Behind the Beat: MaRLo
One of Australia’s most well known Trance producers, MaRLo, spoke with Only The Beat during his stop in New York City for EDC New York. Fresh off his stops in Toronto and Houston, MaRLo laid out his plans for 2016, hoping to bring his headlining stadium show “Altitude” to the U.S., along with giving us insights into his mindset when steps onstage in front of thousands of fans. Check out the latest with MaRLo below!
Only the Beat: You’re back in New York City for another performance at EDC NY! Are you excited?
MaRLo: Absolutely. New York is a beautiful city. Last year I played EDC as well and it was really, really crazy. So I’m super pumped to play again.
OTB: Is there anything in particular that you look forward to in New York?
MaRLo: I’ve got a pretty hectic schedule this past few weeks. Yesterday I was in Toronto, night before that I was in Houston and I’m on very little sleep. I’ll probably just rest up. Take it easy, eat some nice food. Day after that, I’ll go into Manhattan and walk around, walk through Central Park. What I love about New York is that you can just sort of drift around and there’s stuff to see. You don’t really need to make a plan. There’s always stuff to see and I do, so I’m just gonna do that.
OTB: What about while you’re at the festival itself, is there anything or any set in particular you’re looking forward to?
MaRLo: Honestly its more like catching up with friends. A lot of the guys that are playing on my stage I’ve become really good friends with so I’m just looking forward to having a couple of drinks, catching up with them, and just hanging out. That’s what I’m really looking forward to doing.
OTB: You’re well-known for not having a pre-planned set. You always just go with the flow and read the crowd, trying not to replicate any other set exactly. Has this lack of pre-planning ever really backfired on you?
MaRLo: For me, it has always been a public thing that I don’t pre-plan my sets. You always can come up with your own preconceptions about what a show is going to be like or what a crowd is going to respond to. But you know, you might go to a smaller city or whatever and think they don’t know the underground tunes or know everything that you’ve made or things like that, and you get there and they’re super passionate fans, and they’re wearing your shirt and they’re fans who know exactly what you’re all about. If I were to prepare a set making assumptions, I think I would’ve gotten into trouble a lot of times. It’s always worked out really well for me though. It also makes it that much more exciting for me. It’s a thrill. It’s a thrill standing in front of a big crowd and not knowing what you’re going to do yet. And that risk involved, I kinda like it. I think I’d get bored if I knew what was going to happen.
OTB: I think the audience would get bored too, given that so many sets are online.
MaRLo: That’s actually a really good point. Indeed a lot of the big shows are broadcast nowadays and there are so many of them in a row. For instance, ASOT in Holland is broadcast and recorded and you’ve got Ultra two weeks later, and then Tomorrowland in the summer. People listen. People listen on SoundCloud and on YouTube, so they’ll call you out if you play the same set. Of course, I want to play a lot of my own music, so those tracks you’ll hear in my sets no matter where it is, but the other tracks I do mix up a lot. I try and make edits of everything I play so when I play a track it doesn’t sound the same as when another DJ plays it. I shorten it, lengthen it, add my own bass lines, do a mashup over top. I’m really aware that those sets are available online and I don’t want them to sound the same every time.
Marlo Live at Atlantis 2016
OTB: Is there an artist that has really influenced your musical development that might surprise people? Who are some of your musical influences?
MaRLo: Well, I have a double answer here. I have got to give a shout out to Armin van Buuren because he’s supported me so much and without him my career would not be where it is today. Also, I feel like I owe him a lot and I really look up to him and what he did in his career. Saying that, there’s also other artists I was getting into when I was first getting into the scene, more on the tech-trance and hard-trance side. Sander van Doorn’s early stuff, Marcel Woods. There are so many.
OTB: Armin is a huge influence on so many producers.
MaRLo: Yeah, I think he’s a great ambassador for the scene you know with his weekly radio show, the events, his label…I think it gives a lot of up and coming producers a great platform to launch of and I think it also gives the genre a lot of exposure it wouldn’t get otherwise.
OTB: When we talk about up and coming producers, you’ve always been a big proponent of throwing everything you’ve got into music and loving every step of the way. What has been the hardest time for you in your career where you thought maybe you couldn’t overcome the obstacles in your way and how did you overcome them?
