Introducing... Marlon Roudette!
EXCLUSIVE | MTV.co.uk meets the Mattafix singer...
Q: For those MTV.co.uk visitors who may not be familiar with your work, what can you tell us about yourself Marlon?
A: At the age of 20, I was in a group called Mattafix for a couple of albums. We had a bit of success in the UK with a tune called Big City Life, which was in the top 20 and then exploded elsewhere. We became a European success story and had an amazing time. Then, I decided that I wanted a change from the band and then wrote this next album, Matter Fixed, which is a bit of a tribute to the band and I still feel so strongly about it and I’m so proud to have been a apart of it so I called the album Matter Fixed.
Q: As part of Mattafix, you enjoyed international success at an early age - did you ever imagine you would get that big, that quickly?
A: It was quite surreal, we just wanted to be quite an underground production/artist but we quickly found out that once you release a track, it kind of takes on a life of its own. I found I loved many aspects of having international success and a hit and playing big crowds, hearing thousands of people sing a positive song. The places we got to go and the people we met and I quickly fell in love with the life style as well. It was amazing, but obviously came with quite a lot of complications that you always get with a band – like creatively wanting to go off in different directions, so I think that’s why we decided to call it quits for a little while.
Q: With your experience now, is there anything you would have have done differently?
A: No not at all, event the mistakes we made were positive ones in hindsight. I’m here today with my solo career because of everything I went through with Mattafix so no, I would have done it exactly the same.
Q: Your most recent release New Age from the album Matter Fixed has hit No.1 in Austria, Germany and Switzerland – is it important to you to have the same success over here in the UK?
A: There’s a part of me that likes the anonymity that I have in the UK and being able to walk around and get on the bus but I think I’ve had enough of that now. I think the most important thing for me is the fact that I was born here and that the songs are very London in their attitude and sound. I want people to have access to that and there are a lot of UK fans that are trying to get their hands on the record and it would mean a lot to my family as well, having it break through here. I think my success up until this point has been a bit abstract for them because unless they’re on holiday in Portugal or Italy or wherever, they don’t really see any aspect of it so it would mean a great deal for me to do well here now.
Q: What can you tell us about your song Riding Home? What made you pick that song as the lead track for your EP of the same name?
A: We wanted something on a grass roots level to represent the album and it’s part of an EP with three or four other strong album tracks that we love. Basically, that song summarises the journey that I’ve had and having a foot in both the Caribbean camp culturally and in London as well – which has been amazing musically. I always wanted a song that explained what Mattfix meant for me, you know the problem solved, the ethos behind the words and so, it’s a bit more of a homage to Mattafix and it's hip hop approach. That was basically why we chose Riding Home.
Q: We read that Finley Quaye appears on track True To Yourself, how did that collaboration come about?
A: He was chatting to my cousin in a bar, and she said ‘why don’t you give Marlon from Mattafix a call, he’s a big fan of yours’ and he was like ‘Ah, I loved that band’ and the next day he rung me up and swung by the studio, picked up this old out of tune guitar and started thrashing out a song and that became True To Yourself. It was really amazing, not just to work with him but to record with him in my house. Watching Finley sing in my studio is one of the highlights of my career.
Q: Are there any other artists out there at the moment that you would love to work with? Who are you listening to/a fan of?
A: Yeah, I’m a huge Sade fan and always have been. Lovers Rock was a big record for me and again, like Finley, that kind of London sentiment to it. I would love to co-write with loads of different people, time permitting but I think for me, it has to be quite a natural scenario like bumping into people, other than ‘get your people to call my people.’ Like, start it from a creative agreement rather than a financial one.
Q: Who’s on your iPod at the moment?
A: I love new UK stuff, obviously Adele is amazing, I love Lana Del Rey, I’m really into James Blake – Limit To Your Love, Jamie Woon was another big one from last year for me. I kind of have OCD when it comes to different types of music.
Q: You’ve previously said your music is inspired by Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin and Sade – what can we expect from your forthcoming material? More pop/reggae influences?
A: There’s a lot more musically to it, if that makes sense. The compositions are a little more developed, and more chords in it than Mattafix. On this, I’ve worked with people who can add an accomplished vibe to it all. I’ve worked with Guy Chambers, who is a great friend of mine and he’s famous from the Robbie Williams days and we sort of pulled each other into a middle ground – him with the sort of pop approach and me with a more street/hip-hop vibe. My voice has also developed a lot, I think just through age and abuse so I’ve got a few more octaves lower.
Q: Seeing as you come from quite a musical family (Dad is producer Cameron McVery married to Neneh Cherry) – would you say you were interested in music as a child? Influence on your own material?
A: Definitely, some of my earliest memories are of musicians and great record collections, because my mother - who is a designer - is a big music fan and had a lot of African music, a lot of soul and reggae in her collection, like Gregory Isaacs. I grew up with my mother and seeing the rock 'n' roll lifestyle in glimpses so developed my own musical tastes naturally, rather than have it forced down my throat. But for me, the most important thing about being around Neneh for any length of time is that she maintained a really human quality, a motherly sort of instinct, in the face of extreme fame because at one point, she was absolutely enormous. Humility in the face of success is what I took away from Neneh Cherry.
Q: We saw on your Twitter that you went to a gig with Ed Sheeran recently, are you a fan of his work?
A: Yeah, I’m a big Ed Sheeran fan. It’s really funny because he’s just started his European campaign, he’s going to be enormous over there as well but no one really knows him yet. He was just sort of sitting on his own backstage when Snow Patrol were going on, so I was like ‘let’s go round to the front and watch them’ and he was talking about how nice it was not to be in the spotlight for once. He said to me that he can’t get away with not being recognised a lot. I think he’s great. You can’t argue when we works that hard and writes decent honest songs. I think he’s brilliant.
Q: What do you make of shows such as The X Factor taking over the charts?
A: For me, I think it’s a completely different approach but I could never just take someone’s song and deliver it convincingly. I have a lot of respect for what they do, but I would like to see a show that showcases the songwriters and producers but people remind me that four or five guys in a smoky room, nodding to the same beat over and over again probably wouldn’t make for good TV. So, maybe it’ll be a while before we see that but I’d like to see an emphasis on people that write these songs and work so hard on them.
Marlon Roudette's EP - Riding Home is out now, with his album Matter Fixed due for release next year.
By Joanne Dorken