Monday, May 12, 2014

Artist Feature: Marley Carroll

Marley Carroll will be performing at Drumstrong
Rhythm & Arts Festival outside of Charlotte, N.C. on
Friday, May 16
In recent years, North Carolina has begun to develop quite the burgeoning electronic music scene. While "indie" leaning acts have long been living in the spotlight thanks to the dedicated communities in cities like Chapel Hill and Raleigh, more and more electronic acts have been popping up in the area. North Carolina's draw for artists continues to grow exponentially as the years go by and we see more and more acts coming into the area for our rich musical culture, adding depth and diversity to the talent that's been growing within the state.

Sylvan Esso was formed after Amelia Meath made the cross-country trek to Durham and now have carved out an electro-pop niche all their own. On the other hand folks like Porter Robinson, a Chapel Hill native, have propelled to stardom in the EDM scene, totally bypassing a local focus in favor of international stardom. Then you have acts like Marley Carroll, one that sits comfortably in between the two. Carroll is an Asheville transplant, trekking across country from Los Angeles to make the bustling mountain town his new home. Since he settled into western North Carolina though, the IDM leaning producer has been churning out heady beats that swell and sway, compelling listeners with tight grooves and lingering for days thanks to some infectious melodies.

Late last year Carroll put out his most recent full-length Sings, a record that's received lofty amounts of praise from outlets like Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Stereogum and XLR8R. Sings lands somewhere comfortably between beat-driven IDM and downtempo electronic pop, but Carroll's live sets transcend both genres, transforming into brilliantly orchestrated dance tunes that are fleshed out before your eyes. "I'm always trying to find a balance between spontaneity and familiarity," Carroll says, "I can be as comfortable as possible onstage while still leaving some room to take chances and improvise." This mindset allows for some truly invigorating performances from this immensely talented artist, Carroll bounces between a turntable, MIDI controllers, a Moog synthesizer all while singing on his own tracks. Despite how much he's got going on on-stage, the shows are incredibly fluid, feeling like a well fleshed out set that's just as likely to turn directions at the drop of a dime.

"If I had it my way, I would bring a whole 18-piece orchestra on stage with me," Carroll states, but when you've got the chops that this guy does you frankly don't need it. Carroll has been making music for the past 15 years in various different forms. Carroll started out playing drums in rock bands and DJing in hip-hop clubs, something that explains the turntable proficiency. In university he took to classical percussion and shortly thereafter began to produce his own music. 2007 saw the release of his debut Melanaster and since then his style has continued to develop, seamlessly implementing all of his past musical outings and funneling it through the IDM lens to create a unique style that appeals to a wide array of listeners. Perhaps this is why journalists have taken to calling him a "producer's producer," a moniker that Carroll wears proudly.

"I think it's a way to distinguish me from the wave of big-room EDM DJs, and align me more closely with left-field bedroom producers like Caribou and Four Tet." These "bedroom producers" always tend to have densely packed music, their tunes are so intricately crafted that fellow producers or DJs can unravel them bit by bit, trying to find exactly what's going on within the track. Perhaps that's why there's an eclectic mix of folks at Carroll's shows that are vigorously dancing their asses off while others brood in the corners, bobbing their heads as they attempt to pick at Carroll's brain and single out every aspect of these tightly knit productions.

Whether you label Caroll as a "producer's producer" or a "DJs DJ," the important factor is that you don't attempt to pigeonhole him. His work is as versatile as it comes, he's as capable of churning out downtempo tracks that fall into a sweet groove as he is flipping a low-key Polish Ambassador track like "Oh Love" and turning it into an upbeat two-step banger that gets crowds bouncing along to the shuffling beats. Fans of electronic music and indie pop alike can find something within Carroll's tunes to fall in love with, at that's what makes him such a gem for this state's music scene.

Marley Caroll will be performing this weekend at Drumstrong in Charlotte, closing out Friday evening with a late-night set. Carroll will also be performing at this year's Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh.

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