From Singer-Songwriter To Founder of ProducedByAGirl.
Mary Knoblock ©️ 2023
Today We Have The Pleasure To Have This Great and Unique Artist Here On Goathead!
GH: Mary! Great to have you here ! How did you get started in your music career, and what inspired you to become a singer-songwriter?
Mary Knoblock: I started my career in music as an indie artist making really left-field avant-garde instrumental compositions that wound up on about 5 or so really eclectic debut albums. I say debut because all 5 of them were really a set of memories over my life that just cascaded into a set of songs effortlessly over the first two years. My song ‘Robot Gold’ was picked up by an A&R at UMG, and I was brought in through his distribution label for A&R development. I was encouraged to develop my brand and came up with Produced by a Girl that I’ll talk about later here, and the rest is history. Prior to my first album, I had spent my youth and college years involved with studying music a little: piano, flute, classical guitar, and eventually ended up in the Portland Symphonic Girls Choir for a brief time. So throughout my life, I was exposed to more classical music and trained a bit more classically but truly feel I could spend 7 more years studying the piano and classical guitar to build more skills. After I had produced 200 or so instrumental songs, I found I had the desire to return to being a singer/songwriter and started writing a dozen or so songs that really fell into place quite quickly in my sophomore singer/songwriter album: Lovers Fair. It was a moment of: I have stories to tell and they have words and they need to be expressed in a song. It was cathartic, and I’m so glad I had a moment of time to do all the instrumental albums prior.
GH: Could you share some key moments or experiences that have shaped your musical style and sound over the years?
Mary Knoblock: I was exposed to a lot of classical music when I was younger and a lot of Baroque music specifically that influenced my ear I suppose. My father also played the classical guitar daily along with being a luthier and playing the violin and cello, and my mother who played the piano and flute. So I was raised in a very musical home with all types of music being played. That was pretty pivotal. Later in life, I was exposed to electronic music by an old friend who taught me a bit about electronic music production, and that was pretty pivotal. I also had some friends who were in bands in college who always encouraged me to get involved in music more seriously. And I guess the combination of all those shaped my sound. College, I started to learn about the Portland and Seattle ballet & music scene and discovered a lot of super cool indie bands that were more underground that helped form my sound as well. I had a friend who introduced me to Spiritualized that literally changed how my brain heard music after. I think learning the Segovia Scales also helped shape my perception of music too for sure. I mean all these little moments before music was easily accessible online, they were all through friends, family etc. and those moments were pretty special you know? Music was a gift to share.
GH: How do you approach the songwriting process?
Mary Knoblock: I tend to write in the evening with classical music playing. I love listening to my playlist Healers Were Here when I write. Sometimes I’ll wake up with a dream I had and will record it instantly to capture the feeling of the dream and moment in words. For Mustang Runners, I meditated a bit to get into a space of reflection and had topics I knew I wanted to work through. I guess for me songwriting is really a therapeutic process. It’s literally me taking a moment of time that was challenging to express in real life and turning it into this beautiful story that can capture the soul somehow and help me come to terms with the memory. It’s definitely art therapy. Once I have the song written, I’ll play out a melody on the piano with a couple of chords I have in mind, or I’ll improvise and record it to get the structure down. Then I’ll work on the production and vocals, etc. It’s a lot to do, and I probably don’t do all those parts phenomenally, you know? But just the sheer process of working on a song from start to finish is a form of therapy in itself. I’m all about making art from start to finish as a painter from youth, I’m used to really pushing myself through the process, all aspects of it. However, as I get older, I realize the benefits of having a talented colleague work on mixing and mastering or vocal production, which I’m still learning.
GH: Are there any specific themes or emotions that you often draw inspiration from?
Mary Knoblock: I have an absolutely strange ability to dive into the depths of hard themes in life like grief, the plight of the human soul, the moments of time that make our hearts well up with emotion that we can’t quite express in the moment. I kind of ruminate on those feelings and can go back in time and put them in a poem and draw inspiration from them for a song or album. I really like exploring the topics of the human condition; love, compassion, empathy, life and death, survival through hard times, heartbreak, triumph, joy.
GH: Can you tell us about your journey in founding and running ProducedByAGirl?
Mary Knoblock: The journey started a couple of years ago. I can’t believe how time passes. It was the winter before the pandemic. I had started the brand the summer prior to the pandemic. I was thinking of a way to connect with more of my female peers in music and just randomly came up with the name Produced by a Girl that really resonated with me. After that, I started a campaign on socials that drew support and eventually set up a podcast. The PBG Podcast attracted a lot of indies, and we grew from there. We had done a compilation album with my old label, and after that experience, the girls were requesting me to set up a label alongside the movement, platform, and gateway so I did a bunch of networking and met some individuals who helped open doors to distribution. The platform grew naturally with that evolution, and I focused on marketing that had always been really fun for me to do for the brand and artists. I’ve started a diary series for PBG where I share my thoughts as a founder and have found it to be helpful. A lot of things can happen in running a platform, and I’m just trying to enjoy the moment we’re in now with our recent celebrations of the amazing artists who are releasing phenomenal albums and projects.
GH: What motivated you to create this platform?
Mary Knoblock: I was truly motivated to bring other women together in music in a new community that focused on producers, musicians, and indie artists who weren’t connected yet. We saw a lot of platforms for the big labels, and I suppose I just decided, us women indies need a platform too. So I just decided to make a place in the world for PBG. And it’s turned out well. I was definitely motivated to find my community of peers, like I couldn’t for the life of me find female producers anywhere on socials and I was like yes, we need to change that. We need a community for the girls, and the rest was history.
GH: What exciting projects or plans do you have in store for the future?
Mary Knobloch: I’ve just released my debut album Mustang Runners. It’s really special to me. The songs are all unique and capture the return of using my voice again after years of only doing neo-classical electronic compositions. I’m also working on a new album for 2024 I’m pretty excited about. Otherwise, we’ve just had really incredible artists join our sister label Aurally Records and Produced by a Girl Records. I’m also continuing to build our international connections which I really am grateful for as they’ll open doors for more indies in the future worldwide. More on that in 2024!