MaRLo the Dutch- Australian has stepped onto the island of Manhattan. He brings with him his pride in his career, his love for his family and laid back down to earth personality to New York. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing “The MaRLo Sound” creator, attending his memorial day weekend show at LAVO NY and having one memorable night. Arriving at ONE Hotel I see the beautiful foliage and instantly think this is right up my alley. A very relaxed and comfortable conversation with the trance artist on his Altitude tour, thoughts on making it big, and his affection for his family took place.
Photocredit: TAO Group, LAVO New York.
Q. Without giving away too much, what can you tell us about Altitude 2017 that would be different than 2016? What can your fans count on for the show?
MaRLo: Well, the thing with Altitude is that it’s a concept of me doing a four-hour set including live vocalists and a tech energy segment, which is a harder, faster and tougher part. So that’s the concept of the show and it will happen every year. Of course, the set will be different, the vocalist will be different and there’s usually a warm up DJ. Last year we had Ruben de Ronde, who did an excellent job, but that’s sort of the concept of why you go to an Altitude show, for that experience.
Q. Selling out shows in Australia last year with crowds up to 15,000 was an awesome accomplishment. Does it make it any more special because it was home?
MaRLo: It did. I started a small club night and no one would book me at the start of my career, at all. I was making demos and sending them out and no one was responding. It’s very easy to blame other people: “Oh, they didn’t respond to me”. Why should they? They don’t know who you are, and you’re not friends with them. So I changed my thinking to, “They’re not responding to me because they don’t know who I am, they don’t know if my music is going to be any good so why would they even waste their time even listening to it.” I looked at it the other way around and said, “How are they going to get to know who I am?” I then started my own club nights called Altitude which was a long time ago. A couple of friends and I rented a small venue and sold tickets at the universities trying to get people to come. After a few successful nights, other people started hearing our names and learning who we were, so people started listening to the demos and started booking us at other shows. That’s how the Altitude name started all those years ago. To bring it back in the country where it all started, which is Australia, was really cool.
Q. I’ve heard you say, “No one is going to make your career for you, you have to do it yourself.” I’ve also heard you say, “It’s about what you can offer someone, not what they can offer you”. I really relate to that statement personally because that’s exactly what I’m doing in my career. Do you think to pay your dues molds you into a better artist or a more appreciative one?
MaRLo: Absolutely. The sacrifices you make, don’t even see them as sacrifices. If you want to do what you love to do then just do that. Don’t get upset or bitter about it that you’re not going as fast as you want to be or as successful or recognized by other people. All those sorts of things are outside factors and the internal is the same. I’m still doing what I’ve always loved to do, now to just bigger crowds. Making music in the studio, that’s the essence of what I love to do, as my career. Now whether I’d be getting paid for it or not, I’d still love it. You got to find that love and joy in what you do and then people will recognize you for it. You can’t convince people to like you- it’s very difficult. “Hey, like me, make me popular!” It just doesn’t work that way. I think it’s stronger and much more fulfilling if you’ve worked really hard and stuck to what you love and what you believe in, and then people will recognize you for it.
Q. The “MaRLo sound” is meant to represent the diversity in your music. Do you find it smart or wise of an artist to make an effort in diversifying their work?
MaRLo: I think that’s really personal. If you like making the same song every time, then you should do that, 100%! If you’re a painter and you just doing one brush stroke and that makes you happy, then do that man, do that your whole career. That’s cool, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But each artist is different, and it sucks if you feel pinned into a corner and to have to please someone else.That’s when it stops being fun.
Q. You’ve expressed yourself as a kid through skateboarding, surfing, and drawing. Do you find it important to one-day help push and guide your son, in finding his passions and expressing himself?
MaRLo: Oh, 100%, absolutely. I can’t wait for the day that we do things like that together. Right now he’s still very young but I managed to get a smile out of him, which is so awesome. In the mornings, we try to get him to smile and giggle and it lights up my day.
Q. You took your grandmother and mother on tour with you to Vietnam. What was it like having your main support system right there beside you watching you live your dream? How did they feel?
MaRLo: My grandmother is 82 and she had sworn about ten years ago that she will no longer fly anywhere. So when my son was born, I asked her, “What if I booked you a first class ticket so that you are nice and comfortable to Australia? Would you come and meet the baby?” She agreed. She stayed a whole month in Australia, got to meet my son River and hold him. She was blown away, and it was like she turned 30 years younger showing so much spirit while being active and energetic. On her way back, she had to stop in Bangkok. I said, “Well, look, I’m gonna be in Vietnam anyway, which is real close. Why don’t you come on over to the show and see what the shows are like?” So she did, and it was like her big adventure because it was really exciting for her.
Q. You have a new single titled “Falling Down” with First State. Can you tell me about that collaboration?
MaRLo: I’ve known First State for quite a while. He’s a really good guy and I think he’s a great producer. He brought up an idea of a vocal that he had been sent and asked if we could do something with this vocal together. I said, “Absolutely, I really love the vocal.” Once you’ve become friends with DJ’s, you can just text message each other, call or FaceTime. It’s not really an official thing like doing a collaboration- it’s more like jamming. He just sent me the vocal parts and I started playing around with it and sent it back. He played with it a bit sent it back and then it was finished.
Q.Your live sets are very energetic. Do you think a DJ’s body language and intensity communicates to the audience or do you feed off each other?
