Introducing Marian Hill, the US duo breaking through after their song Down featured on an advert for Apple's AirPods
Music acts finding success via the medium of a TV advert sync is not to be underestimated. Apple in particular have been responsible for breaking a number of artists globally over the last ten years, including The Ting Tings, Jet and Fiest.
The latest feeling the effects of Apple's reach are US pop duo Marian Hill. Their song Down - a sparse, electronic-meets-R&B number - soundtracked the first Apple AirPods commerical earlier this year, leaving plenty of people curious as to who was behind it.
Since the advert's unveiling, it's been one of the most Shazam-ed tracks in the world, been re-worked to feature Big Sean, and has been streamed almost 3 million times in the UK across all streaming services.
Following their recent appearance on Later... With Jools Holland, we had a chat with Samantha and Jeremy about Down, their debut album ACT ONE and plans to crack the UK.
Hello Marian Hill! Things took off for you in a big way after Down was used in Apple’s AirPods TV ad. How did that opportunity come about and were you happy with the final result?
Jeremy: "We’d been lucky enough to be on Apple’s radar for a minute and the stars just aligned on this project and they told us they were going to use the song - when we saw the ad we couldn’t believe how in-line with our aesthetic it was. We like to joke that it’s as much a Marian Hill commercial as an Apple commercial and we’re extremely grateful for that. It was perfect."
Of all the songs you'd worked on until that point, did you think Down would be the song that would take off over anything else in your catalogue?
J: "Not at all. We definitely loved it. It was always a special song for us, and that’s why we put it at the start of our debut album - it felt like the perfect introduction to us, starting super spare with simple songwriting and exploding into a surprising electronic landscape.
"But when we were thinking about singles that could blow up, especially in the way that Down did [on pop radio around the world], Down was definitely far from the first choice for that. It felt too weird to us I think to really be mainstream - which makes it all the more exciting that it made it there."
S: "I think it surprised all of us. Never in a million years would I have thought Down, of all our songs, would make it to pop radio. I think it’s a testament to the commercial, and the effect that a great sync can have on a song."
What do you think it is about the song that people connect with?
J: "Oh man...I’d like to think it’s the uniqueness of it. It’s a very specific and unusual vibe, and I like to think that in the midst of music that they’re used to people heard Down and were like, 'woah...what IS this?'"
S: "Yeah, that’s hard to articulate. I think it’s the contrast between the sparse verses and the chorus - but uniqueness is hard to define. How does one know? We should ask everyone!"
Is Down an accurate representation of your sound? What else can people expect if they delve into your album ACT ONE?
J: "I’d say Down is a great introduction to our sound - it introduces you to the fundamental elements and Sam and my sensibilities. ACT ONE then shows the rest of the places our sound can go. Each song was written to be its own unique world."
S: "I think Down is the epitome of the MH sound/aesthetic, minus the saxophone. Very old meets new, classic vocals with electronic production. Of all our songs, I love that Down was the one to take off."
You’ve also worked on some fantastic remixes, like the one of Hotline Bling with Charlie Puth and Khelani. What, in your opinion, makes for a great remix?
J: "I think it’s important for a remix to stay true to the meaning and vibe of the original song. The best remixes are able to do that and also to add meaning to the song, to make you notice a part of it or a certain lyric or a certain way it could be interpreted that you hadn’t before.
"I always try to hold true to this, although it’s often tempting to just go with the fly-est groove you can find, but more often than not when that happens throwing a new groove on the song ends up being what can open up great new meanings."
ACT ONE (The Complete Collection) is out now. Marian Hill play a headline gig at London’s XOYO on October 9.