Mrley Is Here To Rethink The Indie Rock Paradigm With His Debut EP ‘Love You London’
Rock'n'roll is finally back and Mrley is one of the artists pushing this new wave right from the heart of the British capital. Born and bred in London, Mrley has just made a brilliant debut with a five-track EP completely dedicated to it, "Love You London". We met him to find out more.
Green, hilly, quirky, supposedly cheaper, and definitely edgy, South London has produced some of the most exciting names in music history. From David Bowie, to King Krule and everything in between — the list is very long —, the cultural production of the South End creative scene has influenced generations and profoundly altered the fabric of UK culture, especially when it comes to music.
24 years of age, a disruptive energy, and an incredible talent, Marley Rutherford, aka Mrley, is one of the artists emerging from the south London indie rock scene that has been flourishing in recent times, and his debut EP, Love You London, has just dropped.
Whoever has the chance to meet him, knows he’s a force to be reckoned with. Extremely passionate and determined, he’s definitely a product of the brilliant creative cluster that raised him and shaped his personality and musical taste. “I was born in Lewisham, but I grew up all over the place: I moved to Penge, then to South Norwood, then back to Lewisham. Within my upbringing I was around south east London and it definitely made an impact on me. It gave me an understanding, but it kind of directed me to street culture, more than to indie music culture,” he tells me as we start a thrilling conversation about his new EP, London, his band, his journey in music so far and how skateboarding changed his life.
As the title suggests, the EP — that has been in the making for over a year — is a love letter to London, to its people, its culture and vibes, an energetic rock’n’roll blast marked by a refreshing mid-90’s nostalgia that captures glimpses of the artist’ life experience. “It’s about me being very proud, but most importantly, grateful. Growing up I have always felt so grateful to be here. It’s really not too hard growing up as a kid in London. So it’s a love letter to London, but it’s also just me being real and not being: ‘It’s so hard here!’. It’s fucking great. It’s just about being honest and I do love London, I definitely have more good things to say than bad things” he explains.
Accompanying the artist in his endeavour are three friends and talented musicians who he’s had the pleasure to cross paths with: Jack Everson, Sean and Cameron Jacobs. “I met Jack outside of Laylow (a venue in west London). I was about to do a rap gig, but he was still underage so he couldn’t come in. He said: ‘I know you, I listen to your music!’. Then years later I saw him at the skatepark, I was skating past him and I heard one of our songs playing, so I told him he should come and join the rest of us as we didn’t have a speaker. So, I introduced him to my friends who are now all of his friends too,” he recounts.
“Cameron is just the best, I saw him play a couple of times and I was like: ‘Wow! If I could ever make music with this guy…’. And it’s crazy because I met him and he was thinking the same thing. He used to listen to our music back in the rap days when he lived in Manchester, he always wanted to work with me, and as soon as I saw him, I wanted to work with him. It was the same for Sean,” he continues, “I saw him play his first ever show. He is now the drummer in my band, but traditionally he’s a guitarist and a singer. I just thought: ‘This guy is amazing. He’s the real deal.’ I’d never even thought he would be in the band, then one day Cameron told me he played the drums and I was looking for a drummer, so I asked him if he was interested in joining us and he said he hadn’t played since he was a kid, but I trusted Cameron. We had a show a few weeks after I asked him and we had done about three rehearsals before the show, but he killed it. So I knew then he was the guy”.
Speaking of live shows, seeing Mrley perform live is one of those events you don’t want to miss: explosive energy, the most interesting crowd, and mosh pits guaranteed. What’s more, you may be able to meet one of his grandmas, whom he is very proud of sharing his music with. “I feel people who are scared of that kind of stuff don’t really have much self confidence, you gotta be really unconfident and non-proud of everything to not want your own grandma at your show. It doesn’t make you any less cool, if anything it shows that you don’t give a fuck!” he says.
If you haven’t had a chance to catch the band live yet, you can start grasping the energy levels by watching the visuals for So Much to Say and My Side of London through which Mrley pays homage to what he saw as music in a video format growing up, he explained: “The concept between them all is representing what I saw watching TV as a kid on Mtv or The box. That was just what I saw, so it’s paying homage to what I thought was cool when I was young”.
