How are you doing fam? Every Sunday we hope to shine a light on an independent artist's career in a feature we like to call Sunday Spotlight. This week we are speaking to Marcus Corowa, who is a singer songwriter who has most recently appeared as a featured artist in Mau Power's latest single and music video Arrived ft. Marcus Corowa.
First off, for how long have you been singing?
I’ve been singing all my life basically. It’s been an advantage that music has always been a part of the family, so I was kind of born into it really (laughs). I moved to Sydney eight years ago, so I suppose, professionally, that’s when I really started to take it seriously and actually really pursue a career in the music and arts industry as a singer and songwriter.
Was there a reason you decided to move from Bowen to Sydney?
I moved to try pursue a career as a singer song writer. Not to say you can’t make it from Brisbane or anywhere else, but the reason I moved to Sydney was basically to give myself the best possible opportunity. It was either here or Melbourne, and the scene here is much bigger than anywhere else. Just to be amongst it and be a part of it was really appealing at the time.
You mentioned your family is how you originally got into music. Was there anyone in particular who influenced or mentored you?
My dad played the guitar and he would sing as well, so I was very much influenced by my dad. But my grandfather also did the same thing, and so did my dad’s brothers and sisters. Basically, growing up in a community that is primarily an Indigenous and South Sea Islander community, in Bowen, it seemed like everyone could play an instrument and/or could sing. So I grew up with a lot of lovely island harmonies and songs, and I especially have a very strong gospel upbringing as well which has heavily influenced my music.
Was there a moment in your career when you became certain that this is what you want to pursue?
Yeah, I think that moment came when I had a full time job. I was working for Australia Post and after about seven and a half years I became increasingly dissatisfied with my job, and unfulfilled in life. I’d always had music there in the background, I had done that casually as a hobby, but then I was like “I’m sure there’s more to life than working for Australia Post” (laughs). It took me a while to pluck up the courage to eventually leave my job and pursue that, but that’s what I did. So I left my full-time job wanting to work with music in some sort of capacity. Fast forward, and yeah, kind of the best decision I made in my life.
What was it like working with the Mau Power and the production team on the song for Arrived?
I felt really privileged to be a part of this particular project, and for Mau Power to ask me to jump on the track with him, I was really happy because it was something I felt passionately about supporting. I believe in the song and I loved what he showed me when it was fully completed, it has a very strong message. Then being asked to do the video clip, fly to Cairns, to work with team there in a very supportive environment, once again, I felt happy to do. It was quite inspirational actually to see the local Queensland crew all pitching in their skills to make this project happen, and you know being a fellow Queenslander it hits pretty close to home to me. It was really fun, it was relaxed, yet everyone really took a professional stance and got the job done. It was just a great experience overall.
You are currently based in Sydney but came up to Cairns to film the music video for Arrived. Have you visited Cairns before?
Yep, made a couple of trips before. On one of my last trips I was up there for a mentoring program, and that was also up the cape as well. So yeah, been there a couple of times.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
I do gravitate to the old school 70s RnB singers like Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, George Benson, Donny Hathaway, and Nina Simone, all the pros. I think I really get a lot from their music, and what they sing and write about.
What was the last movie you saw and what did you think of it?
I took myself out on a date, (laughs) and I saw Green Book. Initially I thought it was a great movie. To learn about this African American man who was before his time and living this other lifestyle during a time when most others were oppressed, it was quite interesting to learn about his story. But during and after watching it I felt there were all these things that were missing that I wanted to know more about from this main character. Then I started reading a bunch of articles online afterwards about how again this story and narrative was told through a different lens, not necessarily an African American lens, I was like “yeah that’s right”. It kind of changed my initial perspective of enjoying the film when I properly broke it down.
What was the last live music act you saw and what did you think of it?
Last week I saw Jessica Mauboy featuring Billy Davis and The Good Lords. I just saw her in Darlinghurst, at the Oxford Art Factory. She was promoting her new album and her new single, ‘Sunday’, so that was pretty special actually. It sounded a little bit different from what it usually is, it’s a little more soulful. The concert was amazing! I love her new music! Also, Briggs made a surprise visit and jumped on a song with Jess. It was just too deadly! That was the last musical act I went and saw and it was so inspirational.
Are you currently working on any upcoming projects?
Yes, in little bits and pieces here and there. Always working towards something and creating new music. I just did a concert at the City Recital Hall not so long ago, and I'm always trying to make my own act bigger and better. It was just myself playing the guitar and singing my songs and telling my stories and my journey, with another keyboard-piano-extraordinaire-type-person named Daniel Edmonds, who is a conductor and is music arranger for a lot of big musicals and acts. So yeah, always doing things and trying to finesse my act as I go.
I also recently received funding from the Australian council and went to Hull to be a part of an IETM conference, and offer my point of view and contribute an Indigenous perspective. The conference was for independent artists, producers and institutions and was two hours north of London.
As always, big thank you to our guest Marcus Corowa for being a part of the Sunday Spotlight. You can find him on his website, Facebook and Instagram. His EP The Greater You can be found on iTunes, and his single Nobody Knows is available on iTunes and Spotify.
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