Born and raised in the humble streets of Memphis, Tennessee is singer, dancer and actor Márcellino. His sound is an interesting combination of Pop, Soul, and Contemporary R&B. Márcellino released his debut album in 2014, gaining local popularity and performing for the City of Memphis. His community led projects such as “Memphis On Fleek” and “#ItsNeverOk for Child Abuse” has helped his city fight crime and give youth positive influences.
- How long have you been in the music business and how did you get started in the first place?
Márcellino: I’ve been performing and writing songs since I was 12…I would always hum singing around the house and I loved family night because I loved the spotlight. How I started? Well, I was introduced to a man by the name of David Porter, now if you’re not familiar with him, David Porter has been the writer behind some huge hits. He wrote “Soul Man” with Issac Hayes and even penned songs for Mariah Carey. I met him during a mentor-ship program for aspiring artists in Memphis. Although, I wasn’t selected to be in his after program, I was able to garner attention from other promoters who gave me my big start. This is why I tell artist to never let go of what you know is your destiny, I could’ve very well given up and never picked up a pen or a microphone again. I didn’t let go though, it pushed me harder because I realized that now I had something to prove, not too David Porter but to the man in the mirror.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
Márcellino: Michael Jackson was my first musical influence, through listening and learning from his art and creation, I was then introduced to other musicians who were also icons in the music industry. Artists such as James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Lionel Richie, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Usher and many more that I studied and gained inspiration from.
- Which artists are you currently listening to? And is there anyone of these that you’d like to collaborate with?
Márcellino: You know, I learned very early there is art in every space. I listen to everything because there is always something to learn and appreciate in music. I would love to work with Sia. I love her sound, and her creativity.
- What are your thoughts on the current state of the music and your genre in general?
Márcellino: Well music will always be escapism, it will always be a major platform of influence and general interest. What’s changing now is just the way people are receiving it. Now, more than ever, physical CDs are not being bought and we are now in a steady decline of albums. Right now the downloads and streams are important and has become the official way of getting new music. The genres R&b, Soul, & Pop has become esp. hot right now, even with the rise of old funk of coming back into the game.
- What do you think separates you from the crowd of emerging artists right now?
Márcellino: Ya know we all have a story, and in that story we all have a struggle. What separates me is that story, that struggle, how I gave up but found the courage to try one more time. It’s the sound of hardship, but the joy of my craft that sets me apart.
- Which do you ultimately prefer? Entertaining a live audience or creating songs in a studio setting?
Márcellino: Without a doubt in my mind, Performing for a live audience is what I love to do. I would rather be doing it right now than this interview. I believe any performer would say they choose the first one. Why? Well being in a studio setting is fun but there is no energy of the people who support you, it’s such a moving experience having a crowd full of people sing and dance with you.
- If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to be a part of this highly competitive business day after day?
Márcellino: Sorrow. It may sound depressing but as I said before, music is escapism…for me at least. Nothing matters to me more, and all the pain and hurt can never bother me. I place it all in my music. The business side is great but more importantly than that, music saved my life and I owe it every waking day I have.
- What would you consider a successful or high point in your career so far?
Márcellino: I was actually just thinking about this yesterday. I believe that as an artist we always take a backseat and think about our most accomplished moments. For me, that would have to be when I had the opportunity to perform in front of Mayor Of Memphis, Jim Strickland. It was the first time I actually stopped and said to myself, “oh my God, this is really happening”.
- Tell us something about your lyrics and music production on your releases. Which part of these processes do you handle yourself, and which do you outsource generally?
Márcellino: Any song I do, it comes from me. I write the lyrics, I produce and I engineer. It’s important to know that these aren’t just songs but their stories, true stories. I have lived those lyrics and I like to be the one who brings them alive.
- What do you feel your listeners should get out of your music?
Márcellino: Well, I believe that a lot of music today misses one key element, a message, Listeners will get a message and a story from my music. I also sing openly about issues that may be happening around me, it’s important too use my platform for something positive and motivating. But above it all, you will get a soft, humble voice that speaks to you while still allowing you bob your head and feel the instruments.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your personal life or music so far that you would like fans to learn something from?
Márcellino: I would have to say learning how to not let those around you influence who you are. You meet so many people, some professionals and some not, that have their own way of doing things. Some people will admire you, others will think you are crazy, but its up too you to be your type of artist, not the next individual.
- Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Márcellino: The excitement will always be having the control over my music that I need to have. As a independent artist I am more in touch with my career. I have no middle man and it feels great to be able to book shows and put on a great show all by myself. As far discouragement, getting into the doors of big venues or trying to get into major stores are harder when are without a strong record label…but it’s a fight worth it and I promise you will appreciate more.
- How do you market and manage your music career? Do you have a management team or do you control everything by yourself?
