Get ready to dance, because Nashville’s Marquee Mayfield will have you moving with their new single “Feelin’ So Blue“! An upbeat R&B, pop-funk single brings infectious energy and fun – despite it’s title, it’ll have you feeling anything but blue! An accompanying and hilarious music video in the style of a ‘mocu-mentary’ was released in conjunction with the track, showcasing the band’s fun-loving weird side, with a healthy dose of satire.
Here’s what happened when the band spoke with Ray Sang about music and more.
First things first how did the band form / members meet?
This is about six years ago, I’d just graduated college and was renting the basement of a house in Nashville, where a few of my college buddies lived. One of those guys was Landon Rives, rhythm guitarist in Marquee Mayfield. Landon also played drums, so I went on Craigslist and found some mix & match pieces of drum kits to put a little set together. We just wanted to jam in the basement, me on guitar, and him on the drums. At the time I was really digging on Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, The Black Crowes, Sly & The Family Stone, etc. just teaching myself how to play some of those tunes. Those “jam sessions” turned into me writing my own songs & Landon would drum along. We put a band together, at the time it was called “ReLapse”. It was a little bit of rock, blues and funk all kinda mashed together. We played our first shows at Nashville clubs like ‘The End’ and ‘Foo Bar’, now called ‘The Cobra’. About a year later I changed the name of the group to Marquee Mayfield. The style of the music was changing to more of a pop-funk, R&B sound, and still evolving today. A lot has happened over those 5-6 years. MM is somewhat of a rotating cast of characters, an extended family of musicians & friends in the Nashville pop/funk/R&B scene. There’s so much talent here and a strong network of players who want to be to be involved with music that’s fun to play. We get to be dance-floor facilitators, what could be more fun musically?? There may be as many as 50 different folks who have played at least 2 shows with Marquee. But there are core members of the band that rarely have to miss a show.
Being from Nashville most people would assume your music would have a country influence – does this ever appear in your work?
I would be hard pressed to find a song by Marquee Mayfield that was directly influenced by country music. Our latest single, “Feelin’ So Blue” does feature Adam Korsvik (lead guitarist for MM) on slide guitar. I’d say his playing is more rooted in blues and that Stax, Memphis sound. I think Nashville will always be associated with country music, and for good reason! The industry presence of country music here is unavoidable. But these days, Nashville has great scenes for all genres – pop, rock & indie, jazz, funk, reggae, hip-hop, etc. I think if Nashville has taught me anything, it’s not about the genre of music. It’s all about the songs! If you can write good songs, a good hook, a catchy melody – it doesn’t matter what genre you get pigeon-holed into. A lot of talented folks move here to chase a dream of being an artist. The ones that learn how to write good songs are likely the ones who will stand out. There’s no shortage of talented people here, it’s saturated. But if you’ve got the talent and the songs, something is likely going to happen for you.
What is your typical songwriting process like?
Specifically for “Feelin’ So Blue”, Adam came to me with that song. He’d had that riff for awhile but just needed melodies to be written. That was a really easy collaboration between the two of us. It’s definitely a throw-back, Stax & Motown feel that made it easy for me lyrically to dive in on alot of Otis Redding & Al Green type inspiration. Collaboration is essential for MM and almost every song has been a multi-legged, teamwork driven approach. I’d say 90% of the time I’m the instigator for a new song, with either some half-hazard bass line I’ve put together with a backing drum track or a chord progression on guitar. I rarely have lyrics first. I’m focused on melodies & groove/feel first. I tend to write songs based on a phrase or an idea I hear randomly, then I shape the entire lyrical framework around that one thought. i.e. we’ve recently recorded new songs called “Spellbound” & “Disco Queen”. The lyrical framework for the song just unfolds for me off of one phrase. For the new album we’re working on, the collaboration has been primarily between myself & David Lukens (keys). That’s been a very refreshing approach, to start the writing process of a new song on keys, where as MM’s first two albums were heavily driven by a guitar writing process. I’ve also collaborated heavily with MM’s bass player, Chris Croce, on song ideas where the bass line drives the groove. I’m a horrendous bass player, so it’s nice to have Chris there to translate the vision I’m painting into something that actually sounds good!
