Interview – Mary Bue – Rock n Roll With a Namaste Twist

mary2By Rebecca Marx, Photo Credit Jason Kokal/JLK Images

To say that Mary Bue is a mover and a shaker is a very literal statement, since the 2015 release of her grunge punk masterpiece Holy Bones, the musician’s career has been speeding along at a heady pace. This spring the Duluth based Bue pulled up stakes, making the move south to Minneapolis. Rift caught up with her to find out just how the transition is coming along.

Hey Mary! How was the move?

MB: Hey Rebecca! Uff-da, it was a doozy! Lots of transition in more ways than I care to mention, least (or most??!) of all the amount of STUFF I own on the material plane! Plus, I have no spatial reasoning so what I thought was one van load from Duluth to Minneapolis ended up being about four trips! But the dream of opening my yoga studio is alive and well and highly motivating.

No kidding! When and where will the yoga studio be opening?

MB:  Yes indeed! It’s called Imbue Yoga in the Corcoran neighborhood of south Minneapolis (near Powderhorn Park, about 6 blocks off the 35th street light rail stop. Same block as Chatterbox Pub). Address is 2223 E 35th Street, Minneapolis.

Grand opening party is June 11th from 3 – 8 pm. There will be a ribbon cutting & toast, music with Brian & Josie Just, Katy Vernon, me, & an electronic/ambient artist named Dirty Knobs. Also free mini classes and raffles for prizes. SO exciting!

For those who are familiar with you as a musician, when and how did yoga come into your life?

MB:  I cite my first “yogic” experience to a different practice altogether: Tai Kwon Do in 7th grade! We would meditate before our sparring and drill sessions and I found myself drawn to the practice of going internal. Yoga translates to “yoke” or “unite” so anytime you engage in going inward, one is practicing yoga. My teacher always said “if you can breathe, you can do yoga.” It’s not just for super Gumby-type people in see-through yoga pants (although some people are really into that). I dabbled in many different styles starting when I was about 15 and eventually found my master teacher when I moved to Seattle in 2008. Her name is Tracy Weber and her studio is Whole Life Yoga in the Greenwood hood of Seattle. The style I am trained in is called Viniyoga or the yoga of T.K.V. Desikachar. It comes down along the line, very true and very close to a huge yoga figure named Krishnamacharya. If anyone out there is familiar with Iyengar, or Ashtanga, Krishnamacharya also was the “inspiration” for those lineages. Viniyoga values adapting postures to fit the individual, rather than forcing a person into a perfect posture. We all have different bodies, flexibility, history of injury, goals & dreams, busy-ness. How can one practice fit all people? It can’t. We emphasize linking breath with movement, stabilizing and strengthening the low back and have a fairly specific way of sequencing that involves flowing, repetition, and longer stretching. I enjoy many types of yoga, but Viniyoga is my home.

Is this your first yoga studio?

MB:  YES! I have taught at numerous studios since I was certified in 2009, as well as homes, corporate offices, parks, pop up classes in venues where I tour, etc. I had been considering opening a studio someday, and this space came into my life rather fast and I couldn’t pass it up. It’s a small space – about 700 square feet so you can only fit about 15 people (even that could be cozy) so I didn’t feel overwhelmed by a huge space. Cozy and intimate. I took over the lease in April and have been renovating – painted it golden yellow, brought in a bunch of plants and installed a bamboo floor. Right now the exterior sign is being painted by custom sign painter Forrest Wozniak – he has painted spots like Icehouse, Fitzgerald Theater, May Day Café. I cannot WAIT to see his finished handiwork!

How do yoga and music mix – are they complimentary or antagonistic in nature?

MB:  I have been contemplating this question since my certification in 2009. For many years I felt this tug of war, between being a touring musician, staying up late, and then wanting a consistent yoga and meditation practice. Ultimately I’ve found that they ARE complimentary, at least for ME. What both being a musician and a yoga practitioner mean to me are things like authenticity, integrity, being true to my self. Also looking inward, reflection, processing.

How do they inform the practice of one another, that of being a yoga practitioner/instructor and a musician?

MB:  On a physical level, practicing yoga while touring and entertaining late nights with possibly a few too many cocktails mean that I can regroup, recharge and check in when I need to rest. I have a lot of energy and almost get manic at times with all my plans and ideas. And being an entrepreneur can be overwhelming. Sitting and meditating for 10 minutes a day does amazing things to calm the monkey mind … and stretching is SO great for those weeks in the car and hauling heavy gear! Also on a physical level, deep breathing is great to strengthen the diaphragm and get those singing muscles strong! I alluded to the songwriting piece – yoga involves checking in, lining up with the moral compass, staying true, reflecting. Music is about putting it all out there, heart on a sleeve for me, so they definitely inform each other!

You recently suffered an injury, has it slowed you down at all?

