One of the great things about living in the Seattle area is that is never a shortage of good music to discover. There are always local shows going on around the area that showcase the many talented artists of our region, although finding these new artists can be difficult if you don’t know where to look or are just overwhelmed by the number of local shows going on all time. Recently I came across a young band called Marsalis that caught my attention that I thought we should share with our readers.
I had the chance to sit down and chat with Dennis Zender and Adam Bishop of Marsalis to find out who this band is, what they are all about and what they are up to right now. One of the interesting points that stuck out to me that should be mentioned since we are talking about them being one of our local bands it that there is a bit of a spin in that they can also be considered and international band too. Part of the band lives here in Seattle while the other part lives in Vancouver, B.C. and according to Adam it is one of the biggest obstacles they’ve had to overcome so far, “We are spread out between countries. Part of us are in Seattle, the other part are in Vancouver, B.C. It takes a bit of coordination for rehearsals, writing and recording”.
Their music is a little hard to pin down and describe. I always hate to tell readers this band sounds like…. Because I really hope that bands have their own sound, something recognizable as theirs and no one else. Being that this band is still so young, only forming “formally” in 2014, there is something familiar in their sound with other artists at this time. It’s not that they sound completely like anyone else but as you listen to them you will hear something here and something there in each song that you will be thinking to yourself that sounds so familiar, but that you can’t quite place your finger on it. And when I asked the guys if they felt they have their own sound yet Dennis said, “So far we’ve heard a lot of who we sound like. I mean I hope so. Personally from where I am at, I believe this next record is going to complete the picture. There will be two songs, 2 EP’s. Part 1 and Part 2 that sort of embody the full catalog of work and energy/emotion. Right now our sound is a bit incomplete, the record is more of a combination of what this next record is going to deliver and what you’ve heard already. It’s not going to alienate anyone either. You’re still going to hear all the elements and the key elements you are looking for from one of our songs.” For me as the listener, what I hear listening to Marsalis is a sound that is serene, beautifully melodic and harmonizing. Their songs are well written and arranged to perfection with little elements of rock, pop and soul that blend nicely and that fans can easily enjoy. Where the band hasn’t heard yet from fans they have a unique sound, I hear the beginnings of their unique sound that I am sure they are going to slide into soon, maybe even with their next release they are working on now.
Digging a little deeper I asked them how they would describe their music to a new fan, more of what they hope a new fan would hear or what they think they would identify with in their sound and this is what they each had to say. Adam, “Our music and sound are still evolving and growing. This first record is a little more relaxed with more of a bluesy feel to it. Our content is growing, a little more aggression and a little more upbeat. We are talking about different things and our music is complimenting those topics we are addressing. So I’d say it’s a modern sound but you will feel authenticity with it. You may hear some element that makes you think of something from the 70’s or another time that you wouldn’t expect to hear in today’s radio market.” Dennis expanded on Adam’s response with, “We’ve had a lot of people give us feedback on different bands we remind them of. Being in many groups throughout the years, typically you will hear one or two bands, maybe three or four that people will say, “You sound like this band” or “you guys remind me of that band”. I think collectively as Marsalis we’ve heard so many different bands, ones we’ve heard of, ones that are current, ones that are from ten years ago or even further. But it seems like every couple of weeks someone throws another name at us. It’s a really diverse opinion of who we sound like.”
The self-titled EP Marsalis was released in May 2016. According to Dennis, “Some of the songs I’d written before. Then there were a couple of songs that came rather quickly. Like, Where I Am, I was just home one night and it just came to me and then next practice I showed it to the band. It became a song really quickly. We worked on it and crafted it then it sort of became a staple for us. The recording process took a while.” It didn’t take the band long to write the album, but the recording took a bit longer than expected. It took the band about a year and a half to complete the album from recording to mastering. They band worked with Dylan Fant at One Shop Studios in Woodinville for the recording of the album and then the album was mixed and mastered by Evan Morgan in Vancouver, B.C.
Marsalis just finished recording their new album in Vancouver, B.C. They are not signed to a label so the project is entirely independent. The album currently does not have a target release date and there is still a bit of work do before it will be ready for release; mixing, artwork, marketing, release show/party coordination, etc… all the business stuff basically.
The band is planning to perform some live shows this summer. Currently you will only find one scheduled show on appearing on their calendar, May 20th at the Obsidian in Olympia, WA. Don’t worry though, the band has confirmed they have some live shows in the works right now, they just couldn’t mention them yet as the official announcements from organizers and other artists have not been made yet, so they are not able to announce the shows yet. There are some good announcements coming soon, so keep an eye on their social media accounts for all the details.
Being that the Pacific Northwest locals usually put emphasis on special causes I did have to ask Dennis and Adam if Marsalis stands behind any causes and I really like what Dennis had to say on the subject. “As a band I don’t think we have one yet. Personally I am involved with a few United Way of King County is one and others I am also partial to. There’s a lot of things we are behind like inclusion, positivity and bringing people together.” Standing behind unity is a great thing, I think I like these guys a little more now!
Lastly, for the fans who want to make a connection with the artists they enjoy or those who don’t always feel comfortable at live shows, because let’s be honest, this is Seattle and the “Seattle Freeze” is real, the band wants you to know that they try to make their shows inclusive so that everyone feels welcome at any of their shows. Dennis, “We are very transparent and approachable. We’re just people, not a band. We will respond to fans in person and on our social media accounts. Adam is really good about that. We like to share positivity and we want to build our fanbase one person at a time. It’s not about picking and choosing who we talk to. We want to talk to anyone and everyone who wants to help the music scene keep growing. We want to help, we also want to cross pollinate and help those who’ve helped up build their brand. That’s important to us.” Adam, “When we play somewhere, there’s a reason behind it. We put all of our energy behind it. We haven’t had a bad show where people are asking why are we playing there. They are purposeful and packed. We play with other bands people dig and when we say we are almost sold out of our ticket, it’s not to boost sales, it’s because we are almost sold out. We don’t want people to show up and feel uncomfortable, we want everyone to feel welcome and to have a good time. That’s also part of how we pick our shows because some fans don’t feel comfortable in some venues. It’s a little more challenging when we play outside of areas we are familiar with.”
Get out there and support live and local music. Check out some music from Marsalis below.
Dennis Zender – Lead vocals, Guitars
Adam Bishop – Bass
Theresa Cadondon – Keys, Piano, Synth
Philty G – Drums