Marlene ∞

After years of writing songs for others, Marlene Strand finally found a sound of her own when she met the french producer TEPR. She recently made her debut with the single Bon Voyage, a song that might well have been the late summer’s hit. A few weeks ago she performed at Radar Magazine and Weekday’s party at the annual Grolsch Block Party and we took the chance to interview her.

Even though you are a debutant, you’re not really a rookie right?
– Well, in one way I am, Marlene says. I’ve only had three gigs on my own, but music has been a big part of my life for a long time. I remember when I was seven and I forced my parents to pay for my private piano lessons. I have been studying music ever since, played in bands, worked as a back up singer, and written music for others. But this is my first time on my ow, and it feels different to be the one in charge. Last year I went on tour with the musician Benga, and featured on a single that I had written for him. Even though I tried to bring my own personal style to his music, I still had to think “inside his box”. Now, when I’m representing no one but myself, I can do exactly as I please.

Meeting someone you can relate to artistically is as hard as finding a boyfriend

Do you like being on stage?
– I love it. I feel like it’s not until I’m on stage that it all becomes real. It is a totally different experience to perform a song live, than to work with it in the studio or at rehearsals. In one way I hate to rehearse. Even though can be fun, it feels like you’re losing that nerve that you need on stage. You don’t want to overdo it and risk to loose the main feeling, or idea of the song.

How come you waited until now with your debut?
– When I started making demos for others I was fortunate enough to have people around me believing in my writing skills. I was signed to EMI, now known as SONY ATV, as a songwriter. I knew all along that I wanted to make my own music, but it took me some time to find the right people to work with. Since I don’t produce myself I needed someone who understood my vision and wanted to develop it. Meeting someone you can relate to artistically is as hard as finding a boyfriend. Now I finally feel that I’ve found one, with my producer in Paris.

Marlene 4, big

Your sound has been described as snappy electro r’n’b and sweeping tropic pop.
– That is a lot of words, Marlene says laughing.

You have yourself described it as heavy beats mixed with the sound of a sunset, what does that mean?
– That’s not crystal clear either. Well, I want my music to capture the contrast between the beautiful and the crooked, if you know what I mean, a balance between the fragile and the rough. I like how the bamboo sounds in the beginning of Bon Voyage are clean and soft, and how the soundscapes later on becomes more complex and edgy. I am quite bad at describing music in general, but I feel that Bon Voyage really expresses my sound.

What happens next for you?
– I just got back from Paris,where my producer and I were working on some songs that hopefully will turn into an EP. Since I don’t have a record label I can do things at my own pace. Soon I will go to New York and Los Angeles, trying to work my way there. That’s the plan I guess, to get started.

Listen to Marlene’s debut Bon Voyage and watch the video above. 

Ida Widlund