Marian Hill | "Wish You Would"
Marian Hill are back with the new video and single "Wish You Would" which takes on the concept of challenging gender rolls. With such a simple concept the raw visuals become quite effective having producer Jeremy Lloyd take duties as frontman while vocalist Samantha Gongol throws herself on the key board. In addition to premiering the video we jumped at an interview to catch up with the band.
You achieved international success on your last record, specifically after Apple used “Down” in the Airpods commercial. How do you plan on making this album just as successful as the last?
All we can do is stay focused and work together to make the best songs we can, like we always have! That's how Down happened and it's all we know.
Big Sean even did a remix of “Down” which caught a lot of mainstream attention. Did you know that was going to happen? How did you react to it?
S: We first met him backstage at Fallon (which we played on with like 24 hrs notice in one of the craziest weeks to date)
J: I’ve listened to his music for a long time and hearing his flow over my production was an insane moment. When I listen to music it’s easily 70% hip hop so I love finding ways of bringing that into Marian Hill.
How is your creation process like? Do you write lyrics first and then produce, or the other way around?
J: I’ll let Sam speak to this as well, but in almost every case we start with production. But when we say production, it’s often the most skeletal of beats. I’ll have made a drum pattern I like, I’ll play it for Sam, and if she has ideas for it then we make it a song. We write melody and lyrics together, singing ideas to each other and editing them back and forth until it’s just right. Then I fill out the production - making sure the choices that finish the sound of the song bring us closer to the main idea it’s become.
S: I think J summed it up pretty well! :)
Your production is so unique and original. I always hear different noises and sounds unlike anything else. What inspires your style of production? Do you have any interesting tricks to create these sounds?
J: Thank you - that is definitely what I aim for and it means a lot to hear that! I was producing all different kinds of things (and not many of them all that good) when I stumbled into making Whisky. I love that beat to this day, but Sam’s vocal on top of it REALLY elevated the production. We dropped Whisky on Soundcloud as a litmus test, and when we were charting on HypeMachine I realized we’d come upon a really unique sound - and that I need to seriously up my production game to match it. From that point I’ve been working on an intuitive level in a lot of ways, feeling if sounds fit within the world we built with Whisky. A huge part of my process is the curation of what sounds end up in a beat - I build favorites lists from sound banks I have, I have a portable mic that’s with me pretty much everywhere to grab a sound I come across, and of course my favorite way to create unique sounds is to build them myself, in particular from Sam’s vocal. So many of the unique sounds on our records come from using a vocal sample - from the chords in Got It to the low rumbling beginning of Subtle Thing.
What is the inspiration behind your lyrics?
J: For me a lot of it comes first from the music. I love to sit with whatever the beginning of the beat is and figure out what it makes me feel. If it’s good, there’s always something precise about that feeling. Once we figure out what it is, the song starts taking shape and we deepen it by pulling on our lives and experiences, the people we know, the art we’ve seen.
S: As J mentioned, it comes from the music and life experiences. But for our earlier music, (namely Sway and Act One eras) it was also first inspired by a voice, the character of Marian Hill. Strong, confident lyrics would often come to mind when writing songs such as Got It and One Time.
Your music comes off as very feel-good and upbeat. How do you keep that energy when you’re recording in the studio?
S: I try to picture myself singing it onstage. And I place myself within the theme of the song.
J: I have a general rule that if I’m not bouncing around in my chair dancing while I’m making something then it’s not a Marian Hill song.
I remember seeing you on tour when you played the Fonda Theater. You brought out a saxophone player that added an incredible element to your performance and music. Can we expect to see more of him?
J: Steve Davit is an essential part of the Marian Hill live show and has been with us since the very beginning (he’s sampled on One Time!). He’s been one of my closest friends since middle school and it’s a joy to tour with him and make music together. We’ve been able to build a saxophone style and improvisation language for Marian Hill together that’s become integral to our live vibe.
You started from very humble beginnings in a bedroom recording studio to playing large-scale festivals. How are you taking this all in?
J: One day at a time! It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race of it all - wherever you are, things could be even better - so I try to keep at the forefront of my mind how lucky we are to be able to make music we love all day as a full-time profession. It’s an incredible gift and not one to take for granted!
S: sometimes I look back at photos from 5 years ago, when we were playing to 200 people- well before main stages at festivals. It's important to remind yourself of how far you've come- while also taking note of where you still would like to be.
A lot has happened between your last album and now. Has there been any highlights within the past couple of years that marked a milestone in your career?
J: Being in the top 20 on US pop radio was a big moment for me - and the Shazam stats were crazy - and going platinum is something I’ll have for the rest of my life. But honestly the best thing may still be hearing our music out in the world. I heard Down playing on the street when I was up in my apartment and it was magic.
S: Top 40 radio for sure. A Platinum record. A highly coveted national placement with an iconic brand. We grew up watching those apple commercials- all things you dream about as a kid
What song do you feel most connected to on the album?
J: I always say I have no favorites because they’re all my babies! But if I must answer, I’ll say Go Quietly. Before Marian Hill I wrote a lot of beautiful slow sad music and always felt really emotionally at home there - Go Quietly feels like a return to that but supported by all I’ve learned in the years in between. I love the feel of the whole piece, how many stages it goes through, the arc of the melodies, and the outro is…well the outro is really why it’s my favorite.
S: Don't Do it. It's really fun, feels pop, and different from things we've done before. My favorite to perform at the moment is probably Listening
Did you run into any difficulties when recording “Unusual”?
J: I think the hardest thing was finding the time! We sat down to write our next album and Down happened and then we had to sneak in time for months whenever we could in between all the hubbub.
“Sideways” stands out from the rest of the records on “Unusual” because it carries a more somber, self-reflective tone. Why do you think it was important to include this in the album?
J: For that very reason! We knew it was a song unlike any we’d written before pretty soon after writing it - and we loved it as a brief moment away from the intensity and excitement of most of the album.
S: Agreed! Sideways was always a song apart- different from the rest. As J said, we knew pretty early on that it should make the record.
What is the overall goal of your record? What do you want people to think and feel once they are finished listening to it?
J+S: We want you to feel awesome, and ready to navigate whatever you need to in your life with tact and confidence. That’s honestly what we’re thinking about when we’re writing - we want to empower our listeners, make them feel like they’re the shit - cuz they are!!
Is there anything else you would like your fans to know about?
J: Doing a video like this has been an idea in the back of my head for a long time now. It was so fun to make this with Nolan Feldpausch - we shot it in an hour on tour and he had a rough cut to us by the end of the night like a genius - and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
S: We hope you love it !!
Written by Allyson Borunda