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Life and Work with Mariel Fechik of Fay Ray

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mariel Fechik.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Sometime circa the fall of 2012, two different bands at the University of Illinois merged to play a house party. They so enjoyed playing together that they decided to merge permanently – thus, Church Booty was born. A year later, I joined the band as a second singer. Our original singer eventually moved on to an amazing solo career (Melvin Knight), and I became the lead singer. Church Booty played basement shows, venues in Champaign-Urbana, recorded an album and played festivals like Summercamp Music Fest. Fast forward to about six years later, and we’re now called Fay Ray and have a slightly different line-up – but the core is the same. We play a mix of funk, soul, R&B, rock, pop, and jazz, and our first release as Fay Ray came out last October, entitled No Love.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It hasn’t always been the smoothest road. I joined the band about a year after it began, and we began to reformat our music to accommodate two singers. We’re a large band, and were even bigger back then (ten people!), so you can imagine what it was like to coordinate ten different schedules, voices, styles, and personalities. As the frontwoman and sole girl in the group, I often struggled with expressing my opinions or feelings. I worried that my thoughts wouldn’t be respected or that my ideas might be silly. And to be clear, nothing the guys did really warranted this fear – but it happened all the same. But as time went on, I became more confident in myself and my ideas, and I’ve been bolstered by the amazing group of people that is my band.

My advice to other women in this field or this genre is to speak your mind! Your voice is important, no matter what that little voice in your head is saying. Another thing is to support one another. I’m so fortunate to have a large group of female musicians as close friends, and I’ve never felt anything but love and support from them. It’s meant the world, and it’s helped me become the musician I am today.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Fay Ray – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Music and writing have always been integral parts of my life, but it wasn’t until joining Fay Ray that I brought those two things together. As we’ve progressed as a band, I’ve gotten more heavily involved in our writing process. I think that as a band, we strive to make music that’s fun and danceable, but that is also engaging and interesting – this is definitely what I hope people take away from our music. We all come from jazz backgrounds in one way or another, and that’s really informed all of our writing styles.

I think I’m most proud of the way we’ve progressed. We started making music in a small college town and were able to move that to Chicago. We have a great community here, and I’m proud of the way we’re presented. I’ve taken on a lot of management responsibilities in recent months, especially in upping our social media presence, and I’m proud of the growth we’ve had there. I hope that our music resonates with others the way it does with me.

Who have you been inspired by?
This is a daunting question. There are so many. If I were to look at my childhood, the easiest to pinpoint would be my grandma. She sang and wrote poetry, and she encouraged me to do to the same all throughout my life. I’m inspired by writers like Margaret Atwood and Louise Gluck, who are beautiful poets and legends in the literary community. I’m inspired by my friend Brianna Albers, who is one of the most amazing writers I know and has pushed me to become a better writer every day since I met her. I’m inspired by my female peers in the music world, like Emily Blue, Fiona Kimble, and Elli Sutter (of Byzmuti) whose music astounds me daily. There are too many more to even count!

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Image Credit:
Sam Fuehring, Alon Stotter, Emily Blue

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