Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with JUNO’s 2022 “Vocal Jazz Album of The Year” winner Caity Gyorgy. Together we discussed the influence of Ella Fitzgerald, winning JUNO’s 200 “Vocal Jazz Album Of The Year”, their influences, their transcription account “liftaday”, and so much more!

1. Mustard would like to thank you for joining them! How are you?

Thank you so much for interviewing me. I’m doing really well, thank you!

2. Ella Fitzgerald was your catalyst to pursue jazz, particularly Blue Skies from her album Get Happy! Did this experience shape or altar your experience with other genres of music?

The reason why that particular recording was so influential was because it contains an incredible improvised solo from Ella and the moment I heard it I was so blown away and taken aback by her improvising. I instantly knew that I wanted to be able to do the same thing. Essentially, I fell in love with the genre and started dedicating my time to learning the repertoire, the history, and the recordings. I would say this experience made me realize that I didn’t want to professionally sing other genres anymore- I found what I loved and what spoke to me and I haven’t looked back.

3. Could you share more about your time on Jazzology? How can artists use music education as a tool to enrich their career? Is there a particular lesson or advice that has stuck with you?

Jazzology is a fantastic program run by Toronto radio station 91.1 JazzFM where select students from the Jazz programs across the Greater Toronto Area are asked to prepare a playlist of their favourite music and partake in an interview about their schooling, career goals, and favourite music. It was so wonderful to be a part of the program – it gave me experience putting together a radio show playlist, and experience with on air interviews which has proven to be extremely valuable as I’ve gone on to guest host radio shows and given many on air interviews since. The show talked about music education and although there are some who are critics of it at the post-secondary level – I find it very difficult to argue with the fact that post secondary music education is so incredibly important for young musicians who are in the process of building their career and their support systems because it gives these students a chance to meet other like minded musicians – people that they’ll likely make music with for years to come. Many of the people I play with today are people I met in college. 

I was also fortunate to attend a fantastic music program in Calgary where I had over 10.5 hours of choir rehearsals every week. I also had classical theory classes and professional development in the arts classes. I don’t think I would have gone to music school for university if I hadn’t received such a strong music education at my high school.

One particular lesson that I have learned during my many years of music school is to show up on time or even better – show up early. How you present yourself when you’re going to class is going to show other musicians how you might present yourself when you’re going to a gig. If you’re showing up late, or handing in assignments late, that doesn’t give a very good reflection of your work ethic. If music is really what you want to do, show up (early), be a team player, put in the work, and present yourself as if you were on a gig. 

4.  Mustard would like to congratulate you on winning the vocal Jazz album of the year at the 2022 JUNO awards. Can you recall the moment you won?

Thank you! To be completely honest with you, I didn’t think that I was going to win so I was completely in shock. I didn’t prepare a speech (because I didn’t think I would win) and only had a limited amount time to thank people when I was up on the podium (I ended up forgetting to thank a few people) so I was definitely overwhelmed and a bit frazzled! When I walked off the stage to go to the media tent I was shaking, I was having problems catching my breath, and I was almost in tears from excitement and happiness! It was so incredibly rewarding to have my music recognized on such a large scale – I just couldn’t believe it happened!

5. In 2019 you released your first single “Two Left Feet” and since then have consistently been releasing music. What advantages are there to releasing a single compared to a full album? 

I have found releasing singles has allowed me to tell the stories of my albums in a more detailed way. The songs I have released are all arranged by me, many of them are written by me, and when I release one at a time, I can give listeners a more in depth experience and insight in to how I create as an artist. I find it very effective to release one at a time so that people can spend some time getting to know certain tunes and understanding their stories. Each single is like a chapter to a book, so when the full album is released it’s like getting to hear the whole story!

6. 2019 also saw the release of your EP “Caity Gyorgy Quartet.” Could you share more about this EP?

This is funny – it was my first experience releasing a project independently. It features one original song and three standards. Truthfully, I had no idea what I was doing when I was releasing the music, but releasing this project allowed me to get familiar with the process of music distribution and promotion. A lot of what I do with my marketing has been learned through trial and error – that EP was definitely more on the “error” side but I’m grateful for the low stakes release because the experience I gained from it was invaluable. 

7.  Who (or what) influences you? How do these influences play a role in your creative process?

I am inspired by many things! When I’m writing, I am mostly inspired by my own relationships and experiences. It’s easy for me to write original music from a first person lens. I’m also inspired by recordings – when I hear really swingin music – both recorded and live – I’m often inspired to go and practice singing and arranging. I’m often the most inspired after listening to hard bop music or swingin piano trio music like OP. When I hear incredible musicians playing/singing at a high level, it makes me want to sing at a high level. When I hear tight horn lines in a hard bop tune, it makes me want to write those kinds of lines into my own music. I’m most often inspired by other musicians and I try to take that inspiration and use it to propel me forward in my own musical journey.

