Regular perusers of this site might remember a few weeks back we featured an excellent video for Rapunzel by London-quartet, Marine. This week the band have returned with a brand new single, Red Fruit.
Describing their music as fable-electric, Marine are a fascinating prospect; musically walking the line between pop, folk and rock, whilst lyrically exploring ancient tales of mythology and the underworld and melding them into personal and emotional musings. Their new single Red Fruit is a fine example of Marine’s work; it has all the creativity of Kiran Leonard, mixed with a smooth 1990’s pop-tinged lead vocal, and the sort of soaring, bewitching backing vocals you’d expect from Warpaint or The Wharves. Marine are a band tricky to pigeon-hole but very easy to enjoy.
The band are currently putting the finishing touches to their upcoming debut album, recorded with the exceptional Rob Ellis. Ahead of that they were kind enough to sit down and answer our questions on topics from the current London music scene through to excellent dance routines, listening to Janet Jackson on the tube and just what the heck fable electric actually is.
FTR: Who/what are Marine?
I guess you might say that we’re a rock band! But with a strong 90’s pop and grunge influence.
FTR: You’ve just put your new single out, what can you tell us about Red Fruit?
Red Fruit was partly about how magnetic trouble is, and partly about having belief in something without proof in a relationship. It traces the outline of the tale of Snow White, but in a kinda half dreamy way. The lyrics hint at a wicked stepmother, and the curiosity towards the red apple. The story resolves (well, kind of!) on the theme of trust and mentions Orpheus and Eurydice. Its a slow number but has a swell to it, I think. There’s some soul influence coming through and also some grunge maybe. But it is a love song through and through.
FTR: You’ve just finished recording your debut album with Rob Ellis (Anna Calvi, PJ Harvey, Cold Specks) – how did that come about? What was it like to work with Rob?
Well, we are nearly finished! How it came about was so fast, it felt a little surreal! We sent some music to him and a few days later he drove all the way to one of our gigs in London. He said he wanted to work together and I just tried really hard to keep my cool! He’s the stuff of legend to me so I was very uncool…I’ve air- drummed to his beats, and listened to records he’s made since I was 15.
I find it hard to describe time in the studio – you experience so many emotions in a single day! But working with Rob felt like having a captain. We had lots of fun but he worked to understand what was important to us and how to make those things shine. And he really rolled up his sleeves in every aspect of each song.
FTR: You’ve described your music as “fable electric”, what does that mean?
Haha good question! We are quite goofy girls and while we like including literature in the songs it’s mostly a fun way to play with language and conjure up vivid images! The word Fable seems like a naïve version of the word Myth and that seems to suit us. Also we found that because of our influences and style of writing we were sometimes given the ‘Folk’ label so ‘Electric’ felt like the simplest way to hint at our loudness!
FTR: Why do you make music?
I guess I love that you can create a whole world, a language that you come up with from your personal experience that an audience can then relate to – it’s really amazing if you manage it. I also love the unspoken understanding between musicians when things are really cooking…
FTR: Who are your musical influences? What were you listening to when you recorded the album?
We enjoy so many types of music! But strangely I don’t listen to music everyday. I like classical, old calypso, a lot of old blues, swing, jazz – I would say my heart is in rock and grunge from the 90’s, and I can’t resist new jack swing and pop. When we were recording I think I was in a trance over Linda Perhacs, and Cat Power. Whilst listening to my staples of Jimi Hendrix, PJ Harvey, Otis Redding and Billie Holiday…
FTR: What about influences outside of music?
Oof plenty! There are days when I’m feeling so damn wistful that a lonely looking pigeon can spark off my sentimental side! Some days its more literal – a book or painting can really plant a seed for a later idea. In particular for the last record, I was influenced by Angela Carter’s ‘Bloody Chamber’, and Italo Calvino ‘Cosmicomics’. I think I generally am inspired by non-musical things…
FTR: You recently did a tour of book shops and comic stores, what was the thinking behind that?
