Mary and Marina shared a few moments with us as they were preparing to tour
with Sarah McLachlan during the summer of 1995.
How did you decide on the band's name?
Marina: We spent the better part of a summer working out our sound, and we decided
if we didn't pick a time by which to play live club dates it might never happen. We picked the month of October, and as October neared, we thought,
'Oh my God, we had better come up with a name.' All kinds of names were
thrown about, all of which were more pretentious than the next. Finally,
we all looked at Emil and said, 'Well what do you think?'
As he is a very organized guy, he had kept all the information about the
band, all the lyrics, all the lead sheets, all the gig information in a
folder, and on the folder it simply said, 'October Project.' When we thought
about it more, there was even a poetic significance to October in the Northeast
being a very beautiful, transformational month with the turning of the seasons.
The irony, of course, is that we didn't play out until November (laughs).
But we kept the name.
The band really has a unique sound. How would you describe it to someone
who had never heard October Project?
Mary: Well, it's very textured. We certainly rely quite heavily on complex harmonies.
Marina: There aren't a lot of contemporary groups out there with our sound right
now, so you have to search far and wide for parallels. I think we have the
same kind of musical adventurism that the early Jefferson Airplane had.
They would do a ballad like "Lather" and then do a rocker like "Somebody
to Love." We have a whole array of musical styles and textures, and Mary's voice is as big and round and compelling as Grace
Slick's was in the early
days, so I think that comparison holds up pretty well.
Mary: And their choruses had a lot of harmonies. I think that's
a very satisfying
Would you say that the Airplane sound might have been an influence on you?
Mary: No, actually it was only after we were playing out for a while that some
reviewers came down and began to make that comparison.
Marina: With six people, all with very different musical influences, the sound
that we wound up with is pretty unique. It's very definitely the product
of those six different lives and different musical tastes.
Do any places stand out in your travels than seem especially extraordinary?
Marina: Well, we played on a ferry boat on Lake Champlain, that was interesting...
Oh, I guess Philadelphia, we played an amazing concert on a pier over the
river outside of Philadelphia. It was a festival and we were the headliners.
There were ten thousand people there and it was the biggest audience that we've played to, specifically there to see us. It was a beautiful summer
evening and we went on at about 7:30.
Mary: It was in an outdoor amphitheatre on the river, just beautiful.
What was it like singing out into the open air?
Mary: Oh, I love it. It inspires you, especially on a night like that when the
sun is going down...
Marina: ...a little bit of a breeze, you know...
Mary: Yeah, and my clothes are all blowing back... it's wonderful!
Marina: And also as a keyboardist, a keyboardist rarely gets to play outside. I
grew up in practice rooms while all the other instruments, like the guitar,
could go and sit underneath a tree and practice. So to be able to play outside
on a keyboard is particularly gratifying, fulfilling a lifelong fantasy
To go back to your beginnings, were you approached by Epic records from
the club dates you had done, or did you shop your demos around?
Mary: Well, we had shopped the demo around and basically we were getting a lot
of attention from our live act primarily down at Cafe Sin-E in New York.
The A&R people would come down and bring their boss down and so forth. Epic
had heard our demo and basically didn't court us for very long. They came
down and made up their minds rather quickly.
That must have been really exciting.
Mary: (laughing) Oh, it was nail-biting!
Marina: Oh, yeah.
Mary: It was, it was very exciting.
Marina: You know, we had made a commitment from the beginning also to be a live
band. Rather than working out a really perfect studio tape, we thought what
really matters is that we can recreate our sound live, so that has always
been our focus and I think it's perhaps a greater satisfaction to be live
on a stage before an audience and experience that sort of give and take.
Mary: I think it surprises people that we're able to recreate what
on the album in a live setting.
Marina: Yeah, we've had a few people say, Oh well, lovely album, but we think
they're a studio band. Let's see if
they can do it onstage, and we're like, Hey, wait a minute... There is something about that live feeling...
there's more of a rougher
edge and a wilder energy... it's very hard to capture on tape. And I think
the tape that we have is very polished.
The videos you've done to promote the songs... were you involved in the
creative process on those?
Mary: Hmm... no comment. (laughs softly) Not really, no. You know,
very quickly. They kind of yanked us off the road to do the second one,
and it's mostly I would say the directors vision. They come in with a script
of some sort and a synopsis of what they want to get down and what they
hope to accomplish and then I guess half of it is premeditated and half
of it they just sort of wing it in the process of making the video.
Marina: Although for the "Bury My Lovely" video which we all love, the director
really responded to the lyrical content. If you had to reduce the thematic
essence of the lyric, it's how we are haunted by memories from our past
and how they occasionally bubble to the surface. He had some very specific
memories from his childhood that were sparked when he heard the song, so
he felt a very personal connection to the lyric. I know that Julie and he
actually had a couple of conversations before the video was shot to establish
a story line that was very related to the lyric and that's gratifying when
you have a director that is so interested in serving the song. We're very
proud of the "Bury My Lovely" video.
Did you play professionally in other bands before October Project came together?
Mary: Well, I've been singing for years. Marina and I both sang all through
college. I've been through all different kinds of set-ups: alone and then
with another person and with a band. Then when I was in Europe, I sang with
some different expatriate Americans there. But this is the one that I really
felt committed to.
Marina: Dave and Emil had been playing together in a band for a couple of years
before October Project, although it was more a cover band. Urbano, our percussionist,
is a latin percussionist, and has played with many different African and
Cuban ensembles. And I've played keyboards for most of my life and sung
back-up in various configurations, as well as worked with Emil on a couple
of studio projects. But yeah, this is the biggest situation for all of us
Is there anything that you might be doing if you hadnt gotten so deeply
involved in music?
Marina: I would say music has always been and always will be, for both of us.
What has made your work with the band seem the most worthwhile?
Marina: Oh, live performance.
Mary: I love to perform, more than anything. It's a whole-body experience.
It's the thing that certainly keeps me going and I'm sure it keeps the rest
of the band going on the road when it can be very tough and we don't get
much sleep and so forth. The one thing is that hour on the stage and it
absolutely recharges me, completely, and that's the most gratifying thing.
Would you say there is a common vision that the members of the band share?
Marina: I would say there is a common commitment and that's part of the reason
for our having come this far. We all shared a commitment to this music in
getting it across to as many people as possible. I can only hope that the
people have a chance to hear it because that's all we really can hope for.
Once people hear it they either respond or they don't and for the most
part we've had a great response. Our biggest frustration is when we're simply not heard, when
there's no vehicle for us to be heard. I just hope
that people really get a chance to hear us for themselves.
Any last words for your fans?
Mary: Come see us! And write us letters, we respond.
Marina: Yeah, our mailing list is a real one. We really do get back to people.
Send correspondence to: OProject@aol.com