Interview: Marc Scibilia chats new music and his current path!
The interviews that really grab my attention in a sit down conversation are when we dive into lyrics, the process that goes into an album and the way these songwriters get started in music. The best interviews are conversations and sitting down with Marc Scibilia was a one hundred percent treat. Scibilia has been touring the US for several years but made his major label debut last year with his debut record, ‘Out of Style’. Just weeks after his album came out, his label which was an imprint of Capitol Records closed.
Despite this major set back for any other artist, Scibilia picked himself up and set out on tours with James Bay, Ben Rector and currently Jon McLaughlin. In our interview, he talked about his musical journey so far as well as some music to come. Read our new one below and check out his current single, “Believer”!
You’ve been steadily touring this past year but your debut full length came out last year.
Yeah, almost a year ago!
I think you’re right at the year mark. Maybe how has this past year been with the record being out and maybe this tour in particular with Jon McLaughlin?
Well, one year ago my record came out and about a week or two after my record came out my record label that was an imprint on Capitol Records, it closed. So it’s not an ideal scenario but it is not an uncommon story for that to happen to an artist. But you know I’ve done some of the best touring I’ve ever done in my life in the last year. I’ve toured with James Bay, Ben Rector, Michael Franti. I don’t know, we’ve been out with everyone and we just love making friends on the road. So what we’re doing, what I’m trying to do now, is something that’s not centered around the music business. It’s really centered around people. It’s centered around touring. It’s centered around really making music that’s honest. Tonight, I didn’t go out with a set list and the first song I played tonight was a song that my record label did not like and did not want on my record. And the first ten people that came to the merch table, they were like what was that first song? When you’re stuck in a major label situation or a lot of situations in the music business, you’re often forced to work with a bunch of people that are trying to guess what sixteen year old girls want to hear and I’m just not going to do that anymore. I’m going to make the music that’s honest for me. That I feel comes from a real place and actually I really love the record that we made but you know you make small compromises along the way. I feel like you make a decision where you say I’m going to be an artist. It’s kind of a scary decision but every time you do something dangerous, there’s always the safety. The parachute is always there ready to be pulled and I’m just not pulling the parachute at all anymore. I think that’s the problem when you have too many voices around you is there’s always a chance to pull a parachute and now we’re just going for it.
Maybe how was that experience kind of having your label pulled out from underneath you? Like you said, you were signed to a major label. Same publicist as like 5 Seconds of Summer. An incredibly different situation. Do you think that’s only like helped you? You kind of get to be the artist you want to be.
I’d say the positive is that I’ve ridden myself of surrounding voices that have a big idea of who I should be and I’m asking myself that question of who I want to be. The should is starting to go away. The want is becoming more pronounced every day. If we’re going to grow personally in life in general, we have to kind of learn what the want is because most people don’t even know. They don’t know what they want. Some people only know what they should and I’m just becoming less and less interested in that type of bullshit. I’m honestly excited. Of course, it would be great if my record was a massive success. I mean I toured with James Bay who’s incredible and he had a massively successful first record. I’m so happy for him and he deserves it. I would have loved to have been in that position but it’s just not where I’m at. There’s a lot of people who would like to be in my position playing to all these beautiful people that we played for tonight. I’ve toured across this country ten times now. So I’m just trying to live my life and it will go where it goes.
I mean it was a great crowd. I’m sure it’s been like that the other nights as well.
Totally. It’s been awesome. So I’m into it, I’m having a really good time.
Perfect then we kind of talked about how that record is almost at the year point. Are you currently working on some new material?
I have a bunch of kind of like weird things that I’m working on. I don’t know if experimental will be the word. I’ll go sit in my studio for like two weeks with no windows just in the pitch black. All sorts of instruments and weird things to mess around with. So I’ve been messing around with some mix tape ideas that I really hope I have the courage to release because they’re kind of not what people are used to from me. But they have a lot of emotion and a lot of feeling. So I think that might be the next thing I put out. I have so many cover songs that I really love. I throw them in my set so that just comes from playing a lot of different people’s music. I’ll just be messing around at my house and be oh I love that old song and I’ll just pull it out and start playing. So when I’m in the middle of my set, if it has the same progression, I’ll just bust it out. Put it in the middle of the song. So yeah, I think ultimately yeah I’d love to make another full record if people even listen to music like that anymore I don’t know. But I think I’ll probably start with some little things here and there coming out. I just released a song that I recorded, “Believer”. It’s vastly different of a process then anything I did on Capitol Records. I mean that song cost me twenty five dollars. I assure you, my record cost thousands times more then twenty five dollars. I love the fact that that song is getting streamed pretty heavily. The investment was in my heart, it wasn’t of money.
