27 jun. 2016

Entrevista con MARSHALL TITUS

Nacido en Chicago, una de las grandes cunas de la música del siglo XX, MARSHALL TITUS se fue convirtiendo en uno de los referentes de una nueva generación soul/pop de su ciudad natal que, aunque no llegó a alcanzar el esplendor internacional de épocas anteriores, recogió los pedacitos del olvido y abrió su propio camino. Sus padres colocaron un piano cerca, después el coro de la iglesia y los grupos del instituto prendieron la chispa de la pasion musical. A finales de los '80 ya había alcanzado la final del primer gran programa cazatalentos norteamericano, Star Search, y su talento había sido reconocido con tres nominaciones por sus papeles en los musicales 'Dreamgirls' y 'Jesus Christ Superstar'. En esta primera etapa puso voz a jingles para marcas como Coca-Cola, participó en una película con Ice-Cube y visitó por primera vez Europa. Allá por 1986 se estrenaba 'Mort un dimanche de pluie', una película francesa cuyo representante pasó por Chicago en busca de voces y fue inmediatamente dirigido hacia Marshall, quien acabó cantando tres temas de la banda sonora y grabando en París.


Tardó diez años en volver a cruzar el charco con motivo de la representación de un musical en Colonia (Alemania). Aquí ya hubo un ligero flechazo de inspiración. Escribió unas cuantas canciones durante su estancia e incluso llegó a pensar en quedarse un tiempo. De vuelta en Chicago recopiló en un album temas escritos a lo largo de una década, se encerró en su estudio y grabó su primer trabajo en solitario: Titus vol.1 (1999). Él mismo reconoce en el disco la falta de un hilo conductor que uniese composiciones tan lejanas en el espacio y el tiempo, por lo que, cuando surgió la ocasión de reeditarlo, no dudó en darle una nueva oportunidad para redondearse. Entretanto ya había iniciado su carrera como cantante y compositor. Su segundo trabajo llegaría en 2003 bajo el título The reality of dreams haciendo gala de gran sensualidad y del dominio de sus cuerdas vocales.


En los años posteriores publicaría diversos singles. Uno de ellos fue 'I will' (2010), una canción que abre los ojos a la realidad del VIH. Poco después grabó un video que sobrecogió y conmovió a muchos de los que conviven con esta enfermedad en su sangre o en sus corazones. Por este motivo fue invitado al festival solidario Sing4life que se celebró en Hamburgo en 2012. Nunca llegó a usar su billete de vuelta a los Estados Unidos.

Tras una etapa de adaptación, nuevos contactos y mucho trabajo, Marshall Titus se ha reinventado a sí mismo, ha exprimido positividad y cariño y ahora, que confiesa sentirse más libre que nunca, su poderosa voz ha echado a volar sobre las nubes de la ciudad hanseática. Una vez más se ha dejado impregnar por el buen hacer de artistas locales, tanto con su actual banda con Julie Schmiedeberg (guitarra) y los hermanos Mathias (bajo) y Michael (percusión) Grimm, como con la colaboración musical, grabación y masterización de Bente Faust (Off Ya Tree Studio). Así ha conseguido uno de los grandes trabajos de su carrera. Grandes melodías y ritmos dispares combinados con acierto, donde cada uno de sus trece temas tienen el poder de atraparte. Cantando desde el corazón, con letras que quitan la respiración, dando rienda suelta a sus capacidades vocales y usando bien las tablas acumuladas consigue un toque íntimo que conquita y conmueve. Un exitoso maridaje con la pista de baile o con un acústico en un pequeño café. Este tercer LP es 'S.A.L.L.' (2016).


Cada palabra cobra el peso de su significado más profundo cuando sale por los labios de su alma en forma de canción, como si nunca antes hubiera sido usada, como si por primera vez entendieras lo que representan palabras que otros han desperdiciado en letras vacías de sentimiento. Quizás por aquello de transcribir lo que ocurre en sus entrañas cuando una melodía le agarra por dentro. Quizás por guardar máximo respeto y devoción al poder de la música. Quizás por elegir cada dia ser y vivir como un artista, lleno de curiosidad, con ganas de sorprender y aún más de ser sorprendido, con la vitalidad de un niño insaciable por descubrir y sentir. Sin miedo de saltar al vacío y sin perder las canas de la expeiencia. Su conciencia social envuelve su música de compasión, de comprensión, de rebelión, de ánimo, de alegría.


