Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Artist interview with Travis Szendrei, aka MK Ultra

MY Indie Music Blog is very proud and excited to give to you, my faithful followers and lovers of all things indie, our first ever artist interview.

I was give the opportunity to ask a few questions of Grey, Maine native Travis Szendrei, aka MK Ultra, and to also help spread the word about his new music video for the song Let's Go, from his upcoming album Documentation, which will be available on September 17th from Visionary Management and Substance Co.

Travis Szendrei (MK Ultra) is a multi-instrumentalist who writes and records his material. He recently teamed up with producer Aaron Bagley, Tommy Walter (Abandoned Pools/Eels), and Gavin Lurssen (Grammy Award winning engineer) to work on his album Documentation. Drawing upon his own experiences with prescription drug addiction, MK Ultra has turned his life into an open book and is carving a niche for himself in the music world with his unique blend of catchy, melodic pop/electronica.

For those who don't know you, tell us who MK Ultra is.

MK Ultra is myself, Travis Szendrei. Hi. It’s me creating music on my own then connecting with my co-producer Aaron Bagley. There are no other members in the band. It’s a solo project.

When I play live, I have revolving members. I am doing shows in the US now. I’m doing east coast dates and I have some west coast stuff that I will be announcing soon. Close to the debut album release of, “Documentation” to be released September 17th.

By the way my backing band now is awesome. I am really happy with them.

Why the name MK Ultra?

The reason why I picked the name MK Ultra is because I went through several car accidents. Accidents that nearly killed me in more ways than one. A lot of the lyrics deal with coping with this situation, and the aftermath. 

How would you describe your sound?

I don’t feel like I fit into any genre. Many people have told me that as well and I think that’s a great thing. Big compliment.

I understand that you've recently gone through a lot in your personal life. How has that influenced you as an artist?

I choose to be a complete open book with my music. It was a very tough time for me going through car accidents and being in constant pain. I am still trying to figure it out. All that goes right into the music and lyrics. Not bluntly but it comes from things like that. I’m an emotionally charged artist.

How personal are the lyrics for your song Let's Go?

That is actually the fun song on the record. I didn’t want my first single to be too heavy lyrically. That’s how personnel the record is. A lot of people think it’s very personnel. All I can say is wait till you hear the record (laughs). Let’s Go is light-hearted to me. It’s a song making fun of cliché musician behavior and some personnel experiences. I have seen it a lot. A lot of drug references as I see it slowing talented people down and they go no where. I make fun of the FCC and censorship in Let’s Go. I also touch on leaders being like many “rock stars” just being in it for the wrong reasons. Power, control, money etc.

I like the video for Let's Go. How much fun was filming it?

It was great. My concept was to be a nightmare and I think I pulled it off. Great director and everyone was really loose.

Who do you draw strength/inspiration from?

It’s all my personnel experiences. Songs come to me very quick. It’s never forced. 5 minutes I have a song to record because it’s while I am actually experiencing what I write about.

Who are your musical influences?

I am a fan of many artists but I don’t draw from them. When I was younger I did. That’s how you learn. I guess that’s why I hear that it sounds original so much. Huge fan of music, some of my favorites are Abandoned Pools, Lana Del Rey, and a new artist called Lorde is great. I think they put everything into it.

You have a debut album set to drop this September. What can we expect to hear?

It’s a very moody record musically and lyrically. There is a lot more than just the car accidents and pain in there. There are subjects like control, depression, and wanting to end my life. I’m getting past the depression and thoughts of suicide. This record helped with that. I woke up one day and said I want to live.
Musically, there is a good variety. All songs have an electronic feel but are all structured as arranged songs. I write on acoustic guitar or piano first. I take my songwriting very seriously.

What do you hope to accomplish thru your music?

Well, I was in a really dark place. I felt like an experiment while going to the doctors. I had toxic people in my life and I had to change that. I had some awful reactions to medications and the process was hard and still is. There is no magic formula for chronic back pain. I know I’m not the only one. So, I want to just be real and help people that are going through unfortunate situations. It does get better and for me music is the most powerful voice there is.

I like artists who are accessible to their fans. Let us know how we can connect with you thru social networking sites.

Of Course, my Facebook ( is best and I always reply to messages. The goal for me is not to get women and have sex for a night or be famous. Again, that’s the BS that is in the song Let’s Go. I just hope people appreciate what I do and look at it as honest art.

You're currently on tour, correct? Tell us about the tour so far. What shows do you have left and what are you looking forward to the most.

I am on tour and it feels great. One thing I do take seriously is being a great entertainer. That is what they are paying for. Providence and Albany, I just played and sold a good number of records and met some amazing people.
I am really looking forward to my show in Portland, ME as that is where I grew up and I will know a lot of people there. Some of my best friends will be in attendance. That show will be very special for me personally.

Download Let's Go free on SoundCloud

MK Ultra is currently on tour on the East Coast and will be performing at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn, NY on August 9, then in Portland, ME at The Big Easy on August 10, The Dover Brickhouse on August 17, and Mainly Brews in Waterville, ME on August 24. Then, he'll head back to California to finish off his tour at Cheetahs on September 21 and at The Joint on September 22 for the Artists In Music Awards St Jude Charity & Red Carpet Event to cap off MKU's three month tour.

I'd like to thank Travis Szendrei, aka MK Ultra, for taking time out from his busy schedule to answer these questions for my blog. I hope you've enjoyed getting inside the mind of this incredible talent and I hope I've helped him make a few new fans along the way!

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