top of page

Interview with Marsy

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

Marsy (she/her) is an artist who weaves textured and deep, electronic soundscapes with her music. Her voice appears as an instrumental element and often her soft lyrical delivery is veiled by intricate samples and percussive thumps. Tracks such as “Pyro” demonstrate her ability to blend genres and performance styles seamlessly and present a diverse sonic experience. Some songs are linear and employ unique structure to frame her art and depict her expression of a range of themes. When I listen to her music I picture stark, wide, evolving landscapes, like something out of one of those 5 gum commercials, and other times I imagine an intimate space, like hearing secrets or making a childhood memory.

When I first discovered Marsy it was on Spotify. I usually jump straight to the artist bio section to learn more about artists, and Marsy’s caught my attention immediately with her blunt and satirical self description. Making my way through her available releases, I knew she would be an artist I would keep in my regular listening rotation. Eventually, I reached out for an interview and asked her to perform at Smol Audio Projects’ June 24th show at Humbercrest United Church. We met on the Toronto Metropolitan University campus at a cafe. She wore a pink dress and we sat in the sun and talked about her music.


We’ve seen that you’re a fan of Disney, what’s your favourite Disney movie?

Marsy: Oh shoot. I feel like if you catch me at a different time I will have a different answer for you, but I think I’d say Big Hero 6 just because I love Baymax so much. I just want to hug him. Plus, it’s a really good movie.

Favourite sport?

Marsy: Gymnastics. I’m a former gymnast and I can recognize and appreciate what’s happening as opposed to, like, football which I have no idea what’s going on. Gymnastics for sure, I think it’s the most interesting visually. I was a competitive gymnast until I was 12. Yeah, lots of competitions but I eventually had to quit because I was diagnosed with epilepsy and unfortunately that affected my training too much, to the point where I got so stressed out that I had to quit. But you know, I miss it, it was fun. Floor was my favourite. I loved performing, I think that’s where I got my first taste of the arts and performing.

Favourite book?

Marsy: To be honest I don’t really read. Overall, I think my most enjoyable reading experience was A Clockwork Orange, which sounds weird because I know it’s a bit of a problematic title, but I just really like the way it was written with all of the integrated Russian dialogue. And obviously the term ultraviolence came from it, so I was like “I should probably read this.” Ultraviolence by Lana Del Rey is one of my favourite albums, and I knew that that term came from that story but I didn’t know in what context, so now I get it and it’s pretty bad.

Pie or cake?

Marsy: Cake. Vanilla cake. I mean I’ve tried bites of pies that other people have had… but I can’t actually tell you if I’ve ever had a proper pie.

Do you have an embarrassing story that you would like to share?

Marsy: Oh god there’s a lot. Two months ago I was taking one of the Toronto bike shares up Yonge street and I was going through a dark tunnel. I noticed some construction up ahead and I realized I should probably get from the road to the sidewalk, but because it was so dark I mistook the curb for a curb cut and realized I’m about to go flying! And I did, I flew over my handlebars and landed right in front of this teenage girl walking her dogs and she didn't say a word to me, she just kind of walked around my body. It was really embarrassing and I don’t think I’m going to take out another bike share again. I wasn’t hurt but my ego was [laughs].

Have you ever met a celebrity?

Marsy: I met Charli XCX, at her 2018 show for the Charli tour, and she did this thing where the first 50 fans in line get a free meet and greet, which I think is a really great thing that more celebrities should do. Like, instead of trading money for her time you’re trading your time for her time, because we got there so early. Me and my friend showed up for the show at 9 AM and we were 40th and 41st in line, so there were already a lot of people there. They wrote numbers on people's hands so you knew your number. So, then I met Charli. She was so sweet, I started crying and she wiped a tear from my cheek and said, “Your makeup is too beautiful, don't cry.” I gave her some of my art and it was great. I love Charli. It was before I was making music, but if I was I probably would have told her about it.

Do you have a favourite movie soundtrack?

