Coming out of Brixton, Marvin (formerly Marvin The Martian), first came to light whilst working in the rap crew Why Lout? Their producer, Jack Nimble twisted the Art Brut track ‘Emily Kane’ into the now infamous ‘Stay Off The Kane’ featuring Marvin’s vocals and popped it onto their mixtape, unwittingly creating the first grime vs. indie crossover.
Art Brut loved it so much, they invited Why Lout? to open for them at Koko, next thing its coming out of all the Club NME soundsystems and 6Music were playing it…
Fast forward to 2006 and a sample taken from the then unsigned band, Goodbooks from their track ‘Walk With Me’ lead onto the release of the ‘Hoods & Badges’ EP via Universal Digital. The EP also featured Stay Off The Kane and Marvin, now operating as a solo artist was invited as a guest to the 2006 Camden Crawl. It was about a week after that, when Marvin opened the NME that he ran across a piece on a new genre called Grindie which cited him as a pioneer.
It’s a tag that stuck – no wonder when you have Steve Lamacq, John Kennedy & Bobby Friction playing the lead track from the EP ‘I Don’t Go’. Later that summer, Marvin opened the vocals on the Akira The Don single and underground smash ‘Boom (Smash Stuff)’ that used the Elastica riff made famous by Trigger Happy TV.
Then came three trips around the UK, first supporting the recent Mobo winner Akala, then with iForward Russia! label mates Yes Boss and finally with the Goldie Lookin Chain. The live set was tightened and included the Jack onstage with DJ Tego on the decks. It’s an arresting sight, the high energy show lead by Marvin, aided and abetted by the 6’5” presence of his co-conspirators. ‘I Hate My Job’ was released to coincide with his acclaimed appearance at In The City and the year culminated with a show at ULU.
Marvin was again invited to perform at both nights of the 2007 Camden Crawl (having appeared as a guest the previous year) performing to rapturous audiences at The Purple Turtle and KoKo. Inevitably the record contract came in with newly formed Universal label, NoCarbon Records.
The initial plan was to move quickly with Marvin’s innovative version of ‘Guns Of Brixton’ sampling Nouvelle Vague’s lounge-jazz cover and telling the reality tale of gun crime in South London. At last minute, the clearance was denied by Paul Simonon and everyone returned to the drawing board.
Some major good came out of the experience though. Musically, Marvin was looking to move on from the Grindie sound. The recording of ‘Guns’ had lead him & Jack down to Bristol to work with Bob Locke & Andy Jenks. These two were veterans of the Bristol trip-hop scene having worked extensively with Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky, Alpha and Smith & Mighty amongst others.
The grimy sound of London was about to be cross-pollinated with the smokey, dub heavy bass of Bristol. Thrown out too, were all the samples upon which the majority of Marvin’s previous tracks were built. In came a massive selection of 70s synthesisers and in June 2007 the four locked themselves into the studio and started work on completely fresh material.
All the album tracks were lyrically autobiographical. The only rule was that whatever Marvin wrote about had to be from his own experience growing up and existing on council estates in South London. Some topics were dark, as you’d expect from someone who’d been stabbed by racists whilst waiting for a late night bus home.
But others were more comical descriptions of situations that he found himself in. One thing was certain, the bar had been raised both lyrically and musically and by early September 07 they had amassed a set of songs that worked brilliantly well.
The as yet untitled album is planned for release in March 2008. The first single ‘Get By (Be Good)’ is released on 3rd December. The video to the single was shot in Leeds, directed by Paul Morricone. Morricone has worked with many of the current crop of indie bands including The Young Knives, iForward Russia! & The Pigeon Detectives.
So everything is set for the next phase. One thing is sure though, expect nothing but the truth from Marvin. And expect him to continue on his path of consistently innovating within the British hiphop scene. 2008 is when the Martians finally land!!!