Whilst some critics may stubbornly refuse to admit that there is such a thing as intricate pop music, I'd be inclined to disagree.
Enter Marian Hill.
The concoction of Samantha Gongol's elegant and smooth vocal melodies blended with Jeremy Lloyd's incredibly meticulous production makes for one extremely potent cocktail. Littered with soulful saxophone hooks, fresh percussive pops and chopped vocals that intermittently tweak and warp Samantha's voice out of recognition, the duo's seductive sound will be sure to quench the thirst of music snobs and Taylor Swift fans alike. In the words of Samantha herself: "Boy I'm not the kinda drum you play one time".
Shuf checked in with Samantha and Jeremy to discuss the Philly pair's humble beginnings, how their songs evolve and what the future holds.
Your roots as a duo go all the way back to middle school. What song was it that Jeremy caught you singing back in the day?
It was “Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones in a 7th grade talent show.
For the uninitiated, what's the ideal environment to hear your music in?
On great headphones late at night while walking down an empty city street. Or in a small, packed, smokey club. Or while slow dancing with a special someone in a darkened room.
What is your modus operandi? Do lyrics come first or does production establish the foundations?
There’s always a bit of give and take, back and forth, but we tend to start with the skeleton of a beat. Then we sit and listen to it and ask ourselves, what is this song about, what does this sound like? And melodies and lyrics usually emerge in varying order from that point.
Hailing from Philadelphia, what can you say about the influence the city has had over you, if any? Are you based here or have you migrated to New York now?
Samantha: I finally made the move to NYC - I went to school in the city but moved back home for a bit after college, so it’s lovely to be back! Philly will always be special to us, and the hometown music scene has been wonderfully supportive. 88.5 WXPN in particular has been one of our biggest champions. I played many an open mic night in Philly, played crowded bars when no one was listening, and met many great musicians. It was actually at one of those open mic nights when a performer told me I needed to start writing my own songs (I was young and doing covers at the time!).
I noticed below the YouTube video of 'LIPS' that lots of listeners arrived at the song via teen-celeb Lauren Giraldo's "snapchatgang". 'GOT IT' also recently featured in a Google commercial. Do you thrive off existing in a realm where music can be discovered so easily or do you pine for simpler times?
We wouldn’t exist as a band if not for the internet, so we definitely thrive off it haha. We had written one song (Whisky), uploaded it to Soundcloud, and emailed it out to about 60 blogs -- back then we barely even thought of ourselves as a band, and within a week we were charting on Hype Machine, taking meetings, and building Marian Hill into what it is today! The internet is incredible for music exposure, from snapchat to vine to google to puppy videos.
You guys are featured on the upcoming Kitsuné New Faces II compilation out on 23rd February. What other work do you have in the pipeline?
We’ve got a new music coming very very soon! We’ll be releasing the Sway EP with Photo Finish/Republic on Feb. 17th -- it’s a sequel to our Play EP that includes a few tracks from that first EP remastered plus a bunch of new songs.
Remixing Aquilo's track 'Human', are there any other artists you'd love to collaborate with?
:) :) :) :)
Any plans to tour in UK/Europe?
We just got back from a whirlwind trip to Spain for a private gig and it was amaaazing, so we’ve definitely caught the travel bug... Not sure when it will happen, but we would love to get across the pond in the near future.
Where can we listen to Marian Hill online?
Any parting words?
Look out 2015 here we come!!
Words: George Hemmati