With over 20 years experience performing in front of crowds, across his career A Friend Of Marcus has received widespread support and praise on his music from the likes of Sasha, John Digweed, Hernan Cattaneo, Joris Voorn and many more. In August, he debuted on one of his long-term favourite labels, the iconic UK imprint Renaissance Records, with his powerful track ‘Cepish’ featuring as the opener on the Merin EP Vol. 2; an immaculately produced four-track EP consisting of breaks, deep house, MH&T and indie dance from A Friend Of Marcus, Alexandros Djkevingr & Greg Ignatovich, Chris Gavin & Gabriel I and TALAL. Following the release, we’re very excited to be speaking with A Friend Of Marcus today…
Hi Tony! Great to have you with us today. First off, how are you and whereabouts are you based right now?
Thanks for having me! Great to be here. I’m good but currently stuck in Sydney in lockdown unfortunately, not what I had planned for August 2021 at all..!
How have things been for the music scene where you are over the course of the pandemic?
I don’t want to sound too negative, but the only word is disastrous. Even before this latest lockdown (which most of the country is currently going through and likely to stay going through for another month at least, maybe two) there were only a small percentage of shows going ahead anywhere. And a lot of them were seated, or under capacity restrictions or other restrictions. Honestly, for the way he’s handled covid, the prime minister deserves a slap in the face; the government could not have handled the pandemic any worse if they had tried. Ad hoc border closures, excessive lockdowns and an embarrassing vaccine roll out where only 19% of the population have been vaccinated! And all this after we were one of the least affected countries in the world. Add to that, there’s an outgoing border ban, meaning we can’t leave the country even if we want to, and the government is talking about extending quarantine well into 2022 for incoming passengers, even people who have been double vaccinated. This is all having a devastating effect on the local scene, the international touring scene and everyone who has had their livelihood affected, and I feel the government will leave the industry until last to let the scene get back to what it was. Clubs are going out of business, festivals are being postponed and reduced, tours are being moved and moved again and again, I’ve had some shows cancelled and rescheduled three times. It’s been really tough for everyone, and some are even leaving the industry which is a great shame. I’m not expecting international artists (who form a major part of our event calendar) to return properly until the end of 2022. Local shows should be back properly by hopefully February, but maybe not until June at this rate. It’s a long road ahead out here and it’s absolutely soul destroying.
We’re pleased to be speaking to you around the release of your track ‘Cepish’ on Renaissance Records’ ‘Merin EP Vol.2’. It’s a brilliant VA EP and each of the four tracks adds something special to the release. How did Cepish come to find its home on the EP?
Well I’ve worked in the industry for over 15 years with my touring agency Tiger Style, so I’ve known the guys for a while now. Renaissance has been a label that’s helped shape my career, I still have many of the CDs, and remember a lot of the seminal tracks from their great compilations back in the day, so it’s always been a label I wanted to release on. ‘Cepish’ was the first track I finished during the first covid lockdown and the guys got back to me saying they wanted it for the Merin Vol. 2 release with some other upcoming artists. I was in. When I got to hear the full release I was super impressed with all the tracks, it’s great to be in the company of such quality. I think this is a really strong release all round, and I’m very happy to be a part of it.
Cepish has a distinctly suspenseful and powerful atmosphere to it. We’d love to hear a bit about your inspiration behind the track?
Back in March 2020, I’d just arrived home from Tokyo to Sydney and the whole world was shutting down. It was quite surreal, the world felt broken. I spent the next 3 months solid in the studio with one day rolling into the next, again quite a surreal feeling. Cepish was the first idea I put down, and still my favourite track from the bunch I did at the time. The hypnotic feel, with cascading synths that rise and fall made me feel like the cyclical days and nights in lockdown. It felt like the walls were closing in and I wanted to bust them open.
Given the pandemic, have you had a chance to play Cepish out yet?
Yes, I have! As it was finished towards the start of the pandemic I’ve played it at the shows I’ve had in Australia and New Zealand and even included a version on an extended mix I did for Flow Music back in March. I haven’t been able to play the final master though, so I’m really looking forward to hearing how it sounds on a big system and seeing the reaction on the dance floor.
There is an emotive theme running across your releases, is this something that you set out to capture or is it moreso a result of your creative process? We’d love to hear a bit about your creative process also.
I mean, I’ve always been drawn to the deeper, more emotive sounds so I think they just come naturally. For this track, like many of my tracks, I started with some chord progressions, and once I had a few patterns I liked, I started layering the synths using a Prophet plugin and my VIRUS TI. They really formed the main theme of the track, and then I just added the baseline with a CS-80 and the broken beat which I did in Battery 3. It came together quite quickly and then it was just a matter of tweaking (and shortening) the original version. When I write I try to write as quickly and as much as possible to maintain the vibe and energy of the session, and then just edit out as much as I can later, so you’re left with the key elements, and hopefully it still sounds full!
Who have been some of your biggest musical influences throughout your life?
Well I worked out that music has been a big part of my life since I was about 5 or 6 years old. I started listening to pop music but quickly progressed to Guns’n’Roses and a few other rock bands but these were forgotten when I managed to get my hands on a cassette of N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton which was released 3 days after my 7th birthday. I was really into hip hop and loved all the early albums by Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang Clan and many more. However, hip hop kinda lost me when Dre and Tupac put out California Love. Wasn’t a fan. Around the same time my older brother started DJ’ing happy hardcore with some of his friends, so I was exposed to rave music and by the time I was 11 I was just listening to electronic music. I think the two releases that really got me onto the sound I love today would be Speedy J – G Spot and Sasha & Digweed – Northern Exposure, but there was also Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, William Orbit, Ulrich Schnauss, Paul Oakenfold, James Holden, Underworld and many more. More recently guys like Apparat, Henry Saiz, Dubfire, Bicep, Guy Gerber, Kolsch and the like have been great influences but there’s really too many to name.
Thank you Tony, it was great to chat with you! Congrats on the Renaissance release. To round things off, is there anything else lined up from yourself that you’d like to share with us?
Thanks! It’s been great speaking with you..! There’s quite a bit in the pipeline, a few releases and remixes with some Australian based labels, and some more overseas releases penciled along with some remixes of some really strong names but since we aren’t able to leave Australia right now, and probably won’t be able to leave until March or June next year I’ve been holding a lot of music back. I’m working on an event concept as well and should finally be playing a postponed show for Tronic in Ibiza, so I’m hoping 2022 will be a much better year than the previous 2!
Release link: https://lnk.to/REN21016D