As part of this year’s SummerWorks performance-arts festival, the effervescent Toronto singer and adventure-chooser Maylee Todd will mount a kaleidoscopic dreamscape on the ceiling of the Great Hall, set to a synthesized version of her music. We spoke to her between her rehearsal sessions.
In a nutshell, can you describe what you’ll be doing with your Musical Planetarium?
Basically, when you walk in you’ll find a nice space on the ground and lie down on a mat and just watch the ceiling.
I’m taking old songs from Choose Your Own Adventure and Escapology and some songs that haven’t been released yet and putting them through something called a Tenori-on and playing some stuff on harp.
And what is happening visually?
I’ll be on small stage at the middle of the room. Filmmaker Tess Girard will be on the main stage, where she’ll mix her prerecorded projections with a live feed from my stage, where I’ll have a couple of little cameras set up.
But you’re so watchable. That’s your thing, isn’t it?
You can watch me if you like. We’ll also have four singers on the balcony.
Nice. Angels heard on the high. This piece is for the SummerWorks performance arts festival, but you’ve dabbled in this kind of thing before, haven’t you?
I have an electronic-pop project called Maloo, and we’ve been working on 3D projections for the last year. So, this isn’t totally new to me. I just didn’t have the budget before. Now it’s a fully realized show, with more people involved.
I spoke with the singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman about his one-man show The God That Comes. He was impressed with the organizational skills that theatre people bring to the table.
I concur. It’s great working with director Steven McCarthy and SummerWorks. He has great contacts, and his organizational skills are excellent. His vision is good. His collaboration is easy. It’s a pretty tech-heavy show, and I’ve been amazed with all the people involved. I’m used to managing everything myself.
Who inspires you in terms of a musician pushing the envelope on stage?
I’ve always been impressed with the how Bjork makes music and how she presents it. I saw her recently live. But, then, I’m kind of in awe of her anyhow. She could sit on stage and slice watermelons and I’d be impressed.
With all the technological innovations today, it would seem the possibilities are endless for artists like Bjork or yourself. In your case, with the Musical Planetarium, the sky is literally the limit, wouldn’t you say?
[Laughs.] Yes, absolutely. We can really push it now. And there is so much more to explore.