Music can be many things to many people. As an artist, you get to decide what that is to you and run with it. At the same time you can not truly decide what the listeners choose to feel with your music. And that is OK.
Our friend Marc Sirdoreus (aka Marc With a C) has built a long career making unique music in his own special way. The innovative artist also built a full persona to go along with his musical brand. This persona evolved over his 21 year career to fit the often bizarre, psych-leaning, sometimes darkly humorous, usually emotionally devastating, minutiae-and-music-obsessed and lo-fi DIY sound that was Marc With a C.
His newest record Thanatophobia is the start of the next phase of Marc With a C. The 11 track record is perhaps his most experimental yet. And that is saying a lot for an artist that never stayed close to the mainstream genre lines.
‘Friends List’ by Marc With a C
A great taste to wet your appetite for the album is the single “Friends List.” The exotic mix of beats and sounds grabs attention right away. The smooth and soft vocal delivery from Marc With a C adds another element to the song. Noises bounce in and out creating a full sonic tapestry. Once we get to the catchy chorus, it becomes obvious we have an underground hit on our hands here. The track demands multiple listens to even take it all in.
We had the opportunity to sit down and chat with March With a C to get some backstory to the amazing brand that he built. Enjoy the interview below:
First off, tell us about the name Marc With a C? Is it as simple as it seems?
I wish. No, you almost wouldn’t believe it in a movie; I was working for another band, the opening act didn’t show up, I’d been working on a persona that eventually became the one I used for Marc With a C, though I hadn’t settled on a specific name. The lady running the show misheard me spelling my name as my specific solo name, and she announced me to the audience as “Marc With a C”, which I thought was funny, so I kept it! It’s arguable that this one surprise gig is the reason I have a career at all. You can certainly pick worse names.
How would you describe your sound?
I used to say, “if you’re under 40, it’s sarcastic indie pop, and if you’re over 40, it’s brand-new classic rock”. Now, I don’t know that I could describe it at all these days. Probably rooted in classic song structures, but I’m constantly changing the color palette that I work with. As my health changed repeatedly over the last few years, I had to make modifications to anything I do to continue making music at all with each new way I had to learn to adapt to my life being so different, yet again. I think that the new results are night and day from what my records were like, say, ten years ago. It’s not as if they were terribly obvious albums, but the instrumentation remained predictable. Now, there’s no telling what sounds are coming next on any Marc With a C release. I hope!
Which artists have had the biggest influence on you?
Overall, The Who, The Monkees, David Bowie, Kirsty Maccoll, Jonathan Richman, Steve Poltz, Duran Duran, Talking Heads, Juliana Hatfield, Blinker the Star, Sloan, Napoleon XIV, Zappa, Ramones… mostly artists with a very, very singular vision. Lately, I’ve been really enjoying Mitski, Soccer Mommy, Multibird, Snail Mail, and really diving into what Jarvis Cocker has done over the years. One could argue that I’m just as inspired by the minutiae of bizarre situations as I am by music, and if one did, I’d say “yes, makes sense, I’m usually putting on music to drown out all of the adult problems that I don’t understand”.
We understand you went through some devastating life upheavals over the past couple years. What drives you to keep creating music?
You’re correct. Cancer, plus another illness that’s been chased by specialists for a few years now, and the combo is debilitating in the best of times, giving me sometimes less than seven decent hours per day – and those are the good days. Family struggles, legal battles, a nervous breakdown… I just wanted to lay in bed. Music is how I process things at all. I tend to process through syncopation of some sort, so if I must come to terms with anything, ever? Quickest way to do that is to figure out what sound it creates in my head, try to replicate that with my hands, and it almost never matches; but it’s usually interesting enough for me to come back to and turn into a song that someone else might be able to digest. I put out the portions that I think someone else might get something out of. If I didn’t continue to process information that way, I’d be in far worse shape than I currently am, and I wouldn’t be physically or mentally able to do this interview.
Now with Phase II of Marc With a C about to begin, what can you tell us about the rebirth?
From December 1999 to January 2021, Marc With a C was a persona. One needed to exist to match the touchy, offensive, dark, and sometimes inscrutable material I wrote, because my natural demeanor is at odds with the things I tend to pen. When doing the main period of a persona, the last thing that you should do is whisper “hey, everyone, this is an act”. With me being very prolific, that meant that I wasn’t always able turn that persona off quickly enough, and I didn’t spend much time telling people that the personality I delivered with the albums and shows was a put-on, even the people closest to me, and I was far too late in noticing that I often kept sounding like the more arrogant stage act in my tone of voice when offstage – which didn’t match my intentions, internal feelings, or how I thought I was conducting myself. It became a very natural put-on, but like most people who ever do a long stint of method acting without the proper training, there were times that even the people closest to me couldn’t tell if I was being “Marc With a C”, or if the work clothes had started “wearing me”, so to speak. The end of Phase I had been planned for well over a decade. I never necessarily knew what Phase II would be, but I knew I didn’t want to think about the concert stage first with everything I wrote. I’m happier creating on my own time, performing if that’s what makes sense. I don’t plan to do much public performance, concentrating instead on writing and recording more, for as long as I am able. I still do virtual shows through patreon.com/marcwithac, and I love that we’re able to be together but apart in our own separate chosen spaces. Concert venues don’t often respect the safety and humanity of the patron, and musicians usually are somehow treated a little worse than them. Virtual shows allow any patron to take care of themselves however they need to, while the artist concentrates on performing. Live music in the same room is wonderful and irreplaceable, but not something I’m cut out for any longer. I’m happy to put my remaining artistic energy into making weird little albums with Needlejuice Records, and occasionally, on my own.
