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Philip Marino

Image © tonybell.PHOTOGRAPHY

Philip Marino is an American singer songwriter now based in Colchester.  He has been given the opportunity to have his music produced by Simone Felice in New York.  Simone has just produced the number one album ‘Cleopatra’ by ‘The Lumineers’ and Philip has long been a fan of Simone’s music.  Not surprising then that he is a little excited at the prospect of working with Simone.

To anybody who has never heard you play, how would you describe your music?

Well, from a genre perspective, it sort of falls in between categories of what people today call alternative country and Americana.  At the core those two are basically American folk music, it is not country music in the way that popular country music is thought of today, that has changed so much.  That is why this alternative country genre has emerged – it is basically acoustic and story telling, soul searching type music – if that makes sense?

That makes perfect sense, I’m just amused at the way American Country music is almost looked down upon in some circles.

It sounds very… I think pretentious is the word, there is this snobbish thing. And I don’t mind some of the Country Music, I was a big fan of the show Nashville, certainly a lot of that show had that pop-culture country music in it.  I don’t want people to think that I make that sort of music, not that I would be ashamed to do it, I just don’t do it.

As an American living and working in the UK, how different is the music scene here and there?

Here it feels very much, I don’t know what the word is that I want to use, it feels like in the UK it is… a bit more of who you know.  Knowing the circles that run the area that you might be in – who books the venues.  It is a community, it has history.  That was difficult for me showing up out of the blue.  Fortunately in the time I have been here and playing and making music I have been able to become a part of the group and feel like I am part of that community.  My limited experience of when I was playing in The States is there it is much more… well, partly it is just the numbers, it is a numbers game – six times as many people and more venues in general.  So there were better opportunities to just show up and play.

The reason you got in touch with us is because you are about to record your next CD with Simone Felice – something you are just a little bit excited about.  Tell us about the project.

Yes, I am incredibly excited.  The thing that is amazing for me is… I have released a couple of CDs, I’ve worked with David Booth and with Kevin Pearce on the last album in 2015.  This, even though I loved working with David and Kevin – Simone Felice is a guy who’s music I’ve been buying as The Felice Brothers Band.  I was listening to his music before I was writing my own songs.  The opportunity to record a CD with someone whom you have been a fan of for years is just beyond my expectations.  The fact that in that time he has gone on to produce a number one album ‘Cleopatra’ by ‘The Lumineers’ and he co-produced ‘The Bride’ by ‘Bat For Lashes’ – both acts taht appeared at Glastonbury this year!  Now I’m not saying that this is my future but the realisation that this just doesn’t happen to someone who plays The Bull in Colchester!

So how did the whole thing come together?

Some time ago I just happened to look at Facebook at the right time, I follow his artist page.  I think the original thing was maybe a year and a half ago – a post came up, obviously not written by him from the tome of the message.  It just said “Simone is looking to move into producing, if you have some demos send them to this email address”.   I had four demos recorded from the album that I did with Kevin last year and I sent them off.  A week later I got an email back saying Simone has heard your demos and he thinks that with the right production and the right attention they could be great and he would love to work with me.  Then in the Skype conversation I had with him recently he said he got over 200 artists sending stuff in but that I was definitely one of the ones he wanted to work with.  I felt really quite honoured to have someone who has played on the same stage as some very big names in the business to have listened to my demos and think they were worth working on.

And the recording itself is going to take place in The Old Stone Church in Palenville, New York?

Yeah, built mid 1800s apparently. The thing that I am really excited about, obviously the space and the place will be magical, but it is in the town that SImone was born in, a mile from where he lives currently and his assistant early on when we were setting all of this up, told me that this is a church that he has been wanting to record in for years and he has just finally been granted permission.  That means that he is coming in with an extra bit of excitement about the project – he is going to have his own energy along with my energy and that will combine well I hope.

You are funding this through a Kickstarter fund.

Kickstarter is only a portion of this project, I am putting in a lot of money, there is some money from family coming in.  The Kickstarter is just to offset some of the costs – it is expensive to make a recording.

But if you don’t meet your Kickstarter target, will the project still go ahead?

Oh yes! I’m going to go – I will pay whatever I have to pay and my family is helping.  Kickstarter will help to make the financial aspect of this hurt a little less!

The whole thing sounds like a wonderful opportunity, the team here at Grapevine wish you well and expect to hear all about the experience when you get back.. For now thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

To learn more about Philip’s adventure and to donate to the the Kickstarter cause click here

Before Philip heads of to record in New York you can catch him this Sunday at Bures Music Festival in the acoustic tent at 4pm.  Then on Saturday the 16th July at Eight Ash Green Festival just outside Colchester sometime after 1pm.