Alt-Rock Trio MARCELYN Share Details About The Making of Their Fall Release ‘Monstrous Existence’ and More!
Get to know the alternative/indie rock trio Marcelyn! On September 25th, they released their album, “Monstrous Existence.” They created this album remotely during quarantine.
Marcelyn, the band is something both fragile and deadly with a heavy helping of kickass. Originally the solo project of classically-trained singer Marcelyn Lebovitz, the now-trio serves indie rock weirdness on a silver platter with a side of smooth vocals, audacious bass playing, and groovy beats. The band used to play shows throughout the United States (mostly in their hometown of Philadelphia), but since the pandemic it’s been livestreams on Instagram.
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Learn more about Marcelyn in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So how are you keeping busy and musical these days during the pandemic? How are you staying connected to your fans? Are you finding that social media is even more useful now?
Marcelyn: We’re very lucky that we’re able to record remotely, so we’ve been doing that and working on some live-streams! I’ve done a couple by myself and with Mike, but we haven’t done a full band live-stream yet. We’re hoping to get a few out there on Twitch in the next few months.
At the beginning of the pandemic social media was really helping us connect with people and our numbers were going up, but I’ve been noticing less engagement, not just on our page but overall. I think people are getting overwhelmed by social media more easily nowadays and are taking more breaks. It sucks for our numbers, but I think overall it’s for the better for people to learn to separate themselves from their phones when they can! It can definitely get toxic on social media.
Can you recall the moment when you all thought you could start this band and be musicians in general? How did you come up with the band name? Was it hard to think of something that you could all agree on?
Mike: I don’t think there was a moment. It was more of an evolution. Marce was working on a solo album, and she and I were also recording a bunch of looser, goofier tunes. We ended up combining the two and that was our last album, “This Is Woman’s Lib?” And then I was in her band. And then we needed a drummer, so we found Travis on Craigslist. And then more recently we needed someone on keyboards and backing vocals, so Marce asked her friend Becka.
As for our name, the band was originally Marce’s solo project and she naturally called it Marcelyn. Then I joined, and then Travis joined, and then it was no longer a solo project so we needed a new name. Marce had made a lot of progress in the Philly DIY scene and we didn’t want to lose that momentum, so for a little bit we were “Marcelyn and the _____.” We changed the “and the” for every show. We eventually dropped that in favor of “Marcelyn, the band” because we liked how it sounded better. And it was less confusing. It’s a versatile name. When we’re all there, we are “the band.” And when Marce does a solo show, she’s just “Marcelyn.”
What do you think motivates you day in and day out? How has that drive changed since you first formed this group?
Travis: I’m always into experimenting with new sounds and instruments. Getting an idea for a song or arrangement and not immediately going to guitar or piano to work it out keeps it interesting for me. That motivation to always change things around and see what happens keeps me going. When I joined the band, and through this album, there were only three of us. So figuring out ways to write or arrange a song using only drums, uke, and bass was a real challenge. It still is, but has gotten a lot easier over time.,
How do you think this band’s hometown has influenced the kind of music that you make? If not, why is that?
Mike: This is the same noise I was making when I lived elsewhere. I think the only time the location has influenced the music was when I was in a surf band in California.
Marcelyn: I actually disagree with Mike. I think Philly has this “fuck you” punk rock kinda vibe, which I love. I definitely feel more comfortable writing songs with curse words that are angry and loud than I had felt when I lived elsewhere in more conservative areas because I know our Philly audience will love it.
Let’s talk about your newly released album, “Monstrous Existence.” What was it like making this collection during this crazy year? How did the remote process shape the sound?
Travis: It was an experience, that’s for sure. We started recording back in March, when we could all be in the same place. After lockdown and everything took hold, we decided to give doing everything remotely a shot, just to see what we could do. I think it actually helped us in a lot of ways. We’d have to have full ideas flushed out before we could move on with a track. So we ended up spending more time working things out exactly the way we wanted them, and really making sure each part was precise, in a way. I think the music ended up being more thought out and complete as a result.
While it’s hard to pick favorites, can you pick a few stand-out tracks on this collection and talk about their inspiration and how they got to be on this new album?
Travis: For me it’s Guilloteens and Sled Ted. Guilloteens is just so relatable and turned out exactly like I hoped it would the first time Marcelyn played it for us. It’s “I’m ok but not really, but I’m going to keep going, anyway.” I think everyone has felt like that at some point. Sled Ted is another one that I really like because it’s so fun to play. It’s a little off the wall with tons of background vocals and changes.
One I wrote called “Set It On Fire” we decided to do because it fit the times perfectly. It’s about feeling angry and unheard, and not accepting that anymore. The chorus is kind of a chant to go along with all of the protests that have happened this year
Mike: I’m partial to the opener, Friday 13th. It was originally a loop pedal song, similar to Better and Here on the last album. And that version was fine. But then Marce redid it from the ground up, writing it as a choral piece. And she knocked it out in like a day! It’s a monument to going to music school and it’s super nerdy and I love it.
Marcelyn: I love Empty Room. I wrote it with a friend of mine, Juliet, who’s the singer of another band called Bad Sleeper. Each of our bands both released our own versions of the same song. It was a very fun collaborative project and I haven’t seen any other bands do anything similar. I’m very proud of how it turned out!
What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future? Who has consistently been inspiring you and the music that you make?
Travis: Rayland Baxter. If I could, it would be great to work on something with him. He’s a great songwriter and always uses unique words and subject matter and has really catchy parts in his songs.
I almost always go backwards for inspiration. I usually end up listening to the Clash, Cheap Trick, the Kinks, Bob Seger…stuff like that. I like those bands and artists that seem to have an endless supply of material that you’ve somehow never heard before, in a million different styles and genres.
Mike: I have had literal dreams of playing with They Might Be Giants. But they’re usually nightmares where I’m on stage with them only to realize we’ve never rehearsed together and I don’t know how to play any of their songs.
Marcelyn: Mitski, Phoebe Bridgers, Tune-Yards, Sylvan Esso, and Lianne La Havas are some of my biggest influences. My band in college opened for Mitski right before she got famous, so that’s as close as I’ve gotten to working with any of them.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
Travis: I hope when people listen to this album they’re left with a positive feeling. To me that’s the overall tone of this album. There is so much negativity and uncertainty in the world right now that being able to bring something positive to someone would mean a lot. If one person listens and says to themselves “yeah, it’s gonna be ok” – that makes it all worth while to me.