This fresh new artist from south London has already got a deal with Universal, with just mixtapes to his name. Check out what he had to say about that, his forthcoming EP and tons more.
First up, how did the alias come about?
Marvin's my birthname. The Martian comes from me being different to most people and the way I write. I tend to observe things like an outsider looking in. That makes me feel like a Martian. Put that with a bit too much kid's TV in the 80s and that's how it came about.
So are you actually a martian of any sort?
See, that's a fucked up question. Because if I say yes, Mulder and Skully and them will come looking for me. If I say no, shit's gonna look suspect and they'll still come looking for me anyway. Then I'd have to collaborate with Catatonia on some space man shit. So I will leave that question unanswered… If you want to hear that collaboration… then buy the EP. Haha.
Where abouts in the UK are you from and how do you rate the local music scene?
I'm in London, south part of the capital. But I travel. The local music scene? The local music scene is beautiful! I mean, there's so much you could be talking about. I love what's going on in that whole "Grime" world. I'm feeling Kano, Narstie, NDubs, Bearman, Mr Wong and them. I love what's going on in the indie world, flippin' Macabees are big. Art Brut are the best band you could see live in the world right now I swear. GoodBooks are gonna be big. Ladyfuzz album is big. Most of the bands on Transgressive actually. Too many to mention. Outside of those genres, I'm feeling man like Plan B, Akira The Don, Sway, Face, Envy, but she's from Manchester. Man, my MP3 player is full of London music.
Who were some of your first rap heroes and how long have you been rhyming?
My golden era is Wu Tang, Onyx, Biggie and most of the Death Row staff. I've been rapping for, damn, 13 years? Probably. I dunno. Feels like forever.
Before the 'Marvin The Martian' solo stuff, you were part of Why Lout? Who are they and what's the group's status?
I'm still in Why Lout? Why Lout?'s not just a group. Why Lout?'s a movement. A lot of people say that these days but it's real. Me, Pixel, Jack Nimble and Dego Brown are Why Lout? But right now I'm doing my thing, Nimble's producing and DJing for me, Pixel's working with Akira on some stuff and getting his mixtape together. Dego's producing for crazy people. He's working with Face from So Solid, Envy from Manchester, Akira The Don, Sniper from Cyrpus. Man, I can't even remember most of them. We're gonna come together to do another tape this year though. 'Why Lout? Presents Bruckle!' We owe it to the people to drop that. Our first tape was in the top 10 mixtapes of all time in Hip-Hop Connection. So Why Lout? is still here.
How does your solo material differ to the group stuff, or is it of the same vain but just with a few less mcs?
My solo stuff is a lot more personal. Although all my songs, I try to keep autobiographical, I try to get closer to the point with all of my solo songs. Why Lout? music gives me more room for adventure, running with other people's concepts and whatnot. Marvin The Martian's music will always be about Marvin The Martian.
Lets break it down for the culture vulture journalists reading this for research. How'd you describe these pigeon holes? UK hiphop, Grime, Grindie.
UK Hip-hop? Damn! When you say that I think of backpacks, moon and stars rappers and American beats. That's probably not fair, but it's definitely the way it has been for a few years.
Grime? Grime was born from garage. People who wanted to do the "UK Hip-Hop" thing but didn't feel it was right for them and moved into garage but felt it was too easy or whatever then they met in the middle and grime was born. It's very British, probably what UK Hip-Hop wishes it was.
Grindie? Ask the NME. I don't think I've actually ever said the word out loud. No offence to anybody. I love being written about and appreciate that people want to label my music. I personally don't mind what they call it. But I don't know what that means. I hear it is Grime that samples indie music. I've been doing that for a couple of years but I've made songs sampling soul too. Is that Groul? I dunno.
If you were your PR man and had to label yourself for silly marketting reasons, what term would you give yourself?
Genius. Best thing since back when. I love my PR man. He pretty much says that anyway.
How did you grab the attention and get signed by Universal Records? That's a huge move!
It was actually through the internet. I had a song called 'Mars Bars' Featuring Pixel, produced by Jack Nimble (of course) that was on the first Why Lout? Mixtape. We put it on Artrocker.com. It did a lot of downloads. I don't even know how many it's done right now. But my A&R Don heard it and felt it. He came to some gigs, saw how the Art Brut remix popped off and we came together. This was before MySpace. But it does happen occasionally.
