In Conversation With: Marques Martin
Following his recent critically-acclaimed releases Dinner Date and Hailey, New York rapper and producer Marques Martin continues to innovate and thrillingly blend genres on his latest offering “Candy”.
Hi Marques, you've been compared to music heavyweight A$AP Rocky and noted for your blend of genre's, how does it feel to hear this comparison and review of your music, and what can we expect from you in 2020?
To be honest, Complex is the publication that has said that, and for some reason, everyone is taking that as gospel. I don’t sound like A$AP Rocky but if they’re trying to tell me I'm handsome or dress nicely then I’ll take that lol.
You're originally from Maryland and moved to New York to pursue your career within music. If there were any adjustments to NY city life for you, what were they, and what are the differences between the two when it comes to inspiring your production and songwriting?
Coming to New York brought out my true persona. New York ain't a place you come to if you aren’t sure what you wanna do with your life. If you come here not certain of yourself, it's gonna be tough and even if you do know what you wanna do, you gotta be confident enough to make it everyone's business that you make music or you're pursuing something amazing.
In Maryland, there’s so much inspiration and culture there but it can be easy to find yourself unmotivated or maxed out because the state hasn’t fully matured into a music hub yet. But don’t underestimate Maryland - one day we will join the ranks of other major cities. There’s too much talent here for us to go unnoticed.
What are some of the challenges you face when trying to produce music and how do you often switch off your creativity (if you do), to just be Marques?
I think the only challenge I face is that my computer is starting to get old, oh, and working a day job. Since quarantine hit I've grown so much as an artist since I don’t have to work a 9-5 right now, being creative is just apart of who I am. I don't conscientiously think about being creative.
We're in lockdown at the moment, have you been productive and taken up any new hobbies during this time?
Honestly, I've been focused on my music more now than ever. It's surreal because I feel like I’m becoming the artist I always thought I could be. I don’t think anyone will be expecting how drastically I’ve grown. As far as new hobbies, I’ve been getting better at photoshop, making videos and cooking. I didn’t realize I would enjoy eating Brussel Sprouts as much as I do now.
What has been your lockdown routine since we've all been in isolation?
1. Wake up
2. Listen to what I've made the night before
3. Make a beat and try to record on it
4. Check if I got my unemployment check yet.
What is the strangest fan experience you've had?
The last time I came to London I did a show where there was an installation of a visualizer for About 2 Die. There was this guy who was so touched by the song he just started crying. We actually ran into him later and he was talking to me about the song, you could tell he was having a hard time keeping it together. I was like “damn this only my first single.” Seemed like a really nice guy.
In your rise within the music game are there any musicians you have met who you have been inspired by and if you could have a dream collaboration (dead or alive) who would it be with?
Meeting Andre 3000 was insane, and rapping for St. Vincent is one of the highlights of my life. As far as people, I have personal relationships with Denzel from Daytrip, and Kamauu, they're the two people I admire wholeheartedly. It's to the point of where I’m a little distant because I feel like I’m bothering them or wasting their time as I know they have busy ass schedules. Right now my dream collab would be with prime Brian Wilson... Pet Sounds Brian Wilson.
You've had a lot of respect from the media and radio industry where Annie Mac recently commented you're "maybe my favourite new rapper out there", how do you feel about that level of respect in the mainstream when you are new to our ears?
It's only the beginning. The world still doesn’t know what kind of artist I am yet and what I’m about to do. I wouldn’t be talking like this if I really wasn't working on something incredible.
Your new release touches on the realities of life and the issues you've faced, can you tell us a bit about the process of opening up that part of your life to the world for us to hear through your music?
I think no matter where you live you can relate to addiction and how it affects your mental health. That’s what I had in mind when I was writing Candy, but it was a tough song to make.
The first thing I did was produce the beat and write the first verse and hook and sent it to my team. They sent it back saying “this is weak.” I remember I got so fired up because at the time I was going through a lot of dark shit. I'd lost my grandma, I was dumped and I was honestly dealing with some addictions. I know people are usually impressed by my production so when they came at me saying that my lyrics were weak, out of my arrogance I told them that I wanna be one of the best writers out there. Deep down, I really believed I could do it and I still do.
Greg (my manager) and Rob Akins really pushed me to do better. They deserve their credit. I rewrote both verses so many times that by the time we were finally finished with the song we could all tell that I had evolved into a new artist. Candy really matured my writing and production. Since then, I’ve only gotten tougher on myself and more focused on improving every aspect of my game, especially my pen.
What is the first thing you'll do when the lockdown is over?
Make more music and perform.
Interview by Jheanelle Feanny