Seattle-based singer/songwriter Drea Marilyn released her new single “Calgary” on March 2nd.
After the release of her debut EP entitled “En Route”, Marilyn is delivering an atmospheric and unique sound through this new single. Produced at Unveiled Records by John True & Stephen Johnson and written by Drea Marilyn, “Calgary” features the San-Diego based singer/songwriter Jonathan Lacayo.
“Calgary” is now available on all major streaming platforms.
Introduce yourself. What’s your story?
Hi, my name is Drea and I’m a first generation Asian-American who grew up in a border town in San Diego. I ended up living around the world and now I’m currently in Seattle, Washington.
What did you grow up listening to?
Growing up, my grandmother would sing to me Filipino folk songs. As a child I liked whatever typical 8 year girl would listen to in the 90’s, aka Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child, Backstreet Boys. We listened to a lot of Bee Gees, Air Supply, and The Beatles around the house. I think in middle school I started listening to The Cure, The Smiths, Morrissey, Metallica, Static X and anything melancholy or angry. It’s a whole smorgasbord of sounds.
My grandmother would sit me on her lap and teach me how to play Filipino folk songs by ear.
My parents paid for my piano lessons up until high school. Neither of my parents have a musical background, but my mom is an excellent dancer and my dad can play a couple songs on guitar by ear.
When and how did you start making music?
I had this recording option on my electric piano so I’d start making up songs and saving whatever riffs I came up with there. I think I wrote my first song in 6th grade. As one would expect, it wasn’t that great, but it was heartfelt. I’ve always struggled with trying to describe how I’m feeling eloquently, I still do to be honest, and music has always been that outlet.
What gave you the confidence to be an artist?
It honestly wasn’t until recently where I began to feel confident as an artist. I’ve always felt sub par compared to my peers and easily intimidated. It wasn’t until I lived overseas where no one knew where I started to play out more. I think the last few years have been quite a rough ride personally for me I’m at a point where I feel I have nothing really to lose. The less I felt apologetic about my work as an artist the more confidence I gained.
Could you tell us about your new single “Calgary”? What’s the inspiration behind it?
The idea is about two people in a relationship with completely different stand points of where they are. One wants to call it quits whereas the other one wants another stab at it. It was initially written as a parody on love songs where both parties are so happy or completely over the relationship. I wanted to write one where there’s tension or disagreement.
You worked with Jonathan Lacayo on this record. How was it like to collaborate with him?
Jonathan is a good friend of mine from San Diego. We used to work at the same non-profit music school for a couple years.
We’d often exchange lessons and tips with each other on any downtime. He’s a professional opera singer so he’d give pointers and tips on singing. I’d show him a few scales on guitar. It’s funny because this song is quite serious, and Jonathan and I are always goofing off or in hysterics. That being said he’s an amazing artist and actor. He was able to keep a straight face.
I on the other hand, had a hard time keeping it together with him around.
What made you want to feature a male vocalist on this record? When did you know Jonathan Lacayo was the right vocalist for “Calgary”?
I always wanted to do some sort of duet with someone. It was really just a thought that I ended up seeing all the way through.
I remember just jamming with Jonathan and showing him one of the songs I’ve been working on and casually asked him if he wanted to sing on it. It ended up working out so well.
Could you tell us about the recording process?
It always starts with writing and composing. I have trouble opening up with people, so I write boat loads of poems and songs.
A few of those songs I feel I’d want to share and I’d make a few scratch tracks myself. It’s usually just myself and my guitar or piano. John True, our producer, also worked with us at the non profit music school. Aside from being an amazing pianist, he mentioned in passing he and his friend Stephen Johnson have a studio Unveiled Records. I’d pick his brain on audio engineering and mentioned I’d like to work with him. We talked heavily on my influences and previous projects and John was the one who suggested adding a bit more of an electronic approach. I was very skeptical at first, but after tinkering with my original piano/guitar melodies and adding lush synths and other textures, I knew that’s the direction I wanted to go with this.
What appeals you the most about songwriting?
I love writing poems and short stories. I also love composing. Songwriting is a way to combine the two art forms I love in one.
I find being able to find an artistic way to write about experiences, feelings, or hypothetical questions to be the most cathartic.
It’s being able to be open with others in a way that feels both honest, and still open to interpretation and sneaky.
You are originally from San Diego, California. What made you want to move to Seattle?
I had personal reasons. I will always love San Diego. It’s where I grew up. After returning from college and living abroad, I got to fall in love with San Diego in a way I couldn’t as a child. I love the people and the weather and the food, but I was very comfortable in San Diego. In addition to that, I’ve always been in love with the Seattle. I love the Seattle music scene.
I’d planned on moving up in the next couple years but there were a lot of signs from the universe pointing me to move a lot sooner than I expected.
What can you tell us about the music scene in Seattle? Would you recommend any artist?
I love it. There’s this thing called the Seattle Freeze, here where people seem kind of stand off-ish, and seldom invite you to their inner circle. You have to prove your worthy. I definitely felt it a bit the first half of the year I moved up. But my saving grace was how welcoming the music scene was here. I immediately joined a collective called Crash The Glass that featured female musicians at Columbia City Theatre and met a lot of wonderful musicians there. When I’d go to shows or jams, all the musicians I’ve jammed or played with have been so inviting.
I’m currently obsessed with Delvonn Lamar Organ Trio, Lark Remy, ZKRY, a new band called Bigfoot Formula, Ian Hale & the Legacy, Nosretep, Aline Vida, Lizzie Weber, The Sunset Club, Reese Tanimura, Minami Hughes, Emily McVicker, Tobias the Owl, Heather Edgley + the Nobodies, Scarlet Parke, The Black Chevys, and The Regrets, the list goes on and on and on. And of course Allen Stone, but that goes without saying.
How does Seattle affect your creativity?
It’s definitely helped it. It’s definitely made me worry less about being manicured and cookie cutter and it’s given me more freedom to be creative and unapologetic about it.
What does creativity mean to you?
Expressing yourself in an unconventional and unapologetic manner. It’s going against the grain. Maybe it’s even going with the grain…but in your own way.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
1. Listen to what the universe is telling you. What do you have to lose? 2. Toughen your skin but not harden your heart. 3. Life is too short to be filled with hate.
What message do you want to deliver through your music?
I want it to play my listeners heart strings. I want my music to make people feel something. I want to grieve with them and I want to dance with them. I want to let people know, maybe we’re not feeling okay right now, and that’s completely valid, and until then, I hope I can put into words what you’re feeling and hope that helps.
Any upcoming projects?
I have a couple in the works! I have a few music videos lined up. I’m writing and planning on heading for the studio this winter, I got a Summer Tour in the South and the Eastern Seaboard. I’ve been collaborating with this super talented producer ZKRY and planning on collaborating with a friend Lark Remy.
What’s your purpose?
I’m still figuring that out myself. Until then, I believe it’s too make music and make people feel loved.
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