Singer Marzz Is Creating Modern R&B Inspired by Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill

Robyn Mowatt Robyn Mowatt is a staff writer at Okayplayer where she…
Marzz
Photo Credit: Keep Cool/RCA

In an exclusive interview, R&B singer-songwriter shares her the inspirations behind her debut EP, Love Letterz, who she grew up listening to and what she’d define her sound as.

Marzz has been steadily garnering traction within the R&B industry over the past two years. Her honest songwriting pairs perfectly with the lush, relaxed drums that typically accentuate her soft vocals that teters from alto to soprano. Her professional music career initially kicked off in late 2019 after a direct message exchange with industry giant Timbaland who shared he admired her pen game.

From there the duo went on to work on a handful of tracks, Timbaland eventually shared Marzz on his Instagram. This introduced her to a bevy of music lovers who are still currently cheering her on and admiring her growth. One track, in particular, that was released earlier this year “Cleopatra” produced by Timbaland touches on the ups and downs of relationships. It is broken into two separate parts to emphasize the feelings that come with temptation and heartache which is expressed in the former half of the single. The latter half is a bit more optimistic and is packed with positivity.

Born Laria McCormick, Marzz’s ability to emotionally connect with listeners didn’t just drop out of the sky. It’s not just innate talent, it’s also in her blood. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, the queer musician comes from a lineage of female ministers (both her mother and grandmother). Growing up in the church she began singing in the children’s choir at four, but would often shy away from getting attention. During her younger years, she also suppressed her sexuality.

Marzz

Photo Credit: Keep Cool/RCA

The pressures of the church led her to live in her own world where she would listen to acts like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Beyoncé in addition to a selection of distinct gospel artists including the Clark Sisters. She also found solace in Brandy’s music when she was much younger, her wildly popular single “Sitting Up In My Room” was always on repeat. “I would be trying to do the riffs and runs that Brandy would do in that song,” she shared via email. By the time she was in high school, Marzz had already come out and did the work to build up the confidence to pursue music seriously. She credits her friends as her biggest supporters who constantly cheered her on. 

Writing lyrics in notebooks is where the singer-songwriter began gathering her thoughts. This habit led her to create R&B freestyles that she eventually shared on Instagram where she began gaining a loyal fanbase that has stuck with her.

Love Letterz, a melody-driven R&B EP (out today) is her debut release. Thematically she explains that the six-track project details relationships and how she takes lessons from each partnership or pairing. “The message behind Love Letterz is really just—the thing is all the relationships that I’ve been through have always been where I’m having to teach somebody something,” she shared. “My mom always taught me to love, but love comes with a lot, and I didn’t really know what love means. I just couldn’t get into love because I was too scared. There was so much holding me back.”

Her mother’s intimate relationships were also a source of inspiration for the project. On this, she shares, “I would say that a lot of the stuff I witnessed that my mom went through—seeing her relationships and reflecting it back on me helped inspire Love Letterz.” Marzz adds getting bullied in school and finding herself after coming out in middle school were also what she pulled from when she was recording. “The whole experience of me being in high school is where the inspirations come from. It’s just about learning and moving forward.” 

The majority of the release was recorded in Lousiville, excluding “Cleopatra” which was recorded in Miami alongside Timbaland, this single took a total of three days to complete. She mentions here that the rest of Love Letterz took roughly 60 to 75 hours to finish. “I already had all my songs written, but I’m such a perfectionist. I was in there taking over a hundred takes on each song,” she added. 

When delving into defining her sound Marzz expresses that she views it as “harmonic.” But she also doesn’t shy away from mentioning she believes it’s also refreshing. The fact that her music is a breath of fresh air points to why it appears to resonate with fans and listeners alike. But, it’s also the genuineness and straightforwardness that is all over her songwriting. Whatever comes next for the rising singer, we’ll be here rooting for her from the sidelines. 

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