|Below is an exclusive interview with Marc Evans who teams up with DJ Spen and The MuthaFunkaz to bring us their debut album "The way you love me" released on September 15th.|
They call him "the man with the magnificent voice" and they are right. Marc Evans is the soul sensation from Baltimore who first showed up on the UK radar after his 2006 release of "The way you love me", a record that transcended genres and became an instant classic for almost every DJ. His songs are upbeat, authentic, danceable and beautifully delivered with a clear gospel influence. He is now ready to bring us his debut album on Defected Records, named after his 2005 seminal club hit. It's a 13 track collaboration between himself and DJ Spen's global production outfit The MuthaFunkaz (Gary Deane, Gary Hudgins and Irvin Madden). It's fair to say that this is true slice of soulful house at its finest.
Question: Let's start by asking - Where did you get all your soul from?
Answer: Both my parents are musicians and as a child I would go to band rehearsals with them, I didn't realise I was absorbing all the music. My mother is a vocalist and violinist and she was doing backing vocals in an R&B and Soul band back in the 70's. You'll like the fact that my dad plays on "I don't want you anymore".
I went to college for chemistry pre-med and then I realised that my focus wasn't in chemistry and medicine so much as it was in healing. Music became the medicine that I now administer.
Question: So when did you first discover that you could sing then?
Answer: The first time I really realised I could sing was in High school. In the 80's I was in a rap band, I did everything that the kids did in terms of trend, music and pop culture. In my senior year I sang in a holiday concert and the director was like "I've worked with you for four years; we didn't know you could sing".
I fell in love with music at college and I discovered that I wanted to be around it all the time, I joined the choir in 1989 and started touring, it was classical, big band, it was gospel and it was spiritual. It just developed my love for music.
Question: Let's talk about your influences, can you give me some idea of artists that you focused on?
Answer: I was really into Do-wop music from the 50's and 60's like The Platters, Nat King Cole and Billy Joel's 52nd Street album. It was kind of like a bridge of pop and rock and then RnB and Soul. As I grew into an artist and started loving music more, it was definitely Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and a lot of soul- Donny Hathaway.
Question: I have to say you do have a very similar style to Donny Hathaway.
Answer: To me he's one of my favourite voices, he's so convincing. He sang with so much passion, you believe every word he says. He has a voice with power and influence it was such a moving spirit within his voice.
Question: What was it like the first time you came to the UK to perform?
Answer: I used to play in a band locally and see 30-40 people in the club singing my songs. Then I'm in Southport and I step on stage and I'm singing the lyrics and there's 5 or 6 THOUSAND people singing along, it's so perfect, it's really like wow. I get goose bumps now just talking about it, it was so powerful to be in a room for the first time and to have thousands singing to my lyrics, they've never met me, never seen me and just to have them singing my song it was off the rail.
Question: So "Giving me joy", what's that all about?
Answer: Basically it's a song to celebrate love. My first single was so much about me remembering love, a celebration of love. "Giving me joy" was literally just thinking about, it's been a while, I was just going through a divorce and I separated myself from relationships to focus on music. When you start thinking you remember how good it feels to be in love with someone and to be reminded of that feeling, to be able to trust someone and give them your heart, that's kind of how it came to be.
Question: "The way you love me", Has this record changed your life in anyway?
Answer: Oh definitely, I didn't expect it to take off I just figured ok, maybe it'd be a cool song to do and it ended up being a big hit.
Question: The MuthaFunkaz produced this album headed by Spen. How did you hook up with him?
Answer: He was one of my local heroes in the 80's, he was a local DJ doing the radio thing and then he broke off to do his own thing and said I'm going to bring you in to do some vocal work. We're pretty much like Soul geeks because we connected right away and laughed together, we talked about the fact that we appreciated a wide variety of music and we were able to make a connection right away.
Question: What can you tell me about the production of this album?
Answer: I'm looking forward to the release; it's been about 2 years in the making. It was really funny because the album is produced by The MuthaFunkaz who are a serious authentic funk soul squad with Spen bringing the authentic house influence into it, its great production. We clashed a lot at the beginning because we're all strong passionate people, we had different ideas about our work. We only bumped heads because we all wanted to be good at it. We realised the fact that building that relationship is what it was really about. We had all these bumpy run-ins because everyone cared about it being a good project, once we realised that and saw what was happening, it happened honestly.
Question: Would you say you're not really religious? Do you have some kind of faith?
Answer: I was raised Christian, I was a Baptist and I've always grown up experiencing other cultures, I've opened my mind about being limited to any denomination, that's what I mean about being spiritual not religious. I am very god fearing, respectful to faith and I believe there's a higher being that's greater.
Question: There's a huge gospel feeling in your music.
Answer: That comes from my time in the gospel choir at college. It was a church based choir but we did classical as well as spiritual.
Question: It occurred to me that to actually write your songs you need to feel the joy or pain of life in order to create the songs that you do. Would you agree with that?
Answer: Definitely, the ones that ring true to people are the ones that come from real life experiences. I trained myself to write, I write from my understanding of my personal experience or those from close friends that I've witnessed. I'm very sincere in my writing. It's very important to not be cliché and go for the rhyme. It's definitely important to have a meaning behind it.
Question: Finally what are you working on at the minute then? Do you have any projects that you're currently working on that you could tell us about?
Answer: I'm actually finishing my second independent album and doing a Neo Soul album which is more hip hop influenced.
Courtesy of Defected Records