Give us a peek behind the curtain of new album Thanatophobia.
Hmm. I began recording it through a fairly involved process I came up with in 2005 to keep things fresh for myself, a process I nicknamed “bunnythumbs”. It allows me to begin anything in demo form, but to chip away those original bits, place new parts in, and that keeps the music spatially and tonally very different from nearly anyone else, from song to song, instrument to instrument, and sometimes multiple times in the same tune. Not that I need to be “the most original” or whatever badge of honor that may sound like, but it’s a nice by-product. For Thanatophobia, I limited myself for that spat of initial demos to the instruments I’d have likely had around in 2001, when the first Phase I Marc With a C album was issued. I’ve been open that for the first few years of the MWAC act, I felt like I had less control over it than anyone I worked with had, so Phase II should begin with the same general set of tools – only I wouldn’t take suggestions or really let anyone hear a finished song until I would’ve been ready to release it widely. In the first half of the record, I mostly return to several early, abandoned songs that producers and bandmates didn’t have much faith in, rewriting them as if I was the only person who’d ever hear them. The second half speaks more to my current sensibilities, as wells as tones that interest, excite, and motivate me lately. I’m too close to it to know what behind-the-curtain things would even be interesting; when I peek outside of that curtain, I’m finding that it’s somehow even more love-it-or-hate-it than my usual records, which seems like quite a feat to have pulled off. I thought Thanatophobia was pretty easy to digest, if not more than a little bit dark!
Share some advice for other artists ready to be their true selves.
My advice to any artist: don’t listen to advice. You already know what you want to make, generally. You know that the drive inside of you is stronger than most biological needs. You know that compromises are necessary, but you can see the remnants of each one in your work; no one else knows it’s there, but you do. You only get one life. You only get one brain. Only you will ever make what you’ll make the way that you’ll make it. I’d guess that trying hard to not hurt other people along the way could be a good rule of thumb, but any industry that facilitates art is built to suck the soul out of any sensitive person, I’ve found. Make the least number of compromises possible, hurt as few as you can, but let your creation flow without fear – no one else is doing what you’re doing, not exactly, and if you don’t do it, it won’t exist. Giving into fear robs the world of art. A world without art isn’t very inspirational and doesn’t sound like a place I’d want to be. My hope is that you get what you need out of doing what you are meant to do, for anyone putting something into the world.
What does the future hold for Marc With a C?
The second Phase II album is already finished, hopefully to be out before the end of 2022 on a few formats. I’ll probably keep making weird things. The right people will still get it. If you’d like a real glimpse into future “secrets”? I can tell you that the pace of my releases in 2022 isn’t something anyone should expect to continue. I’ve begun pre-production on the third Phase II album, but I don’t think it’d benefit from being rushed. I’ve got a general theme in mind that’s very hard to describe, but as music is often an expression of the inexpressible, if I can’t easily find a word to communicate something, that’s when I need music as my outlet the very most. Sometimes, this gives me the most specific subject matter, and sometimes that’s a turn-off to people. I’ll keep going, but I’m not in a massive rush to put out another statement right this moment – and that’s a huge difference between the now-discarded Marc With a C persona and me, Marc Sirdoreus, using the name to continue releasing music: Marc With a C ultimately dies if no one is looking, sort of like the advertisements that came to life in that Simpsons episode. Marc Sirdoreus, if you’ll excuse me for speaking in third person, makes things for themselves, and sometimes some of it will come out. I relish the fact that I don’t necessarily have to do anything I don’t want to artistically, going forward – a lot of the second half of Phase I was spent playing the same songs constantly at shows because that’s how things go.
Music doesn’t do me any good when it’s stuck to a rigid set of rules. A few rules are good, because that’s when I have to come up with something to get me unstuck, usually. Ultimately? You can expect the unexpected from an act that already didn’t take many expectations of others into consideration, and maybe it’ll be good! I don’t even know what to expect, beyond Needlejuice Records continuing to reissue my older albums, and what’s really exciting me lately – I’d been working on a script of sorts to do Phase I as planned, to do what I called “the concept career” of 1999-2022 and to have that persona grow up in public. Since January of 2021, I haven’t had any script at all. That’s helpful when you’ve got poor health, sure, but it’s the most exciting prospect for me; I never have to think about what “fits” or doesn’t fit Marc With a C ever again, I can just make what I want to and need to make!
Dive into the Marc With a C rabbit hole HERE.