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Rachel Huffman sat down with the young singing sensation, Marion Harper, before her performance at the Hard Rock Café on 11th December—part of the After Dark concert series, sponsored by Metropolitan. They talk about Marion’s challenge juggling school and music, her exciting move to Barcelona from Hostalric, the festivals she would kill to perform at and more.
Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you originally from?
My mom is Uruguayan and my dad is English. I was born in Uruguay and when I was six, we moved to Spain. I definitely remember living in Uruguay. I liked it, but I get along very well here. Plus, since I still have family and friends there, I go back to visit every three or four years.
Since your family came to Spain have you always lived in Barcelona?
I actually just moved to Barcelona this year because my sister is studying here. Before that, I lived in Hostalric, a small, quiet village near Girona. It’s a slow life, very different from Barcelona. I wanted to move here because I needed a more cosmopolitan lifestyle. I love Barcelona for all the stuff you can do. The freedom you’ve got. In Hostalric…ok yes, it’s very pretty and peaceful, but you have to have a car or motorbike or something to move around. Otherwise you can’t go anywhere. It’s just not a great situation for a young person.
Did you always know you wanted to be a musician?
Yeah. I’ve always loved music, that’s for sure. My mom’s a ballet dancer, so I started dancing when I was three until I realized that what I really, really loved was music. So I quit dance to start playing the saxophone, which led to the guitar and singing.
What do your parents think about you dedicating your life to music?
My parents are really supportive of my decision to be a musician. When I told them I was going to focus on my music instead of going to university, they were fine with it. It’s a long story, but basically my math teacher randomly decided to fail half of my class, and I lost my place in the university that I wanted to go to. So I thought, I can either go to a university in a city I don’t want to live in and study something I don’t want to study, or I can take a year off and put all my energy into my music and completely focus on my career. I think I made a pretty good decision.
How would you describe your image and your music?
My image? That’s hard. I have no idea. People have said that I give an angelic first impression, which I’m not so sure about. I do agree when people say I come across as super happy and giggly. I try to give off good vibes. I have a lot of energy and I’m always laughing and smiling. My music, on the other hand, is easy to describe: very emotional.
What was your biggest struggle getting to where you are today?
Juggling school and music. I’m only 18 so while I was practising and improving my music, I was working really hard to finish my A-levels. I chose a scientific path because I want to study psychology at university. But I am not a numbers and science person. I had to study so much because my brain just isn’t built for all that. I’m more of a words person, more on the creative side. I like poetry and reading. I also had to go to music lessons on my bike with my guitar on my back, which was difficult on a whole other physical level. It was a bit like surfing, trying to balance with the wind blowing and everything.
What has been the happiest moment in your career so far?
Everything. From the beginning until today, sitting here with you. From the moment I realized I loved music, to my first performances at the theatre where I began lessons. I have become more and more interested in music every day. And then Luup Records was interested in me, which felt amazing. When they called me and I went into the studio for the first time, I was shocked. I had never seen anything like that before. I started working in the studio, learning so many new things. It’s all so wonderful. Every day.
What do you think about while you’re performing?
Nothing. That’s why I love it. I think too much, with everything, so I love playing; it clears my mind. If you think while you play, you tend to make mistakes anyway. When I started performing in front of people, I was very nervous. I would wake up with a tummy ache, even though I didn’t have to be on stage until maybe 8 o’clock at night. But now I just get nervous like two minutes before going out on stage. And once I’m in front of the audience, I never think about anything.
If you could perform in any city at any venue in the world, where would you want to perform?
Glastonbury wouldn’t be bad. And Coachella wouldn’t be bad. Primavera Sound would be very cool as well—I probably should have started with that. I mean people from all over the world come to Barcelona for Primavera Sound. Even if it’s sort of lost its allure for people who live here, for people who have been around it for so many years, it’s nice that Spain produces a good festival that people from all over want to be a part of. For now, though, I play wherever I can get a gig. Luup Records helps me keep a balance between soft, acoustic performances in corner cafés and loud, powerful rock concerts where I can leave all my emotions on the stage.
What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
That’s an almost impossible question. The last concert I went to was Ed Sheeran, which was very good. The one before that was Birdy, which was very good, as well. Birdy sounded great just because she’s Birdy; and Ed Sheeran sounded great because he was on his own, and there was all this screaming and shouting and everyone dancing and singing. It was amazing because of the experience, as well as his performance.
Do you ever see yourself doing anything besides music?
No. I should probably change that mindset, but I can’t.
You have a fairly new single ‘Where I Belong’. I expect we’ll hear it at your performance at the Hard Rock on December 11th. What inspired that song?
My best friend. I wrote it for her birthday. It’s just me singing with my guitar. I recorded it on my iPhone and posted it on SoundCloud, where Luup Records found it. It wasn’t part of the plan, I wasn’t even going to show them, but when they heard the song—we were in the middle of recording—they insisted we add it to the EP.
Do you write all your own songs?
I do. The lyrics and music. I just finished writing an original Christmas song that I thought was going to kill me. My label wanted me to start writing in July. It was so hard, on the beach, in the heat, thinking of Christmas. Then they wanted one line of the chorus to end in Christmas, which I firmly believed was impossible, and we were trying to incorporate bells, too. It was a struggle, but it’s done now and I’m so glad I got through it.
What’s your favourite song to sing?
From my songs I like singing ‘Mary’. It’s a very, very emotional song, and I really get into it and express myself. As far as covers go, the ones that I’m comfortable singing.
What’s one thing you want everyone to know about you?
I truly love music. It’s probably the only thing I’m comfortable doing. And I really strive to continually improve my music and my writing, better myself while boosting my career.