Marsy: I really like the work that Colin Stetson did for the Hereditary soundtrack with all of the saxophones. I actually discovered his music before that soundtrack because he was in this avant garde playlist that I was listening to and there was this song called “The Rest of Us” that really caught my attention. So, he was already on my radar for being a really cool, like, sonic mastermind as far as saxophone sounds go, so when I heard the Hereditary soundtrack I was like, “Oh, I know exactly who did this!” Horror movie soundtracks are next level. They have to be. The music is so bone chilling.

How did you get into music? Did you take music lessons?

Marsy: I started writing around the age of 14. I was in grade 9 and I was like, “Well, this probably won't actually become anything but I might as well start writing cute little stuff.” I think my best writing came from that period of time before I was producing and singing, because I was just writing. But, I mainly got into my field because I’ve been a lifelong Grimes fan, a lifelong Bjork fan, strong female artists who produce their own stuff - that’s really inspirational to me.

And I thought producing was one of the coolest things ever because I grew up on a lot of industrial music, EDM, goth, kind of weirder stuff but mainly electronic, because of my parents. They would show me these videos from the 80’s with these big, big machines, like walls of equipment and wires, and I thought you needed all this gear to make this music. But, I realized some time when I was in grade 10 and really into Grimes, because Grimes was this big person who was like, “Anyone can make music. It’s really easy, just get started, you can do it cheap, get a cheap set up, you can even do it for free if you pirate stuff.” I just thought, “Damn, you don’t actually need all that stuff, I can do this.”

So, I convinced my dad to get me a Scarlett monitor set and headphones, and it came with Ableton Live Lite, so that was my humble beginnings, I guess. I used Ableton Live Lite for 2 years I think. I have a launch key now, it’s a MIDI controller, and it’s so great. I can do a lot more now. Before then, I was using this really old keyboard that I had as a kid and it was really sticky and it had this pre-recorded version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” that would play really loud every time you turned it on [laughs]. So I’ve upgraded from that.

I have been in vocal lessons for quite a while and once my vocal teacher convinced me to do a recital which I didn't think I would do because it was just me and a piano and I was scared. So my mom said, “If you’re scared, bring a stuffed animal with you.” I did and so now I bring one with me because it helps, it’s cute, and if I can touch a stuffed animal on stage I will be pleased.

Do you have a musical family?

Marsy: I’d say my family runs on music, at least my immediate family. My mom and my dad grew up with 80’s industrial goth and my dad put me onto that and it definitely worked. My dad has a whole CD wall, cassette collection, record collection, so I have definitely adopted my musical tastes from my parents, but neither of them play an instrument. It was something they never did, they were consumers rather than makers of music. I don’t know, I just felt like I needed to contribute. My mom loves it and always makes suggestions like, “You should sample this!”

How did you pick the name Marsy?

Marsy: My real, legal name is Margaret. Growing up people always called me Maggie, my family and my closest friends all call me Maggie. In grade 10 I decided to dye my hair red, like a bright red. I think every girl probably went through a phase of red hair. Anyways, I was mentioning to a friend that I was kind of sick of being called Maggie, like it was frustrating flipping back and forth between names, especially with my ID saying Margaret. She was like, “Well, your hair is red now… how about we just call you Mars?”. And I kind of liked that, that’s really nice! So I went on soundcloud and released music as Mars for a while, but I realized that literally when you search Mars you find, like, you know, Mars Volta, Marshmello, or 13 Seconds To Mars… but if you add the ‘y’ on the end you get found! I think I discovered that around grade 12. And I noticed that people were pronouncing it “Mar-SEE” but I just want to say for the record that it’s “Mar-ZEE” [laughs].

A small bird landed on our table looking for crumbs, it created a scene with Marsy reminiscent of Cinderella. Marsy greeted it with a big Hello! “City birds are fearless,” she said.

Which Canadian bands have influenced you?

