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Marques Toliver

Fresh from a revelatory performance at the inaugural Dazed TV: The Party, the violin-playing soul troubadour plays his first headline London gig this weekend

Tall and elegant as a beanpole, 24-year old Marques Toliver never had any problems making an impression. But when he picks up his battered violin and starts crooning in that full–throated rich voice of his, that’s when he really starts to turn heads. Born in South Dakota, Toliver was raised on a musical diet of gospel and soul before moving over to New York where he started as a session musician and busker. In one of those only-in-New-York stories, Toliver was spotted busking by Kyp Malone of TV On The Radio who promptly asked him to work with TVOTR on their record, which led on to tours with Holly Miranda. He releases his lush debut EP ‘Butterflies Are Not Free’ on 25 April and plays St Giles-In-The-Fields on 7 April.

Dazed Digital: Your music tips a nod towards classic soul records and artists like Marvin Gaye with maybe the pop bounce of Beyonce. What records did you grow up listening to? Who inspires you now as an artist?
Marques Toliver: Growing up there was a lot of gospel music. Music up in the South it is a little difficult to not be influenced by it. Aside from that I'm influenced by rhythm and blues and also classical compositions. I try to find a way to incorporate all my influences into my work. 

DD: When did you first pick up a violin and what was it about the instrument that fascinated you?
Marques Toliver: I first started playing the violin back in Elementary school at Turie T. Small. I was 10 years old when I started playing. I was introduced to the violin via the Suzuki Method. Later on in my studies I started private lessons which really began to work on my technique. I always had it in my head that I would become a music teacher, but things have a funny way of working out. When I first heard the violin I was fascinated at how the instrument resembled the human voice and the way my instructors played the instrument made me want to produce similar clean and clear sounds.

DD: Busking seems like a tough but very informative gig – how did you learn to connect with audiences?
Marques Toliver: It's not something you learn. Either you have it or you don't. Instinct is what it really is. When you are busking you can't really think about yourself or your insecurities. The situation is always different, for the most people that hear my music connect with it to some degree. The music serves as medicine for individuals that will accept it. 

DD: You made a great impression at the Dazed TV Party – what can we expect from your live shows?
Marques Toliver: You can always count on me being at the show, but aside from that there's always an element of surprise. For more info you just have to show up to the show. Can't give to much because if I did you'd know what to expect.
I will tell you this, you'll need to pay attention, use yours ears, and turn the damn cell phone off. Oh yeah, you can expect music on a new level.

Marques Toliver's single 'Deep in my Heart' can be streamed here.