Márcellino: The greatest thing about our state of technology is that anyone can market. I can put on a banana suit and dance around with text at the bottom of the screen and guess what…I’m a marketing manager. Ya know, I love working, and I love music, so it just fits but there are some skills that I do have. So, yes I have a team of people that help me when it comes to booking and graphic designing, but I would be less than truthful if I said I wasn’t there at every step of the way when my team takes on a new project of mine.
- If you had the opportunity to change one thing about the music business, what would that be?
Márcellino: Focusing on a message in our songs. What’s the point in having such a huge platform if all you do is saturate it with smoke. I would love for music to mean something again, not the beat but the lyrics, the words we are saying should matter the most…not the latest tabloid magazine.
- If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?
Márcellino: As far as sound, I would say soft, tenor, rigid, and urban. The style of my music includes storytelling. Its a style of music that can lift your spirits but also show you the truth not only in yourself but in society.
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?
Márcellino: Of course I do. I’m 22 years old in counting. Social media has become the go to place for everything and it’s been sitting on top of the music industry for years now. People can upload music and funny videos with a hint of charisma and all of a sudden they are millionaires. I’m not complaining at all because I love making dance videos and funny videos. I’m a part of that digital generation, and I’m proud of it. I was verified on Facebook and Instagram a few months ago and that was solely because I’m always on it.
- What is the title of your latest release and where and when can fans find it?
Márcellino: My latest release would have to be “Lights Off”, which is a blend of contemporary R&b mixed with a soft soul sound. I featured a new artist on that track, TT. It can be found literally anywhere where music is being sold or streamed digitally; ITunes, Google Play, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, etc. However, I have been away from the music scene preparing my new release which will hit the stores early this year. You can check my website at www.marcellinomusiq.com to stay up to date on that new album.
- What is your relation with visual media and YouTube etc. Which is your favorite video clip of all the ones you did so far, and why?
Márcellino: I love YouTube, I finally established a VEVO and I enjoy it more every day. I believe my favorite one would have to be the Memphis On Fleek campaign first event. It was so much fun and inspiring to see the youth engaged and enjoying themselves. When I gave my donation I felt like I really was helping to change and shape their lives. I guess I felt involved…and I liked that feeling.
- Tell us something about your community projects such as “Memphis On Fleek” and “#ItsNeverOk for Child Abuse”?
Márcellino: Glad you asked. I was born and raised in the inner city of Memphis, TN. If you know anything about Memphis, it may not be the historic history or the deep roots with its Egyptian ties but it would be the crime rate and the murder toll year after year. It was a struggle (one that I am proud of) growing up in the neighborhoods I did. There weren’t many creative outlets for me to participate in. A lot of my friends joined gangs, some of them dropped out of school…just weren’t any incentives. So, when I became of age I vowed that I would bring a program to my neighborhood that provided a safe place for young people to get together and work. With Memphis On Fleek I finally was able to do just that. Memphis On Fleek gives kids in the neighborhood outlets to express themselves positively and safely in a art filled environment. From singers, to dancers, acting or painting. This program allows children of all ages to be active and work together which not only teaches them character development but also caters to the artsy side of all.
The It’s Never OK for Child Abuse campaign was born out of unfortunate circumstances that riddled my childhood. Although I was young, and didn’t fully understand what I saw or why I was being disciplined the way I was. I still remember every time I had to call 911. It’s a tough subject to talk about, but there lies the problem, people don’t talk about it. I feel God puts us in certain situations for very specific and detailed reasons. As much of a tragedy something may be, you can still be a blessing to someone who may be going through a similar situation. So, this is why I created a campaign that not only educates about the risks of subjecting children to domestic violence but also gives children who may be or have been through this a voice to free themselves. It’s a self-given obligation that I have, a hard road to travel because I had too face many demons of my own too be able to help those who have not.
- Like you are doing, do you think it is important that other artists tend a more watchful eye towards social, cultural and political issues? And do you think our megastar music icons are doing enough in this direction? Finally, is there anyone of these in particular that you find inspiration from?
Márcellino: Ya know, all of these subjects tie directly into music. Why? Well, let’s talk again about the influence that music has on our society. This doesn’t only influence our children but adults as well. I’ve asked many friends of mine who are maybe 18-24, why they participate in some of the fashion trends today? Surprisingly enough, a lot of them pointed towards what big musical artist were doing and feeling, which made them feel the same way. The platform is so strong and so influential that it can shape a person’s character…somewhat like religion. So, as an artist you have a responsibility that you cannot and should not ignore when it comes to political, social or cultural issues. What you say and endorse is seen and heard by millions of children who may adore you. I feel that icons today are aware of this and do a fine job building around it, now some are off the fence but then again it’s not easy. However, it comes with the territory. I would have to say that Beyoncé has always been very watchful when it comes to big issues that are happening in society. I respect that and I admire her for being so vocal with such a huge fan base across the globe. This is a woman who has for sure solidified her footprint in history and that legacy will not only be her talent, but her stance on these issues.