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"August": the album launch

‘August’ is a collection of songs that were each written in one day, all within one month: August 2021. The songs were arranged for the trio of piano, flute and cello with three vocals, allowing for imagination and innovation to flourish. In the spirit of 1960s Laurel Canyon, these 14 songs were recorded in just 2 days as live performances at the Sorting Room Studio in Dartington, home turf for the musicians and a return to Mae’s place of musical study. Simplicity and authenticity are prioritised over technical “perfection” to capture the vibrancy of these adventurous songs as they emerge from the ether and into the material world. The result is a raw, real, and relatable energy that carries the listener on a journey through many magical worlds.

In collaboration with Black Bird Collective, it would seem appropriate that the launch for the new album would be set at The Great Hall, on Dartington soil, with its potent history of innovation and experimentation. Expect vintage vibes, stunning simplicity, and inspired exploration of organic tones.

Mae Karthauser is a Devon-based songwriter with a rich, acrobatic voice and a style that is distinctive yet impossible to place. Raised in a musical family and one of seven children, she began learning piano, violin and singing as a child. Her debut performance came in 1990 – aged 5 – when dressed as a policeman she sang her solo on the Abbotts Ann village hall stage.

After studying at Dartington and CalArts (USA), in 2009, her band The Midnight Fairground was born, and in collaboration with various circus companies in Europe, she tested the boundaries of the traditional stage; playing whilst harnessed off the edge of BBC Television studios, dangling from the side of an old English fire engine and whilst flying over the French alps in a paraglider, alongside multiple solo tours in France and across Europe.

The year 2020 brought a powerful shift to reality, and as the world plunged into lockdowns, new songs with a new feel were emerging. This time and space allowed Mae to re-invent her sound: a move back to her roots, focusing once again on melody, simplicity and fragile honesty.

With a desire to delve deeper into other melody instruments, she recruited flautist Ronja Schlumberger and cellist Ben Roberts to complement these latest songs. Together, this trio have explored the edges of their instruments and expanded their sound palettes in order to bring life to the new material. A broad range of soundscapes and atmospheres conjure an explosive spectrum of qualities made purely with voice and acoustic instrumentation.

Inspired by the likes of Albin De La Simone, Agnes Obel, Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake (and somehow rather unlike any of them), these new songs dance childlike through tender, magical and dark terrain.

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The Midnight Fairground collective originally formed at Dartington College of Arts for Dartington Festival 2009 out of the ashes of California-based band "The Good Unit". Based in Totnes, Devon, The Midnight Fairground has taken a multitude of guises, from its original ten-piece acoustic band to four piece, trio, duo and more recent solo performances. This site is currently archived. Info on previous live shows available via contact form.

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