Friday, December 16, 2011

Talking Elephants: A Q&A with Marc B.

So what’s this big news you’ve got to share with us?

Album, album, album.  I’m getting into the studio with an amazing band, The Song and Dance Society, who’ve toured with Jackson Browne and Graham Nash for years and years.  They also played with Brett Dennen and produced his first album, ‘So Much More.’  Very, very talented guys...So we’ve been rehearsing my songs and its so fuckin’ easy to play with these guys.  It’s a trip.  Absolute dream.  It’s really allowed me to branch out.

Is it difficult branching out as far as you can while still keeping your message in tact?

That’s every artist’s challenge.  My dad would beat that into my brain when I was a kid.  He would say, ‘Your songs are not made to play to your bedroom wall.  Do not write songs for that reason.  Play them for people.’

It seems like when you were explaining your song, you had a direct message.  If you look at any great musician, there always seems to be some sort of philosophy.

My music has always been a reflection of who I am, so my first album was this pretty happy-go-lucky, beachy, let’s just have some fun by the campfire and jam.  That’s what I had been through at age 19.  Since then, I’ve been brought down to my knees and back like five times and become a man.  This new album is going to reflect all that.  I can’t wait.

How old are you now?

27, a good age.  I’m getting into this phase where I just want to put my head down and work.  I’m really settled into my life as a singer and a songwriter.  I’m done exploring, although I will explore more, because I’m not ever done...I’m just done hiking these tropical mountaintops and searching for myself...for now.  I feel like I’ve found out who I am and now I’m ready to document it and share it.

Tell me more about your travels.  I know there have been many adventures.

Let’s talk about homes.  I’ve been in 15 houses in the past eight years.  I move every six months on the dot because I like moving to a center of a really vibrant location, and then wiggling myself into the very middle of it, becoming friends with everyone, and then leaving.  Then, when I return, it’s like, ‘Hey!’  I don’t like the idea of settling in, or having a schedule, a routine.

You never truly say goodbye then…

Yes, and so it’s this happy-medium of being lonely sometimes because I don’t have any one central clique that I can call home, but also never being alone because I have positive friends all over the world.  I connect the dots all over the place.  I’ve lived in Fountain Valley, Long Beach, Hawaii, Ventura, San Diego, Encinitas, Newport, Huntington, Los Angeles, and now I live in Hollywood.   I also went to Argentina not too long ago.

What were you there for?

To play music, make a greenhouse, and make a film.  We went out there with eight people.  There were four of the best professional women snowboarders in the world, two musicians, an environmentalist, a videographer, and a photographer.  So we went out there and it was this dream team, and we built this greenhouse out of recycled plastic bottles.  It really was phenomenal.  It took us 35 hours to travel to Patagonia.  When we got there, we collected 3,000 plastic bottles from the community and built this greenhouse.  We built the structure out of 2x4’s, bamboo, and bottles from the garbage.

We didn’t really know what we were doing.  We learned as we went.  All we knew is we wanted to create this.  We were in eight feet of snow (hence the snowboard film being made), and it was August, which is the middle of Winter.   I had no idea that bamboo grows in the snow.  We’d cut the top and bottom off of these 2-liter bottles and strung the bottles on like a necklace.  The plastic makes a reflective material, and so that was the wall of the greenhouse.  We built it and put it in a school, and planted vegetation in it.  I guess it yields like 20% more vegetation per year, and it also encourages the kids to be conscious of the environment and helping the community.  I think at the very least, the impact is that it inspired people.  I realized when I watched the video how relevant it must have looked.  All these people came from LA, who are musicians and athletes.  It really seemed to affect the community.  They still talk about it, we still have friends over there, and they still write us and send pictures of the greenhouse.  

Other than that, I’ve just been traveling.  I did a tour where we did like 15 cities in three weeks.  We started in San Diego, went all the way up the coast to San Fransisco, spent a week there, then went to Tahoe, did a snowboard film premier there, then it was back down the coast from San Fran to Santa Cruz, and San Luis Obispo.

What’s your opinion when a musicians claims, ‘I don’t want to be labeled.’

To me, music is labeled by the mood that it evokes, or through the message.  It seems easier to define those things, rather than sound, because of all the sub-categories these days.  To me, it’s more about having something to say.  But Bob Dylan is put into our lives for that reason.  He’s the perfect example.  You don’t have to be the best, you just have to have something to say, and you have to do what you do better than anyone else could.  No one can be Bob Dylan as good as he can be Bob Dylan.   I also realized that I shouldn’t hide my problems, I should write about them and expose them, ‘cause guess who else has problems?  Every single human in the whole world, and that’s what music is for us.  That’s what connects us to artists.  When you discover that hidden lyric and you’re like, ‘Oh my god, he’s talking about a girl…or his drug addiction…or something that I’ve felt.’  There’s that human connection, and that’s what music is all about.  Believing.
What do you believe in?