Marsy: Canadian? I do enjoy Crystal Castles, Grimes, Nicole Dollanganger, Princessbri… the likes. I’m kind of drawing a blank on Canadians. Me?

In terms of general artistry, I’m influenced by a lot of English bands like Prodigy and Chemical Brothers. I’ve watched these videos on YouTube breaking down Prodigy songs and I love how so many of their samples are broken down and how you can make something sound so different. It’s very cool. I also love Japanese Breakfast, Aurora, Bjork, and others…

How would you describe your sound?

Marsy: That’s something I’ve been wrestling with for a while now. For a while I made pop music and for a while I made weird trip-hop, and I think now I’m settling at just electronic. I don’t really like labeling my sound because nothing really fits - I guess I could make a word for it, like other artists have, but I don’t know, I feel like no-brand electronic is probably the best fit for right now. With influences of trip-hop. One day I would like to make a rap song, make a reggaeton song, you know? I want to branch out everywhere, umm… except for maybe country. Love Ms. Kacey Musgraves though!

Are you a student here? What do you think of your program?

Marsy: Yes I am a Professional Music student at TMU. I just completed my first year. I don’t want to say that everyone in the program is ‘like me’ but I mean… musicians in general have a lot in common. My friends in the program are making music, playing shows, and doing interviews like me right now. There are so many talented people, like really, really talented people. It’s crazy intimidating. It's a four year program, bachelor of the arts. Future classes are going to include business classes, project management, entrepreneurship, copyright stuff… yeah, kind of heavy.

There are some digital production classes, but they’re electives, so you get to choose if you want to take them. We had some first courses about music theory and music production. If you take certain courses you get access to the music studio, so I want to get in there.

Anyone you want to shout out?

Marsy: I’m going to have to shout out Ali, Feura, Natali Rachel, Karina, Jasmine Alexandra, Ashley Sienna, Catherine Carter, Daphne, Dana.. And so many more. I know Feura isn’t in my program but it kind of feels like they are because of how involved they are! Those are some of the people I enjoy spending time with. I need to do more collaboration. I currently have a few in the works with a few people. I’m collaborating with Ginny from my program; we’re making a cool song. I’ve definitely felt like I’ve networked though!

What’s your writing process like? Which gear do you use?

Marsy: My Novation Launchkey is definitely essential in first creating a melody, but if I’m having trouble I’ll pick up a sample and screw around with it and kind of build on it, then if I want to go back and delete the sample I can. But having something to start as the base melody isn’t really something I do, I don’t really write songs and then produce them, I mainly produce songs and then write them. That sounds weird but I’m not really a songwriter anymore. Sometimes I do, but they don’t really come out because I’m just writing from my brain and don’t know any of the chords, so it’s kind of impossible for me to translate it over to a proper production - at least until I get better with theory or learn how to play the guitar or something. My work is mainly digital.

As far as song titles go, I think I just come up with them or hear them. I have a note on my phone with a list of titles or phrases I’d like to use, and sometimes it starts as a visual in my head, or I dream of something, or my friend says something and it catches my attention. This one song I’m working on has a vocal melody in the chorus that goes *sings the melody* and it sounds like I’m saying “dirty” for some unknown reason, so I almost named it “Dirty”. Right now it’s called “I Put A Spell On You” because I went to a thrift store a while ago and I bought a deck of tarot, magic spell cards about love - like, “If you want someone to stay with you, do this.”. I’ve never actually used it, but some of the lyrics are about me doing spells. So, listeners beware.

Soundcloud is where I keep the majority of my deep cut tracks. Most of it is private now because I occasionally go back and listen to them then get embarrassed and start deleting them [laughs].

We’ve noticed that you pair some of your releases with anime art. Do you get inspiration from watching anime?

Marsy: I think that a lot of mainstream East Asian art is very visually appealing, but mainly I think the visuals I use just match with the aesthetic of my music. I think the use of anime is like a global aesthetic media that people can recognize and relate to. I don’t really watch anime, but I did grow up on Studio Ghibli, I love it. There’s something so whimsical and childlike about it and I just want to soak it up because it’s very good energy. Sometimes it’s a little spooky, I really enjoy it.

