In the past ten years or so, there has been much emphasis on the do-it-yourself aspect of recording and releasing music. Band line-ups have decreased to where most consist of only two or three members, and in some cases, only one sole person! It’s interesting to see just how much art can come from one mind, onto paper, in a recording, and pressed for a release. Thanks to technology and creative composition, what used to be created by a group of people now can easily done with one or two.
Thanks to that common trend, it’s become sort of anomaly to hear of multiple artists working together on one project. Even though the minimalist approach works quite well when it comes to creating music, there are still very important nuances that comes with working with others. Look at The Beatles for instance, we all know the creativity behind most of their beloved classics were elevated by the synergy among the song writers. Even from a composition standpoint, members of bands like The Beach Boys or Led Zeppelin,who weren’t primary song writers, brainstormed among themselves in terms of production and arrangement. There are certain things an artist needs to challenge his or herself that can really only be found with working with other artists.
A current project that is fueled on the synergy of multiple artists, is West Hattiesburg, Mississippi’s Devil Music Co. While gearing up for their first vinyl release through Deal With The Devil Records, the studious ringleader, Marshall Mckellar took a break from writing, recording, studying law, and generally creating art, to have a chat with me about the project and EP release.
Aaron: Who is Marshall Mckellar, and what exactly is Devil Music Co.?
Marshall: My name is Marshall Mckellar. I’m a Hattiesburg native, studying space law at the University of Mississippi School of Law. The Devil Music Co. is a collaborative art project that I created with the help of some amazing people. This project is made up of musicians, producers,engineers, photographers, video-graphers and designers, all pursuing the same goal: to create an environment where friends can create together and inspire others to do the same.
Aaron: How did Devil Music Co. come about?
Marshall: The Devil Music Co. began when my friend Justin Kay and I realized we loved making music together, and that we wanted to create as much of it as possible. Justin and I envisioned being able to create any song in any genre that we could imagine, all housed under a single creative entity. We started out making hardcore/punk songs (the stuff we played growing up that many people deemed “the devil music”) and eventually transitioned to rock n’ roll, folk, alt-rock,and pop music.
Aaron: Well that certainly took care of my next question that was going to be Where did the band name come from? Ha! With so many creative minds involved in the project, how is a certain style decided upon?
Marshall: Direction is hardly ever actually “decided upon.” To be perfectly honest, any time I can remember that we “picked” a direction, we didn’t necessarily end up going that way. Our direction tends to be whatever seems challenging, fun, and meaningful in the moment. I love so many different kinds of music and want to create as much music as I possibly can. Justin happens to feel the same way, so we have never been at odds over what to create.
Aaron: When I listen to your music, I can hear so many different elements of influence that I can’t pin-point anything in particular, what are some of your biggest influences?
Marshall: I grew up on Green Day, Angels and Airwaves, Against Me! and Blink-182, so I lovepop/punk and stadium alt-rock. I also draw a lot of inspiration from melodic hardcore acts like Worthwhile, Counterparts, and Hundredth. I love music that is passion-filled and purposeful that the words have to be shouted and screamed. However, the music I listen to most would have to be the Lord of the Rings soundtracks and soundscape stuff like Hammock, This Will Destroy You, and Lowercase Noises. I love music (even without words) that embodies a certain emotion at an intimate level.
Aaron: How did the vinyl release through Deal With The Devil Records come about? I sincerely hope it wasn’t an actual deal with the devil!
Marshall: The vinyl printing process started when Mark Whooten asked if I would be interested in signing a Deal With The Devil to design/print a Devil Music Co. single on vinyl. Seeing as I’d never imagined having any of the DMC’s music on vinyl, I loved the idea and jumped right in.Deal With the Devil Records is not only the coolest name for a record company EVER, but they are also doing a really cool thing for our local music scene. It has been a pleasure to do business with them, especially considering that we both have the same mission when it comes to inspiring people in our community to interact with and support local art.
Aaron: I love to hear anyone supporting their local arts! When you put this EP together, why did you decide on these two songs in particular?
Marshall: “Tie Me To The Earth” and “One Hell of A Way” are the two songs that I’m most proud of creating. They were both so far outside my comfort zone (even though I loved the styles of music) and challenged me to push myself creatively. Also, if there were only two songs that the world could hear from the Devil Music Co., I would want it to be these two songs.
Aaron: “Tie Me To The Earth” is really emotional, what is it about?
Marshall: This song is a about being frustrated with the concept/person/idea of God. It’s a cry for clarity, a search for meaning and purpose, and a challenge for God to show Himself. I love this song because my friend Aleq Bateman wrote most of the words, so every time I listen to this song I am able to take solace in his words. Aleq is able to poetically articulate the concepts and emotions that i’m often unable to confront inside my own head, much less in words.
Aaron: That’s a really interesting subject matter than not many artists tackle without being extremely pretentious or disrespectful to certain groups. Good on you for that! “One Hell of A Way” is my favorite of the two, what’s the story behind that one?
Marshall: Musically, this is the song i’m most proud of in my life. The inspiration for this song came from a dream I had about two lovers dying in a shoot-out with Death. Death chases them, until finally they decide to turn and face Death—guns blazing— with their masks on. Justin and I tracked this song right after watching one of the new Hobbit films, so the music of Middle-Earth was in our heads as we searched for harmonies, synths, and percussion. Vocal harmonies and ambient synths are two of my favorite things in the world, so being able to put a lot of both in this song makes it easily the song I listen to most from that EP.
Aaron: What genre of music would you classify Devil Music Co.?
Marshall: We would like to—at some point—make songs in every genre we possible can before this thing ends. I like to think of genres as particular ideals rather than particular sounds, but if we needed a genre, I would want to be know/remembered as a rock and roll band.
Aaron: What is your mission statement as an artist?
Marshall: When I make music, I do it first and foremost for myself. If i don’t make music I get really depressed and lifeless in fairly short order. With that being said, I don’t necessarily expect other people to listen to it or like it, but if anyone does, I would hope that they take some measure of hope and encouragement from these songs. I love performing, so I am very blessed that the amazing guys in my band take the time out of their lives to perform these songs with me; it’s one of the things i look forward to most as the weeks and months roll along. I love this band. I want to see it grow and do amazing things. I want us to be remembered as doing the unexpected, making honest art, and helping promote art and music in our community.
Aaron: What’s next for Devil Music Co.?
Marshall: We’re definitely excited about this vinyl release! As of right now we have a new single called “Chances” (streaming on iTunes and Spotify), along with a music video for “chances” on Youtube that we shot with our friends at Blackhorn Productions. We’re also in the process of mixing/mastering a new EP called Millennial Hymns, set for release in several months. Other than that we’re really excited for some upcoming shows, especially a performance at the Mississippi Music Foundation Awards in May.
I would like to thank Marshall for taking the time to talk with me, and would recommend this vinyl release to anyone who is looking for something unique and authentic. The Devil Music Co. EP is available exclusively at Deal With The Devil Records in extremely limited quantities. Head over there and pick it up while you can! Support local artists and indie labels, and encourage the creation of all things art in your community!
Visit Devil Music Co. on their Official Website
Purchase the vinyl EP exclusively at Deal With The Devil Records