Si quieres saber más, escuchar más y practicar inglés, sigue leyendo y no dejes de hacer clic en los links. Y sobretodo: “Send a little love today!”


DESACORDES VS MARSHALL TITUS    (Complete interview)

IN CHICAGO
I grew up with a piano in the house, my parents took piano lessons but I've never really practice. I was sit down and played and also sang in churches. But it wasn't until high school that I began singing in groups, singing in talents shows, churches and I decided I was gonna be a singer.

In Chicago you competed in headhunters programs like Star Search and you were also nominated three times for the Joseph Jefferson Award for your roles in the musicals 'Dreamgirls' and 'Jesus Christ Superstar'. What are your memories of those first successes in your hometown, how is it feel like?
I made many TV commercials, we call it jingles, appeared in TV spots as an actor and the film with Ice Cube was a very big film. I've done a lot of different things: stage, television films, recording… It's good, it's satisfying, you know?...but although I had some “success”, I've not achieved what I feel that I'm fully capable of. Everybody has his own thought what success is and how far they think they can go. But yes, I have experience different levels of success and I have experience different levels of moments where nothing was happening. So whenever you decide to do something or follow your dream, your vision, you see it happen or manifesting, at least for me, is a very exciting and beautiful feeling. And that's because I can't tell you, cause I don't feel that thing. I don't even think that way, so that's my life, it's what I do, I'm an artist. That is how it is creating.


In Europe is still a reference Chicago's soul, blues and jazz music. How do you see the current scene there?
It's very different that when I was growing up or was in my earlier development in the business. Chicago has a really really reach history in terms of music and musical industry and I experienced with several of my friends, who are very influential artists from Chicago, I have memories of being in the studio with world famous musicians. Now, because of technology and the way things are going with Djs and electronic music, things are changing. There aren't as many places to go, that you can just go and listen to somebody playing, singing or experience music the way it used to be for me. I think that happens in most places.

But that's one of the thing I find interesting about Hamburg, that there' re so many places where you can go a hear live music and people enjoy going out and listen it. I missed that in America and it's sad. Then I came here and they have the Baltic Soul Festival, a big soul festival where they invite many of the older rewarded artist that most people have forgotten about in America, and they come here like stars. And so I'm like “What!? I have to come to Germany to see this!?”. To get back to your question, that's missing in Chicago. That's sad, it's ridiculous. 

The Longshot Sessions. The soul of r & b was an edition of classic soul and rnb songs sung by male voices that were the scene of Chicago in 2005. Do you think this revival or gathering was useful to unite and/or revitalize the soul scene in these first decades of the century?
Yes, I think so. It's important to keep alive a legacy. Jazz and so many others styles or art forms that were popular and influenced a generation and something else come like rock'n roll, everything changes. But it doesn't mean it has to be forgotten, I think it should be celebrated, remember and keep up alive. The classical music isn't dead, I mean, the audience may not be as biggest as it used to be, but there's still people who really appreciate the music and need it and want it.

FIRST VOLUME OF A DREAM
In 1986 had the premiere the French film 'Mort un dimanche de Pluie', to which soundtrack you put voice. How did the opportunity to collaborate on a european cinematographic project come?
There was an agent for the film in Chicago looking for a singer to sing on the soundtrack and I was in the recording studio where I usually were and someone suggest me and that's how it happened. I sang three songs for the soundtrack, so my first visit to Europe was in Paris because I was performing a french film. 

Your first LP: Titus Vol.1. saw the light in 1999 with songs written between 1987-1997 in Chigago (Illinois) and Cologne (Germany), described by the critics as spiritual, dramatic and poetic.
I've been writing for many years. The first album Titus vol. 1 was a collection of songs that I've recorded in a long period. In 1996 was my first experience in Germany. I came here to performance a musical and I decided to stay a little bit longer. I wrote four songs and so when I decided to do an album, those songs were included.

Why it was reissued in 2003?
The opportunity came and I wanted to repackage it, I wasn't satisfied with it, so I reissued and repackaged.

How did the process work in this self-produced first work? 
I produced it alone and here in Germany I co-produced with Oliver Schmitt in Cologne and also collaborated with Attila Ciftci in Chicago, you know, it's always good making collaborations.

