There aren’t many people that can say that at one point they were the most Shazam’d band in America, but Marian Hill have just been casually making history. And the New York-based duo – made up of Jeremy Lloyd and vocalist Samantha Gongol – are now ready to hit the big-time.
The mass inquisition into the band came after their addictive fusion of jazz, electronic, pop and R&B “Down” was featured on an Apple commercial, catapulting them to the top of the charts and cementing their position as the breakout hit of 2017.
Since then, the duo have been making waves with their confident brand of electronic-pop, recently dropping their brand new single “like you do,” a song about seeing through the life-of-the-party exterior of someone you used to be close to, and realising there’s nothing worthwhile there. Damn.
We caught up with Lloyd and Gongol below…
How did you first get into music?
J: My parents met in an opera class in New York and I grew up in a house with a piano where someone was always singing. As a very little one I pretty immediately wanted in on the action, so when I was four-years-old I asked my parents if I could take violin lessons. I was so lucky to grow up in a house where music was always happening and such an essential part of daily life – that’s never changed for me.
S: I was just always singing. My poor brother had to hear me singing around the house every second of every day. I sang “just around the river bend” from Pocahontas in my first grade talent show, and from then on I just knew. I was lucky that I also had very supportive parents.
What music did you listen to growing up?
J: The first CD I ever bought for myself was Nelly’s debut, Country Grammar – I was obsessed with that album. Then Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 soundtrack introduced me to underground hip-hop – for most of high school I was into mainstream (Kanye, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Timbaland, Missy Elliott, any Neptunes production) and underground hip-hop (Cunninlynguists, Atmosphere, E&A) as well as singer songwriter stuff (Ben Folds, Regina Spektor, The Weepies) and musical theatre (huge Sondheim-head). Later in high school the Postal Service album changed my life and opened me to the world of electronic music but I never dreamed I’d land here.
S: I have a very distinct early memory of hearing “I will always love you” on the radio, while driving with my parents in LA. I became a massive Whitney Houston fan. I loved the divas: Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston. Then I discovered the jazz greats, like Ella, Etta, Dinah, Billie. Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder. I loved jazz and soul, blues. And Norah Jones, she made me realise what was possible. Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill. Beyoncé. Ugh there are so many. Also Britney Spears.
Who are your musical heroes?
J: Noah “40” Shebib is a big one… he’s Drake’s primary engineer/producer and has executive-produced all his albums. His attention to detail is next level and I love the whole sonic world he’s been able to build in collaboration with Drake. Paul Simon as a songwriter is also a major hero, so much to aspire to in the thoughtfulness and depth of his writing. And of course, Kanye has been a massive influence my whole life – every time he put out a new album it would flip my whole world around, it was my producer-food. Recently that’s become a little more complicated for me… but that’s getting older I suppose.
S: Many of my musical influences I would also categorise as my musical heroes. As an artist and performer, Beyoncé. I admire artists who cultivate lasting fan bases while maintaining vision and reinvention.
How would you describe your genre?
J: We said electronic R&B for a while, these days I might say electronic pop, but electronic has been feeling the most natural because it feels the most open – we make music with me on the computer and Sam singing and sonically we take it wherever we feel.
What is “like u do” about?
J: it’s about seeing someone you used to be with. And seeing them be so charming and fun and the life of the party, as they always were, and remembering why you fell for them in the first place. But also then having the clarity of time to know that behind that life of the party exterior, there’s nothing good there for you.
S: Perfectly stated J.