A Chat with Marcelyn, The Band (30.07.20)

Hailing from Philadelphia, Marcelyn, The Band is an alt-rock group spawned from vocalist Marcelyn Lebovitz solo project. Inspired by bands like Cheap Trick, Mitsky and Pie, the trio has a rather upbeat and intriguing sound. We had a chance to speak with Marcelyn Lebovitz (ML), Mike Lebovitz (MikeL) and Travis Martin (TM) about their new album Monstrous Existence and much more!

OSR: What inspired you to become a musician? Were there any other career options before music?

ML: I’ve loved singing for as long as I can remember. Our mom is a painter and art teacher, so she was always very supportive of my singing. I started voice lessons at age nine and just didn’t stop from there. Now I’m working on my Masters degree in vocal arts and I teach voice lessons.

There are a lot of factors about the music business that I struggle to cope with, like most musicians, I guess. So there were a lot of other options I considered, including wig maker, costume designer, makeup artist and hair stylist. I just couldn’t get away from music though, it always pulls me back in.

MikeL: My father wanted me to take over the family seafood business, but I wanted to be where the people are. I wanted to see them dancing and walking around on those feet. Wait, no, that’s The Little Mermaid. Sorry.

TM: : My parents were performers and were constantly on the road, so I grew up around musicians and theater. I got hooked on music from the time I was about five and never looked back. I was lucky enough to stumble into being an audio engineer after college, so I really lucked into being able to be around music 24/7.

OSR: How would you describe your upcoming album Monstrous Existence?

ML: Monstrous Existence is a perfect blend of that weird alternative indie-rock sound from our last album mixed with some folk and classic rock influences which are new to us. Other influences include choral music, 90’s college radio, acoustic singer/songwriters, and electro-pop. All three of us have pretty different tastes in music and our combined forces make a unique and powerful sound.

MikeL: It’s nine songs that tell the story of a mermaid who trades her voice for a shot at love with a human. Oops, sorry, that’s The Little Mermaid again.

OSR: Do you feel Monstrous Existence has a different sound from your previous works?

ML: Definitely! This album sounds much more mature than our last two, both in the songwriting and the audio quality. Our last two albums were very DIY. Mike and I recorded the last album from our bedrooms and produced it all by ourselves. We hit the lottery when we found our newest member, Travis. He’s a professional audio engineer, so he produced and mastered the album and did an amazing job! Monstrous Existence just sounds so much more professional and fuller than anything we’ve released, and my voice has never sounded better.

TM: : I really liked the last album, but I wasn’t in the band at that point. I kind of took the lead on production on this one. I had a certain sound in mind when we were making it – not the songs, just the sonic quality of it all. I wanted it to sound bright and clear and big, but retain some of the quirky charm of the last album.

OSR: What was the writing and recording process like?

ML: The three of us have been playing together since this past fall, but we didn’t start writing music together for a couple of months. Writing was weird at first. We tried a few jam sessions and decided we all hated doing that, so we ended up writing most of this album separately. One of us would send a half finished song to the other two, someone else would finish writing it on our own, and then we’d put it all together in rehearsal.

We were planning on recording everything in Travis’s studio, but then COVID-19 hit and we had to record remotely. Mike and I would send our parts to Travis who would then put the rest of the track together. Travis really worked some magic on this thing. Some of the tracks I sent to him started as simple songs with just me and my ukulele, but he sent them back as fully-fledged bops with more layers and instrumentation than I could have ever written.

TM: This whole thing started when Marce sent a demo of ‘Empty Room’ over to us. I had the day off, so I started plunking out the chords on piano and decided to record it; it all snowballed from there. We worked at a pretty frantic pace on this album. We were finishing songs every few days for weeks straight. Then it was another few weeks of refining everything.

OSR: Who inspired your music?

ML: Mitski, Camille Saint-Saens, Lianne La Havas, Sufjan Stevens, Sylvan Esso, Robert Schumann, Say Anything, My Chemical Romance, Johannes Brahms, FKA Twigs, Tune-yards, They Might Be Giants, Modest Mouse, and many many more.

TM: Fleetwood Mac, Phil Collins, Cheap Trick, They Might Be Giants,  Terry Reid…lots of old stuff.

OSR: What do you do in your spare time?

ML: I love crafts. I spend a lot of time knitting, painting and doing embroidery. I also love many video games, but especially Animal Crossing.

TM: I have a little wood shop at my house and I’m always building things. I also occasionally do some production stuff for other artists, but I’m picky.

OSR: What is the backstory to Monstrous Existence?

ML: The title is a quote from a video game that I loved called Night in the Woods. I played it during a time when I was very isolated and didn’t have much security in my life. Most of this album was made during quarantine, so a lot of those similar feelings of isolation and disruption resurfaced for me and I couldn’t get the name out of my head. To me, ‘monstrous existence’ sums up how it feels to live in the world we’re currently living in and a lot of the album is commentary on that experience.

OSR: If you were to publish a documentary of your life what would you call the film?

ML: Probably ‘Indignities and Depravities’, which was the name of our first album. Actually, any of our album titles would be pretty good.

TM: ‘All Quiet On The Western Front.’

OSR: What are the different benefits and challenges to being an independent artist?

ML: We have the freedom to put out whatever we want whenever we want, which is nice. We don’t have the kind of resources a signed artist has access to, so it’s a lot harder to get our music in front of new fans.

OSR: What plans do you have for the future?

ML: More music, more videos and more shows! We’re just gonna keep putting stuff out until we get famous or die – whichever comes first.

MikeL: I wanted a production cell, the hand-painted images that are strung together to make animation, but they are so expensive. Even a sketch from the making of the movies goes for $200 on eBay.

TM: Keep writing and playing, hopefully.

OSR: Do you have any final message for fans and potential fans?

ML: Thanks for reading this! Stream our music please!

TM: To our fans, you’re awesome and thanks! To anyone who hasn’t heard us, I hope you’ll listen and become a fan.

Thanks to Marcelyn, The Band for chatting with us! You can find more about the group on their Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Spotify.

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