Marlon Roudette is unarguably one of the most orginal Caribbean-influenced musical talents to have emerge on the international scene in the last decade. The London born, British-Vincentian singer/songwriter has achieved international success more recently with the hit single “New Age” from his 2011 debut solo album “Matter Fixed” which reached No.1 in Austria, Switzerland and Germany. On recent count, “New Age” video (below), produced and co-written by prolific hit-maker Guy Chambers has some 15,548,673 YouTube hits. Somehow, Marlon Roudette‘s undoutbed talents has yet to fully breakthrough in his home country of UK and in the wider Caribbean.
As a musician, Marlon’s creativity is inevitably influenced by his strong pedigree. His father is Cameron McVey, the British music producer who has worked with the likes of Neneh Cherry, Sugarbabes, Massive Attack and All Saints. However, it was mom – artist, designer, activist/advocate – Vonnie Roudette (Dominican/Trinidadian) who moved the young Marlon and sister to the Caribbean, settling in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. By the time Marlon returned to London at 17, and teamed up his friend Preetesh Hirji as the band “Matta Fixed”, his musicial exposure had been on a strong arc, influenced by reggae, soca, soul, hip-hop/rap and jazz. The motif of the steel pan and Vincy flag is every present in Marlon’s life performances, videos and imagery.
ACU|BIEN recently caught up with Marlon who is busy working on his second solo album, and we are honoured to hear from an artist who is absolutely adored throughout Europe and many corners of the world, and is on the longer path to reaching the hearts of Britain, the Caribbean and perhaps North American audiences. The saying that “a prophet is not without honor, except in his own country” has rarely had more merit.
Q1: Marlon, tell us a little about this second solo album you are currently recording? Are we to expect a departure from your trademark fusion of genres: reggae, hip-hop, soul, jazz, blues you have become known for through ‘Matter Fixed’ and previously Matta Fixed?’ Any new collaborations?
A|“Thanks for having me first of all. Its impossible not to fuse the genres that I’ve grown up around but I hope the new album will be proof of the continuous evolution that I feel and hear in my music. We haven’t decided on collaborations yet, but I tend to find the ones that happen naturally to be the best.The Matter is never fixed!”
Q2: As a musician, songwriter and also a fan of music, how has your influences changed from the fresh-faced youth breaking into the scene in 2005, compared to the artist you have become?
A|“I think I’m more open to new influences now. Life becomes less black and white as we age. Less right and wrong. The relentless touring has added depth to my voice. I also appreciate how fortunate I am to make a living in this industry. As a youth, you tend to think you deserve it”
Q3: You talked of the ‘Matter Fixed‘ as a ‘personal vibe, telling your life as it is.’ With the passage of time is there a track or tracks from the album that was so personally powerful, maybe in its message or meaning that just didn’t resonate with the public because it didn’t get enough airtime or mileage commercially?
A| “There are so many factors that determine whether or not a song will be a commercial hit and most of them revolve around chance. It still hurts that New Age wasn’t as big in the UK as it was in Europe because everyone who heard it loved it. Sometimes the music game is very political, but you know that when you start so its no excuse. I’m honestly humbled by the hits that I have had and I find each one to be its own little miracle.” [Listen to New Age here]
Q4: It has been about 7 years, thousands of road and airmiles since ‘Living Darfur‘ and your involvement in the ‘Save Darfar Campaign.’ Have succomed to compassion fatique and if not, what global or socio-political challenges are close to your heart now?
A|“If anything my compassion has grown with time its just that I’ve found other ways to do my bit that are less public. I was a shocked at the jaded response to charity movements after the Save Darfur campaign so I figured another approach was needed. However I constantly get messages about the good that song has done, so there was a positive outcome.”
Q5: As an emerging Caribbean-centric lifestyle brand ACU|BIEN is about “changing the way we view ourselves and each other, and changing the way the world view the Caribbean.” Is this something you relate to personally or creatively, and if so how?
A|“Yes definitely. Culturally we have so much to offer in the Caribbean and its that uniqueness that the world wants to see. Every time I show up on stage with a steel pan and a Vincy flag people gravitate towards something they have not experienced before. Fresh. Original. Heartfelt. I’m constantly telling young producers and artists to harness that originality”
Q6: Marlon, would you attribute the socio-political vein in your music to the limited commercial successes you have achieved, so far, in the UK? Or is there some other explantion why Britain has yet to fully embrace Marlon Roudette as one of its modern creative force?
A|“Perhaps you’re right. I’ve never been good at the networking/red carpet schmoozing that seems to be required here at times. Maybe its just a matter of musical taste and for whatever reason its not to the media’s liking. There are so many great male vocalists in the UK sometimes its hard to find a place. I’m incredibly grateful for the success I’ve had outside England and I get to be anonymous in my home town of London which has been essential to many of my lyrical inspirations.“
Q7: On a lighter note, at ACU|BIEN we are adamant about helping to redefine what the world considers a luxury Caribbean lifestyle. What is your ultimate idea of Caribbean luxury?
A|“Mmmm, I appreciate a fine a beverage on the deck of a nice yacht in a secluded bay somewhere in St Vincent or its jewel islands, the Grenadines. However, I can easily swap that for a Hairoun and some old talking in a rumshop near my childhood village of Peniston on the Leeward coast!”
Q8: And finally Marlon, do you have a working title for the new album, and when can we expect to see it drop?
A|“No working title yet and I’m getting nervous about finding the right one!! I’m aiming for the first half of 2014 for a release, but creativity is an unpredictable mistress!”
For Marlon Roudette fans, the ‘MatterFixers‘ the album “Matter Fixed” is perhaps in the vein of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – that of a body work to which one returns time after time as one song or another re-resonates with some new life-love experience. On a personal note, “Matter Fixed” has remained on my playlist since it dropped. And for those transcient Caribbean people, those Caribbean Diaspora nationals like myself who at times reminise about home, we share another track from the album, “Riding Home” and perhaps “Matter Fixed” will be given new breath and re-emerge in the global singles and album charts.
What do you think? Does Marlon’s story resonate with you in any way? Log in via the Comment section below, share your thoughts with others.
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