October 4, 2009
2009, The Year of Del Marquis
In other years, you've perhaps known Del Marquis as the cute, quiet Scissor Sisters guitarist in tight pants and suspenders. Over the past 12 months, Del has stepped out on his own, releasing four solo digital EPs - totally DIY - of varied styles. Just released, the final one is a gem, leading with the sterling sing-along Runaround and the more ambient, but accessible Each Time I Reach The Sun. Also look out for his earlier track, Remember Me Young, which revives the sweet, earnest vocal jazzpop styles of late 80’s UK.
You can buy the EP at iTunes US. I jokingly tweeted that Del, who is 32, is the "dignified Scissor Sister," but there is some truth to it. His persona in the band is kind of sly or impish, but I feel like he's emerged as a really thoughtful, versatile musician with his solo work. Del's done this whole project himself, even much of the PR; he even contacted me with a nice note. Here is a little chat that I pulled together with bits of a few email exchanges during the last month.
XO: Your solo work broke apart preconceived notions for me about the actual level of talent in a successful group. I didn't even know you could sing and then you bring out all this music!
Del: I had to understand what I was capable of. That role, as a guitar player, visual performer, occasional studio contributor and live musical contributor, felt empty after two rounds; and I couldn't go through another album cycle unless I created music that was mine alone. These songs gave me perspective.
It seems like you swing between, not avant garde exactly, but a more New York indie-art kind of dance /pop, and then you wheel out these melodic pop anthems, like the new single. Did you begin with the intention of being less pop? Do you feel more comfortable or intrigued with a certain style after doing all this solo music?
Most of the process was new to me, being in charge of the bulk of songwriting, lyrics, piano, bass lines, etc. So there was a naivety to where the song would end up. I’d grab onto an atmosphere or hook and follow that until its conclusion, building the lyrics/story for the song around the how the music felt. I made an effort to combine as many things that I loved: R&B, Rock, Blue Eyed Soul, Folk, Shoegaze with everything sitting comfortably under a Pop umbrella (well, a Pop umbrella from the 80’s). There were a couple main directions that continue to influence me more and more; Blue-eyed soul and R&B. I loved how those white boys from England mixed elements of soul with rock, punk, electro and balladeering. A lot of this music informs the way I sing (Style Council, Prefab Sprout, ABC). With R&B, it was undeniable if you grew up in or around a big urban city in the 80’s and 90’s. It is probably the strongest direction I have in terms of the music I’m writing now, but only interesting to me when put through a blender of my other musical interests.
This "year of living solo," so to speak, has emboldened you to continue with that in the future?
Sometime after the Scissor Sisters tour/album, I'll be at it again.
I am intrigued by how the solo music affects how you feel about your role in Scissor Sisters. What about the group's new record in 2010?
Thankfully, I can't wait to get back to being 'just' a lead guitar player... my ideas and sound are more a part of these new Scissor Sisters songs than before, I can't believe how good we sound on record with Stuart Price in the mix. I think I've helped to make some of the songs great, and others, I just can't wait to play live.