PHOTO CREDIT: Mike Greggain
IT has been great speaking with Marlon Chaplin…
ARTWORK: Karly McCloskey/PHOTO: Michael Greggain and Marlon Chaplin/CONCEPT: Marlon Chaplin
about his debut album, The Circle. He talks with me about the album’s themes and whether Toronto and its people/sensations feed into The Circle; when music came into his life – Chaplin recommends some rising artists we should be aware of.
I ask the Canadian musician whether there are tour dates coming and if he has favoured memories from his career so far; what he does to unwind away from music; the three albums that mean the most to him; what he hopes to accomplish before the close of the year – Chaplin chooses a rare gem to end the interview with.
Hi, Marlon. How are you? How has your week been?
It’s a bit of a whirlwind right now. I’m still coming down off a wonderful C.D. release party - packed house, one of Toronto’s finest venues (The Piston). It was a real raver. Two nights ago I shot part of a new music video for one of the album’s songs; I’m in the process of working on a concept for another and just got through booking a slew of new dates with my management.
So, when I catch my breath, I’ll let you know.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Hi world. I’m Marlon Chaplin. I’m a musician, songwriter and producer from Toronto currently in the process of rolling out the album I have a sneaking suspicion we’re about to talk about…
The Circle is your debut album. What are the main themes that define the album?
It’s a piece that deals with ideas of a cyclical nature. It’s life, death and everything in between. I don’t feel a lot of things are black-and-white and a lot of looking at life and your surroundings comes down to perspective: one man’s trash etc. That kind of thing. From the album art, to the lyrics and music itself there’s a healthy amount of Easter eggs for those that want to go digging.
What has it been like recording the songs? Is it cool to be releasing through Möbius Recordings?
The recording process was a fruitful one. Eric Duquette, who plays guitar on the record, recommended the studio/engineer. We cut the bed tracks at Lincoln County Social Club with John Dinsmore in four days as a five piece having rehearsed it for months. Later, horns, strings and various other overdubs were added. It eventually made its way into the hands of Chris Shaw, who’s done brilliant work with Weezer and Bob Dylan. The making of this album was, overall, a carnival of delight.
The record simply wouldn’t exist without Möbius Recordings, so I think the gravitas speaks for itself.
PHOTO CREDIT: JP Kelly
There are personal offerings on the album but I feel the sights and sounds of Toronto, in a way, play a role. How important is the city to you?
Hmm, that’s interesting. I’d be interested to know in what sense you got that impression. You’re right. There are nods here and there, mainly in the artwork but I’ve lived here my whole life so whatever the sound of Toronto is - and that’s impossible to pin down - I’m sure it bleeds through in some way.
I’ve never been that songwriter that name-checks locations and whatnot. Some of my favourite songwriters are, but it’s just never come naturally to me. So, my roots/heritage probably leak through more conceptually.
When did music come into your life? Which artists did you obsess over?
Music came into my life, basically, from day one. I remember being very small and wondering who exactly Jo Jo was and what a loner is. The full-on obsession started with The Who. That was my scour-the-earth-for-original-magazines-cut-out-the-pictures-of-Townshend-mid-leap-and-plaster-them-on-my-wall fixation. My influences run the gamut though. Since my teens, it’s been a case of if it moves me then it stays. Genre doesn’t matter to me one iota.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
I want this record to reach a lot of ears because it deserves it. It’s my personal best and it’s what’s needed at the moment. Alternative, Rock; Pop - whatever you want to call it - needs a jolt of electricity and realness and, above all, songwriting. There are a million bands that look the part, sound the part but don’t have the tunes. The tunes are here. It's the recipe for longevity. By the end of this year, I want to turn on as many people as possible.
It’s always getting a little bigger each day which is much, much better than the other way around.
PHOTO CREDIT: Raquel Simoes
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Impossible to pin one down. In many ways, I feel like I’m still just beginning. But, for today? My first club gig ever. The Rockit (long-since gone). That first hit, you know? It’s always the most powerful. You always remember your first time.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
‘The White Album’ (The Beatles) – The Beatles
Because it told me you can do anything.
Another Side of Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan
Because it told me you can say anything.
Songs for the Deaf – Queens of the Stone Age
Because it told me you can be beautiful and brutal at the same time.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Mai Tais. Hyperbolic chamber; Wayne Newton.
PHOTO CREDIT: JP Kelly
Might we see some tour dates coming up? Where might we be able to catch you play?
All Ontario dates until November at the moment. Oct. 5th, we’re at the Atria in Oshawa; Oct. 6th at the Foxx in Barrie; Oct. 12th at The Brownstone in Orillia and then it’s homecoming at the Horseshoe on Nov. 21st.
How important is it being on stage and performing? Is it the place you feel most comfortable?
It’s hugely important. It’s one of the places I feel most comfortable - that and the studio. My goal in all of this is basic at the end of the day: make people feel how my favourite artists make me feel when I listen to their records and see them live, which is the highest high.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
That would depend on what this hypothetical artist wants. Some people just want to make music for their cat. Some want to be Lady Gaga. It’s all good. Just keep your aim true and remember that critics, parents; teachers, whoever are just people with opinions.
IN THIS PHOTO: Ada Dahli/PHOTO CREDIT: Gárate Photography
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
The short answer is ‘no’, I don’t get much time away from music. I can’t afford any time away from it. I’m not cut from the 9-to-5er cloth: I don’t work for the weekend. I don’t save up for a vacation in Punta Cana or wherever. It’s just not in my blood. I just make music.
I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey last night at something called the Cinesphere on 70mm. That unwound me.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Yes. No Man’s Land by Syd Barret. It’s a murky, dirty and twisted little dirge I just adore
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PHOTO CREDIT: JP Kelly