Singer-songwriter Carrington MacDuffie first got into music from listening to what her dad, a huge music aficionado, was spinning — Teddy Wilson, Beethoven, Herb Alpert, Hudson River folk, Scottish marches, the Mamas and the Papas, and Arlo Guthrie, among many, many other artists and genres.
Carrington’s spirited, multi-genre music flows freely out of that original influence, and from her boundless sense of adventure and passion for the arts. She grew up in New York City and Westchester County, studied in New England and Baltimore, lived by the beach in Los Angeles for a decade, and now divides her time between Austin and Seattle — when she’s not traveling the globe to visit points afar, learning to pilot a fixed-wing plane, engaging in target practice, or practicing to control a race car while driving at maximum speed.
“The purpose of life is to experience fun and joy. That’s the whole point of being here,” she says. “I see the world as one big art happening, and I love participating in it.”
A multi-disciplinary muse, Carrington is a top voice actor renowned for her lively narration on audiobooks including biographies of Joni Mitchell and Pussy Riot, and video games including “World of Warcraft,” in which she plays a shamanic Scottish dwarf (yes!). A lifelong wordsmith, she is a widely published poet who’s also served as poetry editor for the respected literary journal Square Lake. With one book out, she’s finished a couple of manuscripts that are waiting in the queue for their spotlight. What she loves most, though, is to write songs and to sing.
Carrington’s latest musical venture is the six-song EP Rock Me to Mars (April 2017), which was recorded and produced by Rob Halverson at his Halversonics studio in Austin — where reggae legend Jimmy Cliff recently cut some tracks. Halverson also plays multiple synths, baritone, bass, guitar, hammered dulcimer, and accordion on the EP. It follows up her 2016 release Crush on You, produced by Halverson as well.
Rock Me to Mars continues in the vein of an organic sound Carrington has developed that she likes to call “electronic Americana”. That mingles with other sensibilities including synth-pop, and what some reviewers have called her flair for “alt-cabaret”. “I’m fascinated with electricity, and how it can be manipulated to make sound,” she says. “I like experimenting with unconventional ways of integrating electronic sounds into my music.”
She records and performs on ukulele and electric ukulele, and writes on both uke and keyboard. “I wrote some of the songs on piano, and then moved to the ukulele for the convenience of playing live,” says Carrington. “Whatever I’m feeling when a song emerges from my psyche, once I get into the studio with Rob, and give it what-for on my electric uke — those feelings get transmuted into the music even more expressively.”
The title track “Rock Me to Mars” is a love letter – of sorts – to a guitarist… but keep in mind that Carrington says, “Seems like I’m always falling in love with every musician I’ve ever played with. It just translates for me that romance and making music are practically interchangeable.”
That feeling flows through all six tracks, which include the New Orleans funk-flavored “Better That Way,” and “Because I Couldn’t Have You” and “Come for Me,” which share a lilting retro sound. The subdued but powerful outlier “Lay Down & Let Go” was inspired by the death of a partner — “It’s the sexiest song about suicide you’re likely to hear,” she says. The EP closes out with her version of Michael Nesmith and Brill Building icons Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s “Sweet Young Thing,” a gem from the Monkees’ #1 debut album The Monkees.
That cover is also Carrington’s tip of the hat to the classic songwriting era into which she was born. She grew up on classic AM radio as a young teen, with the Beatles ringing in her ears. Later, as FM became a culture-changing musical platform, she absorbed everything that surrounded and followed in many diverse directions.
Now, with her own music, she wants to go all around the world and play live for people wherever she can. Focus on the song, the intimate power of words, music and voice, and go forth on the adventure.