When your father is a DJ and your great uncles all sing or write music, it’s easier said than done that you were born to be somewhat musical. Marcus Paul James notes of his sound upbringing, “I think my family is very familiar with the music bug and I never felt any hesitation in support as I progressed down my paths.”
His own path has included appearing in a variety of Broadway shows, dropping a couple of albums including his latest Paper Heart and more. All of that came up when we exchanged words including Brooklyn, Hamilton and a lot more!
Kendra: What was your 12-year-old self writing about?
Marcus Paul James: Haha, I guess then i was writing more music than actually lyrics and songs. Making new versions of songs I was listening to, adding harmonies and adlibs.
Kendra: Does your church upbringing showcase itself in who you are as an artist in any way because Katy Perry was a preacher’s daughter and she’s strayed a little from her childhood.
Marcus: Completely, but not in the hindering way. My family ran the church so there was a sense of ownership to my religious childhood that centers my spirit. Looking back it helped keep me intact going through the hard time where who you are is being tested everyday. It gave me one less thing to worry about. Also growing up in the church to me doesn’t meet you have to only sing church music, I thinks it meant to take what you’ve learned into the world.
Kendra: Now it’s time for a little game. I’m sure you’ve played “Bang, Marry, Kill.” We’ll we’re going to play a Broadway version since you’ve spent a good amount of time onstage. Only our version is Star In, Fan Out At, Retire It. So out of Hamilton, The Lion King and Book of Mormon which would you want to star in, go to as a fan and of course which should be retired?
Marcus: Oh this is easy. I would star in Hamilton, cause it’s awesome!! I would fan out At Book of Mormon cause it’s just so damn funny, I don’t get tired of it. I would unfortunately retire Lion King, it’s time…it’s amazing, but it’s time.
Kendra: Let’s talk about your music now. Paper Hearts is your EP. It’s hard to ignore the symbolism in that, but I want to know what’s one thing that made your heart stronger over the years?
Marcus: I think that’s the problem, my hearts hasn’t gotten any stronger. It’s amazing that something so powerful can also be so sensitive. But I have found that the strongest way to protect it is to use it, when in doubt love harder. This is exactly what the title track Paper Hearts is about, deciding how I want to love not necessarily how it should look.
Kendra: If you had to compare Paper Hearts to a place in Brooklyn, where would it be and why?
Marcus: Maybe it would be the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn is such a hard place in my mind from growing up but the museum is like a little gem. Sometimes it makes me question how something so beautiful and precious has been right here in the thick of Brooklyn all this time? The EP is a jewel box of gems you didn’t think would come out of Brooklyn. I hope.
Kendra: Let us know what you’re going to be up to for the rest of the year?
Marcus: Well I will be doing a ton of gigs and playing this new music. Also some special announcements coming about holiday music and feature films. Good stuff, so excited!! Keep up with me at my site or get on my mailing list so you don’t miss a thing.
Kendra: Lastly, here at ZO we’re really into all aspects of creativity. With that, if you had to compare your sound to a work of art, which would it be and why?
Marcus: Oh Wow! This is a little harder as I admittedly am not well versed in the the names of all the great artists. But I would hope that my sound is reminiscent of the works of Basquiat. Rich yet still pointed, unpredictable yet still grounded. And of course very unique.