Imagine If Jimi Hendrix & Prince Had A Guitar Prodigy Son. Meet Marcus Machado (Audio & Video)
In the life of every music lover there comes a time when a live performance reminds us of the purest form of power in talent – to reinvigorate, re-inspire, and rekindle that spark which made us fall in love with music in the first place. When coming across an artist who possesses the ability to elicit all three in an audience, there is a certain chemical reaction that can’t quite be described, yet which is understood universally. Marcus Machado is such an artist. The Brooklyn musician took none other than Rolling Stone by storm last year when he took first place in the publication’s Next Young Gun contest, which aims to celebrate emergent, exciting young guitarists. Having recently electrified a sold-out crowd at New York City’s premier live music venue SOBs, Machado is still celebrating the November 2015 release of his debut E.P. 29, a raw and unbridled exploration of those magically transcendent moments when Blues, Funk, Soul, and Hip-Hop coexist without overpowering one another. Featuring DJ Spinna and Sandra St. Victor, 29 is only the prelude to what promises to be a resplendent and prodigious career; in fact, he’s currently in the studio with the one and only Pharoahe Monch, where the two are working on the latter’s forthcoming Rock-inspired album. It’s been an incredible journey that began nearly 30 years ago.
As he tells Ambrosia for Heads, Machado’s predilection for the guitar was first ignited when he was a toddler. “At the age of two-years-old I realized that the guitar was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” he says. He got some inspirational help from the sounds he heard growing up, and lists Funkadelic, Sly Stone, Weather Report, John Coltrane Prince, J Dilla, D’Angelo and “of course Jimi Hendrix” as fundamentally present influences in his own sound. Crediting the parents who submerged him in a world of music at such a young age, Machado pursued his instrument of choice throughout childhood, eventually linking up with the celebrated musician Sandra St. Victor. As the frontwoman for the Soul outfit the Family Stand, St. Victor’s singing and songwriting has been heralded since the 1980s – about the same time Machado was born. The two eventually merged creatively when he was 17, and that relationship has become an integral part of his artistic development. “[The Family Stand] brought me out to Europe and I toured with them, and I’m forever grateful for that,” he says. “Sandra is my second mom. For those who don’t know about the Family Stand, Google them. It’s Sandra St. Victor, V. Jeffrey Smith, and Peter Lord [Moreland]. They are my mentors and I learn a lot from them. I played on Sandra’s last album Oya’s Daughter. She heard [my song] “Code Black” on 29 and immediately started writing and she smashed the track!”
For Heads, his collaboration with DJ Spinna on “New Thangz” is a clear indicator of Machado’s ear for beats. The track features not only his prodigious guitar playing, but also his singing, something that punctuates the E.P. throughout its six tracks. His singing is a relatively new addition to his repertoire, but it has become a major component of his live show. “I’m a guitarist first and foremost,” he explains. “The singing part I usually incorporate later on because I wanna have the guitar more upfront as the lead and the singing more as a vibe.” “New Thangz” includes all of that and is only accentuated with Spinna’s production. Their relationship is a beautiful example of the happenstance which paints so many musical collaborations. “My collaboration with DJ Spinna came about a few years ago when I was living in Holland,” he tells AFH. “I was performing at a venue and right next door he was doing a seminar. Through a mutual friend we met after the show and hit it off from the start. We always stayed in touch and when I came back to New York we linked up and I played him some songs I was working on. He said ‘we gotta work,” and that’s how [the collaboration] happened. He is like a big brother to me, and we are working on a few things at the moment.”
A big proponent for exposing the youth to music by taking them to concerts, giving them instruments, and providing them lessons whenever possible, Machado dreams of one day collaborating with D’Angelo, Dr. Dre, Prince, and Slash and laments that he can never hit the stage alongside Hendrix, Jaco Pastorius, or Stevie Ray Vaughan. But nevertheless, he promises that the work with Pharoahe Monch is a “project that is crazy!” and that there is “a lot of music coming soon.” You heard it here first.
Related: Ambrosia for Heads Spotlight Series