When it comes to instrumentals, Vancouver-based crate digger and beat aficionado Marleau is a story-teller. With the explosion of beats for studying to gaming and chill time, the Canadian producer Marleau wields sample mosaics to build narrative-
His January 2021 EP Marleau 4 Mayor Vol. 2 (The Campaign) conveys a quirky story of a mayoral run with campaign trail mishaps. Through his display of creative sample chops, lyricism and groovy instrumentals, we get those juicy chilled beats, but also his own mark on it all.
When he's not sample hunting or chopping it up on his MPC, Marleau is a resident artist of Vancouver-based collective Eastblvd Records, which built a space for all things hip hop, soul, and more in their home city.
We had a chance to get to know Marleaua bit in our interview below. The bonus here is that he also laid down a sonic portrayal of his influences in his Stereofox artist mix. So give it a listen while you read the interview below:
1.Mndsgn - paaaannttyyhoooseeee (jessieboykinsiiiflip)
2. Ohbliv - Copper People
3. Opaque - You're My Sunshine
4. Walter Jackson - It's Cool
5. Budgie - Facety Lady
6. Evidence - Train Tracks
7. Khruangbin & Knxwledge - Dearest Alfred (MyJoy)
8. Ohbliv - Mirage
9. Ohbliv - Rest Of Your Life
10. Lane Curtis - Chai
11. Ohbliv - Jazz In Da Garden
12. People Under the Stairs - Suite For Beaver Pt. 1
13. Snares - Second World
14. Marleau - Smoother Than a Dolphin's Smile
15. Bluestaeb - The Real (ft. Galv)
16. Jennifer Lara - I Am in Love
17. Little Brother - War
18. Lootpack - Hityawitdat
19. mr. stee - kundalini linguine
20. Cookin Soul - Karate Frees
21. DeKobe - Dindi
22. Opaque - Not Tonight
23. Marleau - Marble Top Hat
24. Quasimoto - Raw Addict (Original)
25. Exile - Bom Bomb
26. Klaus Layer - Steig
27. People Under the Stairs - Montego Slay
Hey Marleau, great to have you for an interview. First, for those who don’t know you, who is Marleau?
Thank you for having me! I am a hip hop producer from Vancouver, Canada. My style is inspired by classic/alternative hip hop and my love for classic Hollywood films, especially film noir. I run an independent record label and recording studio with three of my friends.
Tell me a bit about this mix you put together for us
When I put this mix together I wanted to showcase music that has influenced my style the most. Instrumentals from some of my favourite beat makers like Ohbliv, Evidence, and Knxwledge. I’ve been listening to a little bit of German hip hop so I included Klaus Layer, Snares and Bluestaeb. I added some rap tracks that really demonstrate chemistry between the emcee and producer like People Under the Stairs, Little Brother and Lootpack. And finally some songs by my Eastblvd comrades mr. stee, Lane Curtis and Opaque.
You’re part of a label/collective based out of Vancouver called Eastblvd. Tell me more about this operation.
Eastblvd Records is a label started by Nick Bielski around 2017 after we met in recording school. Nick and I instantly clicked because we pretty much share the same eclectic taste in music. He noticed that the type of music we make and enjoy didn’t really get a lot of support in Vancouver, so he wanted to fill that void. We linked up with mr. stee in recording school after recording an EP for his band at the time, and realized we had found a kindred spirit. Shortly after, we met Jubriill through stee and he was already running his own studio. We joined forces to start Eastblvd Studios as a production/recording space for our projects. Since then we have released music from a wide range of styles/artists, from New Jersey, to Russia, and of course Vancouver. We’ve also released some small runs of merchandise which have sold really well, and before COVID we had actually thrown some good parties.
In our interview with your Eastblvd counterpart mr. stee, we got a bit of insight into the Vancouver scene and the collective you guys have, but I am interested in your take on things. What’s up in Vancouver?
