Ask any musician about the hardship of a band breakup, and they’ll tell you it can, at times, be a long and painful process.
But for others, the need to play music supersedes everything else, and they find their way back sooner rather than later. The latter is certainly true for Allison Martin, the frontwoman for My Dead Ego, a new Salt Lake City band with an EP coming out this week and a full-length album on the way.
Martin was the keyboardist for one of the revitalized versions of Cavedoll, this time as a six-piece group riding high after the release of the 2008 album No Vertigo. Shortly after their performance at 2009’s South By Southwest festival, the band suffered some personal disagreements and departures, which subsequently caused the group to fracture.
“The breakup was hard, but I think sometimes people just go different directions musically, and that is OK,” Martin says. “I think I was probably a bit scared at the idea of breaking away on my own. It really made me work harder to develop a confidence I didn’t possess before.”
Rather than wallow in the breakup’s aftermath, Martin proceeded to write new instrumental material on her own. And she helped out with the soundtrack to Present Tense: A Post 337 Project. But it wasn’t until she recorded a demo for the song “Dancing Machine” that the idea of starting her own band came to mind.
“At the time, I was looking to give the first vocal song I had written away because I didn’t think I could sing,” Martin says. “The idea of being a frontperson was the last thing on my mind.”
The name My Dead Ego came from the initial planning with former Cavedoll bassist Janet Marie Chotia; the term originates from the Buddhist idea that to kill your ego is to embrace humility and detach yourself from unnecessary desires. Chotia never officially joined the band, but instead became a stylist for Martin’s performances.
After recording some demo tracks and getting a setlist together, Martin hooked up with artist and musician Patrick Munger to play select shows under the My Dead Ego name as an electronic duo. The reactions were positive, which pushed Martin to record her new tunes.
Around the same time, Martin re-joined a briefly reunited Cavedoll, recording “Dancing Machine” at that band’s Kitefishing Studio for Cavedoll’s final album. Shortly after Cavedoll retired for good, Martin joined up with The Last Look as a keyboardist, playing gigs and recording material with them while she polished off a couple of songs to complete her own EP. When Martin started looking for a backup band for live performances, she needed look no further than her current group.
The My Dead Ego EP, Fairytales of Industry, shows great promise for the upcoming full-length album. Aside from the aforementioned “Dancing Machine,” it features two new tracks showcasing Martin’s talent for composition and style. The electronica pops off her keyboard like tiny fireworks, each track laced with its own shades of happiness or drama. Even at the lowest moments lyrically, you can’t help but want to dance. The vocals are reminiscent of the club sounds of the late ’90s, with Martin delivering them with excitement and passion.
“I just really feel lucky to be doing what I am doing,” Martin says. “I just wanna make people happy, dance and feel.”
MY DEAD EGO
Utah Arts Festival
400 S. 200 East
Sunday, June 26, 3:45 p.m.
$10 adults, kids 12 and under free