Interview: MaRLo Talks Life on the Road, Relationships and Wisdom

MaRLo is one of the busiest DJs in the world. He’s had residencies pretty much everywhere you can imagine, and he just finished up his summer tour at TomorrowWorld last weekend. Sensible Reason caught up with the busy DJ before he headed home to Australia, hopefully to begin working on a full length artist album.

SR: Do you have any plans to see any other artists tonight/this weekend? I know most DJs don’t really have time to do that when they play.

MaRLo: I look forward to catching up with some of my friends like Aly & Fila and the like, but unfortunately another one of my DJ friends called in sick so he won’t be able to make it tonight.

Will you be here all weekend or just today?

MaRLo: Just today, I fly back to Australia tomorrow.

You’ve got a pretty large fan base in Australia and Holland; you’ve had residencies in some of the hottest clubs all over the world. Is there anything you still want to accomplish?

MaRLo: Absolutely–first off I’ve never done an artist album so I think that’s the next step. I’ve never had an album, just singles so far and remixes, so I’d really like to focus my energies on an album, looking for talents for vocals and stuff like that. The other thing I’d really like to do next year is try and do my own shows. Kind of what Armin and Tiesto in concert used to be; things like that would be amazing. It’s a milestone in your career to do that and sort of bring your own production and visuals and really create your own show that’s totally yours and not just the show or venue that you’re at.

Speaking of vocal talent, how was it working with Christina Novelli?

MaRLo: Christina’s incredible, she’s one of my favorite vocalists in the world. I’ve been a fan of hers already for so long. We met during the Dash Berlin tour, she sang on Dash Berlin’s songs, their cover of “Jar of Hearts,” and we got to know each other really well. We really got along and decided we’d make a track together, and it took about 18 months to finish that track.

Why did it take so long?!

MaRLo: Just because we were touring like crazy and we kept bouncing different ideas back and forth. I’d send something and we’d start on that and then work on something else and send it back, and eventually we brought it all together.

Do you feel as though you had to put more work into it because you were touring–you had to piece it together–or did things just eventually flow into place?

MaRLo: I think every track is different. Some days you’ll finish a track in like 3 or 4 days, and it just flows from the start, and other times it might take you two years. And it doesn’t mean that one is better than the other, I think it really depends on the mood you’re in. Sometimes the ideas just flow better in certain tracks versus others.

Do you have a particular inspiration?

MaRLo: No. Not really.

Where do you gather your inspiration?

MaRLo: Life. Life and your experiences. Yesterday instead of checking out music I went to the aquarium and checked out the fish and chilled out. When I go to new places I just walk around and absorb what other cultures are doing, what different people are doing all over the world. When I was in Belarus a week ago, I hung out with the promoter and some of his staff and we went out to the bars and hung out. I sort of absorb life, that’s my inspiration.

Have you had any culture shock while doing that?

MaRLo: I think if you’re open to new experiences you don’t really experience culture shock.

Great outlook. So, this is the end of your tour. Are you going to head into the studio now and work on that album?

MaRLo: I’m super pumped to get back into the studio. I can’t wait to sit back at my desk, see my wife again, to hang out with my dog and just be home for a bit. And of course to be back in my studio and make new music. I’m really excited about that. I still have a lot of shows coming up, I’m booked every weekend at either Australia shows or Asia shows which means I can just go for the weekend and come back. So during the week I’ve got lots of time to work on music. Before I left I managed to get a lot of projects to the 80% mark, so when I get back I’ll just be able to finish like 4 or 5 tracks.

Do you find that it’s difficult on your home life and your relationship to be touring and constantly heading somewhere every weekend?

MaRLo: It’s incredibly hard. Incredibly hard for a relationship, especially on both sides. But, I’ve been with [my wife] for 11 years, we’ve been married for 3, so it’s not like it’s come out of nowhere. I think if I was single for instance it’d be almost impossible to start a new relationship with the amount I tour. If you watch it slowly you understand it, and because she works in the industry as well she understands it even more. She knows all the same people, so when I’m gone somewhere and hang out with certain people she knows them so that makes it easier.

You’ve been married for 3 years, any thoughts of children? Or are you two far too busy at this point?

MaRLo: We’ve talked about it.

Are you excited for tonight?

MaRLo: I’m super excited! For multiple reasons. TomorrowWorld is going to be an amazing event, I’m sure. But also, because it is the last show of the tour, it’s kind of like I don’t have to worry anymore. I’m going to fly home tomorrow and I can just give it all I’ve got and have a great time.

You seem like you’re in high spirits, how do you maintain that energy though an entire tour? You’d think you’d be exhausted by now.

MaRLo: I just try and get rest when I can, really. It’s really basic stuff, back to basics – eat healthy, exercise, and sleep well, and then you can take on anything. Of course I’m jet lagged all the time, I’m permanently jet lagged because there is no such thing as a correct timezone. The moment I land somewhere, I’ve got to adapt to that time zone and by the time I have, I leave again. So you just sort of accept that if you’re tired at 3PM, OK sleep. If you’re awake at 3AM it’s ok, just do some work on the laptop, and watch some TV. You just sort of have to accept it, if you start stressing out because you have to play a festival in a couple hours you’re just going to stress yourself out and be more tired than if you just accept that you haven’t slept for a while. Have a cup of coffee and get on with it.

So besides home – because I assume that’s your favorite – where is your favorite place play and to travel?

MaRLo: I don’t really have  favorite. It’s always awesome meeting new people and seeing old friends. So, I don’t think I’ve had a show where I’ve walked away and thought, “That was horrible.” Every experience is a good one. I like all different shows for different reasons. A small club show can be great for different reasons. You can really sit and make eye contact with the crowd, you can give them a high five. At the same time playing for 25,000 people at a massive festival on the main stage is also amazing, but it’s a different type of amazing.

For the most part you play trance music. Is there another direction you aspire to steer towards?

MaRLo: I like all sorts of music, I like hardstyle, techno, house, all sorts of stuff. But what I like to play is mainly trance and a variety of different types of trance. But as far as what I like to listen to or play at a party at my house it’s diverse, it’s whatever.

At what point did you take a step back and think: Wow, I’m doing something crazy awesome?

MaRLo: Every day I wake up, really. But it all started the day that I could comfortably quit my day job and that I realized: Ok, music is now my life , it’s now my job. That was a really special moment, when you can sort of realize that the thing that you love to do more than anything in the world, the thing that you would be doing no matter what anyway can actually pay the bills. It’s incredible.

That’s amazing, I’m still waiting for that day.

MaRLo: Well, it took me a long time, it’s not like it happened overnight for me either.

That’s reassuring!

MaRLo: Like they say: “It takes 15 years to be an overnight success.” That was a big inspiration for me. It’s true, no one knows who you are for the first 15 years of your career. No one has a clue who you are, you’ve got nothing. You’re not backstage, you’re not traveling anywhere, you’re nothing, but you’re working. And then suddenly everyone knows who you are, as if you have come out of nowhere.

Those words of wisdom will continue to resonate as this writer continues her journey interviewing her favorite musicians. Sensible Reason can’t wait to see what MaRLo has in store for his first album.

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Ashley Cizek

Went to school at UW-Madison, graduating with a BA in psychology. I hula-hoop, I write, I enjoy sunlight.

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