Joe Marson / by E

Catch an interview with Joe Marson, watch the video for single "Love You Safely", and head to all the sites below for more.

What made you decide to get into songwriting?

Joe Marson: I don't know if there was a moment of revelation for that one. I think it was probably sometime during high school when I just realized that I hated working regular jobs and this felt like it was sort of my calling.

Were there any artists who inspired your sound?

Yeah, Jeff Buckley, Ben Harper, Jimi Hendrix, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bobby McFerrin; a lot of inspiration from all of those people.

What words would you use to describe your sound?

Alt folk, soul, bluesy rock.

How did your years of cross country travel affect your sound?

I picked up a lot of different influences as I traveled, for sure. I think each place lends itself to allowing me to delve into and discover influences that I've always been into, whether it's hip-hop, or straight blues in Austin, Texas, or more technical sorts of things in Boston. Yeah, it definitely allowed me to explore different musical avenues.

Are there any artists you've been compared to?

I mean, yeah, I get all sorts of different things, from Ray LaMontagne to Jeff Buckley.. I think those two, a lot.

Do you agree with any of those?

No, not with the Jeff Buckley one. I don't think I'm that good, so I always heavily dispute that. I don't think I'm anywhere near that level but, you know, some of the other ones, I can see. If you're a white guy with a guitar there's only so many options.

You're one of the finalists in the Guitar Center Singer/Songwriter competition; what's the best experience you've had with that?

It hasn't really happened yet. All the finalists won ten grand in gear from Guitar Center, but the actual competition or whatnot is they're flying us to LA in March, but it's been great and I've been having all these new fun toys to play with; it's like Christmas all over again. Just, my apartment's filled with big boxes of instruments and new stuff, so that's been really cool.

Have you received any good advice in preparation for the competition, or even songwriting in general?

In terms of competition, I feel like I'm ready. I play all my shows like they're a big competition - I play all my shows the same - so I feel like I'm ready. Songwriting wise, you know, I've read different things. It's really all about creativity so you can sort of cherry pick from different arts. I remember reading Stephen King's book called On Writing which is all about his creative process and I really enjoyed that. I've listened to a lot of YouTube stuff and different artists, but it's mostly just a lot of trial and error.

Do you have a favorite song to perform live?

Yeah, I mean, I've been doing an a cappella version of "Voodoo Child" by Jimi Hendrix. I came up with an arrangement that's basically emulating Bobby McFerrin's style and I've been having a lot of fun with that one lately.

What do you keep in mind when working on new songs?

That's an interesting one; I don't know how to answer that because all my songs are very different. I guess, just keep in mind that, the better they feel while I'm playing them, the better they probably sound to other people.

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