Ummm. We just kinda got carried away about stories which was quite nice! You start noticing patterns within stories, then you realise how many authors/musicians have referenced folklore before, and the next thing you know you’re attending every storytelling circle and puppet show in London (at least in my case!) That combined with wanting to give ourselves a new jolt on the live performance side of things. We played a lot of shows this year and it gave us fresh thoughts to play in new scenarios. People sort hold their breath around bookshelves too – like they do in an art gallery. Bookshops have a respectful feeling, it was quite an honour in these small places with small audiences, to be given that sort of attention.
FTR: The video to recent single Rapunzel has a superb dance routine, was it as fun as it looked to make?
It couldn’t not be fun, really! Not when you’ve wanted to do a dance routine with your mates since you were small. Our music is very important to us, so it was fun to be light-hearted about other aspects – dressing up & dance routines! Things that are the answer to the question ‘why not’?!
FTR: Is aesthetic important to you? Do you enjoy the non-musical aspects of being in a band?
It’s fun to have separation between your off and on stage persona. Not so much feeling like two different people but more like a uniform to give what you are doing a certain weight. Costumes can make you feel different, and the odd times that we dress alike within the band we get a kick out of it!
Individually we all really love visual art. When we started I would doodle paintings with a song in mind and these became our cd covers. I love that I have a reason to make pictures. If our songs are a bit like stories then the pictures are the illustrations I suppose! It’s nice to keep the art vague though so its open to interpretation.
FTR: What are your aspirations for your music? Do you see music as a viable career?
In a way my aspirations are already being met. A lot of musicians or artists probably want to do exactly what they are already doing but for the process to be a little more free, to go deeper into it, and to reach a wider audience. I think we are doing what we hoped for but on a small-scale with little practical snags like money or time stopping us from making things as fast as we would like. I guess the dream for most people is to be able to do what comes naturally and for an audience to get enjoyment from your music and feel something.
FTR: Do you think being an all female band had helped or hindered you so far? Do you feel the pressure to be role models?
Hmmm not much of either I guess. Some assumptions are made about us before we play from time to time, but I think that goes for a lot of people – male or female. Musically, I think there is a fluid quality to the music that may be in part due to being an all female band and the kind of music we’ve listened to and empathised with growing up. Its funny, we tend to have a lot of female fans and my favourite compliments after the show have been girls who said it inspired them in some way to see girls really rocking out and making a lot of noise and I do love that aspect. But no I don’t feel like a role model, so I don’t feel that pressure.
FTR: What do you think of the current London music scene? Do you feel part of a scene?
The London music scene is pretty fascinating – I feel so lucky to be part of it! In an ordinary week you can see a famous kora player in a small café, a huge afro beat outfit in a one-off outdoor festival, some of the jams have the best musicians in London just blowing off steam, and new crossovers of dance, poetry, and art spring up constantly! You meet a lot of musicians again and again and build a nice community – I have really felt the collaborative spirit here! People say it isn’t how it used to be – but I can’t really know for sure how it used to be and I just make an effort to go to see music I really like.
FTR: Who else should we be listening to?
Our friends Peluche are really special, also The Drink. My friends Dubi Dolczek and Bastien Keb make the most wonderful, imaginative music. I’m listening to quite a lot of Moondog, Alice Coltrane’s psychedelic harp playing on ‘Transcendence’, and having quite a big 80’s pop revival on the tube, Gloria Estefan and Janet Jackson…I mean, there’s no real theme there….
FTR: What’s next for Marine?
Our upcoming single recorded with the sensational Gordon Raphael is out now and we’re very proud to share that. The launch party was on Monday November 21st and featured the beautiful work of Holly France who choreographed a dance piece to the single. We have really nice gigs coming up and to announce, and in the new year we will be starting to release singles from the forthcoming debut album made with Rob Ellis.
More art, more videos, and a European tour are all on the cards. We are excited – we will be doing what we do!
Red Fruit is out now. Visit Marine’s website for details about releases and upcoming shows.