Call & Response: Marienbad

Although Marienbad are new on the scene, producers/musicians Ben Gibson and Martin McLaughlin have been searching high and low for inspiration. And by that I mean Europe.

Ben and Martin formed Marienbad in 2005 and spent two years in Europe seeking "cultural enlightenment" before returning to Toronto to make their debut album (Crown - out this summer). I love how these guys (like their YYZ Records labelmates TMDP) effectively fuse electronics and live instrumentation (guitar, bass guitar, horns) to create a classic, yet cutting edge groove.

Marienbad rock the party at the Mod Club tomorrow night. I spoke to the guys about their travels, their gear and the importance they place on playing live.

blogTO: You've lived in various cities across Europe. What drew you to live in those specific cities and how has it influenced your music?

Marienbad: We formed Marienbad in 2005 while we were living in Amsterdam. Marty was studying audio engineering there for some time and then Ben moved there too. We lived in a good neighbourhood in Amsterdam and in early 2006 we moved to Paris because we wanted to. Both cities were very stylish and very excellent to live in. The atmospheres of Amsterdam and Paris always fed our music and influenced us a lot. The Red-light district in Amsterdam, going to movie theatres in Paris, etc. We would often walk around the city all night and go home when it was morning. Probably the stylishness of the buildings, the streets, the gardens of Europe was that put thoughts and moods in our heads that we translated into musical ideas.

What inspires your sound and approach to recording?

We are always working and pushing ourselves to create the funkiest music possible. Groove is so important to Marienbad. Audience reaction to our live show is always a good test also. I think we probably consider our gigs/live set to be more important and integral than many electronic acts do. We started out with purely electronic instruments - synths, drum some extent we stumbled upon using the bass guitar and immediately found that it worked very well for us. The horns have added a lot to the live set too. With the basslines, we are trying to always be funky, syncopating, maybe accenting offbeats, etc but with the drums, we are influenced by the metronomic, simple and efficient drum structures of house music, which we love.

What's your favourite piece of gear to make music on?

Logic - all our tracks begin in Logic. There are lots of great effects that help us shape the sound.

Bass guitar - provides the groove.

Korg ESX1 - Still learning our way around this machine, but it has some slick built-in effects. We can sample our beats directly from Logic and process them for the live show.

You also remix other people's music. How do you approach remixing someone else's music?

We have only recently started remixing but are enjoying it big time. When we approach someone else's work we are trying to build some kind of relationship between the original song and the remix we are doing. It is interesting to have to work within these parameters... maybe it is a melody. Maybe we use the original chord progression but transplant it to another instrument. It is always recognizably Marienbad though. We love working with vocals in a remix.

What's your live set-up like?

We switch off on guitar, bass, synths, filtering, supervising the electronic machines/instruments. We also have a sax player and a man playing brass. It is a dance party, of course.

What do you like best about living in Toronto?

We like working on music and playing live gigs in Toronto. It is a good city to be a musician in, with healthy dance and rock scenes. Toronto is amazing in the spring and summer, as you know, and we are excited about that.

What can people expect to see/hear/feel at your show this Saturday?

Loud. Dancey. It's gonna be sweaty. Guaranteed. Be there.

Marienbad w/ DJs MRK, Bobbi Guy, Downtown Brown
Saturday, May 2
Mod Club Theatre
722 College Street
Doors 10pm
Cover $10

Call & Response is a series of Q&A's with bands/production duos from or playing in Toronto.
Photo: Joseph Michael.

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