We’ve waxed lyrical about Marcus Foster on numerous occasions since we first stumbled across his music late last year. Yesterday evening we had the chance to hear all about Marcus’ work in his own words ahead of his second performance in Camden this week…
So, two gigs in two days at the Barfly…. We heard you’ve been mixing it up a bit?
Yeah – last night we wanted to have a go at something different so we went for a stripped-out trio show, which was a first for us. We focused more on the acoustic side of things just to mix it up a bit, which was great but hard work – there’s no safety net when you strip it down that way. Tonight we’ll be back to the full band with a chance to go a bit more nuts!
We thought we could expect your album release (Nameless Path) to coincide with these shows – is that not the case anymore?
That’s right. We had planned the release for this month, but I’ve recently switched record companies so it’s now been delayed until September. We wanted to keep the gigs going anyway as we’d been looking forward to them, and now it’s all about celebrating the recently released single instead (Rushes and Reeds). We’re also thinking about recording a limited edition EP in the next couple of months too, just to keep it fun!
So I guess the album is ready and waiting to go now – how long was it in the making?
It’s my first album so it’s a mix really – I’ll be letting go of old material with some songs that are up to six years old and combining them with others that are only six months old. Despite the period of time it covers the songs cover a similar theme and I think it all ties in to create one complete piece of work.
It’s also a bit of mixture between folk style and old school electric rock, and was recorded in a very live way. There are some weird stories in there – a lot of them are quite cinematic in the sense that I like to imagine a narrative and run with it.
Any tracks in there you’re particularly proud of?
I’m proud of them all really. I think it’s a good collection. A lot of the songs have existed in different forms previously and developed over time, so I feel like I’ve learnt a lot from it and have now got the momentum to keep moving on.
We saw the video of it being made out in Wales at Rockfield studios…
Yeah! It was amazing. We were out there for a month and had a great time, lots of cooking and drinking and playing games. The best experience.
It’s well known that you have an artistic background and exhibited a piece at the Saatchi gallery – how did you make the switch to music?
Well, I’ve been playing music for ages but I also studied at Chelsea College of Art and went on to do a masters in sculpture at the RCA. I’ve always done the two pretty much alongside each other, so for example a few years ago I was doing a bit of touring but was looking for ways to make art at the same time – so I got into photography and filming, which became quite important to my art practice.
Do you find that sometimes the two can fuel each other?
In a way, yes. It’s good to try and connect the two. We recently made a video in Iceland and we did a lot of the album’s artwork out there, which I was quite involved in, and the images from that follow along the same sort of lines that I might explore within a sculpture.
So this means that you follow in the long line of artists that have become professional musicians – is there anyone you particularly admire that has also trodden that path?
It’s interesting I guess. I did hear that Bryan Ferry went to the RCA too which is cool! I think it can sometimes be a tricky combination as it can be hard for musicians to be taken seriously when they turn to art, so I’m glad I’ve done it this way around.
Beyond the art world are there any musicians that have inspired you recently?
I really like the singer-songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff who’s also played for Communion. He’s an amazing performer. He did a show in Camden at the Borderline recently that was just insane. I listen to a lot of old music too – sometimes it can be a slog to find brilliant performers these days that are willing to really go for it.
I guess that’s why it’s so great when you find something new that you do like – it makes the search worthwhile?
Yeah, totally. I think it can be like that with art too – there’s a lot of shit out there but when you see something really good it’s just the best feeling in the world – you kind of live for those special moments. That sounds very cheesy!
Confession time – do you have any guilty pleasures musically? Something a little bit naff you secretly can’t help listening to?
Ummm, I listen to a lot of jazz.
Jazz can’t be labeled as naff!
Yeah ok, jazz is cool. Prince? But then he’s cool too.
Perhaps we’ll just have to chalk you down as a man with impeccable taste in music…
Hang on, I just remembered I might quite like a bit of Norah Jones – does that count?
It’ll have to do!
Moving on, you occasionally get linked back to the fact that you wrote a song performed by Robert Pattinson for the Twilight films – do you ever find any twi-hard fans popping up at your gigs?
Not so much! I’m really grateful for everything the film has done for me, but I’m also pleased I didn’t cash in on the experience and instead stayed over here, working with Communion and building up my fan base organically – that’s been really rewarding.
It looks like you have a crazy summer lined up festival-wise…
Yep we’re doing some really nice ones, like Greenman, Secret Garden Party and Bestival – plus anything basically with a barn or a farm involved! I’ve never really been to festivals before so it should be fun.
Blimey, are prepared? Have you got your festival survival kit ready?
Yeah I should do that, I’ll at least need to find some wellies…
So, after the summer your next major step is the album – then what? More touring?
Yup, album, touring, touring, touring. That includes a European tour in the autumn, then hopefully next year I’ll head over to America and maybe sort out getting on a label out there…and then see how it goes I guess.
Finally, what do you make of our beloved Camden?
Well I’m based in South London, but I think Camden is an amazing place with all its pubs and venues, especially on a sunny evening like this. I’d probably end up dead if I had all this on my doorstep every day of the week though!
True to his word, Marcus did go ‘a bit nuts’ at that evening’s show –launching into a rousing tune and promptly snapping a guitar string! Luckily Communion’s Kev Jones quickly came to the rescue so all was not lost, and the band went on to play a great set.
You can get a glimpse of what life on the road is like for Marcus Foster with this new little video:
The Camden Store Team X