Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: ETTA MARCUS

The songstress joins forces with Matt Maltese for the haunting track, “Salt Lake City”, and its accompanying music video.

Etta Marcus

Photography by James Greenhalgh

Etta Marcus
Photography by James Greenhalgh

Joining forced with musical force Matt Maltese, the multi-talented Etta Marcus unveils her stripped-back cut, “Salt Lake City”. Releasing her hauntingly beautiful cut via Platoon, listeners are treated to sweet acoustic sounds as the gentle hum of the guitar joins Etta and Matt’s emotion-invoking vocals in perfect harmony. Also coming accompanied by a music video that aims to provide nostalgic scenes, akin to those from her favourite artist’s, the project becomes a subtle reference to Etta’s musical influences.

“‘Salt Lake City’ is wrapped in delusion and false hope. The idea of moving somewhere for someone and thinking that it will mend things, when deep down you know it won’t. I think it’s something a lot of us have done, not necessarily moving country, but compromising a little too much for someone that isn’t worth it. At its core, it’s a devastating dialogue between two people who are trying but failing,” explains the songstress when speaking on the meaning behind her latest track.

Upon the release of her new track, the artist got candid with Wonderland about the people and places that have influenced her sound, and her upcoming tour with collaborator Matt. Head below to enjoy our interview with Etta Marcus…

Hi Etta, how are you? How has the last year been for you?
Hey, I’m pretty good, thanks! I spent most of this year tucked away writing. It’s only in the last couple of months where I’m suddenly experiencing a lot of firsts. Releasing my first song, playing my first gig – it’s all very rewarding.

You grew up in Brixton! Do you think that influenced your sound?
Brixton has such a rich musical history that growing up here feels like you’re part of a musical heritage. I had all my music firsts in Brixton, went to my first concert at Brixton Academy, played my first open mic, and played my first gig upstairs at The Ritzy. All of my early memories of Brixton are music-related too. There used to be a dub reggae shop down my road where they would blast music out onto the street; I would go to the Effra Tavern with my parents to watch live jazz and go into Pure Vinyl with my dad to pick up some records. Growing up in Brixton definitely influenced my involvement and love for jazz which will always be embedded in my writing in some way. The amount of music that is compacted into this one area is crazy, and it provides such a stimulus to be able to be surrounded by that all my life.

Is there a particular artist or album that inspires you?
There are so many, but the first that comes to mind is Richard Hawley’s album, Coles Corner. I think it’s one of the earliest memories I have of listening to an album where it took me someplace else and captivated me. I just love everything about it so much. It’s an album that has felt like I have never not known it, like a family member that I understand more of the older I get. In 2012 he performed with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, and it’s the one concert that I wish I could have seen. Luckily someone put it on YouTube, so I just pretend that 11-year-old me is there. I’ll always go back to Coles Corner and the rest of Richard Hawley’s music to feel inspired, and because I’ve grown up with it, there’s a greater sense of sentimental value and nostalgia when I listen now, which I think makes it even more special.

Congratulations on the release of “Salt Lake City”! Talk us through the meaning of the track!
Thank you! “Salt Lake City” is wrapped in delusion and false hope. The idea of moving somewhere for someone and thinking that it will mend things, when deep down you know it won’t. I think it’s something a lot of us have done, not necessarily moving country, but compromising a little too much for someone that isn’t worth it. At its core, it’s a devastating dialogue between two people who are trying but failing.

Etta Marcus yellow suit
Etta Marcus guitar

Photography by James Greenhalgh

Etta Marcus yellow suit
Photography by James Greenhalgh
Etta Marcus guitar

And, you’ve collaborated with Matt Maltese on this particular release! How did his relationship come to be?
We actually got set up by Josh Scarborough, who produced the track. I would say that I’m quite a confidential and private songwriter, especially with lyrics, so the idea of collaborating was pretty scary to me! I had been a fan of Matt’s music for a while, and Josh had a feeling that we would really get on and work well together, so he invited Matt down to the studio, and we immediately clicked. Since then, Matt has become a dear friend and collaborator.

The song also comes with a beautiful black and white music video featuring a live performance from the pair of you! How did you land on the concept for the music video?
I love being able to perform my songs acoustically, so doing a filmed live performance was always at the top of my list of things I wanted to do. The concept came from my love of watching live performances of Jeff Buckley and Chet Baker. Particularly the black and white footage that was always shot simply and intimately with no bells or whistles. I wanted to try and achieve a similar feeling.

You also play the guitar in your new music video! When did you first start to play instruments, and has this skill always been a part of your music-making process?
I started playing the guitar when I was ten years old and the piano when I was eight. I loved the piano and still do, but I gravitated more towards the guitar. Especially electric guitar! I found it empowering. I had a guitar teacher who liked to call himself Tony Boloney, and we would write songs together. I tend to always write with just my guitar because I think if you can strip down a song to its bare bones and it still holds up, then you’ve written a good song. I’ve heard some people call it the campfire method of writing. I also love the intimacy of it and how unrestrictive it is when it comes to production. When all you have is a vocal and an instrument there are endless possibilities of what it can turn into.

You have also recently announced that you will be touring the UK with Matt next year! How are you feeling about this?
Oh my god, it’s going to be the best! It will be my first support tour, and being able to do it with Matt, who has become a close friend, is such a big bonus. It’s going to be our Nancy and Lee moment, that’s Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood!

Aside from the tour, what else are you looking forward to next year? Are there any other projects that you are keen to start working on?
January 21st! That’s when my EP will be coming out! I’m also at the very early stages of writing my next body of work, so I’m feeling excited to get stuck into that next year.

NEW NOISE: ETTA MARCUS

Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related →