If you could open up for any artist right now who would it be and why?
I’ll name a few. I really enjoyed the most recent albums from Childish Gambino & Anderson Paak, those would be fun shows to play on. If I got to open for an all-time personal favorite, opening for Nile Rodgers/Chic would be insane. Hall & Oates would be a good time too.
Tell me about your new single “Feelin’ So Blue”?
I mentioned earlier that this was Adam’s baby. We actually recorded it along with a batch of songs for our previous album, Save the Night. We loved “Feelin’ So Blue” and knew that it had pop-potential, but didn’t quite fit in with the other songs we released on that album. We held it as a one-off single. It’s got that throwback soul vibe with a live band tracking sound, full horn section, raw aesthetic. It’s a familiar sound, that draws people in. There’s so many recent bands & artists who are doing this throwback soul sound full-time and really well! If you’re into that, I hope you’ll enjoy our take on the throwback soul thing. But that’s all it is for us, it’s a take on something that’s been done by other bands. “Feelin’ So Blue” is quite literally a stand-alone song in the Marquee catalog. It’s one of my favorite songs to play live, the crowd always gets in to it. It’s a song that fits into our live show vibe very well, but distinctly stands out as different! It’s ironic to me that the title of the song suggests something sad, but it’s actually an upbeat, happy summer song. I doubt MM will ever do a song in the throwback soul vein again, but we’ll probably always be playing this song in our sets. And if you like to dance – we’ve got plenty of fresh pop-disco, funky tunes coming your way!
What was the inspiration behind the video for “Feelin’ So Blue”?
The idea, humans acting out animal mating rituals, came from the gents over at Solar Cabin Studios in Nashville. Jason Denton, Schuyler Howie & Steven Voss. These guys are super creative! Jason had been involved in the filming of MM’s last video single, “You Made So Very Happy” and did the photo-shoot for the album cover on Save The Night, in which I requested that the band’s bottom half of our bodies be photoshopped with animal legs & hoofs. Whether consciously or not, Jason tied in the animal references between those two projects! I told them I wanted to do something completely different for the video. We’ve done the “party video” many times, which is essentially just throwing a big party for friends and performing the song several on times on camera in that setting. Those are so fun, but something quirky and unique was needed for this tune. The video also visually helps define where Marquee’s look and sound is heading. Everything is a little more loud and played up with the suggestion of “get in on the joke with us”. I don’t take myself too seriously, but I do take the music seriously, so I want to visually convey that. This is a good-time, feel-good kind of music, it’s a party, it’s a dance-floor. The music is good, enjoy it with us, and I hope we help you laugh & dance along the way! I like making people laugh, so hopefully the video gets a few chuckles from even the most serious of folks!
What can we expect from you next?
I’ve been working tediously on completing a new album, which will have 10-12 new songs, anticipating the release in early 2019. We’ll also be releasing a few singles up to that point. “Spellbound” is a single planned to release October-November this year. It’s a dancey, funky pop tune that’s about something we can all relate to – being completely enamored or smitten by someone we’ve met, hence the name “spellbound”. There will be a fun video for that tune as well.
Do you have any upcoming performances?
Yes we’ve got some local Nashville & regional shows coming up through the end of the year, including Atlanta, Knoxville, Chattanooga and others. All the show dates can be found on MM’s website or on the socials!
Saturday, August 11 – Tomato Arts Festival – Nashville, TN
Friday, August 31 – Preservation Pub – Knoxville, TN
Friday, September 21 – JJ’s Bohemia – Chattanooga, TN
Tuesday, September 25 – Terrapin Brewery at Suntrust Park – Atlanta, GA
Saturday, October 27 – Dead Disco Halloween at The Back Corner – Nashville, TN
Any final shoutouts or plugs?
Shout out to my mom, just in case she reads this! And quick plug for anyone new to hearing Marquee Mayfield – give it a spin! Email me, send me a message. I love connecting with people enjoying the music MM is putting out.. It’s encouraging to hear from people.