Music Feature / Interview: Marigold - "Grey As The Sky"

Music video by Brett Ballachino (@brettballachino)

Words and Art by Benjamin Lieber

influential people that led you to play music (family, etc)

I started playing the drums in Middle School, introduced to it by my school actually. We had a very strong music program, and technical/concert band percussion was my first intro to music. After a year of that, I started taking drum set lessons, discovered KISS and The Beatles and Travis Barker, and from there on, I was all about punk rock music. My parents were super supportive of me playing music, though they never took the approach of “you can have everything you want without working for it.” They bought me this electronic multi-beat pad thing, I think it was a Yamaha. That was my first “drum set”. I learned how to play basic beats and such on that, and I saved up my own cash to buy a real acoustic kit, which I was able to do within a year. It was straight loud rock and roll from there. My mother hated it, haha. 

Why ‘Marigold’

The name “marigold” comes from a Nirvana song that Dave wrote. It was released as a B-side, and Dave completely wrote and recorded the whole song; Kurt didn’t even sing on it, but he loved it so they put it out under the Nirvana name. Years later, after Kurt passed and Dave started Foo, fans would always chant at their first tours “marigold” because that was the only song they knew/wanted to hear. They never played it, until over a decade into their career on their live acoustic record “Skin and Bones”. Being a huge fan of Nirvana/Foo Fighters/Dave Grohl is my true and only president, this just resonated a lot with me and my story as a musician, and seemed fitting.

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Also the drummer in a band called Head North. The motivation behind Marigold

Head North started with Brent Martone and I (we went to high schools within the same district, his mom was my English teacher, we both played in shitty local bands that played shitty local shows together, haha.) in 2013 when we both graduated High School. Fast forward half a decade, and here we are with 5 US tours, 5 releases, and a load of good times under our belts. Marigold started (in 2016) as an outlet for my growing creative passions that simply weren’t satisfied with HN. I had always fooled around with guitar (I start teaching myself when I was like 14, my dad played guitar in college and I used his old ’85 Squire Strat; these few models were actually the exact same as Fender Strats, so it rips. Collin from A Will Away uses the same thing and we always talk about how its so misunderstood) I taught myself through youtube video after video, eventually connecting the dots. Fast forward years of growth and comes 2016 I had all these skeletons of songs I had “written” for the past 3-4 years just chilling, and I was finally like, “Why don’t I actually do something with this?” So that was the first Marigold record. Basically just a thrown together version of demos from the formative years of me learning how to play instruments. It’s rough, and at times overbearing, but I think it’s special because of that. Now, almost 2 years later, I have what I consider my first formal release under the name; this record was crafted with taste and direction, and I truly consider it my proudest work to date. 

recording process of the record and the music video

I recorded this record in my hometown, Buffalo, New York at GCR Audio with Jay Zubricky. I’ve worked with Jay for (literally) SO long; I think we’ve done close to 15 records together at this point. It was a no brainer, we get along so well and just understand each other musically. I came to him with the demos and was like “I want it to sound like this and this” and he just got it. I recorded the entire record myself (with the help from some featured parts from dear friends of mine, here and there) which is always a challenge, but a very rewarding end product. And Jay really understands that. He’s seen me perform since I first started understanding the drum set, until now; I don’t trust anyone more with my drum performances. The music video was done by Brett Ballachino; we’ve known each other for years, again, buffalo just has a very tight knit music scene. Him and I have become very close friends over learning about film photography and the analog image era in general; I approached him about doing a music video(s) on Super 8 film back in October; I’ve always loved the look of Super 8 film, and wanted to see if it was still possible in 2018. We ended up pulling it off, not only once, but twice; he filmed the first music video with a Canon Super 8, and this video with a Yashika. He’s totally embraced it and become really talented with it. The first video was like a trial run that ended up working well to put out; This one was a well crafted, put together piece of art. I provided the song, Brett provided the creative visuals. I basically was just like, “I am ready to shave my head, and I wanna document this drastic change in my life, so lets make a music video out of it.” So we did. 

Collage work

My collage work is something I do in my free time; My parents gifted me a professional photo scanner. So, in my travels through thrift/antique stores and bargain bins, I collect vintage newspapers from the 40’s-70’s and when I am bored/have some free time on my hands, I will go through them and select images from anything (advertisements, features, etc) that catch my eye. I usually focus on images that could play well as a foreground/middleground/background. Then, when I have a good bank of different images scanned, I’ll work on putting them together in one image digitally. Again, foreground / middleground / background. Creating that depth of field is always what attracts my eye the most. I import everything into photoshop. Allowing myself to manipulate things digitally opens up an entire fourth dimension to collaging that wouldn’t be accessible on paper, which I wouldn’t be able to do with that photo scanner from my parents. It really has become an avenue of escapism for me, when I need to just shut my brain off and remove myself from the world for a while. 

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Recommended Listening

Though the music I was into when I was writing/recording this record is vastly different from what I’m jamming now, (then, I was digging through Whitney, Paul Simon, Tom Petty, The Lumineers, Bon Iver) lately, I’ve been really obsessed with soul and jazz music; Sam Cooke (“Ain’t That Good News” has been on repeat for weeks), Charles Bradley, Hank Mobley. Dean Martin’s "Happiness Is”, as well as some really cool indie records like “My God Has A Telephone” by The Flying Stars of Brooklyn NY, Brightside’s “Now and Loud”, and a new artist called “Why Dogs Why”. 

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