In the depths of the creative atmosphere that comforts us musically, a fresh resonance with a spirit so animated and enchanting (that cataloging is an exercise in futility) has emerged. The sound is that of Canadian, Marcome’, (Mar-ko-may), a multi-artistic phenomenon that will, I assure, change the way you perceive composition and performance along your journey through musical exploration.
Marcomé first emerged on the scene in 1995 and within a few months, engaged the World Music populace with an array of different attitudes and forms never experienced. Seven Seas was the catalyst that introduced these sculpted works of art.
Marcomé is in the non-traditionalist form as an artist. Her musical creations license emotions to run wild, with moods to embrace the most simplistic of moments, and feeling beyond what the heart allows. Her production is both philosophical and educational, for it takes the student of the art out of the text book and into the core of the craft. From start to finish, Marcomé's work is an opus of intimacy!
The tones are angelic, pioneering production values and a performance quality is spiritually sensitive as if she embraces vocal intimacy. As you spin such magic as "Yeku," you become part of her world. She draws you in with a sense of comfort with her voice, lyrics and arrangements, which mold you into a euphoric fantasy.
As we talked, we explored her philosophies, passions and techniques, not only with her two projects, but with her life, as well. We will touch upon those who are privileged to be associated with her both artistically and personally, and get to know her likes and wishes--for they all will soon appear somewhere for us to listen through her music. Marcomé, as you will soon find out, is a kaleidoscope of colors that portray her moods and patterns, which mirror her diversity.
In this article, you not only go between sets, but enter her world, one that an exit is not desired. For once you spin her magic, the journey in never ending.
JazzReview: Illustrate for us the vocal phenomena known as Marcomé, her personality, her music, her philosophies.
Marcomé: I am a life-lover, passionate and creative. I am a person of integrity and [am] empathetic. I like to help others. I am a nature lover and enjoy being active. I like to hike mountains, run, cycling, play tennis, and cross-country ski. Physical activities bring me a sense of freedom and they allow me to meditate. When I walk amongst nature, be it in a botanical garden, a forest or even a park, I feel a connection to the divine. All this beautiful life surrounding us rejuvenates me and makes me feel so good.
My music reflects my love for life, my optimism and positivism. My spirituality also comes out through my voice and it sometimes touches me deeply when I listen to myself as I’m under the impression that it’s not me singing, but a voice from somewhere in the cosmos!
My philosophy is take care of yourself, you deserve the best. I believe in self-autonomy, emotional autonomy. I think one has to be responsible for his own life and persevere on the path of unconditional love. Life is challenging because not everyone is running at the same pace, but hey, that is the variety of life. I believe we are somewhat all divinely connected so I treat others the way I like to be treated!
JazzReview: Help us explore where the origins come from for your music. From what experiences, feelings, and hopes do your creations evolve from?
Marcomé: There are many ways in which I compose new songs, yet one of my most inspirational moments is when I’m in motion, like when I’m traveling or running or riding my bike. I watch the horizon moving like a film in my head, the clouds in the sky with the sun shining through, the trees, the birds...
I also start new songs in my studio by playing with sounds and voices. I love to improvise. When I invent a wordless song, I do it on the fly; I write it down once it has been sung to be able to harmonize it.
At other times, I will start singing from my heart and follow gently the feeling, get into it and explore new horizons. I seldom start with a definite emotion, but that is more of an exception.
Some of my songs seem to have come to me from elsewhere. It is as if I had not composed them myself. It is my impression that I have tapped into some kind of universal and invisible current, flowing through time and space. It is hard to explain. It is as if the songs were channeled through my body, my mind, my soul rather than created by me. "Memoria" is one of those songs. As I was singing Memoria, I was attracted to a world of Gregorian chant and Latin languages. Maybe it has to do with my childhood influences and experiences in churches I used to go to. The smell of incense, the sacred, the divine, the eternal, the remembrance and the reminiscences of the past!
JazzReview: Your vocals have numerous levels; this is just not straight ahead vocalizing. Describe how you produce and mold your tones, melodies and tempos that express your music.
Marcomé: I always start a song with onomatopoeias, sounds, vowels or consonants that create a certain vocal color. Sometimes, some words come out like a kind of unconscious subject emerging through me.
I start with one voice and I add another one right away without thinking too much. By doing so, I end up with funny and unpredictable results that surprise me and make me feel I am singing with somebody else!
By the end of the process, I get a clearer picture of what the song is trying to tell me and I finish the lyrics with my writing partner Ron Montanaro.
JazzReview: You have stated that the time between your two recordings Seven Seas and now River of Soul gave you time to reflect and mature. Can you open us to that time and what you discovered?
Marcomé: The last decade was life transforming for me as a spiritual being.
I raised my child and devoted myself to self-growth. I read tons of books, trying to understand the world’s suffering. Having a kid grounded me solidly to life and made me realize how important is the life we are given. I became a more loving person, more grateful and accepting. My respect and understanding for all humans evolved, I learned to forgive, to let go and to become responsible of my happiness.