What's been the biggest differences between your pre Universal days and your time signed to a major?
Haha. Umm. I dunno. I'm employed. Umm. I have to work harder. I have to think about things a lot more. A few more people come up to me in the street. People are a lot more willing to help me out these days. I dunno. I've always worked hard on music, I don't even really have too much contact with my label. They trust me and my management relays any info I need to know. Not much has changed in all honesty.
Have any grey haired men in suits tried telling you what kind of tracks you should be making or anything?
Hahaha. Not at all. I've pretty much got free-reign over my music. I think that whole grey haired industry man thing is reserved for Spice Girls and Westlife. Nobody can really tell an autobiographical song writer what to write about can they? My label wants to push me. Not some product of a major. I think that's more how it is these days
Along with the internet's impact on the industry, it feels like the boardroom mentality's finally waking up to originality a bit more. Agree?
Maybe. If I was signed a few years ago I could answer that. It seems that the majors are more interested in more natural music right now. But that could have as much to do with the audience, radio, TV and even the artists now as it does with the industry. So I don't really know.
You've just put out a mixtape ahead of your debut EP. What can we expect from both projects?
Me. Marvin The Martian. My mixtape has had a good response so far. That's a lot of my songs I've recorded over the last year or so mixed by Jack Nimble and Akira The Don. It's all first person and autobiographical. My EP is pretty much my favorite 3 songs I've recorded in the last 12 months. What to expect? Umm, some laughs and some tears? I dunno. It's hard to say. What did you get from it?
How far into work on your debut album are you and what are some of the things we can look forward to hearing?
I am 0% through making it. I am 100% planning it. I don't want to rush into releasing a full length right now. I want to have my album make as much impact as possible. I'm planning my career in advance right now. Just laying foundations. I'm going to do another EP this year and a couple of singles, then hopefully get into the studio this winter and work on my album. I'm going to need to focus on that 100% when it's time. I don't want to be half promoting an album or half touring while I make my album. I don't even have a name for it. I should think about a name really innit?
What producers have you been working with and are there any guest vocals sketched into the equation yet?
As things stand, it will be produced by Jack Nimble. Guest vocals? I don't want to say yes or no because things change so quickly. Right now I'd like my album to be just me. Nas put AZ on 'Illmatic' and that's my least favorite track on the album. So it's something I'd really have to consider. If I do it'd be Why Lout?, Akira The Don, maybe get Eddie Argos from Art Brut on a chorus. Haha. I don't know. I doubt I'll have any guests though to be honest. Not on this album.
Are you into the live performance side of things much, and what's the best night we should make efforts to pass by?
I'm definitely into the live scene. I've done a crazy amount of gigs in the last year. I love performing live. I tend to do mixed genre billings or I try to fight my way onto indie or rock and roll billings. To perform with those bands makes me have to step my game up a lot. What nights? Frog is good. The Artrocker club always has at least one good band. I'm actually going to see Yes Boss at Artrocker in June. Club Motherfucker is hype. Come and see me wherever I am though. I'm trying to get out on the road to promote 'Hoods and Badges' so come and see me.
Who are you finding the most exciting artists and producers doing the rounds at the minute which we should check up on?
Good question. Obviously anything with Why Lout? attatched. Face and Dego, Black Piranahs, Akira The Don, Envy, Pixel, Jack Nimble. That's standard. Haha. But outside of that? I'm feeling a lot of bands. But I think you mean hiphop wise, so, Plan-B, The Mitchell Brothers album is amazing, obviously Sway. Joe Budden's last mixtape is probably the best mixtape I've ever heard. T.I's my shit right now. Producers? I'll ask Jack. Hold on… Haha. Oh. Nimble! Haha. Yeah, check for him.
Jack: Dangermouse, definitely Dangermouse. Lil Jon's new stuff, Chad Wes in Philly. Swizz is killing it right now. Tango Red on the Jeezy album. Mannie Fresh needs to be big this summer!
Have you got any shout out's or plugs to the people reading, or messages you wanna throw back to whateva planet you from?
All my Martians need to check my Myspace. Even though I have an official website my MySpace is my shit. All my Martians also need to go to iTunes on June 5th and buy 'Hoods and Badges E.P'. My mixtape is all over. You should like that at the end of the interview. Haha. That's all I need to plug I think? Thanks for the interview Tee. Thanks to everybody for reading. Zap Zap.