Wrap Up And Watch Out: L Marshall
A year on from 'Traktor', the smash that propelled Wretch 32 firmly into the consciousness of the mainstream, the writer and singer who features on it, L Marshall, is beginning to make a name for himself. His free mixtape dropped recently and The Wrap Up's James Walsh was on hand to speak to him about his early influences, his journey so far, THAT track and what we can expect from him in 2012...
The Wrap Up: L Marshall, good to have you here. First of all, tell us a bit about your earliest musical influences growing up…
L Marshall: Hi! Good to be here. Hearing Tupac for the first time was really inspiring. I was around 11 years old and borrowed his greatest hits collection from a friend. I used to want to be a rapper and tried to be just like him. My music's very rhythmic and you can hear the rap influence but I'm definitely, 100% a singer these days and have no desire to go back to rapping. Michael Jackson was also a big influence, I used to try and moonwalk when I was younger (laughs). I was also heavily into Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, Usher and R Kelly, too.
TWU: Cool. So how did you evolve from a rapper into a singer?
L Marshall: I was around 14 and realised that it would be a long time before English rappers would be making a lot of money. You had So Solid at the time, but that style wasn't working around the whole world. I had the ability to sing and started doing so as soon as I knew it was more likely to work for me.
TWU: At what point did you realise you wanted to make a career out of singing?
L Marshall: There was no real one defining point; it's been much more of a journey. I've always taken it seriously but, when I was younger, I couldn't see any avenue to get in. I had zero ideas as to how to make it happen for me as a career. My parents have always said that I needed a back-up plan and I was always taught to stay in school, so I went to university. I wasn't going to drop out to pursue music, but that has allowed me to prepare myself. I've had a decade more than a lot of other artists to perfect my craft.
TWU: You featured on Wretch 32's smash 'Traktor'. How did come about?
L Marshall: I met my manager when I was at university and I was still there when I did 'Traktor'. It was produced by Yogi and my manager knew his manager. The beat had been sent to ten different writers, but nobody had come back with anything. I saw it as an opportunity to be known as the one guy who could write to it but then it came to it and, at first, I couldn't either (laughs). But my manager knew I wasn't really the guy to send beats to; he knew I'm much better in the studio. So, I went in and bam, did it there on the spot! When I got to the studio, the beat had been built a bit more, there were more chords and within the first day, we had the hook. I wrote the track in as much my own style as I could, so nobody else could grab the feature, and they liked my swag and gave me it, thankfully.
TWU: In the year since 'Traktor' was released, what have you been working on?
L Marshall: I didn't finish my studies until 2010 and I've spent time finding my feet, working my way around the industry, getting to know it and perfecting my stage craft. I love been in the studio and I've been writing for other people. I co-wrote 'How We Roll' for Loick Essien, amongst other things. The mixtape came out a couple of weeks back, too. It's called 'The Wait' and you can get it as a free download – I started on that before I was signed. Things kept changing and moving forward and I never really got a full two months to just write. I write from experience and have had so many new experiences in this last year that it's brought new songs and then at that point it seems like the old ones don't quite fit, so there was a lot of changing it up. It's getting a great reception so far, which I'm really pleased with. There's an acoustic version of 'Traktor' and a track with Maxsta on there, so be sure to check it out.
TWU: Definitely! And finally, what else can we expect from L Marshall in 2012?
L Marshall: I definitely want to be doing more features. I love working with people in the beginning stages of their careers, I really feel like I'm part of something then. The album should be dropping in September, not sure how many singles we're going to be dropping before the album yet but they'll be coming the first half of the year at some point. The mixtape is a look through the keyhole. The album will have its rock elements, its pop and hip-hop, but more new-school R&B. I'm also going to be performing at the Jazz Cafe on February 2, so come down if you're about!
Stay up to date with L Marshall on Twitter – www.twitter.com/LMarshallMusic
Download L Marshall's mixtape, 'The Wait', for free: H E R E
Words: James Walsh (@JW_DittoMusic)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)