I believe in love.  I believe in love and the ability of our human race to evolve.  

In the end, there is still a mortgage and car payment…

(laughs) That’s what I can’t get.  I think about the things that I do, and they’re so in-the-moment things.  Like surfing; eyes roll back in your head and you’re on autopilot.  Music, same thing.  Eyes roll back in my head, and then I wake up and the show’s done.   All the things that I do are about making ‘right now’ as good as possible.  But I believe that a balance and a moderation in life is valuable.

But how do artists survive?

Because it’s all we know.  There’s nothing you can do to kill the process, because I need it to live.  So I spend all of my waking life planning ways to spread my creativity and share my art.

It’s where ‘culture’ is born.  To be aware in that moment, and to be able to document what is going on around…I find that most people can’t reach that state of mind.

‘Cause we don’t have the power to see this moment as we will in the future.  The clothes that we wear, the music that we listen to is brand new, but we’re going to look back and be like, ‘Those hairstyles and those glasses and the music, that is so 2011.’  Fuck trying to grab the coattails of another artist like Jack Johnson or Edward Sharpe.  Musicians just need to keep doing what we’re doing, find a way to unite, and just be a presence.  Are you a musician?  I want to meet you.  Everything that we’ve seen through history is happening right now too...with this occupy movement and all...I’ve seen it through so many people’s work.  It all is related under one common theme, and depends on being in control, or letting something else control you.

It’s a lot easier to convince yourself to not do something rather than to do something.  When you jump into a new environment, always in the back of your mind, you’re scared.  Do you think that keeps people from producing?

Yes.  I always talk about this vibration, or this energy that’s in our life.  For the two things that I do, it’s most obvious forms are the wave—a wave of energy when surfing—and then the wave of energy from a crowd in the audience.  When you go to a sports game, you can physically feel the energy of 30,000 people screaming together.  It’s measurable and it’s a presence.  People who can utilize that energy, flow with it, and align with it, are—in my profession, called performers.  They can channel that energy.  It’s our responsibility as humans to channel that, and not to limit our creativity in any way.

I’m not trying to preach and be holier than thou, but it’s what I have personally discovered to be true in my life, and that’s it.  And that’s all that advice really is—my own perspective on life.  I mean, if you ask a 35-year-old happily married man about marriage, he will have one opinion.  You ask a twice-divorced guy in the bar about marriage, and he’ll say a totally different thing, ‘cause their advice comes from different places.  
This is the advice that I have based on what I know.  That’s it.

Tell me about your move to Los Angeles.

Before I lived here I didn’t like coming here.  Just recently I got shown the right people, like my Producer Kevin, the right nooks, the right places to eat, like Cafe Gratitude, ya know?  Those things changed my whole world.  

I can see how it would totally get you inspired.  When it comes to recording, what is it that you want to say, now that you have grown up a bit?

So much.  It’s been a long time since I put another album out, so it’s like all of my life experiences are going into these songs.  This album deals with forgiveness, awareness, pollution, depression, and pure unbridled love/happiness.  Sums up my past year!

Tell me about the first single from the album.  I heard you used some interesting tactics.

Ha!  You’re talking about ‘Forgiven.’  So I was at Kellen Malloys’s place,  we were plugging in all these midi-sounds in his keyboard, and he was like, ‘This sounds cool, what do you think about this one, this is cool, what about these shakers?’  Nothing sounded right.  So I was like, ‘Alright, hear me out, let’s just try something.  Mic my lap, and we’ll see what works.’  So he put a mic near my pocket, and I stood up did this (plays beat with hands on his legs).  We filled my pocket with change, I put my cellphone in my other one, we did that beat onto the song, and it came out spectacular.  It sounds exactly like real life, and it was created in real life, more importantly.  I’m playing tiki torches, we’ve got a stomp, and a butterknife on the reeds...random shit.

People are spending a ton of money on a drum-head, and I’m literally using the change in my pocket, and getting, what I think, is a better, more accurate sound.  Percussion especially, everything has a sound (knocks on the chair, the table, etc.).  It’s just a matter of putting it in with the right combination of other sounds to make it sound good and attractive and what we want.  I’m kind of going on a tangent, but everything has a sound, so I just started listening to what everything sounds like, and used the things that are right in front of me.  So that’s what the album is gonna do, sound-wise.  It’s super exciting.

What do you see as your future until you can relax and surf in your old age?

Near future is here in Hollywood, after that, maybe New York—just because I want to be driven and surrounded by driven people.  The only faster place than LA would be New York.  When I am old...I don’t know.  Maybe start a life in Australia somewhere near Byron Bay.  It all depends on what I create.  Can’t plan it too much though.

You can plan as much as you want, there will always be random occurrences—those elephants.

Yes!  And I follow my gut, definitely.  You can convince yourself not to do something if you think about it long enough instead of just going for it.  I always just go.

1 comment:

  1. great read! well written and great music!