When we first heard multi-instrumentalist Marques Toliver's smooth blending of R&B with classical sounds we were a tinsy bit in awe. A trained classical violinist, Toliver moved to New York, supporting himself busking the city’s mean streets before meeting the Williamsburg crews TV On The Radio andGrizzly Bear. He soon quickly stole the hearts of the nation and, obviously, ours. So how did he do it?
BEAT: Hey Marques! Your new single ‘Magic Looks’ is so soulful - what was your inspiration behind this track?
The track was inspired by the tone and timbre of the violin along with unconscious remembrance of loads of Kirk Franklin and God’s Property. All in all the inspiration behind the single is buckets of soul.
BEAT: You play the violin? Is this the only instrument you play? If not what others?
My main instrument is the violin. I began studying the instrument at the age of 10 at Turie T. Small Elementary School. Prior to picking up the violin I was already preforming around town as a singer. By the time I enrolled at Turie T. Small located in Daytona Beach I had already had at least a years worth of level 1 piano under me belt.Thanks to Mr.Andrew Sparr, my first violin instructor, I was motivated to play and sound like him.By the age of eleven there was no question that I wanted to go to music School or a conservatory and become a violinist and or music teacher. By the time 6th greade came around it was time to say goodbye to elementary school and upgrade to middle school. Due to lack of funding for “The Arts” in Volusia County I knew that I would have to get an out of zone variance to attend the only middle school with a string program, Ormond Beach Middle School. Admittance into the school introduced to more than just playing violin, piano,cello,viola, but also introduced me to my future friends musical orchestra buddies and instruments they would later introduce me such as, the guitar and autoharp.
BEAT: Can you remember the first record you bought? What was it and what do you think of it now?
Phonograph record or gramophone record? The first piece of music I bought was a casette tape by BRANDY. You know about her right?
BEAT: Of course! What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career can’t yet be stated simply cause my carrer is only at beginning stages. If I had to say it would be the ability to say I have a career.
BEAT: Your originally from the US but your popularity in the UK really started to grow when you performed over here on Later with Jools Holland. How was it performing on such a big show? And is it true that Adele recommended you to Jools Holland?
Je suis Americain .Yes, I am American. I suppose one would like to think that this popularity started to grow when I performed over here on the Later with Jools Holland show, but that’s not necessarily the case. If anything, once I signed the music publishing deal with Universal Music (UK) that somewhat served as my golden ticket fused with the ever so amazing blog post Adele wrote. The day of shooting was as expected, quick fast and in a hurry. A day before I made my television debut I was informed that the producers were willing to meet with me. I show up to the BBC studios and there’s so much movement on set since they are preparing for that night’s show. So I take out my violin and play ‘White Sails’ before the producers. As I’m playing all the lighting and camera guys stop what they are doing to listen to my little song. The next day I’m now the first unsigned artist to ever play on the show and I”m’ sharing the stage with Duffy, Heaven 17, The Pierces, and Cheryl Crow. Alas, Adele did not recommend me personally to the powers that be over at the BBC studios she simply and graciously blogged about be almost a year before I played on Later with Jools Holland.
BEAT: How does it feel to have such a big following - everyone is LOVING you including some celebs?
Don’t know, but I’ll let you know when it happens. I’m just happy that people in general can/will/attempt to listen to the songs I create. I’m trying to build a career based on thee. You wont hear me doing to many covers unless they are collaborations with the artist that wrote the thang. What am I talking about actually? There’s no way I can predict my future and what I shall and shall not do. You know they say the worlds going to end this year.
BEAT: You’ve been compared a lot to John Legend - is this a welcome comparison?
People just need to make those comparisons the help their mind adjust to a new artist entering their mindscape, but i think considering John doesn’t play the violin and sing, its probably just a reference to the fact that we are both black and both have soulful voices that’s a little unfair.All in all my music is a different colour,very different.I’m like marijuana and John’s like Hennessy.
BEAT: If you could describe your music in the medium of colour - what colours would it be?
BEAT: What/who are you biggest musical influences?
My Mother, Andrew Sparr, Kathy Finn, Billy Preston, Farrokh Bulsara AKA Freddie Mercury Leontyne Price, Ms. Hill, Nina SimoneGeorge Benson, Alvaro Gomez, Routa Kroumovitch-Gomez, Pinchas Zukerman, Mtume, Erykah Badu, The Whispers, Luther Vandross, Tom Browne, Bach, Destiny’s Child, India Arie, Stevie Wonder, Carl Carlton, The O’Jays, The Gap Band, Anita Ward, Mahler, Yehudi Menuhin, Madlib, and lots more.
BEAT: Finally whats next for Marques Toliver?
My current single is called ‘Magic Look’. Tickets for the single launch show are now on sale.You can pre order the single and a limited edition 7inch of the new single and find out everything you need to know on my website www.MarquesToliver.com