The Argentinian-Australian newcomer talks creating his debut single “Told You”.
Making their debut with an alt-pop banger is newcomer Marcelo De La Vega with “Told You”. Bursting with infectious pop melodies and country-tinged guitars, La Vega’s debut single takes us through the naivety of falling in love and drunken hook-ups over pounding drums and rhythmic bass lines. Pulling on his own personal experiences for his debut single, the singer-songwriter recounts his first young love and how he thought they would be together forever.
Speaking on the release, the singer opened up and said, “Told You is about the naivety of falling in love for the first time and how we think it’s going to last forever, but it seldom ends up that way. There are always older people putting you down saying ‘it’s only young love, just you wait’ and sadly they’re usually right, so when you break up, there’s a ‘told you so’ moment.”
Having first signed his record deal at 17-years-old, the burgeoning Australian-hailed singer has had a whirlwind of a career from packing up and flying to New York to kickstart his career to settling in London, it has been full speed ahead from the jump for the singer. With his forthcoming debut EP on the horizon, we caught up with Marcelo talking his Argentinian-Australian heritage, co-directing his music video and what we can expect from the singer for the remainder of 2020.
Check out the interview below…
Hi Marcelo, how has lockdown been treating you? How has it impacted your music and creativity?
At first, it was definitely really hard, a lot of uncertainty and a lot of time away from family… But luckily I spent most of it in Bondi Beach after a really busy couple of years in London, so it felt like I was forced to slow down and focus on enjoying the lifestyle in Sydney… went to the beach, learnt to cook vegan food, worked out on the cliffs by the ocean, just a bunch of Australian things. Then, a few months into things by the time I was able to head to London to release ‘Told You’ I was really refreshed and ready to work with a new mindset. It definitely felt like a reset because I had been non-stop before this… I didn’t even realise how much so until I had to slow down actually. It was really great being back in Australia and seeing friends who are all creatives and collaborating with them without any time pressure. I was able to make two music videos with just a team of my friends – they turned out really amazing and I’m using them for my first two releases, so in a way, it worked out pretty well. I had plenty of time to write music without any pressure, seeing as there wasn’t much else to do, and now I’m getting back in the studio to record so it has felt like at least I used the time to do something creative.
How has your Argentinian-Australian heritage influenced you sonically?
I grew up hearing my dad talk about buying records in Argentina from all these big English speaking bands, like The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Joe Cocker, The Rolling Stones – and he would joke about how he never knew what any of the lyrics meant because he didn’t speak English, but all the kids would sing along anyway in a sort of gibberish, not knowing what they were saying – so I guess the universality of music and its ability to connect people was always interesting to me after hearing those stories. In South America music is obviously really important to everyone’s lives, everyone gets together to dance and there is always someone with an instrument. The music is super lively and there is a lot of dancing among literally all age groups, and with your family, it’s not just when you go out to a club. I don’t think you find that in Australia or in most English countries that energy. So yeah we definitely have a very strong heritage of music in our blood in South America, it is so part of the way of life. On the Australian side of things – I think you can definitely see more of a visual influence, especially in the videos, which we shot in these weird remote locations outside of Sydney and I think created a really unusual look.
Where are the most unusual places you pull musical inspiration from?
I get a lot of inspiration from other creative fields, art, photography, books… I think I reference the most from films and directors I like. My sister studied film and writes screenplays so we’ve always had a lot of talk about that in our house… and my parents are architects so they have always talked about design and how to find inspiration in unrelated things… like my mum will look through fashion magazines and come up with something for a building design, so that is sort of how we were brought up to think. We’ve always had a really creative house, so maybe that is where I pull inspiration from.
Congratulations on your debut single “Told You” – what is it about and inspired by?
Thank you! ‘Told you’ is really about when you have your first love and you really think it’s the be-all and end-all, and that it’s going to last forever when realistically it probably won’t. I’m probably talking to myself when I say I ” Told You” because I was so convinced my first real love was going to be the one, but in the back of my mind I had this voice pointing out the problems and the red flags… so it’s like that little voice saying ‘told you’ when it did eventually end.
Do you have a favourite lyric – something you think will resonate deeply with your listeners?
