Behind the Voice: MarcieApril 21st, 2009
A grand entrance is no more than fitting for this vocal diva. Marcie’s sweetening, seductive voice first hit the airwaves in 2006, leading the way to a solid career in music. Within a few years she’s grown out to a renowned singer/songwriter, working with some of the best producers the dance scene has to offer. Her latest soul sketches and vocal cord reflections were ‘I Come Running’ and ‘Broken Wings’, two beauties out on the Coldharbour Red and S107 label. Besides that, she also hosts her own radioshow ‘Behind the Lyric’, in which she interviews the best vocals lads and ladies and provides listeners with the latest vocal tracks out there. With her name travelling across the scene and plenty of spotlights pointing at her, it’s right about time for a look behind the voice of Marcie.
Armada: When did you first start singing?
Marcie: “I’ve always sung. I grew up studying voice, piano, and dance, was in rock bands all through University, and trained in musical theater. I started to truly focus on songwriting about 5 years ago.”
Armada: When and how did you notice there was more than just a good ring to it?
Marcie: “Probably in the shower. The acoustics are always good in there.”
Armada: How did you end up in EDM?
Marcie: “Almost by accident. I responded to an ad for a vocalist in the Village Voice. The producer had me record a trance vocal, and it ended up charting quite well overseas. I became immersed in the EDM scene, and really grew to love it. I’m grateful to have a non-EDM background because I think it brings some versatility to my songwriting. I still love to work in other genres, but EDM is my favorite. I have so many happy feelings associated with dance music.”
Armada: You’ve done projects with numerous producers, from D:Folt to Danilo Ercole, Yamin and Eddie Sender. How did you end up working with them all?
Marcie: “Primarily through the internet, and word of mouth.”
Armada: Is there a particular project you enjoyed doing?
Marcie: “I’ve been lucky to work with many great artists. Each project has been different, and I’m glad for the experience. ‘I Come Running’ was cool because it began as an acapella, and each mix gave it a unique character. I love to sing vocals that can be used in many different ways. ‘Sinners Kitchen’ was a lot of fun also, because it’s cheeky and a bit naughty.”
Armada: Still dreaming of any special collabs?
Marcie: “I would absolutely love to do another track with Roger Shah. His musicality astounds me.
I want to work with anyone who is skilled, inspired, dedicated, and driven by their passion for music. I want to work with people who are strong songwriters, who understand the genre, and who push boundaries and bring new sounds and ideas to the listeners. It’s hard to know in advance who I would work best with. I want to stay open to possibility.”
Armada: You’ve got many faces and ways to show yourself, with different wigs and looks. Is there a reason for it, or do you just like changing it once in a while?
Marcie: “It’s fun. I find that different parts of my personality are represented by various costumes and looks.”
Armada: When were you confident enough to be doing live performances?
Marcie: “I started dancing for an audience when I was a small child. My first live singing performance was when I was 10. It was at a summer camp talent show. I would never have gotten up in front of everyone if I hadn’t had the encouragement of my counselor at the time. She worked with me on the tune, and built up my confidence about it. She helped me feel that I was ready to perform.”
Armada: You’re songwriting and singing in multiple genres. Wouldn’t it be easier to focus on one genre, rather than getting involved with several, or is that exactly the beauty of it?
Marcie: “Having a lot of song output creates a wide variety of sound for listeners to choose from. I work in different genres, and tell different stories. I love working with different people. There are countless talented people around, and I learn something new about myself in every collaboration. I have partners with whom I’ve worked repeatedly, and I have partnerships where we have found the magic only once or twice. A songwriting partnership can be a very intense relationship, or it can be like two strangers who meet in the night, share a special moment, and then move on to their individual lives. ”
Armada: What makes a vocal a good vocal in your eyes?
Marcie: “Sometimes I respond well to a melody, a provocative lyric, or just to a tone of voice. The best vocal tunes combine all those elements. It’s subjective on a lot of levels. Production value has a lot to do with how people respond to a vocal in EDM. If a well written vocal is buried in a track, people may not truly hear it. If it’s sticking out from the track in the wrong way, it creates a clash of sound that isn’t ideal for the genre. Arrangement, vocal fx, etc. all impact how a vocal performance is highlighted. The human voice affects me in a primal way, and makes me want to sing along. We all gravitate to whatever is in our world that makes us want to participate in life. For me, that is most often music, and within music, it is most often vocal based music.”
Armada: Got any vocal heroes yourself?
Marcie: “Many! I love the singers who tell stories with their voices, and are distinctive both on stage and off. I just interviewed Jes Brieden and Nadia Ali in person for ‘Behind The Lyric’, and nearly fainted from happiness at getting to sit down one on one with them. I very much admire them. Jaren is fantastic, and strikes me as a genuine soul with a knack for storytelling. Her voice is lush and expressive. ”
Armada: Where do you get your inspiration from, when it comes to singing/songwriting?
Marcie: “My inspiration comes from all sorts of places. It often starts with a feeling that is abstracted a bit in order to be conveyed poetically. Lyric writing can be therapeutic, and it can be fun, silly, or tongue in cheek. I love word play, I like to say more than one thing at once, I like to write about nature and how it reflects the human experience. I like to write about things I don’t understand, my longings, my discoveries, passion, and everything and anything.