It’s a really inspiring place to be an artist. It’s a rare kind of city, where you can enjoy nature without having to travel far, but you still have the benefits of a major city. It’s a very scenic place and I draw a lot of inspiration from the surroundings.
Before COVID there were a lot of underground venues/art spaces that hosted intimate shows and I really miss that. One of the last shows I went to was at a hidden venue that was in the basement of a restaurant in Chinatown. The crowd was from all walks of life and everyone was just there to enjoy the music. The nightlife in Vancouver gets a bad rep but if you know the right places to go, we actually have a really cool scene here that hopefully will get back on its feet soon.
Vancouver is a very culturally diverse city and it shows in the local scene. There’s so many different styles of music being created here and it’s inspiring to be around. Eastblvd has released a lot of projects from local artists and we are always looking to showcase the depth of talent in the city because we feel it deserves more attention.
You’ve got a new release out of hip-hop beats entitled Marleau 4 Mayor Vol. 2. (The Campaign) Tell me more about this one.
This was a fun passion project for me. It’s loosely based around me running for mayor of Vancouver, while getting up to mischief on the campaign trail. When I collaborate with an artist on a project, the focus has to be on them, but with a solo project like this I can really get creative with it and tell the story of my Marleau character. I got some help on the first track from Soothsayer Franklin. He laid down some storytelling raps that really set the scene for the project. Soothsayer is a rapping turtle. No one knows his true identity. Rumour has it, he is the long lost brother of the Mutant Ninja Turtles. He chose a different path from his brothers after experimenting with psychedelics.
You seem to be big into the raw hip hop form and finding samples. Who are your inspirations for this? And what’s your take on the burgeoning lo-fi hip-hop beats movement these days?
I’m inspired by Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Madlib, J Dilla, 9th Wonder, The Alchemist, Ohbliv, Wun Two, Knxwledge, Evidence, Eric Sermon, Exile; basically anybody who is nice with a sampler. Sampling has opened the door to discovering so many great artists from different genres and countries and I try to always be receptive to hearing new things because you never know what will inspire you.
The lo-fi movement is cool to see because I really enjoy listening to instrumental music. I am also really drawn to the imperfections of older forms of media, like the hiss sound from a cassette tape, or the warm clicks and pops of an old vinyl record. Lo-fi music really embraces that.
Give me a bit of insight into your creative mind. What kinds of music making processes do you partake in and what really inspires you therein?
I love going digging for records, bringing them home and firing up the MPC Renaissance to chop samples. I enjoy warping, pitching, reversing, layering and really chopping samples to bits. The MPC is my main tool, once I have a beat arranged I usually bounce it to Pro Tools to mix. The mixing to me is an integral part of it and something I really enjoy. Getting creative with the mix is just as exciting as making the beat.
I mentioned earlier I love film, especially from the classic Hollywood era. I pull a lot of sounds and inspiration from movies. I see the great directors as parallel to my favourite producers. They inspire me with the way they create their own world in a film. I’ll watch a movie and get ideas for a song from a scene, or a character might say a line I really like and that becomes a song title. My favourite directors are Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, and Akira Kurosawa.
I’ve recently been collaborating on productions with mr. stee and Jubriill and doing that I’ve learned so much because in the past I’ve only made beats on my own. They are really knowledgeable about music and they work at an incredible pace.
What’s the outlook of 2021 looking like for you?
Eastblvd has a lot of great releases planned for this year. We are planning to release our first vinyl record. We also have a bunch of clothing planned for release. I have a couple of projects I produced for emcees that are being mixed right now and will come out later this year.
Any last shout-outs, wisdom or the like?
Shout out to Eastblvd Records, Nick, mr. stee, and Jubrill. They have helped and inspired me so much. Thank you to my wife, family and friends for your unconditional love and support. Thank you to everybody that listens to my music! Thank you Mike and Stereofox for having me!
Stream/Buy Marleau's 2021 EP Marleau 4 Mayor Vol. 2 (The Campaign) here.