Marshall Cecil’s newest single: ‘Beautiful World’

Contrary to the impression that the title of the track may give you, the newest single from Copenhagen’s moody trio, is a sonic journey through ethereal soundscapes that evoke part melancholia, part satire, and part ritual.

Published: February 9, 2017
Words: Marshall Cecil & J.Scott Stratton
Photographs: Alexandra Quaade
Artist Link: soundcloud.com/marshallcecil

Marshall Cecil is one of those projects that has spent the majority of its existence behind closed curtains.

A pet project – now blossoming into an underground sensation – started almost a year and a half ago as the dirty little secret of musicians Daniel Abraham (vocals), Sophus August Tuxen (synth & keys) and Sebastian Fibiger (drums). Around six months ago the boys decided to let the skeletons out of the closet and expose their music stylings to the world.

Jumping into the musical arena with their single ‘Going up / Going down’ last September, the band showed their true chops for crafting and producing complex soundscapes. Using non-traditional composures or instrumentation, complex and satirical lyrical themes, and then wrapping the whole package up such high production music videos, you might just get the same impression I had at first glance – major international label. And like myself, you would be wrong.

There latest single ‘Beautiful World’ (sans the Hollywood production music video at the time of this article) hit the interweb airwaves this week, and shows that the band is hell-bent on giving the world the full Monty with their musical talent.

I will be honest, at first listen, Marshall Cecil is not the kind of band that will blow your mind with eccentric musical combinations or something that has “never been done before”. It’s not as if there combining black metal and elevator music – although I’m sure someone has done that.

The result of the trio’s work is more like a subtle knife in the dark. To be completely honest, my first listen through wasn’t went I realized that I completely dug on their sound. I could see its merit, of course. The music videos for the last two singles – their production value, the strangeness, and narrative content – blew the balls out of my pants, but it wasn’t until I sat down to do some writing and unconsciously pulled up their Soundcloud account that I realized they had hooked me.

Sneaky buggers. To create (and absolutely murder) a metaphor, one could compare Marshall Cecil to the kind of person that steals your lover without you knowing, but instead of confronting them after-the-fact, you befriend them because, “you know, they’re just a cool people.”

To get down to brass tacks, the new single, ‘Beautiful World’ is familiar in all the right ways, and strange and new in all the others. It has this haunting, almost ritualistic feel to it – driven by the almost monotone vocal stylings Daniel Abraham. The band is well worth the listen – that is, if you don’t mind three guys sneaking on to your playlist without you even being aware of it.

The first thing that came to mind when I first sat down and watched the videos for ‘Going up / Going down’ and ‘Beatrice, X, Regine’ was the production value of the music paired with the narrative value of videos. Does the band control all the creative output around Marshall Cecil?

Honestly, control is an illusion, but yes, we do control all the creative input and output. Our music is completely DIY, and we’ve written, recorded, produced and mixed the whole thing ourselves. It’s an honor working with other unique creative people, so we pick out artists who we think can contribute to the Marshall Cecil universe in an interesting way.

On the music-video side, we worked with Jacob Schill and Céleste Nshimiyimana. They had a great eye for creating a visual story that gave our music another layer. We’re all for working and collaborating with other people, but we’re picky because it’s crucial for us that Marshall Cecil looks and sounds the way we want it.

Digging into the music, there is a broad mix of sounds across the songs from your previous EP ‘Heady Pt.1’ and into the new single ‘Beautiful World.’ How much of the composition of the band is live instrumentation, and how much is produced in the studio?

We live in a world that is experienced partly digital and partly physical, so to us creating music that combines these two worlds is almost a philosophy that is analogous to our “experienced” world.

Equal amounts of the production come from live-playing and programming, but of course it varies from song to song. We find it interesting to experiment with making these two worlds come together and sometimes imitate each other.

Tell me about how you write your music and compositions?

It varies. Sometimes we have an entire song written from home, and we bring it to the studio. Other times we work from an idea. It could be a thought, feeling, a chorus, a verse, or something that has happened to us. Daniel writes the lyrics, and he often has a clear idea of the song’s nature and instinct, so once we’ve captured that, from there it’s just work to get the song to sound and express itself right.

How do you arrange the band and music when you take to live gigs?

We have a bass-player and a guitarist with us live. It’s an honor playing the whole thing by hand, but still sticking to the original idea of the production. Sophus (keys/production) is a busy man when we’re playing live, triggering samples while playing a bunch of different keys.

Since the production is a big part of our music, it’s essential for us to show that live – while still being able to play dynamically. We come from a background of playing ‘real’ instruments, so we know the importance of the live-vibe. We try to stay away from backing tracks.

There is a certain melancholic moodiness to your songs, but you tend to break out of genre-specific tropes by introducing unique elements – like using an almost 808 beat in new single ‘Beautiful World,’ or throwing in an auto-tuned rap ‘Beatrice, X, Regine.’ Does the band have any specific mantras on what can and cannot be done in composing work?

We don’t have any specific mantras on what we “can” and “cannot” do. We try to be aware of what’s going on in the world (musically, politically, etc.), and our music is, in one way or the other, a reflection of that. If we had a mantra, it would be: Make music that speaks to yourself and other people – which makes you aware of life while forgetting about it.

Marshall Cecil interview with Blacklisted