Joe Marson may or may not have played this record naked, but that’s a subject for another day.
Marson’s sophomore EP, Electric Soul Magic Vol. II (released on April 14, 2017), is a 6-song trek of punched up soulful and blues-infused rock. Fusing his expressive vocals that fans have come to know and love with classic guitar riffs and his penchant for thoughtful songwriting, according to Marson things get funky, dark, grungy, searching, groovy and questioning for a reason:
“Electric Soul Magic Vol. II is the second installment in a series of ongoing EPs that focus on the music I’ve been making for the past year. I have a pretty large collection of recordings that ranges from balls-to-the-wall rock and roll, such as ‘Float With It’ or ‘My Love Is A Cannibal’ to very soft acoustic folk songs, which will be coming out in later volumes. Volume II is a collection of harder edged songs that go together more in terms of things I’ve been doing recently and am extremely excited about, rather than any sort of common thematic thread – other than the usual motifs about love and light within existential darkness. You know, the usual bar conversations.”
Electric Soul Magic Vol. II covers a lot of musical ground and now that the EP is released into the wild, we asked Marson to dig into its songs for us track-by-track.
Gotta Be Good
“Gotta Be Good’ was written very late in the album process. In fact, I thought I was finished with the record. I remember coming up with the guitar part and basic melody while in Tucson, AZ waiting for a tow hitch to be installed on my car so I could haul a camper behind me for the rest of my tour (maybe the heat subconsciously inspired me to write a Devil infused song?).
The riff reminded me of a lot of 60s and 70s rock songs and, in truth, the progression is the basis for a lot of classics. I had been kicking around the old adage ‘I don’t believe in the devil, but boy does he believe in me’ for a while as I have always loved the cleverness and semi-sacrilegious implications.
Lyrically, I sort of got into a character, like Eminem’s evil alter ego, Slim Shady. I am huge Eminem fan (like everyone else in the known galaxy) and began to explore playful ways in which I could tell a fictional story of my excommunication from conservative small town life. Ironically, I realized after recording the song that the verses are actually the same chord pattern as ‘My Name Is’ (or Labi Siffre ‘I Got The…’ which is the sample used for Em’s masterpiece).”
“Thematically, there’s the juxtaposition of light and dark, desert exposure and black demonic abyss. I felt the driving energy is captured by the constant forward walking motion in the verses, and the chaos and violence of the dancers in the dark. Everything culminates as I finally become one of these dark figures. They sort of lure me into madness, the world sexual violence, both frightening and beautiful.”
My Love Is A Cannibal
“This was from the same long lost session as ‘Float With It’ and I went through the same process of arranging and mixing it 3 years later. I added some synth bass, rerecorded some vocals and worked on the arrangement. The song is about love’s destructive side. It can be selfish and cruel and leave one person full and the other empty, as if one has eaten the others heart. Hence my love is a cannibal. The lyrics are dark and reminiscent of a lot of the grunge influences that I hold so dear to me.”
“Inspired by the recent election, I was thinking a lot about humanity’s darker tendencies vs what we could be. Explorers. Of the unknown both of our planet and beyond. Or the less evolved of us could rise to power and ruin everything with war and greed. The song is about ultimately about hope vs fear. I created this song on my computer, a method of writing I have never tried before. It was fun finally being able to use some synth and drum loops on a project. Everything else was recorded in my bedroom.”
To The Shore
“This song was recorded in a traditional full band arrangement which I was not happy with. So we scrapped a lot of the parts and came up with some more simple, electronic elements. The song kind of takes a journey through highs and lows of finding someone you adore. It’s also a musical turn from a set groove to a more open spaced, vocal thing. Really proud of this one.”
Float With It
“‘Float With It’ is an older song that I recorded 3 years ago but never quite new what to do with it. I’ve always loved it. The rhythmic changes and the hard hitting drums. I rediscovered that I had the stems so I basically learned how to produce and mix a song myself with this one which was such a game changer. I wrote, recorded and produced ‘Explore/Explode’ based off the things I had taught myself from doing ‘Float With It.’ And I am actually more stoked on the sounds I got for this song than anything I’ve paid others to do.”