What have you learned about recording, mixing, and producing your own music? What advice would you give to someone just starting?

Marsy: Something that I often say about music production and art is that if you really think to yourself, “I really want to do this,” and you follow a tutorial or you start making something small, I think you’ll impress yourself quickly. When I first got Ableton Live Lite, I was making all these dumb little beats and posting them on my spam account and I thought, “Oh my god, I’m producing music! I’m making sounds that previously didn’t exist!” And honestly they sounded like dog shit [laughs] like really primitive stuff obviously, but I was impressed! Same when I started taking up visual arts in grade 8 and I started copying images and reference images and I was like, “I’m really trying my best and as long as it looks ok and I keep trying I’ll only get better.” I don’t know, try your best, I think you’re probably going to impress yourself. I think a lot of having art block is just yourself.

What are your thoughts on releasing music these days?

Marsy: I think that with the accessibility of making music also comes an oversaturation in the market. I must admit, there is a lot of garbage out there that isn’t going anywhere and there’s a lot of really good stuff that should. So, it’s hard. With the over abundance of stuff being released all the time - because it’s so easy to get a distrokid or a tunebat account and put your stuff out on Spotify - it’s good having it be so successful and easy, and obviously there are a lot of voices that we’re getting to hear that we haven’t heard before, but it’s giving too many people too many ideas. Oversaturation is really the right word.

You’ll be performing for the first time at our show on June 24, 2022. What can we expect?

Marsy: It’s my first performance besides that recital, so I’m a little nervous. I’m definitely focusing on a visual aspect. I’ve dolled up my mic stand quite a bit; it looks really, really good, and I’ve got my table to hold my laptop and keyboard and I’ve decorated that with stuff. I feel like I don’t want to be a gimmicky artist who relies on these little props in order to make me seem more appealing, but I think to myself, a live performance constitutes singing and I’m not a singer first. I don’t want to think of me as Marsy the singer, I want people to think of me as Marsy the artist, or musician. I don’t want to put myself in a singer box because singing is something I’ve never been super proficient at, like, I’m ok at it, but it’s mainly something I do because I feel I kind of have to. I know it isn’t true but I really love the sound of voice in music so I feel compelled to. So yeah, because I’m not a natural born singer, I feel like standing on stage and controlling my effects from my keyboard. I think that’s stimulating, but I don’t want my singing to be at the forefront, you know? I want the set to enhance the experience because I want people to walk away from the performance thinking of me as an artist - this set is my art.

Do you have any projects coming up in the future? Collaborations?

Marsy: I’m always open to collaborations, although I feel like I am not a great team worker [laughs] I’m horrible to work with because I forget about things. I think I’m taking it one step at a time. This is a big step for me and if it goes horribly then that is a good experience! But I don’t know, I would like to try being more vocally adventurous. I’d like to do a summer of live performances, maybe release a song. I’m currently working on a “Pyro” music video with my friends from RTA Media Production. Our programs are kind of like sister programs, so a lot of the media production students want to work with the professional music students because there are lots of opportunities for interviews, music videos to set up, live performances, everything revolving around media production and arts. I applied for that program and met a lot of people through the interview process so I’m a bit closer to that program than some of the other people in my program.

Who has helped you grow as a musician?

Marsy: All of my closest friends, they’re my biggest supporters! My friends from back at home are really my biggest supporters ever, and I want to give a shout out to my friend Michaela who has been helping me with decorating my set. She helped me decorate my mic and she came out with me to Value Village and we did all that stuff. She’s someone who I couldn’t have done the whole set without. I have a friend who is going to do my nails before the show, so shout out to Anna. Shout out to Feura for coming over and showing me how to make a live set. Also, my parents! I’m very grateful to have parents who support what I do. When I got into this program they were like, “Shiiiit, it might actually work for you!”. My parents are the two biggest music nerds ever, supporting their music nerd that they made together.

