Lauryn Higgins is a native of the Tarheel State and currently a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she is studying...
Marion Walker will be a Tiger Mountain June 6. Portraits by Kelci McIntosh .
Jessie Marion Smith, Kyle Walker Akins, and Donovan Jordan Williams are artists individually but cohesively as the band Marion Walker create a sound that is dreamy, fuzzy, a little dark and a little technicolor. After spending a short time in Asheville awhile back they have decided to return to the city they fell in love with for a free show.
They've been bringing their blend of sounds all over the US for their Serious Picnic Tour and in anticipation of their show coming up on Saturday, June 6 at Tiger Mountain, I was able to ask a few questions to get to know them and their music a little better. Enjoy. And be sure to check out their hauntingly beautiful video for "We Won't Be in Love Much Longer" below – a "hybrid dance film and art flick – a nostalgic episode in the dead of a Southern summer night."
Marion Walker: We are a 3-piece psych-rock band of sweethearts with sharp teeth. Our music is a head-on collision between doomy, bleak worlds and fuzzed-out, technicolor tones. We love playing live and we have been having tons of fun so far on our tour. It will be nice to see some familiar faces in Asheville and we can’t wait to fill your heads full of rock’n’roll!
Lauryn: You guys are not only a band but a collective group of artists, with titles such as: choreographer, filmmaker, sound engineer and dancer. Do these other roles influence your music and have they helped create your particular sound?
Marion Walker: We are supremely curious by nature and willing to work at something until serendipitous discoveries reveal themselves. Everything we do is filtered through our own histories. We all approach the creative processes with our unique vocabularies, fueled from our experiences in other mediums, and this helps us to look at music from all different angles. Sometimes we name parts of songs after super ridiculous events that are dance, video, or gummi-bear oriented. You know,…as visual artists, we got into these psychedelic sunshine smiley faces and now that feeling keeps popping up throughout our songs.
Lauryn: Your new EP will be released June 23. Can you tell our readers what the creative process was like?
Marion Walker: Are y’all familiar with the “Telephone Game” or any memory game where the story grows with each additional member? The music for our new EP, “Serious Picnic,” evolved through a similar process. We passed the guitar back and forth and built the riffs and ideas through accumulation. We wrote the songs over the course of the summer of 2014, partially in Asheville, then somewhere deep in the woods of North Carolina, and later hiding out in Florida. What started out as a very lighthearted writing process turned more serious as we got to the lyrics. The words ultimately were a means of processing and reflecting upon the state of the times last summer after the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. Most of our music embodies these kinds of extremes, playful yet dark and intense at its core.
Lauryn: Part of your EP was born in a friend’s attic above a bar in Asheville. Can you tell us what bar? And is that what made you want to bring this tour here?
Marion Walker: Some of our dearest friends and people who we will love forever live in Asheville...you know who you are...it’s everyone in Asheville! Last summer, Kyle (and for a short time Jessie too) lived and worked throughout the Asheville area and practiced above the old Tiger Mountain. (It is now on Lexington Avenue and that’s where we’ll be playing.) We are super excited to return and see everyone, and yes, Asheville was and will always be on our list of places to return to. To back up a little further, we really just tossed a dart at a map of the US and it came up Asheville. Once we made it into town, we ran into an old high school friend and things snowballed from there. To be able to return with Marion Walker will truly be an unexpected surprise for some of our friends. We didn’t get a chance to perform live while we were living there and we are really excited to get to introduce ourselves sonically.
Lauryn: Can you tell us what we can expect from your live show?
Marion Walker: We are a performance band, ultimately. There is nothing like the transference of energy that takes place during shows. As far as what to expect, be prepared for some bad inside jokes Kyle insists on sharing, some serious bass-necking and/or high-kicking from Jessie, 11-minute+ fuzzed-out songs, and Donovan on the skins who keeps us all grounded.