As a matter of fact, rock music was Mrley’s first love as he was into Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses at the age of thirteen, but that definitely wasn’t the trending sound when he was a teenager. Digging a lot of the local sounds, he was naturally drawn to the music of rappers from the area: “It’s almost a surprise to me to be doing what I’m doing, it’s something that if you had told me when I was younger, I’d never have dreamed of doing. I didn’t listen to rock for a lot of years, at least for four or five years, mainly I used to support local rappers, they were doing something from London, from the area, making an economy for themselves, so I had to support it”.
It is no coincidence that Mrley moved his first step in the world of rap before venturing into this new path. “Everyone was doing the rap thing, it felt like it got oversaturated, so I was like: ‘what can I bring to the world that people don’t have access to?’ As a young boy from south London, I’ve always loved rock, traditionally it was the first genre I fell in love with, and there were a million people and a million of my friends doing rap, so I thought: ‘why don’t I do something from another angle you know?’ But it was very natural, maybe I’ve always wanted to do it, but because no one had done it, I thought it wasn’t possible or feasible.”
Things have definitely changed and moved into new exciting directions compared to a few years ago, many agree that a new South London indie rock scene is finally emerging and Mrley does too. “I think between me, Sam Akpro, Masterpiece or whoever it is — there’s a few people — there’s definitely a scene. We’re all from south London, just chasing what we wanna do, we all grew up listening to Paramol and things like that when we were early teenagers, we didn’t grow up listening to the music that is dominating the mainstream now. If you make it acceptable to publicly enjoy something, now that the world has changed it is more legit, before people would say: ‘Why do you listen to white boys’ music?’ I’m half English, but I’m as much English as I am Jamaican, and that used to frustrate me a bit. Now there’s an acceptance to be who you are and to try and be even something else. So I guess that was the click in society accepting everyone to just listen and watch and just do what you want. Now, I realise, it’s the time to just be you.”
Aside from music, these days Mrley really enjoys having a routine and loves quiet life like hanging out with his girlfriend Lisa, going to the bakery, sometimes ending up at the pub with the band or making music with Tommy Wallwork (who co-produced the EP). “I love all my friends, I love my girlfriend, everything in my life right now. It’s a relief for me to have a routine, because that actually makes life exciting. When you can just do what you want, when you want all the time, nothing becomes fun, everything gets a bit boring,” he says. Recently, Mrley also started painting, but the activity that over the years has helped him the most get out of his comfort zone and that has shaped his identity, as well as his sound and aesthetics, is certainly skateboarding.
“With skating you have to travel to go and do it. I’d be fourteen years old, going from South Norwood (just next to Croydon in South London) to Mile End (East London) for example, and all my other friends who don’t skate would be like: ‘Oh my mum would never let me go to Mile End. I don’t even know where that is!’. Now I realise that I walk around London and I know where everything is. I’ve been skating since I was thirteen and I know all the back streets because we were trying to look for places to skate. I think skateboarding forces you to become street smart, some people think it’s a negative thing for guys to hang out in the streets with older guys or whatever, but at the end of the day, I walk around London feeling safe, enjoying it, because I know exactly where I am and I never feel vulnerable anywhere. Also there’s a big sense of community, it doesn’t matter how old you are, if you’re a man or woman, it’s a talent-based sport to a degree, so if you just love skating, you’re good at it and people can see that, everyone is gonna respect you and like you. It’s not about your background at all or what you identify with in life, no one cares about who you voted for, it’s just skating: do you love skating? I love skating, do you wanna skate together? I feel like it definitely helped me to understand people, to want to actually talk to people and also to get used to people talking to me. I feel a lot of people get scared and they get into a defensive mode when asked about themselves, whereas I’m so used to meeting new people everytime we go out, so it doesn’t scare me to actually let people understand me or to introduce myself to people.”
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Love You London has just come out, but future projects — which one day will hopefully include Mrley’s dream collabs with Lily Allen, whose London pride resonated a lot with him, and his favourite pop icon, Madonna — are already in works. “I’ve pretty much finished my second EP. It’s not finished, but I’ve got enough songs to refine into a second project. It’s kind of hard because I gotta roll out this first one when I’m mentally on the second one, so I need to not get too ahead of myself and try to live in the moment. I try not to think too much about what’s next, because whatever it is next I still have to wait a while to do it. So I guess, what’s next is now, if that makes any sense.”
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