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Marlon Williams

Marlon Williams

Interviewed by
Danielle Street
Monday 9th February, 2015 1:41PM

Late last year Marlon Williams shot an arrow through the hearts of fans by rolling out the haunting single 'Dark Child' as a taster of his forthcoming self-titled debut album. The single was penned some years ago by the musician's long-time friend Tim Moore but given a new lease of life by Williams, who recorded the track in his hometown of Lyttelton with the help of Ben Edwards, a veteran producer whose good work is stamped on the sterling offerings recently released by Aldous Harding and Tami Neilson.

Along with releasing the cut, Williams, who is currently based in Melbourne, announced a welcome jaunt around New Zealand with his backing band The Yarra Benders that kicks off next Friday. In anticipation, UnderTheRadar caught up with Marlon to have a chat about life in Melbourne, the bizarre video for 'Dark Child' and his dislike of writing....

Hi Marlon, howís your day going?

Good. I'm a little bit hungover but Iíve done the laundry now, so industry has begun.

Howís Melbourne treating you?

Itís great, itís a pretty big city and itís got all the trappings of a big city, but itís a pretty friendly and kind one. Thereís a lot to do, a lot of places to play and a lot of music to see.

What part of the city are you living in?

I live in Abbotsford. I live above a pub, slightly out east about 10 minutes from the city.

What was the driver for moving to there?

Oh, I just wanted to get out of Christchurch for awhile I think. And it seemed like the obvious place to do it.

In Christchurch, and particularly in Lyttelton, there is quite a tight country music community that you were part of, do you miss that?

Yeah, I do to a degree. Iíve got quite a lot of good friends there still, but you know, itís still there, itís always going to be there. And I'm back there a lot anyway, so yeah, itís not too big of an issue.

Is there anything similar to the Lyttelton scene where you are now?

Um, not in terms of the sound really. Since moving here Iíve really come to appreciate the uniqueness of that sound. But in terms of tightness, there are scenes that have their own things going on and that they still have that camaraderie, but itís a different kind of thing.

When you say the sound, what do you think defines the New Zealand sound that you are talking about?

I donít even know how to answer that even though I just made that distinction. I canít really back it up with any concrete statements. But itís so tightened together that it does have the appearance of having some kind of synchronicity to it, I guess.

Has moving affected your writing in any profound way?

Not really, Iíve been exposed to a lot of different kinds of music I didnít know before. I guess in subtle ways in a very general sense, but I donít think Iíve changed my writing style that much, no.

The single you recently put out ĎDark Childí is very striking, I understand it was written by Tim Moore. How did that come about?

Well, Timís a Christchurch boy and heís a good old friend of mine, and Iíve always loved the way he writes songs, heís a very natural songwriter and singer, but he doesnít really play much anymore. So I wanted that song to get some light, because itís such a great song. So I recorded a version of it and I thought it was better than any of the songs I wrote, so I put it out as a single.

So Tim writes still, but doesnít ever perform live?

He does still write, but he wrote that when he was still playing quite a bit, quite a few years ago. But he still writes and Iíll probably nab a few more of his songs.

Can you please explain the story behind the video for ĎDark Childí?

The concept was pitched to me by Damian Golfinopoulos, the director. It grabbed me because it took the classic, even tired Hollywood cinematic trope of a crime scene in middle class suburbia and twisted it in new and interesting ways.

How did you feel when you saw the finished clip?

I knew it was going to be interesting on a personal level just because of the different characters I had to play. I'm not much of an actor so I was pretty nervous and self conscious about seeing it for the first time but by the time the last edit had been done I was comfortable enough to watch it all the way through without averting my eyes at any point.

And you also recently let loose the single ĎStrange Thingsí, whatís that song about?

Itís just a sad, weird, gothic country song I guess. Just a strange story about grief and how you deal with that and the weird things people do and the weird places they can go when itís left untended to, when you are left alone in it.

The storytelling aspect to your writing, do you turn your hand to other styles like poetry?

Um, I donít enjoy writing much, except for when itís finished and I can present it. But the actual process of writing I donít like much, so I donít write poetry or anything like that. I write songs when I have to.

Youíll be back in the NZ next week. Do you have a routine when getting homeÖ any places you need to hit up?

Not really, as long as I get to spend some time back in Lyttelton I donít really mind. I like doing all the main cities. Itís such an easy place to tour after galavanting around Australia for awhile. Itís just a nice easy time where I donít have to worry too much, I just have to play good shows. Thatís about it.

Marlon Williams will be kicking off a four-date tour with his backing band The Yarra Benders this Friday 13th February in Dunedin. Head over here for more details and to buy tickets.

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