MaRLo: Hmm…well, I was basically a local DJ in Sydney for a while, where I was playing three or four times a week for very, very little money. I just loved doing it. But in quick succession, other DJ’s would replace me, or clubs would shut down, or change their music policy. So within a period of two or three months, I lost all my gigs and had nothing left. I had signed one of my tracks to a label in Germany. And as a bold move, I took my, at the time girlfriend, and we moved to Europe to try and make it. And I thought “OK, this one vinyl track I’ve got, this is my little thread of hope, maybe I can build up a vibe outta Europe.” And right when we showed up to Europe, the label went bankrupt because everything was turning from vinyl to digital. So I’d lost that and I was stuck in Europe with no gigs and no releases coming up and I really did hit rock bottom. I was working doing tele-sales and phone-marketing; doing whatever I could to keep the dream alive. That was the low point where I really started to question things. I actually got a life line where I got to do a tour going back to Australia. Then I moved back to Australia, with my tail between my legs I suppose you could say, but things really picked up from there. I did my remix of Brainbox with Ferry Corsten in 2009 and that was the beginning of crawling back out of my hole. From there I did a few releases, one of them went to number one with The Island, and then the momentum started to build to the point where I am now. There were a few months were I was questioning everything, no music, no shows, it was just awful.
OTB: When your get in the studio, what is your approach to developing a track?
MaRLo: When I get in the studio, it’s really fun to just make whatever happens, whatever comes to mind, I don’t try and prepare. I don’t sit down and say, “Oh I’m gonna make a really energetic track or a really uplifting track,” I just sort of of start playing with keyboards and manipulating sounds and what comes out comes out. I allow the creativity to breathe like that. I find it really important to just let it happen rather than try and control it. If it doesn’t fit in with my last release, that’s OK. My releases are quite diverse. I’ll go from like a sing along vocal track to something like Darkside and that’s where I get the enjoyment out of it, my freedom to be so diverse. And now I’m getting to the point with my sets and the people who support me where they see that I’m diverse and I don’t stick to the same sound every time.
Marlo – Darkside
OTB: You had toured as a live act once, has your career developed to the point where you might bring back live aspects?
MaRLo: A few years ago I played live at Stereosonic, and its great fun, but I don’t know if the crowd appreciates fully the amount of work and intensity that goes into doing a live show. It’s something I could bring back for some shows, but its not something I want to do for every show. With a live set you have to pre-prepare, there are not really options. When I do a live set, it’s not like it’s Ableton live where you can choose which track you’re playing next, there is an element of pre-programming as well. I also didn’t like that restriction. I didn’t like that I couldn’t just go with the flow. I didn’t like how limited I was to interacting with the crowd. When I’m playing the keyboards or with samplers, I can’t put my hand up or psych the crowd up or anything like that. So it felt a little bit…yeah…
OTB: If you could make any change of any aspect of the music industry right now, what would it be?
MaRLo: I know its cliché, but I would suggest that everyone really support the things they love and not hate on the things that they don’t. I think it’s a waste of time. I think people online value their own opinions way too much. And I think the whole online social media thing gives people a voice and a platform to spring from and sort of lecture everyone else. I think it can be very damaging to the scene when there are a lot of new people and they see a lot of negativity, which isn’t representative of the people in the crowd. Or in the festivals or in the clubs. It’s a very small portion but it’s a vocal minority that spreads a lot of negativity and I don’t get it. I don’t get the point. I would never go and see and artist I don’t like. I would never listen to an artist I don’t want to listen to and then give my social commentary on why I don’t like it. It’s absurd to me. It’s like eating food you don’t like and saying, “Aw, I hate that.” So go and eat the food you do like. From an artists point of view, I think a lot of us feel the same way. I’m not making music to please someone else. I’m making music because I have to. It’s a creative outlet for me and I enjoy doing it. And I like sharing it with people who are like minded and care for it. I’m not making it to please someone. The whole concept of giving your social commentary on things you’re not into is something I can’t really relate to. It’s not something I’d do when I used to go out.
OTB: Well speaking to other people’s expectations, a lot of fans seem to expect albums out of their favorite artists, but you’ve said you aren’t really interested in doing an album at this time and are content with singles. This is an interesting perspective compared to a lot of other artists.
MaRLo: Yeah, I mean, I would love to do an album one day because it gives you the creative freedom to do all sorts of stuff that doesn’t have to be like, banging Trance type stuff. That freedom is really appealing to me. But in order to do an album you basically have to take a year off of single releases unless you release all the singles on the album as well, but for me that’s less exciting too. For me, if I was to do an album I’d like to say ,”Here’s what I’ve been working on for the past year.” I don’t want to stick to my single release schedule all year and then stick in a few tracks that aren’t that great. I don’t want to fall into that trap where your singles are great and then make people buy and album where your singles are the ones that sell it. I think that’s unfair.
OTB: Well since it doesn’t look like an album is on the horizon, what should we be on the look out for in 2016?
MaRLo: I’ve got my own show called Altitude in Australia. Big capacity shows, stadium-style shows where I do a four-hour set. The plan is if all that goes really well I start touring it internationally and I bring it to the USA as well. That’s where all my effort and energy is going right now.
Only The Beat thanks MaRLo and his team for taking the time to chat with us for EDC NY and we look forward to everything he has in store for us in the coming months!
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