Children inspire me because of their purity, and their unguarded emotions. In order to create, I have to allow my feelings to guide me. Children do this naturally, and being around them helps me remember how to do that too.
My ideas sometimes seem to come from out of the blue, but I don’t think it’s productive to wait for inspiration to strike suddenly. Inspiration is everywhere, but sometimes I have to do a bit of work to find it. I often seek it out, and do things that I know will help me tap into my creativity.”
Armada: You’ve got your own radioshow, Behind the Lyric. Can you tell us a bit about it? What was the main reason to start doing your own radioshow?
Marcie: “I created ‘Behind The Lyric’ because there are so many EDM tracks whose lyrics truly speak to me! I wanted to create a dialogue between listeners and Songwriters. Songwriters spend hours pouring their heart and souls into a tune, and it’s worth taking some time to focus on the craft of songwriting, and point out the personal tales that inspire a lyric, and the behind the scenes studio life.
I’m gearing up for Episode 12. It has been an amazing whirlwind of activity putting this show together! When I first started it, I could only dream it would go as far as it has. I’m grateful that the artists have opened themselves up on the show, and I love the feedback I get from listeners. There’s a deep dialogue happening between listeners and artists as a result of the show.
The show is a great way for us Singer/Songwriters to connect with each other. There is a lot of mutual respect and support going around, which has been inspiring and heartwarming for me to see.”
Armada: You’re reasonably ‘new’ to the scene, but we seem to bump into your name everywhere. Aren’t you afraid people will get tired of hearing you on so many tracks within a short time?
Marcie: “No, I’m not. That fear would be operating on the assumption that people hear all my tracks. They don’t hear them all. Recognizing my name is different from actually listening to my work.
Different DJ’s choose different tunes to play. A trance fan won’t necessarily listen to an electro track, and vice versa. It’s not like the airwaves are flooded with my music. If people don’t like a song, they won’t listen to it. I have no control over the release rate of my tunes. Once I sign a tune, it might be released right away, or it might be released years later. This means that sometimes tracks are backed up, and released all at once, and then too many tracks go into promo at the same time. This is frustrating for me, but it is out of my control. I think of my songs as a collection. A prolific author like Sylvia Plath wrote every day. Some of her poems stood out in the market more than others, but if you read her anthology of writings, you can trace her personal growth, and maybe you’ll discover you like something different than the tastemakers chose as her best. I write a lot, but I don’t claim that everything I write is brilliant. I write for other singers as well as myself because not everything I write is suited for my voice. Songwriting is a form of journaling. Recording my ideas is therapeutic, and usually enjoyable. I view songwriting as a craft that I practice, and hopefully am getting better at. If I don’t let people hear my ideas, then I won’t benefit from helpful advice or feedback others might give me. I am a perfectionist and a workaholic, but I try not to judge my ideas too harshly. If I stop writing because I’m afraid people don’t want to hear me, then I’m doing art an injustice. No one should stop creating because they are afraid of the reaction to their art. I don’t think any artist ever really knows how their work will go over with the public. I’m grateful for my fan base which looks forward to new releases from me. I like having an audience that respects my creations and with whom I can take an artistic journey. Each day is new. Each song is new. ”
Armada: We’ve got ‘Broken Wings’ out on the S107 label. Can you tell us a bit about the track and how it all came to life?
Marcie: “I was feeling extremely fragile and heartbroken when I wrote it. I had passed a dead baby bird on the street. Knowing that it had tried to take flight, failed, and plunged to its death was so sad. I imagined the bird lying on the pavement, and with its last few heartbeats and broken wings, looking up and dreaming of the flight it never got to take. The bird was a strong metaphor for my personal story at the time. I had allowed myself to fall in love with someone, only to have them leave me in an unnecessarily cruel manner. I felt like I had tried to take flight, and instead fallen to the ground, where I lay hurt and abandoned. In my wounded state, I hoped to find a way to believe in love and flight again. I decided to sing the poetry in a delicate and gentle tone, as that seemed to best represent the little bird. A tiny voice crying out a big heartache. The other part of the vocal has a different vibe to it. I’m treating heartache as a roommate, or a tenant in my heart. One who is laughing at me, because it knew I would never escape it. I imagine sitting down with heartache, and maybe a glass of wine, while bitterly laughing about my pre-determined fate.”
A few choices:
- Acoustic or Non-acoustic?
Marcie: “Both, but in different venues. Sometimes the sign of a great vocal is that it can be stripped down, performed acoustically, and have a strong impact all on its own. I’ve heard some dance vocals performed acoustically, and they sound fantastic. ”
- Dry vocals or Filtered/reverbed vocals?
Marcie: “I’d never want a dry vocal in a dance track, but I usually record my vocals dry. I’ve learned what my voice sounds like on its own, and then how various FX make the natural sound different. I sometimes adjust my natural sound around the vocal FX a producer uses. For example, in EDM, producers often want a vocal without any vibrato. The vibrato interferes with the instrumentation. In other genres, I can use vibrato.”
- Natural talent or Singing Lessons?
Marcie: “Both. I seem to have been born with a knack for singing, and a good ear for music. But without practice, training, and guidance from other people, I would not have learned about my instrument. Learning my instrument has given me the tools to find my own voice to tell my own stories more fully.”
“Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. I hope readers will please send me emails and share their thoughts about music, and ‘Behind The Lyric’.”