For me, self-acceptance can only lead to self growth. We must learn to take better care of ourselves because after all I really believe that we deserve the best. It is up to us!
JazzReview: You seem to have a wonderful partnership in guitarist Michael Robidoux, as well as all those who join in the creation of your music. Tell us about that relationship and of the others who have shared your journey from writing-to-production.
Marcomé: For the productions of Seven Seas and River of Soul, I did most of my work alone in my studio for hours. I compose and arrange all my music. When I got near the end of production, I got to work with fabulous and passionate musicians. Among them is Michel Robidoux (Leonard Cohen). He not only plays guitar, but also helps me to stay grounded to my objectives as a co-producer. Michel Dupire comes in with his delightful percussions from all over the world and complements the beats I’ve created. I also had the privilege to work with Marc Langis on bass and counter bass (Celine Dion) and Michel Donato on counter bass (Toots Thielemans, Oscar Peterson).
In River of Soul, I was honored to have Martin Lord-Ferguson (Cirque du Soleil) who added his magic touch and wisdom in the production process.
JazzReview: Talk about the writing team of Montanaro & Marcome. Where and when does the feeling turn into words..? How do you approach an idea?
Marcomé: Ron Montanaro is a very dear and special friend of mine. He is a very intuitive and sensitive creator. He’s used to my way of working which is to do the melody and the singing all framed up and than to put the lyrics in. In other words, he has to find words and expressions to fit in the already existing chant. Most composers will create their music according to the lyrics; I work the other way around most of the time.
When I send him a song, there are some words already sung in it. I give him the subject, the direction, the feeling and he does his magic by reading my emotions and rendering them in the most poetic way. He not only has a talent for words, but he also makes my voice sound so much better by the use of proper syllables and consonants.
JazzReview: Describe the difference between music composition and sound creation. How do you approach both and then bond the two crafts?
Marcomé: Sound creation and music composition are all entangled in the same process for me. One leads me to the other. I always have a part of sound creation right after I drafted a new musical idea. Being a trained sound engineer makes me kind of autonomous. Going from technical stuff to more artistic matters gives me a break from one another and allows me to stay more objective. I’m really greatful that I can achieve what I hear in my imagination from A-to-Z.
JazzReview: Your innovative sound and knowledge allows for much more to occur in your world of music and writing, new and inventive creations. Talk about your thoughts as you go from level to level in your career.
Marcomé: Seven Seas and River of Soul are albums I’m really proud of and they both meet my professional standards. The next albums to come will surely be partly an evolution of some themes I covered in the previous ones. I have a passion for dance music and jazz. Who knows where my intuition will lead me.
The music of my next album will unfold in the same way it did for Seven Seas and River of Soul. I’m in the present moment; I improvise and let it all flow out from my soul.
JazzReview: In your 2007 release of River of Soul, the common link from the first recording is nature and the relationship within oneself. Was this a deliberate attempt to intertwine the two entities in your work?
Marcomé: My family has drawn me to nature early in my childhood. We lived in a big city and when we’d go to our little camp by the river, time would stop. Silence was the main word! Without knowing why, it would later become a necessity for me to go camping every summertime and to go outdoors every day of my life. I realize now that I use my relation to nature to connect with the infinite, the universal flow and to meditate and feel better.
JazzReview: One fact is easily discovered as one listens to your music: the art of experiencing serenity. One can easily become lost in their own adventure and dreams as they listen. Was this the effect you expected as you wrote and produced your pieces?
Marcomé: Honestly, I did not expect anything to happen when I created my first record Seven Seas. It was a pure delivery of my feelings and imaginary worlds. It’s only after the testimonies I got from fans that I realized that my world was somehow connected to other people’s reality. I must say that I have one rule though when I compose lyrics, they must be somehow positive and constructive. When I meet problems or obstacles in my own life, even though it might be hard or sad, I try to be self-loving and always look for solutions. Love and perseverance now rules my life most of the time, after all, I’m always evolving.
JazzReview: Your voice is very much like an artist’s palette for it vocally throws brushstrokes of sound at the listener. This is true in most every cut on the disc especially "River Of Life," a wonderful marriage of water and the human soul. Describe for us the process you went through to write and perform this piece. How did you perceive the outcome and reaction of the piece?
Marcomé: I see my voice as an instrument. So be it a bass or a high note, if I can vocalize it, I do it. I never exactly know what the end result will be for I love to improvise in many musical styles. After a few harmonies, it takes shape and the ethnic color or musical influences show up. I play with my many voices and it becomes a creation of its own in a certain way. I never start with a fixed idea, for part of my pleasure in creating is exploring new territories, and to be surprised!
JazzReview: "Meteora" is in relation to the stunning landscape in Central Greece. Describe the work that went into the production of the piece and how this concept was birthed.
Marcomé: I love traveling. I have had the chance to go to many different places around the world. A region of Greece called The Meteora inspired this song. The Meteora is an area in Thessaly where there are monasteries on the top of rock towers. It is said that the monks were seeking a retreat from the expanding Turkish occupation and found the inaccessible rock pillars to be an ideal refuge.