It took four years to make The reality of dreams project (2003), an album of eight tracks with a more intimate and sensual touch.
It's very different from the first one. Like I said, the first one was a collection of songs that were done at different times, so it wasn't like I started with the intention of doing an album. And here… at the time I had a writing-studio at home, so I created all these songs in one period of time so it has a certain feeling in sound that is consisting and I worked with a musician and producer friend of mine in Chicago, Keith Henderson , who helped pull it all together. So it has a consisting feel throw all the album.

A dream came true, a step forward to get it?
 Yeah, I'm a dreamer. Whenever you, specially in arts and music, create any and everything requires to imagine. Everything is imagination. I don't no how exactly the name came to me but people think dreams are just out there but they're real. And it's up to us to make the dreams real.

These first two albums were released by your own label Doc Soc O Entertainment Group. How did you decide to create your own label? 
I'm an independent artist, so it was a label that I created for myself. I don't call myself a record company, but an artist, specially now, need to be independent and so I've been releasing my music independently. Nowadays it's become easier with new technologies and the internet, but I did it because I wasn't been signed by a label and I got tired to persuading labels and I said, wow I'm gonna do it myself. I wasn't looking to become rich or famous but I wanna to get it out, and I'm wanna to see it completed and be able to say "Wow, at least I did that!".


WHEN THE WILL FIGHTS, THE VICTORY STAYS
Nowadays AIDS is no longer an issue with as much media attention as some years ago and fewer artists reflect this reality in their works, even though more than 30 million people worldwide living with this disease. In the 2010 single 'I will' you portray this reality from the standpoint of a homosexual couple and send a message of courage to everyone who is in this situation. First, thank you for that, and secondly, could you tell us how this song was born?
There's been a lot of progress in dealing with AIDS but also it's just how the world is, people talk about something, a cause or an issue become very popular and people forget about it. It's not in the news as much as it used to because it's something else, but it doesn't make it any less important. We're still dealing with it, it affects everybody’s life, just like cancer or diabetes.

It's still very real for people. I remember when we completed the video and premiere it at an event for HIV, and so many people came up to me and also my director John Gress and expressed how they were really moved about the video. So I was really proud with the work we did with the video, cause as a songwriter and as an artist one of the things I really hope to do is that the songs that I do touch people in a way that is more that just, you know... “yeah, it's good or not”, songs are good to help people make it throw their lives, cause that what real songs and artist, I think, are for. I mean, we're here to have a good time but even more so to help one another make it throw the experience of living.

I'd already recorded the song but the way it came together with the video was so special and i'll always remember it, and again I can see how it touch people in a real way, so I'm very proud of that. I'm thankful as an artist and as a person that was a point in my life where I could do that. It's nothing new that music and arts are a mirror to our lives. But I think in pop-culture, pop-music and in the media has gotten away from bringing music that really speak to people and I'm hoping that we come back to that place were the songs had more value.


This single opened a new stage in your career, it brought you to Hamburg to participate in the charity festival Sing4Life in 2012 
Well, friend Byron Ben Jones, who produce the Sing4Life concert here, I know for a lot of years from Chicago. He's been trying to get me to visit Hamburg for a long time and when the video came out and he called me and asked me, “If I can get you over here would you sing at this concert?”, I said “Sure”. It was just the perfect combination.

And did you get to use the return ticket?
When I first was in Germany in 1996 I almost moved in Cologne, caused for a long time I felt that I could have success with my music here in europe, even more or faster than in america. And I enjoyed been in europe, since then I always wonder what my life were it be like if I'd stayed...I'm sure I would be speaking fluent German and my life would be different..so that was always in the back of my head. Just before coming here this time, things was just...I call it my desert period, being in a desert, things were not happening and I needed to make some changes. So when the opportunity came to come here, I told several of my friends, when I'm over there don't expect to see me back in a time, cause once I'm there if it feels like...I'm staying. I supposed to be here for a week, but the third day I was just walking around Hamburg, exploring, and I remember I was walking down Stephanplatz right by Planten und Blumen, and seriously, there was a voice who said “Stay”. Everything was like, I was almost buzzing cause I just felt “stay, what's to go back? Is nothing back there that I need to go back for or to” and I felt “Wooo, if you stay this will be so exciting, you don't know what's going to happened, and it's this big adventure... you're gonna jump or you're gonna walk backwards” and I said “JUMP!” And that's what I do. I'm almost four years now.

