The new sensation of the indie scene is already here and comes with the name of Marlo Owczarzak.
A young and promising singer-songwriter.
A talented performer.
An artist with an open mind,
set in favor of making her moniker grow, not by imposition, but by osmosis, absorbing, releasing, and letting the roller coaster of her life breathe.
An artist based in Indiana, MARLO is a creative who loves pop music, being dramatic, visual design, musical theater, books, and who enjoys feeling the warmth of the sun’s rays shine on her radiant face.
Following her debut EP “Broken Lyrics” released in 2019, MARLO’s latest is the single titled “Cities,” now accompanied by the commentary album “Building Cities.”
Already known for her stripped-down piano ballads paired with strong vocals, her songs di lei combine a melancholy pop vein with a folk singer-songwriter flair. Focused on doing all of her own stunts – writing, singing, visual design, video production, and digital art – her music flows in a coin imbued with nostalgia and regret, but tinged by the light of a radiant aura spread by a beacon of hope.
Amiably capable of stirring hearts and souls, her latest release, the single titled “Cities,” is a song that captures the desire to move to a city to reinvent oneself. Through moody melodies, sublime vocals, and a nostalgic sound, the song leads us by the hand with gentle inspiration to climb to the top of a bitter slope, where ultimately we discover that dreams do not come true. Yet as the song goes on, the poetics of the track wisely plays with memorable hooks, both feeding a fueling that captivating upward thrust that leading us to demand for more and more.
Conceived as the tale of a small-town girl who came to the big city but did not get the fairytale she was expecting, “Cities” is a lush organic production built around classical instrumentation. Here, paired with that visceral narrative of failed dreams and emotional trauma, the lyrics flow out as flourishing rivulets proper of masterpiece of poetry and storytelling, beatifying the profoundly personal and thoughtful approach penned by MARLO.
An act that arouses her ability to transform that failed epiphany into an epiphany itself, with “Cities,” MARLO gives light to that not-so-gleaming boulevard of broken dreams. Paving an avenue with bricks that spans years, seasons, locations, and connections, Owczarzak reaches a first terminus. In reality, it is only a first step, which indelibly marks the beauty of an exciting start-up phase, which clearly shows the depth and density of her feelings and the depth and breadth of her creativity.
Under this remarkable production refactored in a modern key, there are many layers that combine to embody the unconventional beauty of a heartbreakingly honest and genuine signature blissed by a commendable amount of emotions and a rewarding creative process. It goes without saying that MARLO accompanied the release of the single with the enthralling commentary album “Building Cities.”
Here the artist reveals the background and details of her months-long process, developed along the writing and recording of the song. So while Marlo reveals to us through her words the reflections and creative choices that led her to the conception of “Cities”, we are allowed to take part in that journey within the journey, between external inspirations and that inner search for a soul. looking for a more stable port.
Not only therefore a commendable means to enter into connection with the artist, but also a priceless means to fully grasp all the essence of her creative act. Definitely something that many independent artists should draw an example from.
As one of the most interesting artists we’ve discovered in recent months, we recently caught up with Marlo for a quick chat. So, keep on reading to find out more about Marlo, her music, and her future projects.
Hi Marlo. Welcome to the Nova Music blog. Thank you for the time you dedicate to this short interview.
Hello! Thank you for having me!
With your latest releases, it seems that you have started a new phase of your artistic path. We refer for example to “Building Cities,” a cross between an album and a podcast, in which you go to deepen what is behind the creation of the single “Cities.” Is it a new phase of deepening that precedes the next expansion of your perspective?
I feel that it is; “Building Cities” is my way of bringing the listener closer to my process. As an artist, I value stories of creation. I seek out other artists’ processes, I love watching and listening to ideas transform into a final work. I will continue to build the MARLO universe by sharing my perspective with listeners. I think it serves multiple purposes: the documentation of art from start to finish as an artifact for the future, the strengthening of the relationship between the artist and the listener, and the transparency that anyone can create.
Each piece of art begins as a scrappy, ill-defined mess that later becomes a great work. I want everyone to find inspiration in that fact. As I look back on my past work, these deep breakdowns inspire me to continue creating.
So let’s take a step back, to your beginnings. How did it all start?
I have always been singing and performing. I am very comfortable being center-stage. From a young age I was a dancer, performing in plays and musicals. I used to be in a song-and-dance troupe that performed at Disney World. I began writing as a teenager but didn’t commit to publishing music until 2018. To reference the last question, I love seeing behind the scenes of other artists’ works, and watching the Lady Gaga documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two in 2018 was a main turning point in my attitude towards creating music.
Broken Lyrics was my very first attempt at officially releasing music, and reflecting back on it, my biggest struggle was overcoming fear. The fear of moving forward, the fear of embarrassment, the fear of no one liking the art. The biggest mental obstacle was committing to my own projects rather than performing others’. But I moved past it and through writing, studio sessions, and everything else in-between, I’ve made it to where I am today.
In your music, the theme “a journey within a journey” seems to be recursive. But the dynamic narrative you build looks like a bridge that is always leaning forward, standing out from the pillar of yesterday towards the shore of tomorrow. How comfortable are you with this conceptualization?
I think that conceptualization is very accurate. All of my work hinges on the tension between nostalgic yearning for the past and the desire to move past it and break free. We hear this explicitly in Ingrid’s Song, as I reflect on the memories of my sister as a baby, in Open Road as the bridge lyrics change from “just let me go” to later “don’t let me go,” and in Cities as the narrator moves through their own recursive journey of aspiration, delusion, and disappointment.
