by Matt Auckland Tuesday 03 November 2009 22:30
He wowed the world of house and soul music last year with his eponymous album 'The Way You Love Me', and now the man with the magnificent voice a.k.a Baltimore's soul sensation Mr Marc Evans is doing it all over again with a brand new re-issue.
Muthafunkaz beat master DJ Spen caught up with the artist to talk soul, the truth behind his music, the new record and what exactly would go into a Marc Evans Smoothie...
Do you think that people are correct when they refer to you as the man with the ‘magnificent voice’?
I’m honoured that people think I have a magnificent voice! I think it’s pretty cool, I like it. (Jokingly) I think my next t-shirt will say ‘The man with the magnificent voice’ on it ha! I’m honoured that people are really digging my voice.
We were recording the album and Irv (the Muthafunkerz bass player) said, ‘Man you don’t sound like anybody else... that’s a cool thing!’ So yeah I guess it’s cool.
Were you born with soul or did you acquire it through life? Please give details.
I was definitely born into soul, I’m the lovechild of soul, funk and RnB music from the 60’s & 70’s in Baltimore. My parents are both musicians and so as a child I went to rehearsals a lot. We didn’t have day-care all the time so I used to go along and hang with the other kids and musicians and we’d listen to the music and hum along and I’m sure I was absorbing it all the time. I was literally bathing in soul music during my youth.
How important is the church or the gospel in what you do?
Ironically I wasn’t raised in the church, I’m Christian and both parents (now) are very heavily into their faith but I wasn’t raised ‘gospel’. I was raised on radio music and then I sang with the gospel choir at Morgan State when I was in college, that’s probably the biggest part of my gospel influence. But I don’t have a gospel riff and I can’t do the gospel tricks that gospel singers can do. I just have a very soulful voice, I guess that’s what it is.
I’m going to give you 3 names. Tell me which one you’d like to be: Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder or Donny Hathaway?
I’d probably choose Stevie Wonder because he’s still alive ha! I thought Donny Hathaway had one of the most soulful and most convincing voices. I swear, anything he could say, you would believe it because he sang it so well. Stevie’s a great lyricist and a great arranger of music and Marvin Gaye was just cool as hell and sexy with it. Can we just make a smoothie will all three of them in it? I’d name it the ‘Stevie Marvin Hathaway Smoothie’ Ha!
Your album was originally released last year. What kind of reaction did it have and how did it make you feel?
Well as a new major label artist it was incredible man, the reception that I got from it meant that I got a lot more work both nationally and internationally. It gave me a sense of validation, I thought it was well written and well produced and I can honestly say that I feel that it’s my best work to date as a writer and as an artist. That’s because of my partners, the opportunities I got overseas which helped me build up my craft, and I was just getting lots and lots of love. I’m blessed man, I was actually able to leave my full-time job and put all my heart into this thing. It was a gift.
You mentioned The Muthafunkerz earlier, who are they and what do they do?
They’re actually robots from outta space ha! They are the funk and soul machine from the galaxy ‘Funktaculacstar’! ha! No seriously, it’s DJ Spen, as you know, the producer/arranger and beat master, there’s Irvin (I call him the ‘mad-man madden) on bass & guitar and Gary Hudgins with smooth keys and pretty sprinkles! I think the advantage that the Muthafunkaz have over producers who do funk, retro-style neo-soul etc, is that these guys are perhaps more authentic because they were actually there in the 70’s and playing that stuff when it was fresh and hot & new. So they’re authentic funk-dudes, and then you put them with Spen, who’s just a complete house master, and he brings in the right elements and chooses the best parts from the sessions and put’s them together. So yeah it’s DJ Spen, Irvin Madden, Gary Hudgins, Gary Dean and I’m the unofficial hand of the Muthafunkaz.
On this album, there is a re-make of ‘The Way you love me’. What was your thinking behind re-working that house music classic and giving it a soul vibe?
Well first and foremost I’m a soul singer, the wonder about house music is that it got me through college and it was always uplifting and moving and made you want to move and dance. But with deep house, it’s RnB, soul and funk done over a disco or a dance track. ‘The Way you love me’ was a smash and I’d had the idea in my head for about year about bringing it down because I’m definitely more ‘down-tempo’ at heart. You guys (the Muthafunkaz) had me dancing and moving on stage and I feel younger woop! But ‘The Way you love me’ was all about slowing it down and just letting it simmer for a while to marinade itself in that goodness y’know?
So what else, in your mind, is strikingly different from the re-issue section to the original?
It’s definitely more laid-back, and you have a ‘dance option’ to it as well. You can either get up and dance to it or you can lay back and listen to it with a glass of wine with your lady or your man. I mean it’s got a lounge feel to it, and it’s really smooth and it’s sexier without a doubt.
There’s great mixes there and there’s new songs that are balancing the dance with the downtime.
Downtime - What’s the song about?
It’s about real life and it's about that thing we all do every day when we take off our work hat – whether you’re a business man or a teacher or a builder when you take of that work hat you can relax and enjoy your ‘me time’. Whatever it is that you do such as leaving work and going to the bar for a drink with the music in the background and you can forget all the stresses from the working day and enjoy your ‘me time’. It’s a person’s getaway.
What about the song ‘She Is’? That’s got to have some sort of story behind it, and the way that we did it was like the song was truly ‘Your baby’. Who are the ladies in question?
Well we were doing the song, and I was sitting there writing and trying to find something. I have two daughters, one aged six and the other thirteen , and my thirteen year old is becoming a young women now so I started thinking more about how I am as a father and how I hoped I’d done the right things and how I hope I’m still there and accessible as a father. It’s like from the day you first held your daughter and thought: ‘Wow! I’m now a father and I’ve created a girl!’ it makes you really proud to see her blossom but that also makes you scared at the same time because you know that the dudes will start looking. But it’s just a blessing to have the one woman who will always love you and always be there, and that feeling is deep and that’s really the theme of the song.
Who are you asking to ‘Come bother’ you?
Are you trying to set me up ha! I have this wonderful woman in my life who I call ‘highly communicative’ I’m definitely not afraid to say that! The thing is, I’m super busy and it’s hard to love and be in a relationship with a musician. We travel a lot, and we work in the studio and we move around a lot. But with her, whatever I’m doing I will stop what I’m doing to answer a call, or if I have to go and sweep her off her feet for a moment, I’m never too busy. As busy as I am, I will stop because having her in my heart is so important.
You say this re-issue section is sexier but you’ve also got some pretty pumped-up heavy-duty dance stuff interwoven and between, who did some of these?
Well the record starts with ‘The way you love me’ but then Dimitri from Paris took my classic house song and made it into a like a classic disco song. It made the original sound like it was a remake of a disco record! There’s also ATFC, DJ Meme, Mark Grant and, although it’s still house and dance, they added these really soulful elements and they really embraced and enhanced the sound of my voice. It’s good stuff man and it’s really good marriage of music.
Last but not least, we always like to ask for some pearls of wisdoms that you would give to those who aspire to do what you do.
Well let’s just say that I’m praying that you (everyone) find the thing that you love most and what you’re good at, and that’s legal things! Let’s make that clear! Find the thing that you love, pour yourself into it and the biggest blessing is to be able to make a living doing it. If I get rich it’s wonderful but I’m so happy that I’m totally doing this. God gave me this gift of music and now I have the opportunity to sustain myself and support my family and touch lives through this art, so I pray that you can find the thing in you that makes you feel complete and whole and that it’s something you can pour yourself into and get the best out of.
Marc Evans 'The Way You Love Me' Deluxe Re-Issue is out now on Defected Records and avalible from iTunes and all good music outlets.