Article by: Erin Manning | Photos courtesy of Marc Scibilia | Posted: 05/16/2012
For Marc Scibilia, simplicity is key, so it’s no surprise that the beauty is found in the subtleties of the singer-songwriter’s music. His lyrics, while straightforward and undemanding, deliver profound truths with every phrase. His unique melodic and phrasing choices are paired with his take on standard chord progressions, and the ending result is an uncommon one for many artists from his generation: simplicity. To write a song that sounds so simple, but also manages to implement a solid level of originality is essentially the most difficult provocation for songwriters.
This is standard procedure for Marc Scibilia, who has lived in Nashville, TN off and on since 2004 when he moved there at the age of 18--one month out of high school. Despite resistance from the city’s cliquish industry circlesand general lack of acceptance for Scibilia’s formerly piano-based style, his tenacity and willingness to adapt got the best of Music City. He learned to play guitar, as well as record albums, and naturally transitioned into his current folk-pop style. After wrangling a songwriting deal with a friend’s band and Sony/ATV Publishing, he eventually started a recording studio in Berry Hill with several friends.
For the past two years, Scibilia has been writing and recording an album, which will be completed this fall. The EP from this collection will be released on June 5, 2012. He recently met with Brite Revolution to answer some of our questions about that project, as well as his songwriting.
Brite Revolution: Who started you out in music?
Marc Scibilia: My grandfather was an orchestra/band leader [in Niagra Falls]--he was a bass player--and was in backing bands and when people would come through town he would play. There’s music all over my family, so ever since I was born, I’ve been playing in front of large amounts of people...[but] some members of my family still don’t [get it]. It’s kind of a joke, but my grandma always asks me when I’m going to move back to Buffalo. When I was 13 I saw Art Garfunkel in concert by himself. I met him and told him what I wanted to do and what I was interested in and that I loved his music, and he told me I was pretty young to love his music. He told me I should’ve been born in the 70’s. (laughs)
BR: Besides Art Garfunkel, who are some artists that have influenced your playing?
MS: I always like things that “were cool.” Maybe I’m arrogant or something. I never like things that “are cool.” (laughs) I really love Ray LaMontagne. I think the first time I heard Bob Dylan’s “Shelter From the Storm,” that really turned me on to playing guitar. Most of my influences are cliche. (laughs) The first piece of music I ever bought was Beastie Boys’ “Hello Nasty,” so that would probably be the best place to start. (laughs) “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”
BR: So do you have total control over your music?
MS: Yeah, I really do. I’ve really tried to surround myself with people that really, really believe in what I’m doing, and believe in me even as a person, and that I’ll make good decisions. So even if I make a decision that’s seemingly wrong or something, it’s just minor adjustments. I know kind of everything that we do [in the studio]. No producer took it and did something that I don’t understand. It’s all in-house, and kind of “all in the family”--friends playing on the record and people that have really invested in the story line.
BR: You seem like a--
MS: --total asshole. (laughs)
BR: Yes! No--you seem like a very wholesome individual, and unlike some other pretentious singer-songwriters or artists who just party all the time. Do you fit the “musician stereotype” with your lifestyle, or do you keep your life pretty quiet?
MS: I do. I go out past midnight about four times a year. (laughs) I keep it pretty...tame. I wake up really early...but I think it’s exciting in other ways. My friends never know what city I’m in. They could wanna hang out and I could be anywhere in the country. I like traveling a lot.
MS: I tour a decent amount, but I also travel just for the hell of it. The song I played, “Place I’ve Never Been”--I really liked this girl. We went on two dates, and I thought it was going great. She didn’t call me back after the second date. (laughs) I never heard from her, so I actually bought a ticket to New Mexico the next day because I had to just get out of town. A lot of times I’ll just be in a random place, just trying to explore somewhere new.
BR: What is your songwriting process like?
MS: My friends will call me and be like, “Do you wanna write,” and to me, that’s an awkward question because it’s like, “Do you wanna plan a make-out session?” (laughs) You know? It just happens. So I don’t really wake up in the morning and start [writing]. Sometimes I do--I’ll just pick up and start playing, but for the most part, I could be doing any number of things and I’ll hear a lyric or a melody and then I’ll start doing it.
BR: What inspires your lyrics?
MS: I think my music is a lot more optimistic than I am, but maybe somewhere in the back of my head, I’m inspired by the way I would like things to be--whether that be in my own life or my friends’ lives around me, or things that I see. Most of the things that have helped my career--most of the lyrics and the melodies I can think of specifically--came to me while I was, like, sleeping, and I woke up with a lyric or something in my head.
I think that when I’m writing, the best things are so close to you, and they almost already exist. It’s almost like you just have to reach out, or just listen very carefully. A lot of times, I just imagine they’re already written, and I imagine singing it and what feels right--what feels like I already sang.
Marc Scibilia - "How Bad We Need Each Other"