, separate from the pushes and pulls of the city and the Internet. I read, canoe; paint and draw, journal; cook and make whole days revolve around sunsets and adventures in nature - it’s my favourite place on Earth and keeps me sane. 

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

A song I’ve been loving lately because the lyrics really strike home is Poem by Toronto band U.S. Girls 


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