That’s exciting. I mean you’re going to change as well, you’re going to progress as an artist. It gets boring if you stay static.
Exactly. I mean, yeah, I’m happy.
Then I wanted to ask you, you talked about it on stage, how your brother is also a touring musician. Had music in the house growing up. You’re still relatively young. Maybe when did you first know this is what you wanted to pursue, like this is what you wanted to do?
It was my first conscious thought of desire really. Was to like pursue music and to love music. When I was a kid, everything else I did whether it was playing tennis which I still play now and I love or if it was studying in school or if it was chasing girls, nothing was as interesting to me as playing music. So I just kind of always knew I was into it. My grandfather was a bass player and an orchestra director. My dad was a guitar player. There was just a lot of influences. In fact, my family name, Scibilia, there’s so many artists in our family. I met a cousin the other day for the first time in Chicago who makes like steel sculptures. There’s so many artists in our family so it’s really kind of in our blood I think to create.
So a lot of support.
Yeah totally. I think some people were really worried. I know my grandmother was really worried. My mom was pretty worried at first but my mom’s my biggest fan. She calls me after every single show to see how it went and she gets on her Instagram because we tell everyone to #marcontour and then my mom goes and checks it out.
Does she really?
Yeah she does. Everyone’s really supportive. I love touring with my brother. He’s incredible and my band mate Eric and our sound guy. We just have a good crew of people.
So this tour is just toned back?
This tour is literally just me and I’m using Jon’s crew which is great because they’re great guys too but the guys that I bring out, they’re like my family. They’re at any birthday parties, in fact they’re early to birthday parties because they help me set up.
Is it something where you kind of do like half and half when it comes to touring?
I do mostly band but this tour just logistically made more sense for me just to go by myself. It was just literally a logistical decision and I love it. I mean I love playing solo too. I like solo because I can kind of just mess around. I don’t have to have a set schedule. I don’t have a set list most of the time and if people want to here something, they can yell it out. They can bring a sign, they can do whatever they want to do and I’ll pretty much do it. As long as I can remember it. Sadly I can’t remember a lot of songs I’ve done.
There are a lot of songs. I know your debut just came out a year ago but you’ve been doing this for so long. Performing for so long.
The first time we headlined Athens, Georgia six months ago, there was just this amazing group of people who came out and it was awesome. But the craziest part to me was the fact that it was my first headline show there and they knew stuff off of EP’s that my record label had taken down. They knew all sorts of songs so it was a really fun night and I think I spent probably thirty minutes just taking requests from people that were yelling out songs. Just playing them.
That’s incredible. So even though it was a rough experience, you’re still on your feet.
Oh yeah! No I’m probably running faster then I was then.
So it kind of just like pushed you.
Yeah totally and I would love to be in another situation with good people that were helping to tell the story of the music I’m making. But right now, my fans, my friends, they are my record label. They are my promotion. They are it and that’s fine with me. Ultimately at the end of the day, a record label can’t create something special. They just can’t. Even though they want to think they can, you can quote me on that, all they can do is occasionally and even rarely, but they can sometimes amplify it. If they’re lucky but they can’t create it. If what I’m doing is special. It will be amplified slowly but surely by the people.
Definitely. I mean rarely do bands stay with one label their whole career.
Exactly. I’m excited. I love playing music and it’s a great time to do it.
I feel like everyone is on tour but it’s a good thing. Every major venue is booked in Boston for like every night up until December.
Totally and this is an awesome city to tour in too I feel. I feel like people are just great here.
Then to maybe end it off, you’ve got a lot going on. You’ve been touring really steadily I’m sure there’s more to come but what’s like the plan maybe for the next few months?
When I go home, I get home basically like November 1st, I’m probably going to turn down any touring opportunity that comes unless it’s really something I really, really want to do. Because I have so many recordings that I want to finish and start kind of setting my sights on releasing little things here and there but then really making another record. And with that record, I think I want to make my voice the top of the Christmas tree and I don’t want there to be a whole bunch of other lights on that Christmas tree. I want it to be the sexiest Christmas tree with a couple lights on it and this big ornament on top and that’s going to be my voice. The most pronounced thing. The more I tour, they tell me that’s what they want to hear. They want to hear like the words and the voice and the emotion. So I’m going to try to strip back some things I think and go from there and see what happens and not try to guess what sixteen year old girls want. Because I think sixteen year old girls are extremely smart and they’re not going to be fooled by some business man in some cubicle. So I think I just want to make something that feels emotional and I hope it connects. Feel free to put all this in there (laughs).
I think it will be really funny.