In just one morning spent with Maylee Todd the obvious is certain: Baby’s got it all. Fresh with a hot new perm and a slamming new single, Maylee lets out a few dance moves upon arriving for her PRODUCT cover shoot, grinding proof that she is a force to be reckoned with (and kicking up the energy in the room more than a few notches). With about 50 different collaborations up her fantastic futuristic sleeves, as well as an album (Escapology) due for release in mid-spring, Todd is currently taking Toronto by storm and has clearly been captivating the city’s tastemakers for quite some time.
Beloved by both CBC and BBC and with a track record of touring that will make your head spin (Janelle Monae?! Aloe Blacc?! Little Dragon?!) Maylee makes her mark on every continent she visits, all the while blowing up venues in her home town. Represented by Do Right Music, she is a watercolor dreamboat of boogie, bossa, space funk, and soul. Inventive, creative, and diverse are not merely token words used to describe this powerhouse, who credits Jane Fonda and Barbarella as colliding influences. Maylee’s debut album, Aerobics in Space, could somewhat be credited to her VHS collection of recorded, censored, TV playback versions of Barbarella. Her major musical chops, comedic timing, and kickass optimism renders her unstoppable. She is becoming one of Canada’s most interesting and exciting new artists.
Take, for instance, her invitation to join Toronto Royalty Fucked Up on stage at the Great Hall. Long Winter (title of the band’s winter-long curatorial residency) included a smorgasbord of talents including Buck 65 and The Sadies, as well as feature performances by both Maylee Todd and her alter ego, Maloo. Or, consider her original showcase with The Music Gallery, Toronto’s eminent center for creative music. Her solo electronic pop performance featured her wizardry with the Teroni-On – a Yamaha gadget both visually intriguing as it is deliciously sounding (picture an illuminated grid that kind of looks like an iPad that can be manipulated to create tones and rhythms). If you look closely, you can catch Maylee’s imprint all throughout the city, and in its wake a gush of positive energy.
Above all, Maylee demonstrates the pleasure and power provoked by collaborating with others, proving that collectivity can produce beautiful things and enchanting experiences. This is most currently reflected in the video for her single, Baby’s Got It, in which she teamed up with photographer and director Reynard Li to shoot the dreamy video inspired by hazy summer months in Toronto. Both Todd and Li, who met each other while working with Kapisana Philippine Center for Arts and Culture, got together to transform the landscapes of the city into beautiful new worlds full of diverse art objects and tactility. From haunting cheetah puppets with gleaming emerald eyes (constructed by artist Jamie Shannon) to dancers and characters taken right out of Maylee’s life (pirate girl exists!), the music video is a dizzying series of fast cuts that feature the highly creative and expressive community that Maylee thrives within, as well as the multiple expressions of herself. And of course, each beautiful picture shot by Li is complimented by Todd’s rhythm and groove. She tells me that her happiest times remain working with people whom she admires, while at the same time being social, building relationships with the production team, and growing friendships out of these organic spaces.
This year is already jam-packed for Maylee, who will be releasing a music video with Dan Werb à al Woodhands, under the guise of Ark Analog. In the spring, she will be boogie-ing to the release of Escapology (titled in homage to her late grandfather, the celebrated escapologist who was also a firm believer in UFOs.) And yes, it will be released on vinyl.