Monday, 15 January 2018

Interview: Marley Blandford and His Music

Marley Blandford is a 22 year old incredibly talented singer, songwriter from Portsmouth, UK. Since his TV debut on BBC One in 2015, Marley has played shows with Lawson, Christina Perri and Janet Devlin, as well as working sessions across London playing piano and guitar. With the help from BBC Radio 2, Heart, Capital and many more stations, Marley has released an EP.

How would you describe your music?
I'd call it a mixed blend of pop, folk & soul, with the occasional reggae song thrown in too cos I can't help but listen to & write feel-good reggae stuff in the summer.

When did you first start singing?
When I was around 14/15, I started trying to teach myself. It didn't sound any good until I hit 18, but I did try!

How did you get started with performing?
It all started through my friend Cheryl, she introduced me to her Dad who ran little charity nights every month near Southampton when I was in school. I'd get up on drums, joined the house band, then we formed a folk band called Fake Shadows. I later started writing and went front of stage but I always stuck behind a drum kit when I was younger so I could hide from people!

Where would you most like to perform?  
The absolute dream would be Wembley. Don't know if it'd ever happen, but it just looks magic! I think it's most musician's dreams to be able to play Wembley someday!

Who would you most like to open for? 
Coldplay without a doubt. My all-time favourite band as I was growing up, and the reason I'm still playing piano. It'd be phenomenal to meet them, let alone open a show for them.

Who are your musical inspirations? 
The list is endless, but if I had to pick a few, it'd be Coldplay, John Mayer, Passenger, Matt Cardle, Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson.

What is the best advice you have been given?
"Just say yes." - from a friend of mine. He said "You could turn down playing a gig and it could have ended up being your break. Worst case, it's a rubbish gig and then you go home. Best case, you meet someone that will change your life. What would you do?". That made me change my whole line of thinking. I started taking any show, anywhere, anytime. It ended up being my most busy and successful year to date at the time, I played about 200 shows through that year.

What has been the highlight of your whole career so far? 
There have been so many awesome memories, I think 2 of the best things were performing on BBC One or opening for Christina Perri. The show with Christina was crazy, the first time I ever had 2,000 people singing my own lyrics straight back at me. Overwhelming, but truly amazing.

Who, if anyone have you been inspired by? 
My Grandad inspired me to keep writing & keep playing shows. He was my biggest fan, hands down, and I still push on for him.

How do you feel about the way people interpret your songs?
Every now and then when they say one of my songs has helped them out, and that's what it's all about. There's an old song of mine called "Shine On" which I still perform because people say it cheers them up.

What job do you think you would be doing now if you didn't have your music career?

I'd probably be in computing or some office job fixing computers/gadgets! In college, I took music and a small IT course. Halfway through my first year, I heard a song by Ben Howard "The Fear", which he sings "I've been worried that we all live our lives in the confines of fear". It made me realise that I was scared so I picked a back-up, which was a wise decision, but at the time I thought "Let's do this!" and dropped out of that course to do music full-time. Could've been the silliest thing I've ever done, but it was the best decision I ever made.

What has been your most enjoyable song to write? Why?
A song called Long Way Home. I had a writing session with a lovely girl called Janet Devlin last year, and the night before I had this dream where I was playing this guitar riff. I took it into the studio with her the next day and we wrote the song in one afternoon. It's not out (just yet!) but it was the most fun writing process I've ever had writing with somebody I listen to regularly. 

How old were you when you wrote your first song and what was it about?
I wrote a song called "Winter" when I was 14 for a band I was in. It was written for a girlfriend at the time about an evening we were walking by the sea one evening and it started snowing like mad. It was cheesy & it was dreadful. And no, nobody will ever hear it. ;) 

What hidden talents do you have?  
I can play expert on Guitar Hero! That's it really haha. I can beatbox a little actually!

As my blog is about trying to help people, I was wondering, do you have any experience, personal or not, with mental health?
That's a great thing to do! I personally don't, but there's people in my life that are battling with depression and severe anxiety.

Would you be open to singing about mental health or would that make you feel awkward? 
I indeed would, especially if it were to bring more light to situations that the majority of people still aren't aware about.

Do you think that there is stigma around mental health? Why?
There is without a doubt, but wrongly so. It seems that some people can't (or won't) believe that an illness can often be invisible to somebody's appearance and purely in their mind. I've seen it first hand through friends that go through hell every day just to leave the house, going to work, ordering drinks in a bar, or even just making a phone call. Constantly battling through small things that may seem easy to most. I imagine it also makes things ten times worse for someone trying to get through it, just to be put down by the ignorance of someone who doesn't understand what they're truly going through. There needs to be less derision and more compassion.

If you could say something to someone struggling, what would you say? 
All I can really say is that things will always get better, and they always will. Even if you're in a crap place right now - remember that where you are now isn't where you're always going to be. It's just where you are at this point in your life.

Where can people find you? 
You can find me on the links below!

Watch Marley's latest music video "A Shooting Star Ain't A Sign Of Love" here-

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