Marques Toliver, the busker turned singer/songwriter, who’s set to release his latest single ‘Magic Look’ on the 10th September, is already fast making a name for himself as a result of his arresting vocals and powerful lyrics. Having worked with the likes of TV On The Radio, Grizzly Bear, Bat For Lashes and Lianne La Havas amongst others, Toliver, who originally trained as a classical violinist from the age of 10, has since gone on to develop his own unique style, blending Blues, Soul, R'n'B and everything in-between to create songs which are as engaging as they are uplifting – staying true to his early formal training whilst never forgetting his family’s gospel heritage.
Marques’ latest track debuts his first music video, a shimmering, colour-drenched 3-minute edit which perfectly captures the finesse of his song. A Dazed exclusive, we caught up with the man himself to talk about his upcoming single release, the influences behind his latest video, and how to keep it cool as summer finally starts to turn up the heat.
Dazed Digital: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where have you come from? Where are you going?
Marques Toliver: Recently I had the opportunity to work along side Tony Ward. That was a thrill. I was playing violin and singing in between takes. Perhaps some day you'll see the pics. Let's see what else ...? I've set up shop in London. Aside from that I've been enjoying Frank Ocean's 'Channel Orange.' For a while I've been in my own world working on my album that's due out at the start of 2013. Prior to all that I've been on tour with Lianne La Havas most recently along with a music festival in Amsterdam I headlined. My most recent time and effort has gone into spreading the word about the launch party for my debut single, 'Magic Look', at Union Chapel Bar on Sept 5th.
DD: As well as writing and producing your own music, you’re also editor of Love is the Law Magazine. What’s it like juggling the two commitments? Do the projects you engage with for the magazine affect your music at all?
Marques Toliver: The musicians and artists I interact with from NY, and those I get to know from being on the road or just from living in London, I simply incorporate into the magazine. Having a magazine allows us to celebrate the gifts and vision of those we encounter on this ride called life, and for the most part it's been a pleasure. Having uber-creative chicks like Daisy Lowe, Tali Lennox and Alison Nix on the editorial team really helps with the art/fashion fusion we're going for. I've been playing little impromptu sessions on Brick Lane have enabled me to reconnect with my good buddy and musician Liam Bailey, and has been a good way to promote my single. At the merch table, after performances, I'm introducing fans to the literature and art within the pages of the magazine and if you're lucky you get a mixtape produced by me and my buddy Bart Oostindie (who likes to go by the name Neo Naive), including original music by me, Lianne La Havas, Glowhearts, The Good Suns, L.A Salami, Fiona Bevan, Steven Young, Summer Pearl mixed with Marvin Gaye, Billie Holiday and other random things: so that's actually a musical aspect of the magazine that i'm in charge of. Making the mixtape! Currently, we're planning some poetry reading events, with dashes of music from Summer Pearl - tryin' to get the word out you know!
DD: You’ve worked on some interesting collaborations with Lianne la Havas, Grizzly Bear and Bat for Lashes amongst others. What’s it been like working with such big names? Have you got any more exciting collabs in the near future?
Marques Toliver: Lianne's like my sister. I see Chris (Grizzly Bear) in the hood from time to time. Tash is sweet and inspiring in the way she has creative control over every aesthetic decision. As for collabs, I'm working on some things. There's a new track I did with Belgium act Compuphonic called, 'Sunset', that's doing pretty well on the radio over there on the continent. My album also had three collabs I did with producer Eg White as well. Liam Bailey and I are always working on groovy fresh tunes.
DD: How do you think the visuals of your latest video reflect your sound?
Marques Toliver: The colours from the music video are exotic and a reflection of the musical fusions I'm making. The chords in the songs are performed on non traditional pop instruments of today, but I'm hoping to change that. I've got violins going along with autoharps but put electric bass and some live and programmed percussion to sit along side it. So there's a tension between stripping it down, but peering into the future. Aiming for you to still drop it like it's hot even though it's accompanied by a string section. At the end of the day it's all in the hands of the listener to interpret the sounds and the visuals and settle in their groove.
DD: What’s your proudest moment?
Marques Toliver: One of my most proudest moments was finding my friend Claudeen Benoit singing 'Bad Religion'. Claudeen has a side job as a VJ for MTV Korea, but to see her expressioning her craft through song is something I can't get enough of. Experiencing her performance via youtube was like a realization of one's purpose. She flowered. I had always known she could sing but to hear her sing a song but still manage to put her own technique on it made it feels as though she were in the room with me despite the body of water between us. Claudeen has been singing with me since I moved to New York City. It was also pretty cool playing Spike Lee's 20th Anniversary Party for 'Do the Right Thing', thanks to my friend Hassan Hajjaj, who decorates parties with his Moroccan salons.