Marc E. Bassy Talks Stepping Into the Spotlight, Kendrick Lamar’s Praise and Perseverance [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Marc E. Bassy might not be a household name but if you're a fan of Chris Brown, 2 Chainz or Sean Kingston, there's a good chance you've listened to his work. Born Marc Griffin, the singer has penned tracks for many major hip-hop and R&B artists. However, the San Francisco-bred songwriter has been moving toward the spotlight recently to showcase his own vocal chops.
With the release of his East Hollywood EP and the slow groove "That's Love" featuring Ty Dolla $ign, Bassy is getting noticed for his talent, with his SoundCloud page garnering thousands of listens daily. Drawing inspiration from his personal experiences -- from a bad breakup with a girl and his former band -- Bassy literally wears his heart on his sleeve and crafts musical memoirs with tracks like "XX" and "Some Things Never Change."
"Having been in this industry for 10-plus with my former band and writing for people, it’s easy to get sucked into the scene with all its addictions like alcohol, drugs, chasing women..." he wrote on his SoundCloud page. "With the East Hollywood EP, I’m reporting live from the center of all the beauty and the bulls---.”
His smooth melodies, precise language and mix of singing and rapping, Bassy has received props from a number of big artists. Not only did Kendrick Lamar give him a shout out on Twitter, but Questlove handpicked Bassy to perform at The Roots Picnic back in May. The Boombox had the chance to talk to Bassy about the songwriting process, his next project and the advice every new artist should follow -- even if you're not a Beatles fan. Get involved in the conversation.
The Boombox: What’s your first musical memory?
Marc E. Bassy: I remember my mom playing acoustic guitar and singing James Taylor songs to me when I was a little kid to put me to sleep. So that was the first thing I remember.
Before performing your own music, you were mostly just songwriting. How does it feel now being in the spotlight compared to when you were writing for others?
It’s exciting. It’s an opportunity to really fulfill your own vision when you sing your own songs. You sort of have to pass the baton and hope that they can sprint to the finish line so they can be the first person to sing it. But when it’s for yourself, it’s all on you, and I like that feeling.
You’ve played a bit of the festival circuit as a solo artist, namely The Roots Picnic. How do you feel about playing in a big space like compared to a small club venue?
I don’t care where I play. I play the same way every time. Obviously, you have to feed off the energy of the people around you to a certain extent. But I’m confident in myself and the music I make. Just having the chance to sing my songs, I going to do my best and keep getting better every show. So I don’t stress about it. I’ve been doing this for a long time. So I feel like when you’re up there, you’re letting people experience you and who you truly are. So you can’t lose.
As you just mentioned, you’ve been making music for a while now. So what are the things that you’ve learned through the course of your career?
The most important thing, if you want to be part of the entertainment industry, especially as an artist or songwriter, you have to do it because you love it. I just locked myself in for seven days and wrote 30 songs. It’s hard living. It’s not a normal lifestyle so it’s a sacrifice, that normalcy and level-headedness. It takes an over-loving passion for what you do. And the years have gone by, and I’m still committed to this music. I think I just proved to myself that this is what I do and care about it. And also, you have to be patient.
The EP is a personal one for you. But when you write for others, do you also draw from personal experiences or do something completely different?
I can’t lie. I would like to share with [others]. That’s the new trend I think. Songwriting is just about making a good song or whatever. But when I write my own stuff, they’re really specifically personal like I’m writing a short story or a memoir. The language I use in my music are words that you don’t hear in other songs. But when I write for other people, I still try to have a raw, genuine emotion, sort of unique perspective, and try to cater the language I’m using and melodies so they fit on the radio. Words for myself, it’s f---ing crazy.
Listen to Marc E. Bassy's "That's Love" Feat. Ty Dolla $ign
Well, you’ve gotten props for your lyricism from a lot of people including Kendrick Lamar. How did you feel about all that?
I’ve never known him. When I was 18 and moved to California, I would send him beats. But I never met him [before]. Then I [finally] met him a few months ago through a mutual friend, and I let him listen to some of my stuff. Then I don’t know. He was listening to my music, and he’s my favorite rapper in the world.
So would ever be up for a collaboration in the future?
Yeah, of course.
And who are some other artists you would want to collaborate with?
Kendrick. I like other artists, but Kendrick is the big one right now.
Now that the EP is out, what’s the status on the album?
We’re just really starting the whole process of getting the next single and visuals. This is just something I was doing, and it was supposed to kick in to where I have a team of people who I trust now. And it’s still just about the music and me expressing myself honestly. But now there’s more organization to the whole process, but there’s a lot more coming up. We’re going on tour. So we’ll be everywhere.
You embody the definition of the “working musician.” So for those who are just starting out in music who want to make an actual living as an artist, what’s your advice to them?
Honestly, it depends what they do. But if you just want to make it in music, I would say open a Beatles songbook and learn how to play the songs on acoustic guitar and sing along with them for a while. So you can understand what songs really feel [like] when they’re amazing and how it feels to sing and play them. Hunter S. Thompson said he read The Great Gatsby over and over again, and that’s not his book. He just typed it over and over again on the typewriter so he would feel what he felt like if he had written one of the greatest pieces of American literature of all time. And I always thought that was cool so I would pick up a guitar and play a great song and know what it feels like. Also, just have perseverance. You just have to work at everything.
Listen to Marc E. Bassy's East Hollywood EP
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