Interview: Marlon Williams (NZ) discusses Make Way For Love, Roy Orbison ahead of Lost Picnic

Back in February, Marlon Williams released his second album Make Way For Love. A deeply personal record, Make Way For Love explored the breakup of his relationship with fellow songwriter Aldous Harding.

Since its release, Williams’ has spent a bulk of time on the road, with a hugely successful tour of Australia back in May, and a run of European festival dates more recently. And, January will see Williams back in Australia for a run of dates supporting Florence and the Machine on their national tour. But before that, next month will see Williams hit up Melbourne and Sydney for Lost Picnic – a bohemian outdoor musical experience.

Ahead of those two shows we caught up with Williams to find out more about his new album, his time on the road, and just what he makes of all those Roy Orbison comparisons.

Make Way For Love has been out for about six months now, it’s obviously quite a personal album, what has the reaction been like? Both critically and on the road with audiences?

It was a completely different experience, making this album, from the first. I held it all close to my chest while I was making it and really had no idea how it was gonna fly out in the world.

The reaction has been great, in both aspects. It seems to be resonating and that’s all one can hope for.

How did you find working with Noah Georgeson? What do you feel he brought to the table?

I’d never properly worked with any producer other than Ben Edwards, so it was always gonna be a shock and a learning curve. Noah really brought a touch of class to the whole project; both in terms of production value and the general aesthetic.

What’s your reaction to all those Roy Orbison comparisons? Do you consider his work an inspiration on your own music? If so, are there any particular songs or records of his that have resonated with you the most?

It’s pretty bewildering getting those comparisons. I mean, he’s always been one of my favourite singers, but I think people forget what a great songwriter he was.

“In Dreams” sounds and feels direct, and he wrote it in twenty minutes, but it’s a deceptively complex work. There are seven movements and no hooks, nothing is repeated. All in the space of just over two and a half minutes.

You’re in the midst of a run of European festival shows at the moment, how have those shows been going?

Great. We went to a bunch of new places; Portugal, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Wales. And the reception was really promising.

The other great thing about those festival runs is running into your mates from this part of the world. We got a few opportunities to hang with the King Gizz boys, which was ace.

You’ll be back in Australia in October for the Lost Picnic Festival in Melbourne and Sydney too. How have these new songs been translating to a larger festival audience?

It’s always exciting to me trying to sell a song to a new situation. You learn more about a songs strengths and weaknesses. I think generally we’ve got a pretty strong festival set going at the moment.

You’ve been on the road for the better part of the year since the record was released, do you have any tips or tricks for passing the time?

Take things lightly, don’t cling to anything too tightly. Flow like a harpoon daily and nightly.

Are you able to write on the road? Has work started on a third album?

Not really. The most I can get creatively out of touring is a sort of gathering of resources. Tours are research missions. I’m hoping to get cracking in the next couple of weeks though.

There’s been a bit of renewed attention on NZ music, thanks in part to yourself, and the likes of Lorde and Aldous Harding. Who are some of the others we should be checking out?

Emily Fairlight just put out a cracker of a moody Alt-Country album (Mother of Gloom). Both of my recent tour buddies Tiny Ruins and Delaney Davidson have an embarrassment of incredible songs at their disposal too.

What’s next for you?

Sleep, space, ennui.

Make Way For Love is available now. Marlon Williams will be back in Australia in October for Lost Picnic – heading to Melbourne on October 7th, and Sydney on October 13th. Also appearing are Tash Sultana, Odette, Meg Mac, Sons of the East, Big Words and Hot Potato Band. Tickets are available now. For more information about the festival and tickets click HERE for Melbourne and for Sydney click HERE

Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.

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