MaRLo: I think it goes both ways. When the crowd is really energized, I get really energized. When the crowd is a bit flat, it’s hard to find that energy in yourself as well. With that said I generally love the music. I only play music that I really love to play, that still gets me excited and it’s involuntary when I jump around. But the crowd does make a huge difference: if they’re vibing the same stuff that you are, then you create a real electricity in the audience.
Q. So you have this meet and greet contest in the states going on. Is this a way for you to get to know your American audience better?
MaRLo: If it was up to me, I’d meet everyone but that’s not possible. So setting up these meet and greets is really exciting for me. To meet the people that tweet me, that message me, that comment on my pages, putting a face to all those names is really cool. Even meeting new people is great since there are new fans that have just gotten into my sound.
Q. I’ve always said, “When you know you’ve got it good, you learn there is potential to having even better” and I think it’s okay to go and strive for that. After all the success and the growth in your family, do you see an even brighter future ahead?
MaRLo: It depends on your concept of success. My concept of success is doing what you love to do. I have times where I feel unsuccessful, not because I’m not getting paid or not doing big shows but because I feel lonely in a hotel room when I miss my friends and family. I think this isn’t what it’s about and I’m not happy right now. Success for me is literally doing what you love to do in your life.
Q. What are the challenges of living your dream long term? Does it ever get too much?
MaRLo: Touring, being away from home and family. Seeing photos of home, seeing other people doing fun things together. The good thing about touring is that you can fly out your friends and family, and it’s cool to bring those people on tour and sort of make it into a vacation. When I’m not in the studio, I’m on tour. I’ll be away for a whole month and then home for a week then another two weeks in Europe then I’m home for a few days, so it’s non-stop. In those days, a normal person would take it easy rest catch up with friends and family, but when your work rate is so high your standards are at a different level. When I’m home I go right into the studio because I’m launching a label, Higher Altitude. I’ve got to sign the new tracks and make new music as well, keeping everything going because I love it. So getting home from a 30-hour flight, going straight into the studio working twelve hours, waking up the next morning and doing it again to then go on a plane and leave again is the reality. I love doing that, but it is a huge grind and sometimes you look at the alternative of not doing that. Not going on tour, having a normal job, getting home at 5 PM. This lifestyle is not for everyone is what I’m trying to say. There’s also something really awesome about having a lot of time with your friends and family and finishing work at 5 PM and that’s it. You’ve finished your work for the day and you get to do whatever you want until you go to bed. That has a really nice freedom to it, being that you have your weekends free to catch up with your friends and stuff. I never catch up with my friends on weekends because I don’t have weekends free. I’m not there at Christmas and I’m not there on New Years, so those sorts of things are easy to forget and there’s something really beautiful about having that part of your life which I don’t. I do love what I do. I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do right, so since I’ve started making music this is all I wanted and I’m grabbing onto it with both hands. If you enjoy your time with your family and friends and love to makes plans etc., then it’s not for you. You probably won’t make it. You have to have a really hard work rate and have to sacrifice everything else in order to do it. I’m not making an argument against doing it at all. I absolutely love it, and I wouldn’t change a thing for the world- it’s just not for everyone.
Q. How do you remain humble?
MaRLo: Because it didn’t happen overnight. It’s easier when you have overnight success to then be overwhelmed and carried away with it where I have had a lot of ups and downs in my career. It hasn’t always been great, and it hasn’t always been shitty either. If you realize that, it puts a perspective on keeping you grounded and humble. You realize that you’re very lucky and blessed to have everything you have and that it can all stop tomorrow. What’s the point of having an ego? What does it satisfy? It only drives you nuts because you have to prove to yourself that you’re this person you’ve made up in your head, and I’d rather just be real.
Q.Any plans to bring Altitude to the states?
MaRLo: I’d love that. Probably next year.
Later that evening I make my way to LAVO to witness MaRLo work his “MaRLo Sound” on east side New Yorkers occupying the club. A lavish basement party that thuds through your bones was what I walked into. Watching the warm up DJ, the crowd, and the pillar dancers I continuously checked my watch for 1 am to come. Suddenly I hear “New York how you feeling!” and excitement plus relief are expressed across my face. MaRLo takes the stage and “Haunted” ft Jano ignite the amplifiers. There is an eagerness about him when he works, his passion and excitement take over and he’s then in beast mode.
Midtown East elevates to a “higher altitude” with the lift and drop of his faders. He leads the fun and the crowd followed. He took a few of his favorites and a few of his own like “Visions”, “You And Me” ft Chloe and his latest track with First State “Falling Down” across his mixing station to the opposite wall of the room. Playing his favorites while showing who he is. Only forty minutes into his set and I decided to stop documenting and to start having fun. The soothing sounds of “Hold It Together” ft Christina Novelli touch his fans. Thier phones up and their mouths open MaRLO lovers belt “let my starlight set you free”. He acknowledges his fans as he works with a point, a nod or mouthed thank you with his hands held in prayer position. A full on energetic performance – LAVO gets tech energized. Watching him spin is like watching an international championship puzzle competition and you see with your own two eyes the talent these DJ/Producers have.
Photocredit: TAO Group, LAVO New York.
Big-club/warehouse sounds tremble the speakers, party goers heads bang and their hands are in the air. Cracking the crystal balls of LAVO, MaRLo lays his “MaRLo Sound” on em and gives the night club a trance facelift. A man with talent, a strong work ethic, an original sound and a great state of mind are what defines MaRLo. It was fun to hear his set but even better to meet the man. I’d like to thank MaRLo and his team for their welcoming energy and one lively evening. Make sure you check out MaRLo on tour now in the States and Canada, his Altitude tour in Australia and Asia and new releases in the near future!