“Broken Lyrics” was constructed purposefully to embody a state of nostalgia that spans years, seasons, locations, and connections, resulting in lyrics heavy with sadness but tinged with hope. This was done not only through the subject matter of the songs, but also the different years in which the songs were written.
For example, Sleeping Beauty, the second track on the EP, was one of the first songs I ever completed as a teenager (2013), whereas June Nineteenth was written 2 days before my scheduled studio session (2018).
“Cities” also explores this concept at an individual level. “Building Cities” seeks to expand upon these ideas within “Cities” and connect with the listener on a deeper level.
We love the way in which you capture the vein of nostalgia, which is afferent to the roots, and recontextualize it along a common thread that sweeps across time, places, and points of connection, until it touches the heart of a small but burning flame of hope. Unfolding the musical message on so many levels is not easy at all. How do you manage to keep the right balance in such a prolific perspective of stimuli?
With everything I do, I start with words, feelings, and a mood. From these elements, I think the balance unfolds on its own. I am not well-versed in the technicality of music production but I compensate by drawing references to other works with words, feelings, and moods that I resonate with. I try to recreate these elements while translating them to fit my narrative. So in this way, I focus on storytelling and create with that in mind.
So do you think it’s more a question of technique or art?
I believe it is art. Reflection on honest feelings is at the crux of nostalgia. It can be packaged in different ways, but I think the expression of the art will come through the most.
We know how being an independent self-producing artist is a grueling job. One must fill the role of photographer, marketer, writer, publicist, visual designer, editor, social media manager, videographer, video editor, and anything else that can come to mind when thinking of the multi-role independent artist. And then there would also be new music to be produced. How do you manage all the workload?
At times, the workload can seem insurmountable. I am in control of so many aspects of the MARLO universe. Ultimately, I love having a hand in every part of the process, I view myself more as a creative director than a musician, but it can be exhausting.
I manage by staying organized. I am on a journey to be the most organized person I can be — I love to sing praises of the virtues of organization! I batch most of my content, something I just started doing at the end of 2020.
Knowing I have a bank of visual content gives me the freedom to create and produce music as I come up with more ideas.
Your debut EP “Broken Lyrics” was released in 2019 and has already amassed more than half a million streams to date. Jumping to 2020 your latest single “Cities,” released in February, is already over 50k plays on Spotify. With thousands of monthly listeners, the pandemic doesn’t seem to have dented your significant growth. How did you manage to continue fueling your creativity despite the global lockdown?
There were many times where I did not continue fueling my creativity. I stopped writing until this January and there are many times I’ve thought about giving up. “Cities” was mostly complete right before the lockdown in March. I had my final studio sessions in February 2020, so seeing the project through was a big motivator for me. Post “Cities” release, I have been focusing on creating content and music that satisfies what I want to do creatively, rather than what I feel like I must do to maintain relevance or grow professionally. I think it is remarkable that I, and many others, have been able to create anything at all.
Family seems to play an important role for you in this process. Even on your Instagram profile, we can see them involved as co-stars of some of your content. However, they don’t seem to be just mere supporters. What role do your relatives play in Marlo’s game?
My family is very important to me. My mother works very closely with me as we learn music industry and social media strategy. She is also my photographer, stylist, and biggest fan. She has been and will continue to be essential in keeping me motivated and on task. She sees me from multiple lenses that I believe are invaluable; she sees me as a daughter, an artist, but also more objectively as just a person making music in this ever-changing and expanding industry that we have only just begun to align ourselves with. My father acts as my grassroots promoter in his own fashion — handing out CDs and stickers to anyone who expresses the smallest of interest. He is very good about unabashedly selling me as an artist to others (something I struggle with myself). My brother is often my real-time critic. He likes to attend studio sessions with me, giving his thoughts on the mix and the music as they unfold in front of him. He and I have always been very close and I value his opinion as a best friend and as someone in my peer group. My sister not only has a song written about her (Ingrid’s Song) but is also the cool-Gen X support that I desperately need. She is constantly showing me the latest trend or telling her friends about me. They all encourage and support me, keeping me motivated and confident.
Let’s sum it up. Thinking of three years ago, where do you feel you are now?
Three years ago, my journey towards “Broken Lyrics” had barely started. I was fearful, unknowledgeable, and inwardly passionate. Today I feel confident in sharing my art, my passions, my personality with the world and I feel happy with my music successes. Upon starting, my goal was to create music and art that was for myself. I feel that I have achieved that goal and I continue to achieve it as I continue on. Other people listening and becoming part of the MARLO universe is a happy bonus that I am excited to strengthen.
What’s about the future? Where do you see yourself in three years?
I am hesitant to put future plans down on paper, as we have seen how the pandemic has upended many within the past year. Will it be cliche if I say I will be living in a city making music? Maybe I have learned nothing at all through writing “Cities” :). I hope to have a full-length album, which “Cities” will be a part of, and I would love to be somehow participating in the music industry full-time. My future feels very open; I will be satisfied as long as I can continue to create.
Upcoming projects with an earlier deadline that you are working on?
I’m challenging myself to write a new song every month in 2021, which I am documenting on my YouTube channel: youtube.com/c/MarloOwczarzak
No new releases planned for 2021 but as always, I’m working on a secret project!
Do you have a special greeting for all of our readers?
I want to welcome NOVA readers who are new to the MARLO universe to become a part of my journey! My sound, my art, and my feelings are ever-evolving. I hope you listen and connect with me, I value your support.
Listen now to "Cities," the latest single by Marlo, available in streaming on all major digital platforms. You can find your favorite one via ffm.to/buildingcities.
To know more about Marlo Owczarzak and her music, find and follow Marlo all over the web by checking the links below: