Here at The Music Ninja, we take pride in being solely focused on the musicians we love and the works they create. This mindset has allowed us to bypass the pop culture aspects that many others focus on, bringing our Ninja following the freshest faces and best yet-undiscovered acts as they appear across the web. This massively time consuming pursuit has introduced us to many a fledgling band as they try to find their ways early in their careers. Back in mid-2013, that hunt led us to a diamond in the rough.

Marian Hill, a band who rose to fame on the back of their debut song, “Whisky” is a Philly-raised, Brooklyn-based duo consisting of Jeremy Lloyd and Samantha Gongol. As early fans of their work, it has been exciting watching the band take off and become a successful name in music behind their jazzy-electronic style. While making their second appearance at Outside Lands Music Festival a few weeks ago, Jeremy & Sam were gracious enough to meet up with us while taking in St. Lucia’s performance to talk touring, inspiration, and the road to success.

Life on the Road // All About Outside Lands

TMN: Now that you’ve had some time to reflect on your performance, how did today’s set compare with your show here two years ago? 
  • Jeremy: Today was amazing. Last night we played at Rickshaw Stop – which we had played a few years ago – but this show was announced a couple of weeks ago and it sold out in just a couple of days. It was so live and so exciting. Also it’s great because we are just starting to play shows where – our debut album just came out a month ago – we just started to play shows where people know those songs too, and that’s really cool. And today at Twin Peaks, we played at 12:45 so we didn’t know what to expect, but it was a huge crowd and it kept growing.
  • Sam: This city has been really good to us since day one and we really love it here.


TMN: You guys also played at Lollapalooza last weekend, how was this stop compared to that one? 
  • Jeremy: Lolla is just the biggest thing I’ve ever seen and its so crowded – we were on the main stage there. It’s so funny for us because there’s only three of us and when we started I was about a mile away from Sam. So here at Outside Lands, it was definitely a little more intimate, but the crowd was equally sized, if not bigger which was really dope.


TMN: What is the next stop after this? 
  • Jeremy: We are going on a big fall tour for our album in September. So, were going back to Brooklyn after this to get everything ready. Were going to work on lights, set design, and hopefully a few music videos before we get on the road in September. We’ll be playing more of the album, seeing all our fans again; were going all around the country.

(All Tour Dates can be found here)

Inspiration, Collaboration, and Creative Process

TMN: The debut album Act One came out last month – what was the inspiration for it? What was the process of putting it together? 
  • Jeremy: We were writing it for a little over a year probably. And for us, the central thing was just – we started when we wrote “Whiskey” which you guys wrote about – figuring out what our sound was. What the Marian Hill sound is. Because I feel like with where music is now, it is really all about having a defined sound. And finishing Act One to me was the end of that journey and feeling like we really had it. Feeling like we spent that time writing trying to explore every avenue that we could find with where we were at. Feeling like each song is really its own unique world that’s a part of what we do as Marian Hill.


TMN: What’s your creative process for the songwriting and vocals? 
  • Sam: It is pretty collaborative – Jeremy usually comes in with the skeleton of the beat, then we do melody and lyrics together.
  • Jeremy: There’s a lot of back and forth and – I really like to let the music come from the lyrics in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of give and take about what leads what. A lot of times it’s about feeling. We’ll say this beat is great we love this feeling, what is this beat about? What is the music telling us?


TMN: Your music has a very jazzy influence to it, what led you guys to that sound? 
  • Jeremy: honestly, “Whiskey”. We were doing stuff in different styles, different vibes, and “Whiskey” just connected with people. So we were just like, ‘word, lets follow that’. And there was a really bluesy aspect to the music so we followed it.
  • Sam: I loved it because the beat was so minimal. I didn’t know what to do with it at first but it was sort of one of the first moments where I really felt myself as a vocalist connect with a beat on that level and really found a home in a way.


Marketing Gurus


 TMN: How long have you guys been making music together? 
  • Jeremy: We have been… well in middle school we knew each other, we were friends. We were doing stuff separately, but not really together. But when we were in college we started getting together and toying with different ideas, but even then it was super casual. Really, once “Whiskey” took off, things got serious. We started making more songs. We were getting all of these emails from labels being like “when can we come see a show?” “where is more music?” and we were like “we have a demo of one other song so…”


TMN: It’s interesting how you launched from having just one single song to touring nationally. 
  • Jeremy: Yeah it is, it speaks to the blog climate and how you can just see if something connects. It’s like a litmus test and then you can build around it.


TMN: What was the collective experience with the marketing of your sound? Did the press and publicity come easily? 
  • Jeremy: Before we released “Whiskey” I did a tedious hunt through Hype Machine for songs in the same scale as what we were doing and found the blogs covering them and would just send submission emails. Then I wrote emails to all of these blogs and sent separate emails trying to get our sound out there. Luckily three blogs, blahblahblahscience, Best Fit, and Sight of Sound, published the song. From there we got some buzz for a week, and from there a UK publicist came on to help get us off the ground, and from there we were moving.
  • Sam: we love The Music Ninja, you guys were one of the first to cover our first song and we really appreciate that. That’s literally why we are here.


New Tunes on the Horizon


TMN: I know you just put out a huge project, but do you guys have anything else in the pipeline to be released this year? 
  • Jeremy: Yes, there is a cover coming out soon with a compilation; it’ll be out this month. We have also been playing several collaborations with different artists, having fun exploring different things now that we got the album out of our systems.
  • Sam: we also have a song with Sway that’s going to be in this ad campaign, which we can’t say yet, but be on the look out its going to be very sexy and cool!


Fan Favorite:


TMN: Is there anyone you guys are excited to see here [at Outside Lands]? 
  • Sam: I feel like we have to see LCD Soundsystem while we are here. They’ve followed us around for four festivals and I have yet to see them, so it is definitely time.
  • Jeremy: honestly, I need to look at the schedule so after this I’m going to go sit down and figure out who I’m going to see next.


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