MB:  Unfortunately a bit, yes. I performed at Dulutsen Festival up at Lutsen Resort and one of the AMAZING perks for playing was a lift ticket and gear rental. I thought it would be a fine time to try snowboarding for the first time! Nope! I broke my shoulder – fractured the tip of my humerus right where the rotator cuff inserts so all things that involve lifting my right arm were out. That meant my arm was immobilized for 6 weeks and it’s still a bit frozen (it happened March 19th). A week later my band was scheduled to record on the “Duluth Does Dylan” compilation and I couldn’t play guitar, only sing. 2 weeks later I got took over the yoga studio and had to hire out people to paint it where I had been wanting to paint it … and I had to teach one handed, of course (which I had been wanting to demonstrate less, so it was okay!). April 3rd the band went to Nashville to record a four song EP. My doc said I could play electric guitar as it wouldn’t involve extending my arm too far forward, thankfully. I also cheated and played a Farfiza and Hammond B3. I wouldn’t recommend it. I also didn’t want to drive as I had to keep my arm immobilized but unfortunately I had to do some driving (some people partied kinda hard, a-hem! It was Nashville and once in a life time, after all!)

On a normal day, do you have a strategy to practice both music and yoga?

MB:  Yes! First thing in the am I make my french press and do a short (10-15 mins) movement/stretching (asana) practice and meditate for 10 minutes. I try to do this every day. Most days I sit with a guitar or the piano, or at least write some words. Last year I played 90+ shows so most days I was either performing or rehearsing solo or with the band for something …

When the stress of life gets overwhelming, which practice is your go to, to de-stress?

MB: Definitely meditation, but sometimes just a simple movement practice – some downward dogs, child’s pose, warrior I. Sometimes doing more amped up things can only increase the overwhelm. I find the opposite true for running though – which can also be yoga/union-like! Running always calms me.

With a new studio, in a new city – what kind of yoga community do you wish to build?

MB: That is s huge, awesome question! I hope to reach out to people who are curious about yoga practice but intimidated by the typical yoga stereotype. I LOVE to teach beginners and every three months I’ll offer a “Yoga for the Absolute Beginner Who Wants to Know What the Fuss is All About” series. I would also like to be inclusive with lots of options to reach people at different places in their lives. From chair yoga, to runner-yoga, to chanting, kundalini, to intense power vinyasa and deep long yin stretches … There is a lot of diversity in my neighborhood and I want Imbue to be a welcoming space for all. I know this sounds pretty broad, but I really want to offer a little something for everyone. I also know group classes aren’t for everyone and so private lessons to develop a personal practice are something I’m proud to offer. I’m going to have yoga classes with live music (get your yoga AND concert fix!) as well as potlucks that benefit different charities/compassionate organizations every month. I’ve already met a bunch of my neighbors and the Corcoran Neighborhood Association is awesome! With my instructors (there are 5 of us right now-including fellow musician Molly Maher), I want us to enjoy each others classes and company and be a cohesive and tight unit. I hope we add something positive and interesting to the neighborhood!

You strike me as a spiritual person, do you think that the universe has a plan for you?

MB:  Ha! I have an existential crisis every winter. Is THIS what I’m meant to be doing with my life? I hope it doesn’t come around this year! I am spiritual, and I might sound pretty woo woo, but I love things like synchronicity and deja vu, and also that rising butterfly excitement that comes around from time to time. I listen to my gut, if it’s sinking or soaring, or growling if I’m hungry … I often over think things, though, and have extremely high expectation for myself. I have had an amazing upbringing and family and fantastic friends. I often think of that quote: “From Those To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected” and I know I have been given this life to give and create and “follow my bliss”. Right now it’s blissful to have a space to practice yoga with other human beings, increase peace, build friendships and hopefully reduce some suffering. I worry that I sometimes go off my path, and know that my actions have impact, and I want to do no harm but in blazing this trail, sometimes I change and not everyone will like it. All I can keep coming around to is my own integrity, my own desire, my own hopes and dreams and at the end of the day I hope I made a positive impact in someone’s life. Whether in feeling better in their own skin, or seeing something differently via a song lyric, or whatever, being a human is a sensory thing – our senses so open to interaction – my universe always leads me into life-changing relationships and interactions. Gonna keep continuing to follow my whims and hope for the best. And if I get angry and bitter, I’ll move on to the next thing!

What might that plan include for 2016 into 2017?

MB:  Wellllll I applied for an Artist Residency about 9 months ago (before the yoga studio came into my life, or the move, or many other changes!) in Taos, New Mexico at the Wurlitzer Foundation and was just awarded a three month residency for late January to late April 2017. There will be many new songs – there is MUCH to process. A chance to escape to create. And I trust that my awesome teachers will take the reigns for the winter 🙂 I also received a grant in January to help fund that aforementioned Nashville EP recording. I will be releasing a 4 song vinyl EP called The Majesty of Beasts sometime this fall with songs as dark as processing my sexual assault of 10 years ago, as psychedelic dreamy as a 9 minute jam out about how beautiful the planet is and how much we are messing it up, as well as the literal “shit I left in Duluth” – like a broken dishwasher, a toaster oven and a bunch of crap taken to goodwill. There is much to do in this life and I’m sure more will pop up! Never a dull moment 🙂 I lie, plenty of dull moments, but I’m being interviewed by you, so running with all the exciting stuff!

Grand Opening:

Listen to Holy Bones:‎

See Mary Bue at Franconia Sculpture Park 6/18: