Interview: Five minutes with Saint Mars

Arriving on the scene are Marc Darcange and Tryzdin of SaintMars. The two have just released their latest single, ‘Help’ via Grá Mór Phonic Records which focusses on the turbulent nature of all relationships while greeting fans with an infectious pop-rock anthem. Hitting all the right notes, both musically and mentally, the song shows its listeners that they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help.

The two play to each others strengths as song-writer and producer Marc Darcange stand in a mentorship role for the younger Tryzdin. At only 15 years old, the leader singer brings an impressive vocal range as well as over 3.7 million Youtube views to the party. The two have pursued collaborations with a series of talented musicians for their upcoming album.

Curious about the two, we decided to sit down with them as they reveal a little more about Saint Mars and some of the other artists they’ve worked with.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

Marc: This is the secret island. The place you can always find if you want to fly away from reality for a moment or forever. Arts have the ability to turn anything dreadful into something beautiful…a modern expression of the old art of Alchemy. I believe you are born with… you don’t choose arts, they choose you. They are alive, they have a personality, a temper. I’ve tried to escape them a couple of times, but always found them striking back stronger!

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

Marc: Both! But most inspirational ones are coming with a sound, a melody in my head or a full song in a dream. Dreams are my favourite songwriting tool, though highly unpredictable. 

Does your material feature any collaborations?

Marc: We are lucky enough to collaborate with incredible people, such as Angelo Bruschini (Massive Attack guitarist), Brent Paschke (N.E.R.D., Pharell Willimas guitarist), Robert Brian (Siouxsie, Simple Minds, Goldfrapp drummer), Robert Kramer (Pulp Fiction, Galaxy 500 producer), and Bristol rapper Jethro Alonestar Sheeran…In fact, our entire concept is based on collaborations! With software and virtual instruments, it would be easy to do everything in the box, in complete autarchy. But I’m not a fan of this approach. Software will never be able to replace the human being, with his sensibility, his personal history, his own sense of arts. Our songs are coming alive through collaborations. 

What’s on your current playlist?

Marc: ‘Play God’ by Sam Fender – most talented artist I’ve come across in recent years.  ‘Lately’ by Metronomy and ‘One of the Drugs’ by Panic! At the Disco – one of our main common influences in Saint Mars. 

Tryzdin: Billie Eilish, Anson Seabra, Panic! At The Disco, Alec Benjamin, and Twenty One Pilots.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

Marc: I’m talking and joking with the public. Interacting with them. I’m showing them what kind of person I am. Live shows are a privileged moment in the current disembodied world of music. I’m totally into the Iggy Pop/Peter Gabriel approach. I’ve seen them several times live and have been always blown away as they were truly establishing a connection with their public. 

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

Marc: Most of the times I use a lot of ad-libs sung by Tryzdin and process in all kinds of different ways, distorted, pitched or pitched down. This is especially obvious in our previous single, ‘Loveghost’. I like the human voice better than any instruments so I’m using it to the full. I think its Tryzdin voice that is one of the elements that make our music sound so special. At only 15, he’s the lead singer of an adult band of seasoned musicians. He has matured at such a young age… His voice is between two worlds, oscillating between deeper, rougher and higher, angelic tones. That makes people really hard to guess exactly who sings the music and how old this singer actually is. In fact, most of them are totally surprised when they learn he’s only 15!

I also absolutely refuse to copy any current gimmicks I can hear on other modern songs (like obviously auto-tuned vocals). We don’t want to sound like everyone else. I much prefer the “inconfortablity” of the unknown.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

Tryzdin: A day in the recording studio is actually very simple. I am very lucky to have a home studio in the extra bedroom of my house with a vocal booth, so it’s accessible 24 hours a day and very easy to get to. We chat together about how we can make the song we are working the best it can be, how I should sing it and what kind of energy I should put into it. Then I enter the booth and hit record and… it’s all magic from there on out!

Marc: We have the same approach! My studio is minimal and totally immersed in my daily life. It’s more like a bedroom studio in the style of Finneas/Billy Eilish. And as I and Tryzdin live on different continents, we work most of the time remotely. We do a lot of video chat, Tryzdin records his own parts into Logic and I get access to them as soon as he has recorded them. Our new single ‘Help’ was made differently since he was next to me in Switzerland when he recorded it… It went much faster that way, so we hope to be able to make more sessions like this in the future. That said, the idea that you can record and work on a song from different continents is absolutely fascinating.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

Tryzdin: I’ve been singing since I was a toddler but when I was in 1st grade, I tried out for my school talent show singing Adele’s ‘Rolling in the deep’. At that time, that was a very challenging song for a 7-year old boy like me. During the auditions, I was extremely nervous and sweaty but I did it, at the end of the audition I was told I made it. I performed at the talent show about a week later; when I got on that stage, I was nervous again! But something about being in front of more than 300 people really felt like I was at home. After my performance, I heard the roar of applause. At that precise moment, I knew that that’s what I wanted to do.

Marc: When I discovered The Cure as a teenager – definitely my greatest inspiration. Then, Nine Inch Nails. My previous band was a metal band from New York, signed by a Swedish label (Escapi)! 

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Marc: The public!

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Marc: Again, Sam Fender but I doubt he can still be ranged into emerging artists. And Tryzdin! He’s been on my radar for two years now. Hope he is aware of it!

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Marc: Everyday life, especially sad and nostalgic feelings. The urgency of creation is something that has never left me. I’ve learned that if you don’t use that skill, this energy may damage you. Difficult to explain but I know several artists who have lived with the same energy while trying to get away from it and to discover they just felt so bad doing so! So it’s either a duty or a mission, but a very meaningful one. 

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

Marc: Logic and Melodyne are my main tools. Melodyne is absolutely fantastic for vocals. Otherwise, I like simplicity: I use the simplest tools at my disposal most of the time. That’s why I like Clavia synthesisers (Nord Lead A1) and UAD plugins in general: simple gears that almost always sound great and don’t have a lot of knobs to tweak. Limitation stimulates creativity – it’s by limiting yourself that you can learn to grow. 

Any side projects you’re working on?

Tryzdin: Besides Saint Mars, I’m also working on a solo EP of my own.

Marc: Yes, we are working on a solo release for Tryzdin. The style is pretty different, much more singer-songwriter/pop-orientated, but with a twist. The first single is quite surprising and will be called ‘A New Way’ – for a good reason: we don’t want him to sound like any other pop artist, because he’s not a pop stereotype. 

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

Tryzdin: I have a very strenuous way of singing. But I’ve learned how to use my voice in a way that it won’t strain too much. A couple of years ago I suffered from vocal nodules. Those are little bumps that sit on your vocal cords and make it hard to sing. They are also very painful when you do. I thought that my voice would forever be ruined and that I would never be able to belt or sing at a higher register ever! But I took a week or two off of singing and tried to heal myself with home remedies. Within about 2 and a half weeks my nodules went away. So ever since then I’ve learnt and practice how to use my voice in a healthier and more natural way.

Marc: I’ve totally changed my mind as I was first against streaming. Now I can really see the advantages of it and how it has changed the face of this industry. You cannot just refuse this evolution and complain about how better the old times were. It’s like pretending that World War II is still going on! This has had a big influence on how I write songs and arrange them; I am not afraid anymore to make them shorter and simpler. Sometimes with no intro at all, with the vocals kicking in straight. I think Spotify has made me a simpler person! 

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

Marc: 2019 is mostly over. We have just released our new single ‘Help’. 2020 will be a big year for us, with the release of our highly anticipated first album, Boys Never Cry – a concept album based on the story of a 13-year old boy victim of bullying. This along with several singles, including some new collaborations with Jethro Alonestar  Sheeran (featured in our previous single, ‘Loveghost’).

Famous last words?

Tryzdin: Be yourself! Like my parents always tell me: “Never be who you are told to be, always stay true to yourself” or just like the words from ‘Somewhere, Somebody’: “Be who you are and not what you should be”.

Marc: Somewhere Somebody was the very first thing we wrote for Tryzdin, so I’m more than happy to draw the curtain with those words!

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