Peace Arch News
Peninsula musician fulfills a dream
Peninsula musician fulfills a dream
White Rock’s Michael Marton still has a handwritten letter he received years ago, during one of his earlier forays into demo-ing songs.
In it, an executive of Island Records expressed positive reaction to Marton’s three-song demo tape and a desire to hear more.
In the way of such things, an attempted follow-up went sideways, partly due to problems working with the recording studio Marton had chosen to work with at the time.
But the universe has shifted since those days – especially for singer-songwriters. Developing software and the Internet has made producing and marketing from a home studio not only feasible but pragmatic.
As a result Marton, whose day-gig is connected with the computer industry, has been able to keep pursuing his interest in music in his spare time, with the support of his wife Stacey and their two boys, Cole, 10, and Noah, 4.
And his new solo CD, Once Alive, which started as a hobby project, shows all the earmarks of a marketable CD.
It’s a lean and clean album, driven by Marton’s desire to create simple, catchy and attractive melodies and lyrics that hit home, partly a legacy of his earliest influences, Elvis Presley and The Beatles.
From the latter he learned an album could be made up of songs that are stylistically different, following the needs of each individual inspiration without attempting to hammer them into a particular sound.
“There are rock songs, country-ish sounding songs, songs with a swing beat and a walking bass, blues keyboard things,” he said.
The most personal song on the album, Dear Boy, comes out of his experience of being able to be present when both his sons were born.
But many of his compositions are not drawn from personal experience. Most are a matter of pure inspiration, he said – and they more or less told him what form they should take.
“They got stuck in my head and had to be written,” he said.
Aside from noteable contributions to two tracks by a neighbour, blues pianist Mel Little, Marton is very much his own one-man band, arranging, producing and performing lead vocals, background vocals, guitars, bass, synth string, drums and drum programming and even a little piano.
He’s self-effacing about the accomplishment.
“I’m an adequate guitar player, I plunk a little on the keys, I know about drums and rhythm from high school… but at the end of the day it doesn’t come out sounding too bad,” he said.
“After hobbying three or four songs I realized I could do a full CD, which is something I always wanted to do. It took me about three or four years to do it. When I finally finished the CD I took it to Larry Anschell at Turtle Studios who mastered it and did a great job – he brought it out the way I always thought it should have sounded.”
He also credits Indie Pool in Toronto for assistance in pressing the CD and creating his website.
Marton, who comes by his brooding, dark good looks courtesy of his Hungarian heritage, was born in Vancouver but grew up in Oliver in the Okanagan.
“When I was five or six, my parents got my brother and sister and me each a small turntable. My sister got an Abba record, my brother got Jim Croce and I got Elvis – the yellow double record set everybody had.
“To this day if Elvis comes on the TV in a movie or something, I’ll sit down and watch.”
Although he appreciated music, he was a comparative late starter, he said.
“I didn’t start picking up the guitar until I was 15. I played in a couple of bands in high school, and when I was in college a friend and I would take our guitars to a local coffee shop and play some Beatles, some Rolling Stones and some Green Day.”
After spells in Abbotsford and Westbank, where he completed his education, Marton came to the Peninsula in 1994.
It wasn’t until 2002 that he was able to set up a home studio – which he’s since upgraded.
“It allowed me to establish some kind of a work flow,” he said.
“It’s nice having the studio in the home. My job takes me out of town quite a lot and it’s nice to come home and not have to go out and jam somewhere, or have studio time that I have to use.
“For me, at this stage, searching for a band and trying to get with the right people to connect musically is difficult.”
Which is not to say that Marton doesn’t like working with other people, or wouldn’t consider it if the opportunity for live performance of his material arose.
“The songs are done, the sound is there. It would be a matter of getting good musicians – but it’s not Mozart. They should be able to pick it up.”
For more information, visit www.michaelmarton.ca
By Alex Browne – Peace Arch News – November 24, 2007
CD Review: Michael Marton – Once Alive
Michael Marton – Once Alive
2007, Michael Marton
For the initiated, the Canadian Rock scene has long included a tremendously varied array of sounds and styles, owing to the efforts that Canada has put into encouraging the independence and diversity of its musicians and musical styles. Consequently artists have come onto the world scene from Canada that may have not had the chance for similar exposure if they had originated in the stale corporate music culture of the United States. Unfortunately some of this has started to change in recent years as major record labels have made more inroads into Canadian Culture and found ways to subvert things such as the Canadian Content Rule. Nevertheless, there continues to be a diversity of sound and style in Canadian Musical Culture that is absent (or at least much harder to find south of the 54-40 (the line, AND the band).
I bring this up because it’s time to take a look (listen) to Michael Marton, whom I believe is one of the unique products of a musical environment that Canada has worked hard to foster and maintain. Michael Marton is a singer-songwriter in the tradition of Bruce Cockburn, who is one of the singular legends in the Pantheon of Canadian popular music. Like Cockburn, Marton mixes in politics and real life experience into rock songs that are both thoughtful and fun. On his debut CD, Once Alive, Michael Marton has offered up his world view and muse. It is a worthy and fantastic effort.
Opening with the jangly guitars of Off To War, Marton lays out the justification for every war, petty or great, that mankind has fought. Off To War is a great rock song with a compelling message, and is the ideal start to this set. Once Alive is a lilting rocker with just a bit of country or prairie air to it. This is perhaps the finest song on the set, but I’ll let you judge. Other highlights include Blinded, with its jazzy piano runs, and Attention. Attention is probably the most radio-ready song on Once Alive, and should find comfortable placement among the Adult Contemporary set.
Also be sure to check out Baby Don’t Cry and I Won’t Go as songs of interest. Michael Marton writes dynamic rock and roll songs. The musicianship here is top notch, and Marton’s quirky voice juxtaposes a sense of sincerity and reality onto the songs offered here. I give Once Alive a strong recommendation to my readers as a fine example of the singer-songwriter craft and of how it is still relevant and real when done right.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
You can learn more about Michael Marton at www.michaelmarton.ca, where you can purchase a copy of Once Alive. You may also purchase the album as a download through either PureTracks or iTunes.
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