Paving the way for what is being called Grindie (Grime meets Indie), Marvin the Martian stands at the fore front of modern alternative music. Similarly to acts like the Streets, Bloc Party, Sway, Dizzee Rascal and Lethal B, Marvin the Martian’s genre bending, unconformist approach to his music is refreshing and incredibly clever, as he is able to appease all sections of his diverse fan base. Marvin’s uncompromising lyrics and gripping stories of authentic events in his life make his music all the more appealing.
Hailing from Brixton, Marvin draws on his colourful background and diverse roots to engage with the listeners. His first solo EP Hoods & Badges, which was released over the summer, went on to garner much critical acclaim. Now the talented mc is back with his follow up single ‘I Hate My Job’ and is currently working on his debut album whilst embarking on a gruelling tour schedule. Chocolate magazine caught up with Marvin the Martian to talk touring, inspirations and why he hates his bloody job!
What is the inspiration behind your music?
Marvin: Ummmm. Me! Everything that I do, everything that I see and everything that’s ever happened to me. My life.
What have been your musical influences?
Marvin: Musically I grew up listening to pop stuff like Michael Jackson, a lot of soul music, a lot of reggae music, the music I grew up around. My alien brother David Bowie.
Do you think growing up in such a culturally diverse location such as Brixton has influenced your music?
Marvin: Oh definitely! It’s given me so much more to see, so much more to hear, so much more to experience, as an autobiographical writer it gives me so much more perspective.
The single ‘I Hate My Job’, was that inspired by actual experiences?
Marvin: It was indeed, I was a traffic warden until July this year. The song is about my three least favourite jobs, I’ve been working since I left school and have pretty much always hated my job.
Your lyrics can be very real, very gritty – is it important to you that you tell your story in your music?
Marvin: Yes it is. Definitely. 100%. When I write songs I can only give you my experience, how I saw it and how I felt at that time. I find that people relate to different parts of my songs, but generally I find that people can catch the emotion, the emotion comes from the stories and the only way that emotion can be real is if the story is real.
How would you define your musical style?
Marvin: That’s a good question. How do I define my musical style? I’m not sure, I see it as very musical, which might not make any sense, I try to make the music that best suits the story and emotion that I’m trying to get across. It’s like hip-hop in the fact that I rap, but I work with melodies a lot and I would definitely not categorise myself like that. It’s a hard one, I get asked it a lot and have still not found my conclusive answer.
You have been supporting Akala and Yes Boss on tour and have a pretty busy schedule, how are you dealing with the demands of life on the road?
Marvin: Ummm. Not easily. My routine is constantly being interrupted, breakfast is generally the best meal I have throughout the day and I spend most of my life in hotels that look very, very similar if not completely identical or in a car driving on a motorway staring at road signs. But I’m with good people so I can’t complain.
Do you have any collaborations in the pipe line? Who would you like to work with?
Marvin: There’s loads of people I’d like to work with but they have schedules as busy as mine so it’s hard to find the time. I’m talking to Yes Boss about a collaboration but at the moment it’s still only speaking. There’s a lot of people over here I’d like to work with, Akala of course, I’d like to do something with Sway, I really want to do something official with Art Brut. I’m looking at a few people right now for my next single but I don’t want to spoil anything. It won’t be a rapper, but I’m looking at some people.
BET has recently announced a British Hip Hop category; they seem to be doing more than certain award shows in the UK. What are your feelings on the UK music scene at the moment? Do you think British acts are receiving enough support from labels over here?
Marvin: Ummmm. I think that they are generally. Maybe some of those people don’t deserve it. But there’s a lot of talent out there, there’s a lot of hard working people out there, I want to be optimistic so I’ll say that like everything it’s going to take a bit of time. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
Where do you think you fit in the current urban market? And what sets your sound apart?
Marvin: Is there an urban market? If so I really don’t have a clue. My sound is defined by many things, my voice as an instrument, Jack Nimble’s (Marvin’s producer) MPC as an instrument and in the case of my current single, the live guitar, bass and drums that were used in the recording. I try to be honest, I try to be autobiographical, I try to include a message, I try to connect with people. I don’t think there are a lot of people in the British “Urban” market that are being as honest as me, I don’t think there are many people reaching across genres for inspiration and support as me and I don’t think there are as many people genuinely trying to be themselves as me. That’s not to say there aren’t. But I definitely feel like I’m in my own zone as a performer in this country.
You seem to have a very natural chemistry with producer Jack Nimble; do you think that your friendship has allowed you to expand your creativity?
Marvin: Oh definitely! It’s always helpful when you’re working with somebody you know and understand, because it’s always going to be fun, even when it’s hard work it’s fun, you can get mad, fall out and argue, but at the end of the day you can still sit down and play a computer game or whatever together and it’s like it should be. It also means there’s somebody close enough to you to kick you up the bum when you need it. I think it’s ideal.
So what can we expect from your forthcoming album?
Marvin: ‘Hoods & Badges’ was my E.P, I haven’t got a name for the album yet, but you can expect to learn much more about me, I think especially with it being my first album I feel like letting people really know what I see and go through every day is very important. I wouldn’t expect too many collaborations or outside producers, but I’m not ruling anything out. Expect a lot of soul, a lot of perspective and a lot of honesty.
By: Michelle Adabra
The single ‘I hate my job’ is released on November 5th 2006, available on CD and download.
Marin the Martian’s first solo EP Hoods & Badges was released on 5th June via Universal Digital.
Marvin the Martian will be touring the UK. See http://www.marvthemarsh.co.uk
http://www.myspace.com/marvthemarsh for further details.