My favourite is “Sky is falling, emptying the clouds” – we referenced it in the video clip, we created a David Lynch-esque story with that idea… inspired by his Rabbit sketch. I think it resonates with that moment in a relationship when you can’t hold back the realizations anymore and you can’t unsee all the problems so it feels like it all drops on you. I think most of us can resonate with that feeling and maybe hearing it in the song might also push someone to admit to themselves that something is falling apart.
And the music video is really surreal – what does it represent and what did you want to convey with it?
We wanted to do a two-part story between the first and second singles. The idea for this one came from Lynch’s Rabbit Sketch with the people wearing big rabbit heads… so with that as a starting point we developed these cloud heads that became the focus of this video. Then we also referenced Tarantino’s Natural Born Killers as we moved into the second video – we wanted to develop the male and female characters into these two purposeless, vagabond characters who just sort of dramatising everything. The story starts in “Told You” by establishing the female character’s perspective more, kind of Mallory Knox character and then at the end she picks up the male character, and that moves us into the second video, which goes on to develop more insight into the relationship. We shot the whole thing in Australia in the bush so it has this really surreal look to it – I think probably because it’s not really a setting you ever see, so it has this sense of like ‘where the hell is this?’. And we shot it all on Super 8 film… I’m a photographer as well and I only shoot on film so it was important to me that we shot on film for this too because it gives it this weird timeless quality, you aren’t sure what era it is. I think all of that creates surreal quality. I think it conveys a bad relationship really… maybe one where when it ends everyone is saying “Told You”.
And you co-directed it – is it important for you to have a large part to play in your visuals, and does your photographic eye help?
I developed the story with the creative director Em Meades who is one of my best friends since we were 10 (she also plays the female character in the two videos). It was really amazing working with her because we collaborate really smoothly and have similar ideas but also push each other. Liam Clark, who shot it and also directed it with me, is also a long time friend – he is so easy to work with, there’s no ego, it’s just a process of throwing ideas around, everyone was up for trying anything. Liam has amazing ideas and references that I would never have thought of. It was definitely a really fun creative collaboration. It is definitely super important to me that I control the visuals at the end of the day because it’s just something that I love to do and I’m connected with what I like and what I want to make creatively.
And it’s taken from your forthcoming debut EP – what can you tell us about it? What unites the tracks as a body of work?
I’ve been working on it for a while, I recorded it at Rak Studios and Konk Studios in London with some really amazing people. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I think working with such a great group of musicians, producers, mixers etc, really polished it and pushed me further with it and made me a better musician for sure. I’m really proud of it and really blown away by working in these amazing environments where so many people I admire have been before, I think it really ended up being an exploration of musicianship at the end of the day. What unites it lyrically is that for the most part it was inspired by the end of a big relationship… it was one of those relationships with a lot to say about it, just so many odd moments. I wrote a lot about it afterwards and this record was me processing the whole thing. Sonically, what unites it is that I will only use organic instruments, minimal artificial sounds, it was always live session musicians playing the instrument. I think it’s quite melody-driven but I want it to sound a little gritty, not too perfect, definitely walking the line between indie and pop. My aesthetic and sound definitely feed into each other a lot, I think that dreamy, surreal quality you mentioned in the video and the meshing of references is apparent across my body of work.
Much of your messaging is really empowering – how do you want fans to feel when they listen to your music?
Hopefully, I’m open enough in the songs for people to connect and have a sense of community in the experiences I talk about because I think it’s really valuable, especially when you’re young and not sure of yourself yet, I know there were definitely musicians who did that for me. But mostly I just want people to enjoy themselves honestly… right now everything is so awful and sometimes we need entertainment to take our minds off things, arts and entertainment can be something that isn’t too deep or serious when everything feels really serious… or it can be something that connects on a deep, serious level but in a way that makes you feel less like you’re out on your own. At the end of the day I want to make something that resonates with someone and is enjoyable for someone to experience, and resonates with me and is enjoyable for me to make, that’s all.
What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2020?
Right now we’re focusing on “Told You” and getting the video out to people. I’ve got the second single and video after New Years and then following that the full EP and probably a few more videos. The rest of 2020, I’m going to be recording more, making some videos, and just using this slow time to be creative and get stuff done before everything gets busy again. And honestly, I think mostly I’ll be hanging out with my family up to the holidays, going for walks in Hampstead heath with my dog, attempting to make Sourdough… maybe finally finishing “Homeland”.