Introducing - Etoile Marley

Etoile Marley comes from an Australian/French background and is now based in London. Described as dark pop meets bluesy rock, she has a unique tone and lower register in her voice and is often likened to Sade. Marley takes musical inspiration from artists such as Dusty Springfield, Jeff Buckley, M.I.A and Portishead and is enamoured with pop culture, surrealism and Spoken Word/Rap. It's a surrealist's blend of pop art, hip hop and funk - with a big dollop va va voom.

Writing, co-producing and releasing all her own original music whilst building her repertoire and studying full time. Her goal is to be a songwriter for other artists as well as herself.

Previously a dancer, actor and circus performer, Etoile founded a dance and circus business "Beebop Arts", teaching and performing nationally and internationally. Including fronting an all French gypsy jazz band for 5 years "Madame Andrée".

COVID and lockdowns are part of normal life and back in lockdown 2.0 (mid October 2020) I had the pleasure of catching up with one of the coolest people I've ever interviewed.

Firstly I wanted to understand which hip hop artists inspired her? "De La Soul, Lauren Hill, Jurassic five, slick rick funky bass lines they had a good thing going on. I loved their overall feel you know." I like those artists too and it's not just for their music. It was always more about their cultural observations and references; less bitch and hoe's - more wit and prose! Lauren Hill is definitely one of the queens of the genre as well "The thing I love about her is the intelligence behind her lyrics and her rapping. Right from the beginning with The Fugees. I often listen to her MTV Unplugged album to get inspiration, she's super intelligent the way she reflects the bible."

I think that when someone comes from a minority who's experienced a life time or repression they create something that is so powerful and moving. Take the Miseducation of Lauren Hill - it's one of the most powerful albums of the last fifty years. Every track, her melodies, her top lining - it's all phenomenal. Mary J Blige deserves special praise too.

Reflecting on her first love with music she told me that Crowded House were also a big influence. "The first album I ever bought was a best of Crowded House Don't Dream It's over I remember being super moved by that Into Temptation - Aside from that my dad was a huge Pink Floyd fan that kinda psychedelic impact my love for that. Old school bluesy rock. Genesis and Enya, Phil Collins as well."

Her creative process changes according to the song - currently she spends a lot of time on Logic and writes beats. If not then she works on melodies on the piano. There's a fluidity to her writing and it shows when you look at her back catalogue.

"At the start of UK Lockdown, I knew I wanted to write about it in some way. My initial feeling was that of frustration and a bit of doom and gloom! So my first take was something more of a Rocky Hip Hop track (I was thinking M.I.A vibes with big industrial sounds). Which I still think sounds wicked but when I decided to collaborate with Academic on the whole EP project things shifted in a new direction! We started by having a chat about the project and then he sent me some demos. When I heard this jazzy little riff, I knew instantly "This is it"! From there the song evolved as I wrote the rap for it and we added horns to the track, it morphed into this slick Jazzy HipHop tune that is full of good vibes. It kinda changes the whole feeling of "LockItDown" into a fun party! To be honest, it's my favourite track I've (co)written so far and I'm pumped for the live acoustic version I'll be performing."

Some bands and artists fall into a routine, whereas being a solo artist she has the freedom to follow whichever route starts the creative process. When she co-writes she focuses mainly on the lyrics, although she dabbles on the keyboard and guitar. She been thinking about getting a bass, so if you know me I've been playing bass for six months now and I get lost for hours playing. She said she was going to buy herself a bass for Christmas.

Etoile is not only musically gifted, she's also doing a degree, she's released 3 singles and she's doing a debut EP. Lockdown has seen her be incredibly productive and she's also told me she's going to be writing an album for 202 - Her enthusiasm is infectious!

Etoile's first passion was ballet as child, but outside of music her hidden talents are juggling, skipping tricks, stilt walking and dancing on stilts. Her favourite ballet is Bangarra a mix of aboriginal dancers and their art has an edge that is lacking in more contemporary ballets.

Giving yourself a break from a creative process that makes you feel overwhelmed, can be a good thing. Listening to podcasts or going for a walk, can give us space to think. Etoile has also found podcasts have helped her during lockdown, her own favourites are Fearne Cotton's podcast, as well as song-writing ones and self-motivational books.

I asked her how she's stayed sane since COVID and lockdowns became the normal, "In a universe that seems where everyone feels like they're going to catch coronavirus - giving out kindness, love and empathy. Not choosing to take on other people's shit!"

Whilst she found lockdown difficult at the start, a few months in she got into the pace of lockdown, " I love the pace of lockdown you know, not so much rushing around. Waking up and starting the day slowly. I can't complain. My husband was around a bit more as he was furloughed, so we've been really lucky. I try to not to dwell on the negatives. It feels a bit cookie - like we're in a film almost (i feel the same)."

Etoile's new single Catching Feelings is out on February 14th - you can pre-save it here

Etoile Marley






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