Singer-songwriter Marlon Williams on being an old soul

by Stacey Anyan / 13 March, 2017
After touring the US and Europe for two years, alt-country crooner Marlon Williams is back in Lyttelton, writing his second album– the follow-up to his 2015 self-titled debut – and winning over his home-country crowds, opening for Bruce Springsteen at both his Christchurch and Auckland concerts in February.

Next stop: his inaugural WOMAD outing in New Plymouth, March 17-19. Stacey Anyan caught up with him.

On performing with Willie Nelson at Austin City Limits last year, in front of 10,000 people: It was surreal... I felt like I was dreaming. There were 10 of us onstage, including Matthew McConaughey and Marcus Mumford from Mumford & Sons, and we sang [gospel standard] "‘I’ll Fly Away’. I didn’t get to talk to him; I just did this thing with him, which I kinda like. ‘You ever meet Willie?’ ‘No, but I did do this show with him…’”

On songwriting: “I liken it to driving down a busy main drag with cafes blaring out music and you happen to catch a little bit of the chorus, and from there I extrapolate until I’ve got a whole song.”

On being drawn to darker subject matter: “As a songwriter, that’s where the gold is. But it’s always got to be tempered with lightness – so I try and keep some sense of irony or cheek to the proceedings.”

On teaching himself how to play guitar: “I hated lessons. I wanted to use guitar to accompany my voice, so it was a process of self-discovery. You give up a little bit of the organic nature of music when you study it.”

On his “old soul” voice: “I borrowed that crooner element heavily from Roy Orbison and Elvis. I remember being a young man and saying, ‘I’d love to make people feel like this makes me feel with my voice.’”

On Leonard Cohen: “A geography teacher got me into his poetry and novels when I was 14 and he’s been my right-hand man through this world in a lot of ways ever since. When I’m on tour and by myself feeling lonely, I put on Leonard Cohen and that loneliness feels like a strength.” 

 

This was published in the March 2017 issue of North & South.


Get North & South delivered to your inbox

/Northandsouthnz @Northandsouthmag @Northsouthnz

 

Latest

What filmmaker Andrea Bosshard learned from her goldsmith father Kobi
107381 2019-06-19 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

What filmmaker Andrea Bosshard learned from her go…

by Ken Downie

Filmmaker Andrea Bosshard inherited a creative streak from her goldsmith father Kobi but he also taught her an important life lesson.

Read more
Will Uber disrupt itself with its Jump scooters?
107383 2019-06-19 00:00:00Z Tech

Will Uber disrupt itself with its Jump scooters?

by Peter Griffin

Around 800 electric scooters arrived in Wellington this week, with local start-up Flamingo and Uber-owned Jump launching at virtually the same time.

Read more
Libra: Why Facebook is the best and worst company to create a cryptocurrency
107416 2019-06-19 00:00:00Z Tech

Libra: Why Facebook is the best and worst company…

by Peter Griffin

There is a strong incentive for Facebook to own the crypto space, the way it has social media.

Read more
Win a double pass to Yesterday
107340 2019-06-18 09:48:44Z Win

Win a double pass to Yesterday

by The Listener

Yesterday, everyone knew The Beatles. Today, only Jack remembers their songs. He’s about to become a very big deal.

Read more
Mass protests protect Hong Kong's legal autonomy from China – for now
107337 2019-06-18 00:00:00Z World

Mass protests protect Hong Kong's legal autonomy f…

by Kelly Chernin

Protesters in Hong Kong have achieved a major victory in their fight to protect their legal system from Chinese interference.

Read more
Sir Roger Hall on why we need to treasure NZ's portrait art
107286 2019-06-18 00:00:00Z Arts

Sir Roger Hall on why we need to treasure NZ's por…

by Roger Hall

On an Australian art tour, playwright Sir Roger Hall found that a portrait gallery can be so much more than a snapshot of a country’s social history.

Read more
ANZ boss's departure: 'What was the NZ board doing to monitor expenses?'
Why you shouldn't force kids to eat everything on their plates
107161 2019-06-18 00:00:00Z Nutrition

Why you shouldn't force kids to eat everything on…

by Jennifer Bowden

Forcing children to finish everything on their plates sets them up for a bad relationship with food.

Read more