Marié Digby finds gold mine of melodies in pop hits
In the age of instant fame via the Internet and reality television, Marié Digby is something of a throwback -- even though she's one of the most popular artists on YouTube.
If that seems to be nonsensical, be assured that Digby, who lives in Los Angeles, paid her dues long before she posted performance videos on the Internet. She played at every open-mic night she could find. She played bars and small clubs where music was an afterthought.
"I put years and years of work into this," says Digby, who performs Wednesday at Club Zoo as the opening act for Gavin DeGraw. "I put the legwork in that helped make me a good performer."
Digby -- whose first name is pronounced Mar-ee-ay -- might be exaggerating a bit about how much time she has put in, given that she's only 25 and started performing when she was 19. Then again, six years is a lifetime in the music industry, and she readily admits that she does "feel the pressure to be youthful. When you do pop music, male or female, age does count. It helps to be young."
Given her natural charisma and talent, Digby was bound to find some measure of success, Internet wonder or not. "Unfold," her debut release on Hollywood Records, is, superficially, a singer-songwriter's album. But dig a little deeper, and there's a keen sense of musicality embedded in the songs. The title track, for instance, has an almost Kraftwerk-like synthesizer intro that courses through the remainder of the song.
"I think it stems from my love of all different genres of music," she says of her penchant for diversity. "I listen to everything, from heavy metal to classical to rap, a little bit of country and pop. I love it all."
But even as Digby experiments with sound on "Unfold," her true gift might be as a pop deconstructionist. On her MySpace page and on YouTube, Digby has posted homemade videos of herself performing Rihanna's "Umbrella," "No Air" by Jordin Sparks, and a stunning version of Britney Spears' "Gimme More." All are performed solo, with Digby accompanying herself on either guitar or piano, and all take on a new aspect by way of her performance.
"A lot of the time, there are good melodies buried in there that make for good, acoustic covers," she says. "I think a lot those pop songs are very well written."
Digby admits that she owes much of her success to the "viral video" aspect of her career. And she allows that things have changed so much -- "it's not really surreal, because I haven't had time to think about it," she says, laughing -- she doesn't have the time to keep in contact with fans as much as she used to. But in a way, it's better now, because she gets to meet people in person rather than via e-mails.
And better yet, she's at that perfect level of fame where she still can be Marié Digby and not some idea or icon.
"It's not at the point where I can't go and do my normal day-to-day errands," she says. "It's still at the pleasant stage where you go out and it's nice to be recognized."
Opening for: Gavin DeGraw
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Club Zoo, Strip District