Every Monday we will be bringing you an unsigned singer or band as part of our Independent Music Monday feature. This week, we caught up with Marcus Pike find out more about him…
Where are you from and how did you first get into music?
I'm originally from near Reading, Berkshire, but I'm currently based in Hackney, East London. My first memory of creating and recording music was about age 6, creating songs about cars and dinosaurs on a boom-box style one-track tape recorder with the help of my dad! I was lucky enough to always have music fostered in me by my family. There was always plenty of it around, both from a listening perspective and a creating perspective.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
As a teenager, I was first drawn to Radiohead, Pixies, The Beatles, The Cure, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, The Smiths - all the classic rock/indie/alternative acts basically. I was inspired to try and create music as big and timeless as that - and still am. My heart really still lies in the idea of doing something huge and accessible, but also tasteful and experimental. I now just try to absorb as much as I can - I enjoy quite a lot of electro, although I think I'll always love guitar music the most. I have recently got pretty into Sylvan Esso, This Is The Kit, Father John Misty and Pixx.
How would you describe your sound?
Based on what I've put out so far: quite acoustic-led, somewhat indie-folk, downbeat singer-songwriter. But actually, I have a 'core' sound which I'm working towards - which is more like minimalist indie rock: Kings of Leon meets The xx. I've got many, many songs written, and I'm working to get a consistent band together so I can lay down more of this style on forthcoming releases, which I'm pretty excited about. I like to think that every song I allow to get finished has a very catchy, compelling melody, and I see that as a strength. For my forthcoming second EP (scheduled for early spring next year), I've dabbled in electronic beats with a couple of songs as well, so you can look forward to a mix of acoustic, indie rock, indie pop and electronica - hopefully a pretty eclectic set of sounds.
What is your latest single called and what was the influence behind it?
My latest single is called 'Ark', and it's the first of several releases leading up to my second EP. It's quite an unusual song for me in that I actually composed the melody years ago when I was a teenager. One day recently, I sat down with a guitar and sung the first two verses and choruses of the song to the melody out of nowhere! Luckily I had my iPhone voice recorder on at the time and was able to capture the whole thing. The lyrics I sung spontaneously in those couple of minutes comprise about 90% of the final lyrics, with just a few tweaks needed. The stream of consciousness is an powerful thing and it's always great when you can harness it like that. I almost never go in with the aim of writing a song about one specific 'subject'. So the song, like many of my compositions, has obviously come up from deep within my subconscious and is likely about a number of things. I've entered an incredible new relationship and gone through a number of other big life changes in the last year and a half, so I think all of that will be informing the lyrics.
What’s your local music scene like?
I'm in London as I've always been strangely drawn towards it for reasons I can't exactly explain. I went to uni here and moved back recently. I'm not a natural attention seeker so I love the fact that you can be as weird as you like in London and still just 'disappear'. On the other hand, I've always enjoyed the fact that there's simply more of everything here, and such a multi-layered history and culture. I've just personally never understood why anyone would want to be part of a small pond when London is close by. London Fields/Hackney itself has its own vibrant culture and a bit of a local scene, and is kind of a wonderland for millennial hipsters, which is pretty fun.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
The aforementioned EP, which will be due around early spring next year. I have a two week trip to New Zealand in February, which is a holiday rather than a tour, but I will still try to book some live dates there, and maybe film a live version of one of my songs on top of a mountain or something! Will be visiting Wellington which I hear has a great live music scene. Otherwise I will be gigging relentlessly around London, both solo and with a band, and hope to secure some festivals for the summer.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
In terms of writing, I'm an unapologetic individualist and perfectionist (and probably control freak). So I've had some quite fruitful creative partnerships in the past, but it can be hard to let someone else in when I have quite firm visions for my own songs. I love the idea of getting a rapper to do something over one of my musical compositions - it would just be so random and removed from my own creative process that it wouldn't be a problem in that regard.
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
I've played a lot of private functions recently, and what people do when they're drunk can be quite amazing sometimes. A man recently came up to me and kept demanding I play a Jamie T song. He didn't understand that I'm not a human jukebox, and hadn't actually learnt the song. When he didn't get what he wanted, he started hugging me while I was playing and came behind the mic and demanded that he use it to make an announcement! I've also had a lot of toddlers try to eat the end of the mic stand, unplug the tuner pedal and just cause general chaos around me. Sometimes the parents don't get that they have to intervene!
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
Despite being called Pike and being a Pisces, I have a phobia of fish.