Marlon Williams’ sophomore album “Make Way For Love” reaches the masses today, and as we made pretty clear in our review, it’s one of the best complete, start to finish collection of songs that we have heard in some time. Singular in a multitude of ways while being familiar enough to be reminiscent, Williams is a game changer, the kind of artist you make regular social media check-ins with just to see when new music is dropping. He isn’t just to be heard, he’s to be followed, because you don’t want to miss what comes next.
We recently sat down with Williams to discuss the process of marrying visuals to his music, squaring off with the wind for the “What’s Chasing You” video, and why he feels that it is not his right to assume what the audience will take from his music.
TrunkSpace: You recently released videos for the singles “What’s Chasing You” and “Come to Me.” Do you enjoy the process of marrying your music with visuals? Is it something you labor over in terms of finding the right “fit” between the two?
Williams: It’s something I’ve grown to enjoy more and more. I’m starting to frame it as an extension of the songwriting process, a way of muddying the waters.
TrunkSpace: The video for “What’s Chasing You” features you grooving back and forth on a beach. What did you like about the concept and how it ultimately fit with “What’s Chasing You?”
Williams: I like the confrontation of the video. There’s no cutting away, and once you realize that it’s one long unedited shot, as a viewer, you’re more forgiving, you buy into the limitations.
TrunkSpace: How long were you out there in the sand, shirtless and dodging kites?
Williams: Well, we did about eight continuous takes and I was so windburnt by the end I didn’t know up from down.
TrunkSpace: The song itself has been on repeat here since we first heard it. It will appear on your new album, “Make Way For Love,” arriving today on Dead Oceans. How do you personally choose the singles prior to an album’s release, because in many ways, for the consumer, that single becomes the representation of the album, does it not?
Williams: Because the writing and recording was such an unconscious process for me this time around, it really was a lot of feeling it out as I went. A lot of allowing things to sit where they naturally fell. That’s totally true, and you have to be resigned to that reality and not impose too much on the way a listener fits the puzzle together.
TrunkSpace: Do you have emotional connections to individual songs or do they all sort of become parts and pieces to a larger emotional connection to the album? For example, what do you feel when you listen back to “Make Way For Love” and is your hope that listeners find a similar connection to it, either musically or through the lyrics?
Williams: I have no preconceived ideas about what I expect an audience to take away from it, I feel like it’s not my right. Of course I long to be understood, but I’m also aware that I’m learning from the songs as they’re out in the world too.
TrunkSpace: How have you personally changed between the songwriting that ultimately became your debut album and the songwriting on “Make Way For Love,” and how has it impacted your music? Has your songwriting POV changed at all?
Williams: I used to think I could hide behind my songs. I don’t feel that so much anymore, or I don’t feel the need to. However, I’m only two albums in and who knows if and when I’ll change again?
TrunkSpace: You have described your approach to lyrics as “newspaper storytelling.” Are you someone who has a difficult time shutting off that storytelling part of your brain? Do you see someone in a cafe or on a street and find yourself creating a fictional origin around them?
Williams: I do definitely like to create narratives for passing strangers. It can get a bit much. Sometimes I’ll watch an old person eating alone and imagine what Proustian memories of their mother’s cooking they’re conjuring up and hope it’s not making them too sad about mum being gone. Unnecessary.
TrunkSpace: You’re kicking off an extensive international tour on February 22 in Bristol, UK. What are you most looking forward to while out on the road?
Williams: I’m looking forward to going through all the stages of tiredness and overdoneness with the songs and being forced to find new angles of self-entertainment.
“Make Way For Love” is available today on Dead Oceans.