TAKE ENERGY, FEEL FREE, GIVE LOVE
What attracted you to stay and rebuild your career “in German”?
Germany was never a place that I've ever imagine that I would live, never. But when I got here I find it a very beautiful country, specially when you going on the “Autobahn” and the landscape is really beautiful. But to be in Europe now or be outside America, it's feel completely different, because America is extremely racist and I have to say that other places are, but it's different, you can feel it immediately, is a different appreciation, pressure left off. People when you say that about America, they are like “Really????” cause they see these movies and TV I think, and it's not like that. Watch the news and see all the stuffs that happening in America...OMG! And you're only watching from tv, but to be there and live in it, and feel it.  So I just really appreciate being here, I feel freer. I'm not saying that's a perfect society but for me at this point, I feel like I'm able to focus on do what I wanna do without the kind of distractions that are happening there.

For me to be here now...i didn't plead out. It's where I'm supposed to be right now and I'm so thankful that I listen to the voice when it says “Stay!” and acted on it, because everything opened up and the people that come into my life and just the experiences that I have, says: “Yes, you do the right thing”. 

More than 30 years of experience and thousands of kilometers away from home, you've got to reinvent yourself and realize all this in a new album. S.A.L.L. (Send A Little Love) which just came out this year, would you present it to us?
I produced with a musician-producer from Hamburg, named Bente Faust. He was refereed to me because he was working on some songs, demos to present, and someone suggested that he called me to see if I could sing the songs and he did, and then he also asked if I could maybe rewrite some of the lyrics so they would sound more... “English”. So we got together, I worked on that and after we finished all that, the songs came out, and nothing happened with it, but we say “Wow, we need to write some songs and work on something!”. That lead to us to decide to do my album. Some of the songs of the album that we wrote together, we had a different version, interpretation. 'Beezz that way sometime' I had recorded in Chicago to original version and then I redid it for this album. Another songs that I've written in Chicago, I've recorded another version here, but for this album I will, I wanna redo all of them, so it has a sound that sounds like it's all coming from the same place.

So I brought musicians that I worked with here. Julie Guitar who's a great guitarist and she's being working with me since I've been here in Hamburg, and Michael Grimm plays drums and his brother Mathias on bass. So we say “let's go and record this songs”, so we were all in the studio together and we recorded the 13 songs in 6 days, which is really incredible. I mean we added some things, but essentially you're listening a live performance, you hear things aren't quite as perfect as they may if you go back and... so, it's a little rough, it's a live. That's part of its uniqueness.

'Send a little love' it's the first song that was written while I was living here and I released a single of that, so there's another version that's different that the one is on the album but that song is the song that really says what I wanna say, is just the message that I wanna put out on the world. It says a lot for me, I though it would be the perfect title for the album but then I decide just S.A.L.L., cause the way it looks like, you have to find out what it means.


Which message does your music have or what do you think is your mission as an artist? Do you think the world need a little love? 
Oh my GOD! (laughing) Not only a little! I think love is a very overused word. When I use the word “love” I mean compassion, empathy, concern, patience... and not just for others, we have to start with ourselves, we all need to look in ourselves differently that we think we do. And that's the kind of music that I wanna put out on the world. I want it to raise the energy of people and cause people to feel first, to FEEL. I remember music that I grew up listen to, it had a certain kind of feeling. I know, specially performing the songs, people still want to feel something. They want to feel connected to their own hearts first, they wanna be taken away from the distractions of the world, they want to feel hopeful, inspired, lifted, that somebody say: “you know, things are gonna be ok, even if it doesn't look like it is” and I think that's what I want my music to give to people, so...SEND A LITTLE LOVE.

Are you giving back some of the love you got?
It's a part of that, it's my whole history, it's my life to this point. Wherever I go I still take my legacy with me, and so my experiences here are added to that and I'm really thankful that I'm able to have put that into this album, when I listen to S.A.L.L. in comparison to the first two ones, it's totally different! I mean, even me as a singer I can tell “Ok, I'm singing a little different...”, but it's just different, 'cause is a different attitude, a different sound, it's just like night and day. And I like that because the artists that I like, when I play albums of theirs, I like to hear “wow, that was when they were at that point”, so you can see where they've grown and changed. I think that's part of what it is to be an artist, you know? To change and bring something new of what it's going on in our life.

DEEP INTO THE ARTIST
The lyrics of your songs are very intimate and emotional, also an essential part of your job. What moves you to write?
First of all I start it up as joy. I love great melodies. I don't consider myself a songwriter that just writes all the time, when I have a melody or something that catches my ear or my “Woo!”, it's all about discovering. I'm sitting at the piano or whatever and discover “Mmm, that's feel good”, and it just makes me want to discover what it wants to say. So for me, songwriting is a process where I listen to what the music is telling me.

