Interview with Electro-R&B Duo Marian Hill Return to SF for Sold-Out Show

Electronic songwriting duo Marian Hill continue their current Northern American Fall headline tour with an upcoming sold-out show at the Independent on October 21.

Hailing from Philadelphia, producer Jeremy Lloyd and vocalists Samantha Gongol each contribute their own unique sonic elements to form Marian Hill’s cohesive, chill-out sound. Their only EP, “Sway”‘ is a nine-song collection of tracks mixing blues and jazz sonic styles, but they have more fresh material coming soon. For live performances, Marian Hill adds bassist and saxophonist Steve Davit for improvisational flare.

We spoke to both Jeremy and Samantha about the duo’s organic upbringing, their biggest accomplishments, and an upcoming new record.

How did you two first meet?

Samantha: We actually met in middle school during a performance of the Music Man in 8th grade, which is also where the name Marian Hill came from. Jeremy and I played opposite of each other. We combined our names to perform. His character was Harold Hill. Mine was Marian Paroo.

Jeremy: In middle school and high school, we were in a similar friend group. We were very friendly. We got closer when we were in college and both doing music stuff. We would get together over breaks and share what we were working on and would start writing stuff together.

When did you decide to form a band?

Jeremy: It’s funny, the world kind of decided. We were getting together over breaks in college, and on one of those breaks we wrote “Whiskey”. At the time, it was this fun, cool thing that neither of us have ever written anything like before and sounded really excited. I wanted to see what would happen.

I emailed out the song out to a bunch of blogs that I follow music on. It got posted by three and then things started to pickup from there. It started churning on Hype Machine and people were reaching out asking, when are we playing a show? When will you make more music? Are you guys serious about this? I guess we are.

Do you still follow music blogs?

Jeremy: I definitely do, I’m on Hype Machine most days. I like to keep really up to date with new stuff in music to try and keep my finger on the pulse of things. Always be sounding.

Why did you begin collaborating with improvisational jazz musician Steve Davit?

Jeremy: That came out about because we had been writing all these songs together and people wanted us to be play live. I like to record Steve and then chop up what he’s played. We had already done that together.

When we were putting together a show, I wondered if it could be a live element. My good friend Steve can play sax and bass, and it would be perfect. We’ve had him since we first started playing live shows and he’s been a really important part of our lives.

How did you find out that Romanian pop star INNA had sampled the saxophone riff from your song “Got It?”

Jeremy: They came to us. It all happened very fast. They said We made a song, we sampled your song, and what do we need to do to so we can release it? Our team is awesome and we got a feature credit.

It’s really funny – occasionally we find people in the states who have heard it but for the most part nobody has heard about it. There’s a lot of people over there that were really excited about it.

Samantha: I think it was number one in Romania.

What are some of your must-have items while on tour?

Jeremy: I just added cereal, milk, and bowls and spoons to our rider. That’s a must have for me on the road.

Samantha: For me, I’d probably say tea and red lipstick. Tea is very helpful. I have a full bag of product that is stashed is used with spray and all that stuff. A wide array.

What has been your biggest accomplishment from the past year?

Jeremy: It’s hard to pick one thing because I feel the biggest accomplishment is where Marian Hill is today and the accumulation of all the things. The accomplishment is the name Marian Hill and what it means now.

Samantha: Something a little more concrete is selling out our first mini tour in the U.S. We sold out a couple dates in the spring and that was really exciting. It’s something that you always hope will happen but you’re never sure. When it finally does, it’s really gratifying.

What are you most looking forward to for the rest of 2015?

Samantha: Finishing our album.

Jeremy: Our album’s finished. I’m excited to get it out there.

Samantha: And going on tour obviously. We have new songs we’re playing. We’re in the midst of rehearsing.

Jeremy: We’re going on tour with new media. We’re doing a lot of exiting things there. We’re adding lighting elements and we have new songs. Its our biggest tour yet. We’re gonna be gone for a month.

The most exciting thing for me is that we’ve spent all summer writing this album and I can’t wait to start the roll-out of that and introduce our next chapter to world.

What do you enjoy most about visiting in SF?

Jeremy: Our first show in SF was June of 2014. We had never played SF before. We had never played California before, and it was packed. It was at Brick and Mortar. It was a free concert. We had this packed crowd singing along to our songs and that’s was the first time that has ever happened.

Sam: We have a special love for San Francisco. And San Francisco was the first city on this tour to sell out. So we actually adore SF. You guys are amazing and we love playing there every time. I feel like each time it gets better and better.

Does your new album have a release date?

Jeremy: No not yet, but all that information should come out soon. That’s what I’m excited about.

Written by Carlos Olin Montalvo

Follow me @carlosolin