Hot off the back of an EP launch and straight into festival season, Bear has barely had time to stop and appreciate just how far he has come in the past year.
Having found his voice whilst serving in the military, the Swiss native’s journey into the music industry has been a fascinating one. With a raspy, warm tone to his voice and a bear-like stature, Marius has quickly made a name for himself on the London circuit.
Bear is a natural story teller who combines raw acoustic pop with cinematic influences. He recently achieved the number one spot on the iTunes Album Chart in Switzerland with his new EP Sanity which demonstrates how his commitment and talent is paying dividends already.
So how did being in the Swiss military lead to the birth of Marius Bear the artist?
In Switzerland, Military service is compulsory so I joined up and found that I actually quite liked it. I became an officer after a few years and part of my job was to get the soldiers to line up on the parade square each morning. This of course meant that I was often shouting and raising my voice a lot. I remember one day a soldier (who was also a musician) told me that I had a really powerful voice and that I would sound great singing grunge. This made me laugh, and although I had never sung before we had a jam that evening and that’s how it all started really.
Have you always loved music? Who were some of your inspirations when you started?
Growing up, my parents wanted me to play an instrument so I started playing the guitar at a young age. When I began busking and writing my own material I was influenced by a vast array of artists. My main influences starting out were the Foo Fighters, Matt Corby, Sam Smith and Adele amongst many others of course.
How have you enjoyed your first year living in London as an artist?
Yes, my first year in London! It was quite hard at the start, I packed all my things in my travel van and drove all the way from Switzerland. The first few months in London were really fun, however I found the winter months a bit depressing with the grey weather and the size of London being slightly daunting. This worked in my favour though because I wrote some great somber songs in these cold months. I really loved meeting so many talented musicians at BIMM and at all the gigs and open-mics I played, it was such an inspiring environment to be in.
You have been working with some talented writers, how do you normally go about your creative process?
About four months ago I started writing with professional songwriters which has been incredible. Working with the likes of Ian Barter and Eliot James who have created amazing careers for themselves from songwriting was so inspiring. The songwriting process for me has always been really creative, I always think about stories and melodies that could be used leading up to a session, although often the song will end up in a completely different direction. I find it’s interesting how every songwriter is different, some are better with production and some better with lyrics for example. I normally just go with what feels natural which tends to works out well.
What was the inspiration or drive behind your new EP Sanity?
It took a few years of hard work to reach a point where I was happy with the EP. I originally recorded an EP in Swiss-German but then decided that I wanted to sing in English. I then had the pleasure of recording in New York at the Bunker studio but I found the end product wasn’t what I was looking for, so I never released it. This was a hard time for me but I decided to go to London and I was determined to record an EP that I was happy with and that represented me as an artist. My manager put me in touch with a producer in the Netherlands and after lots of hard work, we ended up with the Sanity EP. The meaning behind ‘Sanity’ relates to having someone by your side who is strong and who supports you through the good and bad times.
You have played at various festivals this summer, do you have any stand out shows so far?
Compared to 2016 it feels like I haven’t played as many shows because I played over 20 festivals in Switzerland over that summer. Of course, we have been busy releasing the new EP but it has been exciting to showcase the new tracks at festivals such as 2000 Trees and Blueballs festival in Luzern, Switzerland. We also played at Haldernpop in Germany so it’s been fun to travel around and to test out the new songs with different audiences.
Having been on the London circuit, who have you been impressed by or taken inspiration from?
I’m a big, big fan of Lewis Capaldi. I saw him play and met him in London last year when he played a show in Oslo bar. He’s so good at capturing an audience with his voice. I’m also a big fan of Ed Sheeran, I was just at one of his concerts in Switzerland recently which was great. It’s crazy how he can fill a stadium with so many people using just one guitar.
Are there any artists at the moment who you would love to collaborate with?
I met some really talented artists in London this year. I’m really open to collaborating with new artists and with as many people as possible, I think this is the key to great songwriting. One artist I’ve recently loved writing with is Ta’Shan who works really hard, I hope she goes far. I’m actually searching for an English-speaking rapper at the moment, I think it would be a really interesting experience to work with a rapper.
If you could have written any song in the world, which one would it be?
It would have to be ‘Better Man’ by Paulo Nutini. I’ve always been a huge fan of Paolo, he has an amazing voice and his songwriting style really speaks to me.
Marius’s UK show: The Old Blue Last – 11.09.2018 (Special guest: Monty Taft)