In my studio, I have many postcards of all my trips on my piano and one day, looking at the Meteora picture, I imagined myself gliding in a delta plane way up in the sky, flying through the suspended monasteries, the heaven above, the Meteora
Funnily, the very first thing I drafted for this song is the bass line. I had been extensively listening to my many favorite records from my ECM collection and I was fascinated with bass players. I than started hearing in my head a bass line on which I sang the melody and the rest followed.
JazzReview: I was very much attracted to the piece "Elated," an upbeat free expression of life. The sound of your vocals are very unique. Describe that sound and how you developed into what it is today.
Marcomé: It’s a very good observation you did here. On my very first record Seven Seas, I was a perfectionist and I even tired others and myself with that attitude in all areas of my life!
"Elated" is one of the songs on the album on which I used the very rough original first takes. It’s therefore fresh and spontaneous. I’m proud because I freed myself from the obligation and the pressure of perfection and I love it! Moreover, "Elated" really reflects the internal change that took place in between the two records in my inner world. I’m more serene and confident than ever and less perfect which is reassuring!
JazzReview: Talk about the interrelation of jazz into your music. How would you define jazz?
Marcomé: I love your question. When I was a teenager I had a period where I got to discover two important record collections that were the Decca Ethnic Series and the ECM collection. I would literally spend weeks with headphones discovering and exploring news musical sounds and textures. I later on had the opportunity to work on many Montreal Jazz Festivals and got to meet with Pastorius, Marsalis, Metheny, Lyle Mays, Scofield, Piazzola, Paco Delucia, Tony Levin and so many more.
It impressed me with a sense of freedom, for jazz allows the use of free forms. When I listen to jazz music, there are so many possibilities to explore that it opens up the imaginary world almost infinitely. Also, the use of different scales and rhythms brings the creative process exponentials avenues. Jazz is freedom to me, and that’s why I love it!
JazzReview: With your creative ingenuity to manipulate sight and sound, can we assume a DVD is in the mix soon?
Marcomé: You read my mind! I just finished two music videos--one for the song "River of Life" in which you’ll get to see images I filmed while traveling in Alaska and Quebec nature sceneries. We incorporated different forms of visual arts such as painting (my own) photos. I love to paint and film, and do photography.
The second music video is for the song "Memoria" from Seven Seas, and I can’t wait for you to see it! They’ll be both out in January 2008 on Marcome.com and You tube, and all over the Web.
I plan to do DVD’s and put all my music into images. It’s a matter of time and money. I will have such a thrill to remix in surround; it will be very creative and inspiring for the sound engineer and artist in me!
JazzReview: What gives you the most satisfaction in the genre of music you have chosen?
Marcomé: Freedom, freedom and freedom! My music allows me to dream, to float, to explore wide, huge spaces. I can be or do what I want. My music is atmospheric; it’s a good companion for my outdoor activities, my day to day life. It inspires me to pursue my purpose in this life.
JazzReview: If there was another genre you would care to embrace that would offer the vehicle to express your moods, moments, and thoughts musically what would you choose?
Marcomé: I love to dance so I have some projects I’m planning for 2008, for my music, that might be surprising! My publicist says not to say anymore! You just have to wait.
JazzReview: On a more serious note, the music industry is a complex beast. How do you deal with it and where do you see it going a decade from now?
Marcomé: I’m an artist who is evolving. The music industry has never stopped evolving and it was there before me and will still be there when I pass so I figure I have to go with the flow and adapt. That’s life!
JazzReview: What are your plans for 2008 as to live and recording performances? Any new endeavors whispering to you?
Marcomé: There are lots of things I intend to do at this very moment. River of Soul is being released in Canada in early 2008 with a promotional tour. The rest of the world will follow for my audience is worldwide. I’m also composing new songs for different projects and new ventures. I will do more music videos, paintings, traveling, and basically keep creating!
JazzReview: Now for a bit of fun. Let’s talk on a personal note. What does Marcome’ spin when she is at home just being herself? If you could write and produce a song on five major world events, what would they be and the titles?
Marcomé: Ambient music, Jazz, Classic, Electronic, and Pop are essentially the kinds of music I listen to.
Armstrong landing on the moon; I would call the track "Euphoria." It’s one of my dreams to go out there to get to see the earth and touch this white rock.
The passage of year 2000 and I would call the song "Everything is Possible." I had a feeling that I was a small part in the long life of this universe!
The Montreal Olympic Games of 1976. I was a teenager and was overwhelmed and inspired by Nadia Comaneci’s talent, she represented, for me at the time, a model to follow. I would create something more symphonic that could be called "Summum."
Mother Theresa, Nelson Mendala, Ghandi, Jesus All these humans showed us to pursue our goals of unconditional love and perseverance. They show me everyday to be grateful and that anything is possible if you’re passionate and have strong beliefs. I would call a song for all of them, "The Tender Warriors."
JazzReview: To experience more of the magic and sounds of Marcomé, surf her website at www.marcome.com and fall into a world all its own.
Karl Stober is a freelance critic and journalist internationally.