Did you grow up in this area?

Marsy: I was born in Oshawa and I’ve lived in Brooklin my entire life. Brooklin is like a north town offshoot of Whitby, it’s technically Whitby, but we call it Brooklin because it’s growing exponentially and, as a native, it feels different.

How has the Toronto music scene shaped you as an artist?

Marsy: I honestly had no concept of the music scene down here until I came here for University and I started living downtown. I have all these friends doing live shows so I started spending a lot of time in bars. Because of COVID live music has kind of been on the fringes, but there have been multiple moments at my friend’s shows where I just cried because I’m like, “Fuck, I miss live music so much and this is what I have to do.” This is the environment I want to be in, it has really opened my eyes. When I see my friends on stage I’m like, “Wow, this is my friend singing over an MP3, maybe I can perform live too!” And so now this begins, I’m starting to do my own shows.

There are a few venues that I’ve been to downtown that my parents remember from when they lived in Toronto. They went to a lot of shows. It’s been really cool bonding with my parents over the downtown Toronto scene. They’re always asking, “Does this place still exist?” and unfortunately the answer most of the time is no. But some of them are still around. One venue I really like is The Painted Lady. They have amazing nachos there, they give you a full plate! I really like The Supermarket, oh, and Handlebar, I like it there too.

What are some of the best parts of being an emerging artist?

Marsy: I think trying to figure out who you are - I guess that could also be part of the worst. I’ve definitely had identity crises, plural, lately. I think the community of emerging artists is very passionate. I’ve never seen so many people be so dedicated to making and releasing music and I’m just like, “How do you guys have time for all of this?” I see some of my friends just going out and promoting their stuff every single day and going to shows. Sometimes I’m like, “Fuck I’m so behind!” but seeing them do that is just so inspirational because these are people my age, like me, and they're doing all these really great things and it just goes to show that you can do it too!

The worst part: I’m going to push it back to oversaturation again. I’m always worried that I’m going to get on stage and people are going to be like, “There are 10 other girls like you out there.” I don’t want that to happen because I’ve definitely had the comparisons before. When you’re a small artist everyone just wants to say, “You’re just a copy of blank.” For a while I was getting, “You’re just trying to be Grimes, stop.” I mean that's never going to go away, but the bigger you get the more the copycat remarks usually just point to inspiration. There are actually a lot of small artists who are very directly copying bigger artists out there, I’ve seen it.

You’re putting yourself out there in a very vulnerable way. Unfortunately in high school I wasn’t very active doing music because a lot of people didn’t get it and there were a few situations where I was publicly humiliated for it. Part of me thinks that made me a stronger person, but I still think about it. Especially for female artists … see now I’m mad …

Marsy paused for a moment. She looked as though she was trying to find the words to describe how she felt.

I have so much respect for women in any artistic industry because it’s really rough out there. Women in general. Fuck.

What’s your experience with grants?

Marsy: I’m working on the FACTOR grant but I didn’t realize I had to basically write an essay [laughs]. I just have to write words now, and I could still get rejected, but I just think about how much that money could help. I could get equipment, props, help me get another show, let me pay people to help make a music video … yeah, it would be a big help. Feura got one. When I heard they got one, they told me, “You have to apply! They’re going to love you!”

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Marsy: I can’t look too far ahead, the second I start making firm assumptions about things I get stressed out. I can only tell you what I hope for. Hopefully, I’ll be living somewhere nice and making music for a living, but if not I’ll still have my degree by then and I’ll still be in the industry. So, I think I’ll be successful in life no matter where I go. As long as I’m in this kind of environment. That’s why I’m in school right now, working, and just taking it one day at a time.

Give Marsy a follow and listen to her music!

Instagram no3mars

Twitter no2mars

Marsy on all music platforms xoxoxoxxoxoxoxoxoxooxoxo


bottom of page