Off The Record with Marian Hill

Photo by Louis Kwok

Photo by Louis Kwok

Rarely does a music act breakthrough when just anyone with a laptop can be called a musician, not Marian Hill. Samantha and Jeremy (Marian Hill) not only took their passion for music serious but honed in on a sound not heard on radio today. Marian Hill has taken the music world by storm. The success of 'Down' and their debut album ACT ONE has produced a huge fan base for the duo as they keep taking their own sound city to city. Marian Hill come from Philadelphia, PA and while there Samantha and Jeremy met and started to write songs together at a young age. Off The Record USA had a chance to sit down with Marian Hill at LouFest 2017 in St. Louis, MO to talk about their sound and plans for the second record, maybe ACT TWO? Here is our interview with Samantha and Jeremy, Marian Hill. 

OTR: How was the feeling out on stage here at LouFest?

Marian Hill: (S) It was great. Really hot but the crowd was really fun. (J)Huge crowd, really great energy. (S) We haven't been to St. Louis in a long time so it's great to come back. 

OTR: Jeremy you were on stage wearing a jacket and St. Louis is known for it's humidity.

Marian Hill: (J)These days I like wearing a jacket, I've gotten used to sweating anyway, Im going to be hot in a t-shirt and I'm gong to be really hot in a jacket playing a show in this temperature so I like a jacket. I like to look good. 

OTR: With 'Down' being so successful and really blowing up was there any pressure either releasing a new song or album?

Marian Hill: (J) I think thankfully if there is it's been pretty self imposed. Our team and our label have been "this is great, you should make whatever you want". (S) I think it's great because 'Down' was not written with the intention of becoming a hit it just sort of happened. (J) When we wrote, 'Down' we didn't think, "We wrote a hit". So we can't feel like we'll know that next time so it takes the pressure off a little bit because we can't try to write a hit because that is not how it worked. We just have to keep writing songs the we love and we get excited about.

OTR: Listening to ACT ONE we get an urban jazz feel, where does the inspiration for the sound come from because it's not something you hear on the radio a lot these days. 

Marian Hill: (S) It's not easy to categorize, it's undefined. (J) For us the sound literally comes from the first song we wrote together 'Whiskey' which was just a beat I happened to make and it was that vibe and she sang over it in a certain way so we just followed that certain impulse and wrote a song, we discovered a really cool mix of this bluesy very exposed natural vocal and really hard hitting hip hop. (S) It's funny because it merges our sensibilities, a lot of our influences. (J) I grew up on hip hop I love hip hop music, I love Kanye, Timbaland, Pharrell, Boy Wonder all the great hip hop producers and I also love a lot of whats happening with electronic music. Sam just has an amazing voice that can do all these cool textural things that I think the revelation we both had in 'Whiskey' is if we just leave her voice alone and don't over process and let it do it's thing that we can make a very interesting sound that you really don't hear much anywhere. 

OTR: Sam, your voice is something I can't really describe. A lot of other artist get comparisons to other artists but when you sing people instantly know this is Marian Hill. How does it feel to have your own voice where as a lot of what is on the radio sounds similar? 

Marian Hill: (S) Thanks thats a pretty big compliment so thank you. As a vocalist I think it's something that you always want and strive for, to have an immediately identifiable sound. I was lucky when I teamed up with Jeremy because I had gone from working very glossy pop tracks but I knew my voice didn't fit. It sounded interchangeable really. I had always loved blues and jazz but I didn't know what that would mean for me as an artist and I knew when we wrote, 'Whiskey' that it felt right. The more material that we write is just more time for me to explore and play, I feel like I am still learning things about my voice which is funny. I really appreciate that. 

OTR: Whats going on with the next record? With the anticipation from your fans for a new record is it pressure to deliver an amazing record that is up to par (with ACT ONE)? 

Marian Hill: (J) If anything theres a little less pressure this time because ACT ONE was our debut album and to me the first album is like a big milestone and your whole life is building towards that and now theres going to be a third album too. So we have 20 songs we've written so far, weeding them down, working them up, we're excited of playing different ways of rolling the music out and figuring how that all fits together. We've got some stuff coming soon. (S) Keep your eyes and ears peeled. (J) What I said at the Kansas City show is it'll be before the new year. 

Thanks to Jeremy & Samantha of Marian Hill for talking to Off The Record (USA) at LouFest 2017. For the full interview, you can listen to it here at the bottom player. There you can catch a few extra questions and fun details about Marian Hill from their Sax player Steve Davit to their dance skills on stage and more all from LouFest 2017.

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