I recently had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing Marian Call. I first discovered her awesome music when I saw w00tstock back on October 29th, 2010. She was super nice and I had a blast talking to her!
Me: Thank you so much for agreeing to do this. I’m really excited and I’m a big fan. I first heard you at w00tstock. I saw you at the New York show.
Marian: That was my favorite. A smaller audience, but higher energy.
Me: What band or artist has influenced you the most?
Marian: Musically or businesswise?
Me: Musically, but both.
Marian: Joni Mitchell. They Might Be Giants. They might be the two biggest childhood to adulthood influences.
Me: Growing up I loved They Might Be Giants. Where did the idea to use a typewriter as a musical instrument come from?
Marian: I wanted it in a piece of mine. I wanted it to suggest the cultural references that come along with a typewriter. It seemed topical. People said why not play one live. I thought it’d be weird but it was a great idea.
Me: It was fun when you played your geek anthem live. You referenced all things I know and love. That was one of the biggest things that I came home to talk about, you left an impression. How did you get involved with w00tstock?
Marian: I got a phone call one day, really. Shocking and unexpected. I had heard about w00tstock and thought it was awesome. One day I got twitter messages, e-mail and a phone call from Paul of Paul & Storm. I was tongue-tied. I didn’t know why they thought of me but it was all fan recommendations. Fans are good stalkers like that. I said I don’t know if you want me and I don’t know if you realize that my internet friends are louder than my actual reach. I’ll show up in a town and be lucky if I get 15 people in a show. I first performed at w00tstock in San Diego, it was like an audition. Mostly getting to know the guys. They invited me back to NY and Boston, with a longer set. I was the only girl on stage, it felt like they needed me. I was very happy to be asked back. I’ll have to bake them cookies.
Me: What was or is your favorite board game?
Marian: I really like a lot of games. My current favorite is a new game called Ingenious. It won game of the year last year It’s like a cross between Mastermind, Othello and Chinese Checkers. It has a board with colored octagons that you manipulate. It’s fantastic, played it nonstop. I also love Carcazan and Settlers of Catan, and one called Gloom. It’s a card game. It’s relatively new. You have to make other players sad to win and make your opponents players happy in order to make them lose.
Me: What is your process like for writing new music?
Marian: Very quick. Lyrics first. I often get out the rhyming dictionary. I’m very into rhyming and syllables, and then melody later. Finally the chorus last. Most of my songs are written pretty quick. I usually don’t struggle with a song. I use the left brain approach, piece it together like a math problem. Melody work is to make sure I’m not plagiarizing other songs. I go back through iTunes to make sure I’m not emulating something I’ve been listening to. I approach it as a craft. I tinker with it. I have a degree in composition. Music writing isn’t hard for me. The booking is more difficult.
Me: Does what you learned in school help in your music career?
Marian: Yeah, I think so. I think there’s something good about going back to learn the fundamentals. I’m not doing 17th century counterpoint, but it’s still good to learn. I thought for a while I wouldn’t use it. I saw it as enriching even if it was a waste, but since I am in music it all works out. I highly recommend it. A lot of people skip the school part of being creative. you can, but the value of getting your fundamentals is underrated.
Me: What is your favorite geeky movie?
Marian: I need specifics.
Me: What do you currently adore the most.
Marian: Scott Pilgrim!
Me: What other interests do you have outside of music?
Marian: Tons and tons of things. I love film and poetry. I love the internet and pop culture, NPR, photography, and I’m pretty much into everything. I’m game for a lot. Except for very technical how to stuff. Not interested in car engines or hard drives. Almost everything else I enjoy in conversation or learning about. I will sit through a lecture on just about any subject.
Me: What was it like doing a tour of all 50 states?
Marian: It was really cool to meet a lot of my online friends in person. That was my favorite part. It was exhausting and very, very, very fun. It’s a wide question in scope. I was completely reliant on my fans for the entire thing. I was completely trusting them.
Me: Sounds like you have a great community formed with your fans. A great commonality.
Marian: Genuinely like talking to my fans and seeing on twitter what’s going on in their lives. It’s a mutual thing.
Mary: Have you considered other quirky/mundane items to use as instruments?
Marian: I use a rain stick, a kazoo, I use bells, hammers, sandpaper, all kinds of weird shakers, funny stuff like buttons, I actually have to look at my track list. I think that’s about it. I use a lot of alternative instruments also like banjo, tuba, piccolo, etc.
Me: I really love “We’re Out For Blood”. The live version is awesome. “Vanilla” is the song that got me hooked.
Me: Would you like your fans to know anything else?
Marian: I plan on touring Europe this summer. If anyone would like to see me in their town, please contact me. I’m also working on a new album. If anyone wants to hear updates on that, just message me on Twitter.
*Update: 01-26-11 This is the postcard Marian Call sent me. Awesome!
*Special thanks to my beautiful and awesome girlfriend Mary who helped me put this together.