Last week, we wrote an article on newcomer FADE, aka songwriter/producer Marley Ferguson, whose EP Fall in Love is released today on Luminelle Records. FADE’s music sounds like it came straight out of a dream with starry synths and melodies that stick in your head after your first listen. Marley was kind enough to let us interview her to celebrate the release of Fall In Love, which you can stream below the interview:
Melodic Magazine (Jones): Where did FADE come from? Talk me through the genesis of the project.
Marley Ferguson: My previous band PARTS ended when my bandmate moved away, and I was kind of sad for a while and felt aimless. I just decided to take a show offer by myself and the show was a month away, so I wrote a set by myself and it spiraled into what FADE is now. I’m kind of crazy in that way where I’m always accepting opportunities no matter how wild they are. I love challenges and deadlines — I’m really glad I did this.
MM: Only a month out?
MF: Yeah! I only had one song written at the time — so I just told myself ‘It’s time to write more, I guess!'”
MM: That’s wild! So does the Fall in Love EP look like that first set, or has it changed since then?
MF: Yeah, the set was pretty similar — there definitely was some narrowing down that happened, but most of those songs in that first show make up the EP.
MM: Where did the name come from?
MF: There really isn’t meaning behind it; I was just trying to think of words that sounded good, but found that FADE could pass as like, a human name — that I could be FADE just as easily as I could be Marley. Almost like a stage name!
MM: When you’re performing live, is it just you?
MF: I play alone right now. It’s a dream of mine to put a band together; maybe down the road when I have a proper tour.
MM: As an artist, who are your chief influences?
MF: I’m a big fan of Depeche Mode; that’s kind of what I grew up on listening to it with my dad. It’s totally engraved in my soul. I LOVE eighties music — that’s a big part of me that I’ve never been able to get away from. But for modern music, I love my labelmates; when I’m driving in my car, catch me listening to Helena Deland and Anemone.
MM: How’d you find your way to Luminelle Records?
MF: Gorilla Versus Bear and Fat Possum were both aware of me because of PARTS, so when I announced that I would be pursuing FADE as a solo project, they both reached out to me within the same day. They’ve believed in me from the start, and I think it’s been so great to have this natural, organic relationship with my label.
MM: Now that Fall in Love is out, what are your plans for the year?
MF: Really I just want to write and get into a full-length mindset — I’ve never made a full-length before, so I just want to become a hermit in the winter and finish that. Maybe play a few shows here and there, but that’s a goal of mine.
MM: Let’s talk about “Changing” — can you walk me through what the song’s about?
MF: After PARTS ended, I was tempted to move somewhere else from Grand Rapids to get to a more active city. That first line “I’m tired of changing” is me deciding I’m going to stay in this tiny town and figure myself out; I’m going to get my mental health together, and figure it out, and succeed here. And I’m really glad I did that, because it did a lot for me to get everything else in life kind of aligned. With FADE it’s such a new chapter that I needed that initial stability to succeed with it no matter where I end up.
MM: I honestly don’t see many musicians coming out of Grand Rapids — I’m from Birmingham, AL, so I understand how it is to be in a smaller city where even though it’s coming up culturally, is nowhere on the level of other “music cities”. How did your environment influence your music? Would the EP look different if you were based in say, NYC?
MF: I think it’s kind of made me a bit of an outcast — in high school, I was the only girl making music. So there’s an independence to it that feels nice, but I definitely feel inspired when I go to the east/west coast and meet people that are just as passionate as me. Honestly, I wouldn’t trade my Grand Rapids experience for anything; I think it was able to turn me into the artist that I am today. I think growing up in a small town like that naturally has an environmental effect on someone.
MM: It always blows my mind to see bands come out of small towns kick ass like they do, because I can’t imagine how hard it is to start a scene from nothing.
MF: Yeah, I’m definitely involved with the music scene in Grand Rapids; when I’m home, I help run sound at the smaller venues and book bands when they come through town.
MM: What is your dream collaboration?
MF: Oh my goodness! Let me take a second to think. A crazy collaboration? I’d have to say Madonna.
MM: Ha! So did you listen to a lot of Madonna growing up?
MF: Not really, no! I just got into her.
MM: Best Madonna era, then?
MF: The “Papa Don’t Preach” era all day. She’s an icon. I want my next music video to be 80s themed like her early material. I like to think thematically when it comes to my music — this Fall in Love EP is its own chapter, and I’d like to send it out with a carefree, ridiculous bang by having a cheesy 80s video.
MM: What is the overall theme of the EP?
MF: I think that it all is a multimedia art form — the music, and the photograph that I used for the album art with these phones my friend had lying around, and then the act itself all play in to this idea of communication. I see music as a form of communication; this EP is my way to communicate to everyone.
MM: In today’s world, what do you think is the best way to make sure music connects to people?
MF: I make sure it’s true to myself, because that means it’ll be true to someone else too. I don’t try to write for a specific topic; it just comes out and is true to emotions and feelings that I’m having. People can relate to that in their own way, even if it’s totally different from how I felt — and that’s okay, because they’re still having that musical experience.
MM: What’s been the most unexpected surprise from this new chapter of FADE?
MF: Getting signed to Luminelle was huge for me — I also played a show in my hometown with Flint Eastwood, and it was the first show I ever played where every artist on the lineup was LGBTQ+, and you could see that reflected in the audience. It was so supportive and you knew everyone was there to love and support each other, and shows like that are rare with that kind of inclusivity in musicians and the audience. It made a difference in my performance because we were all feeling good together. It was kind of a powerful moment where I was like ‘Okay, this is how it should be.'”
Thank you to Marley for having this conversation with us. Stream the brilliant Fall in Love EP on Spotify below, and stay up to date with FADE on Instagram at @marsfade.