Once Marle Thomson found her voice, there was no stopping her. From a young age she sang any and every time she could; from the church choir to today where we find her releasing her new single “Satellites” on February 17. We talked about the music, the trees, her native Netherlands and a bit more in this worldly exchange.
Kendra: In the states many who grow up in the church choir have a real soulful approach to music. Is that the same case when it comes to the Netherlands? Also, what did growing up in the choir give you musically?
Marle Thomson: Well it’s different here in the Netherlands, because it has a different, more classical tradition, at least in the area and church where I grew up. In the bigger cities, like Amsterdam for instance, there are many more churches with all kinds of different cultural and international backgrounds, there is definitely a much more soulful approach than in the traditional Dutch churches I think.
The gospel choir I joined when I was about 14-years-old had a mixed repertoire of pop, rock, classical and a little bit of soulful gospel music, which I loved the most. For me, there couldn’t be too much soulful music as also started to listen to R&B music and artists like Lauryn Hill, Anointed, Destiny’s Child and listening to jazz records played by my parents from a very young age. Later, when I was about 18-years-old, I joined another gospel choir outside of church that was really into more soulful music of Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, Fred Hammond and others. Singing together in harmony – which I have always loved – discovering my voice as a soloist and gaining experience with performing on stage have helped me develop my vocal skills and musical style.
Kendra: Musically speaking, how do you feel you’ve grown as a singer and songwriter from The Canopy to “Satellites?”
Marle: I think working on The Canopy EP was in a sense more of an experiment to me, which worked out pretty well. I wanted to discover my own sound and way of making music, by recording many of the music myself, before I worked with different producers. By doing this I grew musically and learned a lot about the whole process of writing, recording and producing. So when I started to record “Satellites” – which I wrote just before releasing The Canopy by the way – I was much more experienced and felt more free and confident to go the extra mile.
Kendra: Now, last year you brought in some 40 trees for a performance. Have you always been into nature in that way, or was it for the audible aesthetic?
Marle: I think I have, although it seems – my mother told me this – I always started to cry as a toddler when we drove through the forest.
To me nature is a place to come to rest, taking a walk frees my mind, reminds me of God, eternity. I realize how small I am and how insanely complex and beautiful the earth is. The feeling that a tree you pass has been there for the past 200 years for instance, that is magic! I love to watch nature documentaries, like BBC’s Planet Earth. I have always loved big tropical plants and I dream of having my own greenhouse. My grandfather was a biologist, who worked in the tropics for most of his life. He used to have very large plants in his house (as a kid they seemed to be very large) that he let us spray with this air pressure plant sprayer, which I really liked doing.
Kendra: Back to “Satellites.” You collaborated with a handful of talents including fashion designer Alexandra Frida when it came to the video. Is fashion another interest for you?
Marle: Yes, definitely, since I discovered how much influence it has on me what I wear on stage. It can make me feel stronger and it contributes to my performance. And I love to work together with creatives in other fields than music, to get inspired. I met Alexandra last year at Amsterdam Fashion Week – where I performed – and I felt a connection between our work, so working together for my video felt good and very natural. I also wore here clothing on stage a couple of times.
Kendra: After the single’s release, what’s next for you this year?
Marle: On April 17 I will release a new album, called The Canopy – Acoustic For this album I recorded only vocals and guitar so it is a very intimate personal album that took me back to the core of the songs. I want to give the listeners the feeling that I am in their living room, singing the songs just for them. The album contains five songs of the The Canopy plus “Satellites” (acoustic and the single production) as well as 2 cover songs I have played live a lot last year. This release will be followed by a small tour.
To celebrate the release of the album, I will have a pre-release concert in the new Pulitzer hotel in Amsterdam in February, in a beautiful old Dutch room, especially for the press, radio people and a few fans. This concert will be recorded with a 360 camera and published on different websites, so everyone can enjoy the concert and look around in the room at their own pace.