Something that stands out in your music is your voice, warm and torn, as soon deep as acute. Furthermore you offer soulflow private vocal coaching and workshops. What are these workshops about?
Well, I do vocal coaching so I decided to call it soulflow because many people have really a desire to sing or have a good voice and they're just not in touch with their voice. Me as a coach, I want to help people to get in touch with their own voice and discover it. It's not so much about how to sing, but is taking your voice and you becoming friends. 
Do you have a parallel or future projects which can be confessed?
I do. Before coming to Germany I was collaborating with a couple of friends a playwrite and we created a musical called 'Eye of the storm' which is about a man named Bayard Rustin, who was Martin Luther King Jr.'s mentor. I don't know how familiar are you with the civil rights movement of the 60's, but there was a famous march on Washington in 1963 for black civil rights. There was millions of people and Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous 'I have a dream' speech. But that whole march was organized and put together by Bayard Rustin, he really orchestrated. He was openly gay, he had a communist affiliation, he was a Quaker. He was someone who was extraordinary in who he was. In that time of the civil rights movement, his involvement and importance in that movement have been overlooked in history, specially in American history and in black history. So this musical is about him. That's a project that's still in the works, but for now my focus is on S.A.L.L.

Which local band can you recommend us?
My co-producer Fritz Darjes has a little band called BurnOut Sounds.

What are the differences between the American public and the German?
(Laughing) I still have to get used to, because it's like...sometimes singing to a tree, the only move is when the wind blows the leaves. They're just not, in general, responsive. You can performance, doing all kind of flips, putting your heart out and they're looking you like…. (impassive face), talk and at the end they go crazy and you're like “Ha!? Where does that come from? So I have to get used to the German audience, but when they like you they're very loyal. American audience is much more expressive. 

Hopes and dreams for the future:
I intend to continue to discover more of my creativity, I intend, for my music, to go global and have a very large audience and be paid for it well (laughs) and travel more… But really, I love it when I hear someone having my songs and they don't know that I'm here, like a friend singing my song and it's just unconscious. So I'd love to have concerts, tours where everybody is singing my songs back to me.

Message to readers of DESACORDES freak 'n music: 
I hope to see them in one of my concerts and that they enjoy the music.


SECONDARY QUESTIONS (made by readers and editors for all musicians)If you could travel in space-time to any concert of history to which one would you go?
It would be really interesting to be able to sit and listen to Chopin.
Official school, free/private school or self-taught school?
Basically self-taught.
What is the group/music t-shirt you dress the most?
I don't really wear it, I've shirts! (laughs)
Is there anything you could not handle from the ones who share the stage with you?
Beeing drunk or high on stage or just standing and looking with no energy.
What do you prefer: rehearsal or recording?
Recording.
What do you write in the dedications?
It depends, if it's a lot of people or you have the time...
Which criticism do you usually make to yourself?
I'm very critical of my vocal performances, making sure that I sing the right lyrics. But more that anything that I connect with my audience, that's the most important thing, and they feel that I am there present and I'm singing to them.
The best thing a fan has said to you:
It was December of '09. I had the opportunity of a tour in Asia, so I was in Tokyo. I had a fan, we've been exchanging e-mails 'cause he asked me for photos or a CD with a signature… and I told him I was gonna be in Tokyo. So he came with his mother and after the performance he came backstage and he had all my CDs perfectly cup in a plastic cover so it wouldn't get messed up, and when we meet he was in tears, he was crying 'cause he was so impressed and exited. I was...that was so amazing I'll always remember that.
The worst place you slept during a tour:
It was in Hannover. I came to sing in a Restaurant, a friend of mine put me up at this low... cheap cheap cheap hotel and when he saw it, he was: “OH! I'm so sorry!” (laughs)
Are you familiar with stage-fright?
Oh yeah, I know it. It's not...well, I don't get stage-fright much. I don't have moments waiting to go out, but on stage in the middle of the performance and lost it, that's awful. 
What you do best: playing to reach the heart or thinking?
Both, but first the heart.
Besides music, what else would you say you're good on?
An artist (painting for example).
What would you like to be asked in an interview?
Interesting questions.
About what do you hate being asked?
Questions that you can find out on-line.

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