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Experimental songwriter SAD Marquise iPhones it in

October 31, 2018

Pop Life

Text by John Morrison. Image by Charles Shan Cerrone.

It was an expensive inconvenience and a meeting with a budding rap superstar that led Philly singer/songwriter Marquise Miles (aka SAD Marquise) to a key development in his  career. “I met Chance the Rapper at a Made in America after party. We were chilling outside of the venue, and I lost my phone and all my music at that time. I asked him if he saw it. He didn’t, but I got a new phone with GarageBand on it.”

Referring to himself as an “iOS musician,” Miles explains, “I make my music solely on my GarageBand app using my phone’s mic.”

Born and raised in the Toby Farms section of Brookhaven, Miles had a musical youth, joining the Chester Children’s Chorus around age 12. Raised on a diet of R&B and soul, Miles began writing his own songs. “At the time I was inspired by Beyoncé and Brian McKnight vocally. Prince was big for me because he did it all himself, too. Legendary.” It’s telling that Prince’s D.I.Y. practice of writing, composing and creating his music on his own would serve as a key influence on SAD Marquise’s homemade aesthetic.

After releasing an EP, The Times, SAD Marquise followed up with his masterful debut full length, iPhone Pop.

Closing out iPhone Pop is “Pink Floyd,” a luminous piano ballad that clearly demonstrates Miles’ gift for constructing songs that exist as their own distinct worlds of colorful emotion and sound. In the song, Miles escorts us through a journey of pain and existential dread. “Half the world is a bastard. I preach things that I’ve yet to master,” he croons in a powerful, vulnerable tone that is part Frank Ocean, part Rufus Wainwright. The song is a fitting end to a collection of songs that exist as an ode to modern love, heartbreak and the emotional wreckage left when the two collide.

In October of last year, Miles released the Sea World EP, a gorgeous collection of futuristic love songs. Both projects were completed and released in 2017 as part of a furious outputting of creative energy and effort. “iPhone Pop took about two months to make, and it came about after I made my first EP, The Times. I wanted to make a project that was like an extended phone call through a colorful, and a little trippy, lens. Sea World was made in a few weeks. I was very inspired by the sea and its relation to sadness and emotion,” Miles explains.

Despite the downcast atmosphere that his work conjures, the music Miles creates is not hopeless; in fact it is the opposite. This is the sound of a young person wrestling with the gravity of fear and love in an age of alienation and disconnect. “I’m very into the idea of sad or melancholy songs with more lucid-feeling beats. It feels good to just say things out loud that let you tap into the hurt, but have fun with it. My upcoming mixtape, Yellow Tape, is more upbeat and light to contrast that. All my songs aren’t sad, but I am trying to create a sonic and emotional space for myself that I call my own.”

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