8. Mustard loves liftaday. Could you share more about the inspiration behind this? Is there a song you get asked to transcribe the most?

I’m so glad you like that account! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and transcribe – I’m very busy with gigging, writing, and responding to SO many emails haha! I’m hoping I’ll have time to transcribe again soon. The inspiration behind the account was that I had never really transcribed anything and I wanted to get better at transcribing so I challenged myself in May of 2018 to transcribe a song a day for the month of May. It was a fantastic experience and it has helped me so much as a musician. My ears are stronger, I have more language, my technical facility on my instrument has improved – it’s truly my favourite way to practice. 

The song I get asked to do the most is probably Giant Steps – but my intention with the account is not to pander to the commenters – the account has been and will always be a place for me to post my practicing. I love Coltrane’s Giant Steps record, it was one of the first CDs I bought when I was getting into this music. I love listening to Trane but I don’t personally want to sound like Trane. I want to sound like Bird and Stitt, so that’s who I like to transcribe. I transcribe the players that I want to sound like.

9. 2021 was a busy year. You released your debut album “No Bounds” and “Now Pronouncing: Caity Gyorgy.” Mustard knows sometimes artists write songs and determine how to place them afterwards. Could you detail your process? How did you decide what went on each?

No Bounds is actually the result of not having enough time to rehearse the band for Now Pronouncing. Both were recorded at my college in Toronto as part of the capstone recording project where each graduating student was given four 5 hour recording sessions in our school studio to create an EP to submit at the end of the year. However, students didn’t find out when our recording dates were until the start of school in September. I had plans to record Now Pronouncing with my 10tet but my first recording session was the second week of school and I only had a week and a half to prepare for it. I knew it would be impossible to properly rehearse the band in that short amount of time – so I improvised! I asked Jocelyn Gould, Thomas Hainbuch and Jacob Wutzke if they would be able to make the recording date and time (thankfully all were able to). We had a 45 minute rehearsal as a group and then I had an hour long rehearsal with just Thomas and Jocelyn and an hour long rehearsal with just Jacob. We prepared a few of my originals (A Certain Someone, Postage Due, Undefined) and I had a mini arrangement of I Can’t Get Started and then I essentially called tunes in the session. Bye Bye Blackbird was recorded because we had 20 minutes of extra time left at the end so we decided to track another tune!

I always knew the music for Now Pronouncing would be meant for Now Pronouncing – all of the songs are personal to me. No Bounds means a lot to me, but some of the material on Now Pronouncing, like 12th Avenue, There By The Door, and The B, are written about very personal things from my life. I also wrote and arranged the music for Now Pronouncing at around the same time. The original music for No Bounds was written later.

10. You’ve performed at festivals such as The Toronto Jazz Festival, The Calgary Jazz Festival, and many others. Is there a commonality between these festivals? Do you have a favorite festival you’ve performed at? For those who have never seen Caity Gyorgy live, what can they expect?

I’ve had the pleasure of performing at many of the Canadian Jazz Festivals over the years, and I’ve always had wonderful experiences at them. There’s a special place in my heart for the Calgary Jazz Festival because it was the first festival I sang in, and Calgary is also my home town! But the Toronto Jazz Festival was also incredibly supportive when I was a college student and gave me a couple of spots in the festival over the years!

When people come to see me live, they can expect crisp arrangements of standards and originals, as well as scatting! Scatting is one of my favourite things to do! You can also guarantee that the music will be swingin at any Caity Gyorgy gig.

11. Mustard has had your latest single “My Cardiologist” on repeat since its release. All these different professions have opened Mustard’s bottle cap. Is the cardiologist and optometrist someone humans visit frequently? Do you need human insurance to see them? Could you share more about what inspired your latest single?

Thank you so much for listening to it! I hope that people don’t have to visit the optometrist or cardiologist frequently haha! As a Canadian who is privileged to have universal health care, I wrote the song not even thinking about insurance or the cost of visiting a specialist. It wasn’t until after I had posted the song on TikTok that I realized that for some, these appointments would cost a lot of money! 

I wrote the song to tell the story of someone who wants so badly to be in love that they keep going to different specialists to see if they have any symptoms of the love bug. The person goes to the optometrist to check their vision because “love is blind”, they go to the podiatrist to check their feet to see if they’re “head over heels”, and they go to the cardiologist to check their heart to see if it’s “skipping beats”, but all of the doctors say they’re showing no symptoms even though they feel that they’re in love!

12. Do you have any upcoming shows or projects?

Yes! I’m all across Canada this summer and fall, all of the dates will be up on my website and social media soon – I’m just waiting for some finalization’s with the booking! I’m also releasing my next album “Featuring” on November 4th! And I’m recording a future album on August 8th!

13. Where can readers listen to your music? Do you have a preferred platform?

My music is available on all streaming platforms! I don’t have a preferred platform, I’m just grateful for the listeners!


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