01 August, 2007

Marv the Marsh Q&A


Marvin the Martian is one of the forerunning artists behind a new indie/rock/rapping genre billed as "grindie". When he's not rapping over samples from contemporary indie hits, Marv's breathing new life into old classics. His original material isn't bad either.

The Pop Register likes to keep track of its pop faves. First blogged a month ago, Marv's been pretty quiet since. So I caught up with him to find out exactly what he's been up to.

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According to your blog you’ve been a little inactive lately. I’m sure this isn’t the case though. You’ve just come back from America. What did you get up to over there?

I'm a person that still believes in the mystique behind your favourite artists and bands. So when I'm doing the mundane day to day stuff that goes with being signed to a major label I don't like to put it out there. It's not that I don't think it's interesting or that my fans won't respond to it, but there's a lot of people putting up blogs saying "Today I was in a meeting with my A&R and we discussed the impact of The Sex Pistols and how they could relate to my position politically" it's too much. I've never had that conversation officially, but you know that sort of thing is just the process. When it comes time to buy my album are you thinking about the music or the fact that I slipped in dog shit outside the Universal building on my way to a meeting about tour support on May 15th? My fans don't want to think about me all the time so I try not to make them. In the time since I signed my album deal though I've been recording non-stop. I'm working on so many things right now, I had planned to do some little gigs around London last month but my Grandmother passed and I had to travel to Philadelphia for her funeral. I met up with a lot of family over there. I wasn't gone for too long but it was a good experience for me. I'm back and recording now though.

You work a lot with indie material: singles by Art Brut, GoodBooks and your new song Guns of Brixton is a take on the old Clash hit. Its unusual for rappers to be so involved on the rock side of the music scene – what’s kept you within this frame?

I've been asked about this a lot, I think I've always come up with different answers. They've all been 100% truthful though. Essentially I think it's being born and raised in London. How can you not pay attention to the music that is so important in this city and you are a part of the city yourself? Art Brut are a band that can sell out The Astoria 3 nights running and not break the top 40 with a single. I love Art Brut. Everything about them. I love GoodBooks, they're album comes out this week I think. Me and Jack actually went up to their studio while they were recording a couple of times and what we heard , was amazing. When I started taking my music seriously in like 2004 I wanted to get out there and experience live music, I wanted to take my performance to the same place Art Brut did and 80s Matchbox did and The Hives did. So when I said "I'm gonna go out there and learn my craft" Nobody was doing it better than those guys. Nobody. Guitar music is still a massive influence on me. I can't wait until I can go on tour with a band and it not be like "Oh they just put a hip-hop/ grime act on because he samples indie" I can't wait for that to be a natural thing. Like Dizzee and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. It's not time for that yet though. Example had a rough time with The Rifles recently, I mean The Rifles the band loved him but he had a few dissenters in the audience that made it tough for him.

Your music is a lot more down to earth, often more light hearted than that of a lot of UK rappers. For instance Dizzee Rascal never loosens his grip on the whole outlaw theme of running from sirens, police breaking into his home with jail always a threat. Whereas your forthcoming single, I Hate my Job sounds great as well as being funny and something we can all relate to – “busting my hump...for minimum wage”, “I don’t want no P45”. Do you think the “fun” element is important?

It's the experience to me. I'm so autobiographical. A lot of the time it's to my detriment. I want to write about things I hear about and see and I don't quite capture the essence of what's going on unless I actually lived it. I was talking about myself being stabbed, left alone and leaving somebody alone on 'I Don't Go' that was all real life, my label embraced that fully, I know that's my best place, writing about the things that make me Marvin. We all know that real life for a Western man isn't all doom and gloom though so yeah songs like 'I Hate My Job' are important in terms of getting across the whole experience. I'm not going to give you half of me because it's convenient. I'm not going to give you half of somebody else because it rhymes. There's too much of that right now, in all music. People want to relate to you through your music. At this point in my life, I would say I'm having fun. So I do a remix of Calvin Harris' 'Acceptable In The 80s' because it's fun. I keep it quite serious when I need to though. Most of my album is quite serious.

You have quite the catalogue of mixtapes, remixes and original material available considering your album isn't due out until September. What can we expect from the debut? Will there be a mix of songs – some with indie samples, some remixes or will it just be original Marv?

I am finishing the demos for my album this week and traveling out to Bristol on Sunday with Jack Nimble who's my producer and co-writer. We're going to Bristol to work with a production team called The Insects who are an absolutely amazing team, they produced for Massive Attack and Goldfrapp and they do a lot of film stuff, they're real music people, they want to give me the backdrop for my life story and I want to give them the words. We're going to live in Bristol for a month and turn our demos into a classic album. There's already so much in the album, I've done ballads, I've done fight music, I've done guitars, pianos, turntables, punk, funk, goth, emo. You can expect the perfect hip-hop based British pop album. I'm not being cocky, I'm confident, I know what I'm capable of and having heard what Jack and The Insects have planned it's really going to be a special record. It's all new original material, it's my life story. My plan is to make it my life story. I've got a few other projects that will surround the album though that I can't really talk about yet. I'm getting my David Bowie on, you'll see some really strange things happening around the album.

What tours have you got planned to promote the new album? Is Marv going to be getting himself around?

We're sorting all that out at the moment. There could be one I'm on in September/ October to support my new single but there's talk of a label tour with all the other No Carbon acts which would be amazing. The Rivers and The Dodgems and The Casuals are great bands. I'm hoping that somewhere down the line I can get back out with Goldie Lookin' Chain who I went on the road with in December. I learned a lot from those guys in terms of professionalism, showmanship and just dealing with tour life generally. I'm pretty sure that once this album's completed I'll be on the road pretty much constantly for 18 months at least. That's what I'm hoping anyway.
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