After spending the last few months developing and cultivating his sound, LA-based artist Marco Palos has now delivered his much-loved debut single 'A Place We Don't Know'.
Channelling a smooth and vibrant direction from start to finish, 'A Place We Don't Know' makes for a wonderfully warm introduction to his direction. Jam-packed with soaring aesthetic, anthemic hooks, and his own sweeping voice layered throughout, it feels like he is well on his way to becoming one of the most talked about new artists of the year so far.
So with the new single available now, we sat down with him to find out more about his origins and what has inspired him most over the years.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
As far back as I can remember, I think it was piano that I first fell in love with. I was fascinated by all the keys and range that a piano has, not to mention the abilities that keyboards presented. I even had small keyboards as a 3 and 4 year old with different sounds until I was old enough to have my own Casio keyboard. An uncle of mine from El Salvador was the only member in our family who was known for music in his town or country. My family wanted me to pursue a different path, so they didn’t really tell me much, but I guess he kind of made a career out of it. I got to meet him once or twice as a kid and can remember hearing him play. As a kid, it was inspiring to see him practically have a full band pouring out of the two speakers of his keyboard. To me, he was like a musical magician, and that made me love music even more.
What kind of music did you love when you were younger?
Being a kid with divorced parents, I loved the variety of life I would get to experience. When I spent time with my mom, it was AM radio for us. Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and a lot of the pop hits that were out around the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s from The Beatles to Elton John. When school was on break and we got to visit my dad, I got to spend a lot of time with the greatest collection of cassette tapes I’d ever heard. Dad loved staying current. So he had every hit from the 70’s to current day 90’s back then. Billy Joel, Janet & Michael Jackson, Marky Mark, Rick Astley, Cheap Trick, Queen, The Cars, Journey, Chicago, Guns N Roses and movie soundtracks. I think one of my all time favorite movie soundtracks is the one for Stand By Me. That holds a lot of road trip memories with my dad and sisters. Speaking of sisters, we used to sign up for those BMG music & Columbia House catalogues where you get 12 CD’s or something. So between the 4 of us, we’d get hundreds of CD’s in everything we loved. I could literally go on and on, and truth is, I’m not embarrassed about any of it. From Spice Girls to Ricky Martin to Mexican Rock band Mana and Juanes from Columbia. Rappers Timbaland, Mystikal, DMX and singers Aaliyah, Blackstreet, New Edition, Maxwell and Lenny Kravitz. All of this and more shaped my younger years of listening to music.
What was the first album you remember owning?
The first one I owned all on my own was Blackstreet’s Another Level. I loved their harmonies, the grooves, the romance behind most songs. I was, and still am, a big ham for love songs. Especially epic love ballads with a one hit drum fill like Whitney Houston’s version of, “I Will Always Love You.” Do you know what I’m talking about? There’s a pause, you hear the reverb and then the drummer says… BAM, one hit is all you get! Whitney, TAKE IT! She raises the key of the song and the chills get me every time. Man, she was one of the greatest voices of our time.
What is the one song you wished you could have written yourself?
Oooh, far too many, but to pick only one… I’m going to go with Paul Simon’s 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover. The guitar chords on the guitar are just beautiful, the drum groove is soft, extremely catchy and and then it hops right into a confident strut beat for the chorus. His vocal melodies from verse to chorus are lovely to follow as well. I also love that lyrically, he took us right into this very intimate conversation between two secret lovers. I love Paul Simon’s writing. Definitely one of my favourites.
Do you have any habits or rituals you go through when trying to write new music?
When it comes time to write, I almost always go into my music room and let my mood guide me to the instrument of the moment. It’s always one of the main 4 for me. Piano, Guitar, Bass or Drums. Very rarely do I get lyrics first, it’s more often the chords, melody or a beat that I start with. But no matter the instrument, I always set my phone next to me and record every session with Voice Memo and sometimes go direct into Logic or Protools. I used to do this same thing before our phones recorded voice memos and still have boxes of cassette tapes with hundreds of song ideas! Anyhow, once the tape is rolling, I keep playing until I feel connected to an idea. I then loop it, re-start my voice memo and keep developing it. After that, I usually begin building the song demo bringing whatever instrument the song calls for. For my release, “A Place We Don’t Know,” I actually kept the original demo guitar, bass & vocal tracks in the final version of the song. I think there’s a special magic in some of our very first captures of anything we write or record. It’s like you haven’t had too much time to think about or analyse it and it’s all coming from a very raw and instinctive place. I don’t know if anyone else does that, but I love it.
Who are your favourite artists you have found yourself listening to at the moment?
The bands that always show up in the shuffle mix include Lenny Kravitz, Coldplay, Chris Cornell, Jamiroquai, Paul Simon, Wings & or Sir Paul, Bruce Springsteen and Radiohead. But newer bands I rotate and enjoy a lot are Polo & Pan, Shaed, BØRNS, Bryce Vine, Dua Lipa, and Qveen Herby has been dropping some fun EP’s. Most all of these (and Oldies) have been my quarantine soundtrack this last year.
If you could open a show for anyone in the world, who would it be?
Coldplay all the way! But also Lenny Kravitz & Sir Paul McCartney. Those have been in dreams for many a year now.
What do you find is the most rewarding part about being a musician?
That we “get” to rise up and do whatever our heart desires. We get to write our feelings and share things that people are sometimes afraid to say or need to relate to. We get to choose if we will pursue touring and traveling the world or if we will stay home and write, record and produce. We get the opportunity to connect with people on a deeper level through our music and melodies and even possibly help them through their highs and lows in life. No one is forcing us to do this. We make the choice ourselves and the rewards are wrapped up in a larger sense of freedom, IF you let them be and can realize that you “get” to do this. It’s all a gift. Let it be.
And what is the most frustrating part?
Working with people who don’t really want to be there and don’t have a passion for it. I used to put up with it, but now, I avoid it like we all want to avoid another pandemic. I get it, some people think it’s cool to be miserable, and maybe that works for you. I’ll respect that. But I just don’t have the space for that kind of energy. Cheeky as this may sound, I really want to bring people together to celebrate the commonalities we all share. Music is meant for everyone and when it comes from the heart, it shares a truth that we all connect to somehow. I think that’s why people love concerts, no matter the artist, famous or not, we’re all there because we connected with something that this artist shared, and when we look around the room or stadium… We can see family. People who all have something in common with you. My two favorite concerts that showed me this were Lenny Kravitz at the Verizon Amphitheater in 2002 and Coldplay in 2017, MetLife Stadium. The best display of unity, love and friendship amongst strangers that I have ever experienced. Let’s have more of that!
And what is the best piece of advice you have received as a musician?
When I was 14 or so, I played sax in a band of brothers managed by their dad. He taught us how to listen to a song and bring it to life in a way that became a part of us and no longer just a mimic of what we heard. We’d spend hours spinning records and then learning them. While their dad didn’t exactly say it this way… Our seven 7 years together taught me the very thing that has carried my life in music around the world. Our bodies, voices and talents give us access to a creative outlet for anything we may be going through in life. People all over the world turn to any number of things, good and bad, when they don’t recognise their outlet. But as artists, we have this outlet to put anything we may be going through in life right into our instruments, or lyrics and then into a performance of any kind. Be it a cover or an original in your own words and style… This is your outlet and once you recognise it, you might find how and why music is THE essential medicine for life.
Marco Palos' new single 'A Place We Don't Know' is available to stream now. Check it out in the player below.