Genre exploring Jakarta-born Melbourne musician Marbee introduces an exciting new sound on her latest single ‘Music Box’. Self-described as a free-spirited bird with a punk collar around her neck, Marbee’s music twists and bends the musical spectrum in on itself, allowing her to marvel at the new and exciting opportunities that arise from doing so. Out today, Marbee’s new single ‘Music Box’ invites listeners into her inner world, signposting what’s yet to come with just a taste of her seemingly boundless imagination. We had a chat with Marbee all about it below.
Hey Marbee, thanks for taking the time to chat with us and congratulations on the release of your new single ‘Music Box’. This song differs immensely from your previous single ‘Don’t Hate My Name’, and predecessor ‘Am I Bi’. How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music before?
There is a special dish in Indonesia called gado-gado. It is a combination of a variety of vegetables plus diced fried tempe and tofu covered with a lush peanut sauce, topped by shrimp crackers. My music is like gado-gado. Different tunes of music come to me when I am in different moods, dealing with different life situations. The mood swings can be bipolar, from choleric to playful and naughty. But they are still tied to one soul. The explorative, free spirited soul that breaks boundaries is the peanut sauce of my music.
It is about being open and versatile, embracing the transformative journey of my music at any time. If I want to introduce someone to my music, I’d say: My muse is “gado-gado”. Wanna try me?
With such an eclectic range of music that you’re releasing, we’d love to know a little bit more about your musical background and influences? Did you grow up around musicians?
I am the only musician in my family. My brother is an IT guy and my sister is a psychiatrist, but my family grew up in a literary environment, with my father as a poet and my mother a literature scholar. I grew up in the diverse country of Indonesia, with different languages and cultures blending and mixing, but I picked up English as the language of my music since I am bilingual.
As for the musical influence, I grew up in the early 90’s listening to music like Frente, The Cranberries, The Breeders, U2, and Green Day. I was always the weird one at school, my English teacher once said that my music was unconventional. The girls in my class were into the boybands of the 00’s, and the boys were more into electronic dance music. I don’t relate to the current music scene, and that makes me different.
And who are some influential artists that have helped shape the music you create?
My most favorite indie rock band is Mew from Denmark. I literally got to know them when I was eleven years old, and began writing more songs after listening to them. They are a fusion of psychedelic, avant-garde and emo pop. Just like me, their music is about a lot of diverse things.
How was your 2020? Did you have to cancel any plans of playing shows or travelling like so many of us?
I had plans to attend some music festivals and a music therapy course in Los Angeles, but I had to cancel it due to the pandemic. It was very disappointing for me, because I have never been to the US in my entire life. My other siblings grew up in California and New York, but I was born in Indonesia because my mom had completed her Ph.D. and had to return for work in Jakarta. I grew up with my brothers and sisters speaking English and introducing American culture to me, and that is also how I got my American accent.
The 2020 lockdown was hard for me mentally, yet in a way it forced me to reflect on a lot of things. It also gave me more time to produce my music.
And now that things are opening up again, what are you most excited about?
I am excited about touring, playing music, as well as gathering with my friends. I am a very social being. I need to always go out and do stuff. Being locked up would drive me insane.
Can you tell us a bit about live music in your home country of Indonesia? What’s the local scene like over there, and have you got any recommendations of artists for us to check out?
There is a good indie scene in my city, Jakarta. I got the chance to meet a wonderful band and did a jam session with them in a cafe, when I was only 15 years old. They are called “Efek Rumah Kaca”. The singer Cholil Mahmud is an incredible songwriter who has written songs for movies and documentary films. I have been to one of their gigs where they required you to donate your old books as a form of payment, instead of money. I think this band really cares about the environment and sustainability.
What are some of your favourite releases of the year so far?
“Pink Hair, Blue Tattoo” is my most favorite release. This particular song only has one chord, but the message is quite powerful. I am the only one in the family who is known to have colorful hair, and a spike collar around my neck. It can cause hurdles with the older generation, or my sister who is a physician and dresses conservatively. I’m glad I can stand up for myself in this song. Most Indonesian girls in my position would just “grunge down” to please their families, and I would not let social pressures take away anyone’s sense of style.
Finally, what’s next for you? Any upcoming shows? Future releases on the horizon? Collaborations?
March 13th 2021 from 9-12 midnight, I will perform at The Tote with Ned Coffey and Rachael Hart. I am also excited about the release of my album in June. It is called Rainbow Bird.
Marbee ‘Music Box’ Single Launch Show
Saturday 13 March
The Tote Upstairs
Ned Coffey, Rachel Hart, Marbee
Tickets: 10+BF via The Tote