MARCUS MACHADO

INTERVIEW AND PHOTO BY: Claudia @ Jareth's Girl Music

On a cold and rainy New York day, a little while ago, I had the privilege of sitting down for a chat, in the East Village, with a phenomenal NYC native who recently haled from Holland - Mr. Marcus Machado.

Mr. Machado is no ordinary musician; when he was twelve, he was lauded by CNN as a child prodigy.  He recently returned home from Europe - where he toured and played with Bo Saris, The Family Stand, and the Weather Report's Victor Bailey - to be featured in Rolling Stone Magazine and record his EP, 29.

VZN: Congratulations on winning Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Next Young Gun” competition - well deserved; how did that make you feel?

MM: Thank you.  Thank you.  It really was a great feeling and great things came out of that trip and winning the competition. 

It was something I had just decided to enter and it felt good when people were voting for me.  It was great because good things came out of it; after winning the contest I got to do a session at the legendary Swing House Studios with Jay Ruston back in May of this year.  

I was able to record “Rock Out”, the first single of my new EP, 29, which came out on Purpose Music Group; I headlined some shows at Lucky Strike, and got endorsed by D’Addario strings.

VZN: That's all pretty exciting.  Congratulations again. I know you lived for some time in Florida, but you are a NYC native.

MM: I’m a Brooklyn native but I lived for some time in Florida and most recently I returned from living and touring in Europe.

I was living in Holland until recently where I played festivals and toured Europe, the UK, and Japan.

VZN: How did it all start for you, musically?

MM: You know it’s funny, when my mom was pregnant with me, she says that whenever I heard music I wold kick in her stomach.  So it stated pretty early (laugh).  I picked up guitar at the age of two, and did my first professional performance at the age of nine. 

VZN: Was there a specific musical progression after that first performance at nine years old?

MM: I started doing sessions with the legendary V. Jeffrey Smith when I was around eighteen.  I recorded my first album when I was sixteen and living in Orlando, Florida.  It’s called “Live at Will’s Pub”.  Will’s Pub is the place in Orlando, where we would play.

I went on to play with The Family Stand, Victor Bailey, and became musical director for Bo Saris.  We played across Europe at festivals like Parkpop The Hague, in front of some pretty large audiences.  I also got the opportunity to play in Japan with Victor Bailey.

VZN: You were obviously positively encouraged from a young age.  Did you ever encounter any type of opposition when you were just getting started? 

MM: I had this one experience, when I must have been like nine.  My mom and I were at the RnB Music Conference in Tampa, Florida.  And at that time you had to submit your tape and the judges would basically play if for the first thirty seconds to decide if you’re any good.  Well they stopped my tape after the first fifteen seconds and told me that I wasn't “urban” enough to play.  

So I made up my mind that it was going to be one of the best performances I had ever given and after I performed later that day, someone approached me and apologized for having said that I wasn't urban enough to play.  

VZN: So, I guess the lesson there is to always believe in yourself.

MM: Yeah, so many musicians who have their own unique style stop doing what they’re doing because some people may not like their work.  But you can’t do that.  You have to do what you do and realize that it might not be for everyone. And It’s ok that it’s not for everyone.

VZN: Who would you call your musical heroes and/or your biggest influences?

MM: I would have to say Jimi Hendrix, Jaco Pastorious, who’s basically the Jimmy Hendrix of bass; I’m also a huge fan of Carlos Santana and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

VZN: The first time I saw you play, you were on drums that night; how many instruments do you play?

MM: (laugh)  Yeah.  None of the people there that night knew I played drums.  But it was an open jam and one of the drummers had switched out, so I decided to sit in on drums for a while.

I’m ambidextrous; I play drums, keys, bass, twelve string guitar, and little bit of everything.

VZN: How does it differ from just being one of the musicians in a band to actually having the responsibility of band leader?

MM: For example the show that we played at the Blue Note, we had rehearsed only once, but everyone knew the structure of the songs.

I’m constantly communicating with the other musicians but I make sure to give them each space to shine - but I also keep myself interested in how the audience is responding so that any given solo doesn't go too long. (Laugh.)

VZN:  You just produced your new EP, 29Why did you decide to get into producing your own albums?

MM: I’m self-thought producer and it was mainly out of curiosity to see how I could mold my own sound.

VZN: We’ve talked before about how you play and compose across multiple genres.  I have to ask, how do you feel about the word “genre”?

MM: I mean, I do play rock & roll, R&B, soul, and hip-hop.  My new EP - as I hope my future albums will, have an element of all those styles.  I’m really interested in incorporating a guitar sound specially into styles where it’s usually not used in. 

VZN: What’s next on your musical agenda?

MM: I already have about two-hundred songs written, so another album is definitely in the future.  I’m also looking to play a few festivals in New York, and I'm in the process of launching my own guitar line.

-- 29 available for download HERE --